It Girl

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Marnie and Allyson hung out every single Saturday afternoon. They’d never cancelled, even when they were ill.  They’d just share candy and alphabet soup and watch movies under a blanket.

But that Saturday, Aria Franklin, the It Girl, asked Marnie to hang out. Marnie told Allyson that she was sick, so contagious she couldn’t have any guests. How was Marnie to know that she and Aria would run into Allyson at the store with alphabet soup and M&M’s in her basket?

“Marnie?”

Allyson blinked back tears as Marnie stood between her two friends, trying to resist the urge to run.

 

The Moral Mondays prompt this week is – DON’T STRADDLE THE FENCE

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A Grain

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My daughter has the best of everything. Her clothes are from the finest boutiques in town, her wardrobe rivaling mine in size and quality. Her hair has been highlighted and cut by my own stylist from the time she was small.    I’ve given her everything she’s ever wanted. Things she didn’t even know that she wanted. Private dance tutors, acting classes, beauty pageant wins, cosmetic enhancements.  We want her to be happy. I thought she was happy.

When her teachers told me that Riley’s interactions with another girl in school could be considered bullying, I dismissed it, taking it with a grain of salt. Didn’t all teenage girls argue? But then I met the girl, Cassie, and her mother, in the principal’s office, and I saw something I recognized in her sad eyes. Riley laughed the whole thing off in the car on the way home, and I joined in, wanting to make her happy, to reassure her I was on her side, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Cassie is gone now. When I found out the news, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried the rest of the day. Visions of my own youth tortured me. Disdainful looks from the pretty girls with their perfect skin and shiny hair. My desperation to be accepted, only to have doors slammed in my face at every turn. I thought about the day I gave birth to Riley, when I promised her that she would never endure one moment of suffering.

Today, I dried my eyes and got on the phone to find my daughter a lawyer. They want to put her in jail, but I can’t let that happen. She’s my baby.

For Story A Day

Thursday Thriller – Reunion

 

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Read Part 1 – Wallflower

Read Part 2 – Smoke

Read Part 3 – Fury 

Present Day

As I watch Cat and Charles, I think back to my escape from that burning house.  The violent pain in my leg, which I limped on painfully through the woods until I reached the main road.  Hitching to Alma’s house and grabbing the rest of my saved cash.  Starting over.

I keep drinking, thinking I need the liquid courage, but it only weakens my resolve.  I’m going to go home. I finally conclude.  Why am I even here?  I ask myself.  What’s done is done.  I have a good, if dull, life now.  Everyone’s moved on and it’s time I did too.

In the parking lot, I’m trying to decide if I’m good to drive or if I need to call someone, when a pair of powerful hands grabs me from behind.

I wake up in the trunk of a moving car.  My mouth is taped.  I’m not afraid, just angry and humiliated.  I’d been so foolish, thinking I was going to out all of them to the community, ruin their lives, make them suffer the way I had.

The car stops, and the trunk opens shortly after.  Cat’s face is the first one I see.  Meredith, Tommy, Laura, and Charles surround her.  Cat’s crying softly.  A gun gleams in the moonlight from Tommy’s hand.

“I never meant for any of this to happen, Casey.  I’m sorry.”  Cat tells me through her tears.  I look at her, making eye contact, and I nod.  I forgive her.  I forgive them all.  Why not?  I never really existed anyway.  None of it matters.  No one will look for me when I’m gone.

Charles looks at the ground as Meredith leans into the trunk, her lips snarled.  “You should have stayed away.  We won’t let you ruin everything we’ve all worked for.”

Tommy steps closer, until the gun is almost pressed against my temple.  I close my eyes, wanting it to be over, when I hear a scream.

“No!” Cat yells, knocking the gun from Tommy’s hand.  It goes off, grazing Meredith’s shoulder.  During the ensuing confusion, Cat pulls me from the trunk and we race deep into the woods as more gunshots sound in the distance.  I look at Cat, adrenaline churning through my veins, and, even though I have every reason not to, I smile.  No matter what happens, we are Cat-n-Casey once again.

 

 

Thursday Thriller – Smoke

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Read Part 1 – Wallflower

2002

I was 17 years old, weeks away from high school graduation.  The air was fresh as I rolled down the windows of my old beat up Vega, purchased with my fast food job earnings. I turned up the radio and let the early summer wind blast through my hair.  I was on my way to my very first high school party.  A weekend-long extravaganza at Tommy Frazier’s parents’ house at Lake Lanier.  My best friend Cat Fiore had gotten us in.

It had been just her and me, since the first day of freshman year. Cat-n-Casey.  We were never in the popular clique, but we had each other, creating a sort of exclusive world of our own.  But, though neither of us admitted it, the rejection from the popular kids had always stung.

Charles Macklin, who was Tommy’s best friend, and Cat had some sort of unofficial thing going, though I wasn’t sure of the details.  Whenever I asked Cat about it her eyes went dead and she turned away, refusing to answer.

Cat was already there, she’d ridden up with Charles right after school let out, but I’d gone home to get my things.  Alma, my foster mom, saw me packing and assumed I was planning to run away, refusing to listen when I tried to explain, screaming at me not to return.  It was okay.  It wasn’t as if Alma, my 15th foster parent, and I had exactly bonded.  Plus, my 18th birthday was on the horizon and I had a standing invitation to crash with Cat through the summer.  Cat’s mom was never home anyway.

I picked up the VHS I’d just rented from the passenger seat and dumped it in my backpack with the rest of my things.  I actually thought Cat and I would curl up in front of the television at the end of the night with a bowl of popcorn and gab about all the fun we had as we watched Britney Spears go to prom.  How naive I’d been.

Getting out of the car, I saw the party was starting to get in full swing.  Delia and Tiff were laid out on the lawn, sipping beers with guys I didn’t recognize, laughing raucously.  Clearly, they were already wasted.  I went inside, passing Meredith and Laura in the hallway.  They looked at me as though I didn’t belong, ignoring my friendly hello. In the living room, Cat was on the couch, sitting so close to Charles she was practically in his lap.  There was a vacant look in her eyes and I wondered if she was high.  I saw Tommy through the back window, tossing a football with on the back lawn with some fellow jocks.  My heart lifted.  The lake expanded behind them, shrouded in fog, mysterious and beautiful.

I asked Cat if we could talk in private, and we escaped into one of the many upstairs bedrooms, where I dropped my backpack.  Despite Cat’s not-really-there expression, she was gorgeous, with her wide chocolate eyes and jet black hair, olive skin sprinkled with freckles across her nose.  She was more beautiful than Meredith or Laura or any of the other populars, as we called them, but that’s the trouble with living in small, close-knit community.  For years, she’d been classified as the daughter of the town drunk, relegated to lower-tier status for the rest of her high school career.

“So, did Charles talk to Tommy for me?”  I asked her, bobbing on my tiptoes like an excited child.  I’d crushed on Tommy for years from afar and I had an opening.  He and his long-time, off and on girlfriend Laura were currently off. With Cat and Charles getting closer – this was my chance.

Cat nodded, looking away from me.  “He’s gonna come talk to you.”

“Really?”  I squealed, grabbing both of her hands, but she quickly backed away from me.  I was too excited to worry about her bizarre behavior.  The rest of the night was a blur.  Cat’s leaving.  Tommy’s finding me.  A lingering kiss that made me swoon, my first ever.  A red cup.  Me quickly downing all its contents, wanting to impress him.  Darkness.

My next memory was waking up alone, the sky an inky black outside my window, wracked with pain, smoke filling my lungs.

Thursday Thriller – Wallflower

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“Name?”  Meredith Skinner asks me as I approach the check-in desk.  Of course, she would be the one bossing everyone around, still. She wears a placid smile, no recognition in her eyes.  She’s probably already dismissed me mentally, reasoning if she doesn’t remember me, I must not have been worth knowing.    Not much has changed.

“Casey Thompson.”

The color drains from her face as she looks down at the basket full of pre-printed name badges, fumbling through them with none of the grace she always pretended to have when we were in school.

“Errr…I don’t…uhhh…see you here…” she stammers, her breaths coming quickly.

“It’s fine.”  I pick up one of the blank badges probably reserved for spouses and plus-ones and quickly fill in my name, sticking it to the front of my red dress proudly.  “Good to see you, Mer.”  I smile at her before entering the ballroom.  I think she’s on the verge of hyperventilation.

No one recognizes me at first, but I know them so well.  There’s Tommy Frazier, the former jock, standing next to Laura Brooks, well, it’s probably Frazier now too.  I read on the alumni website they’d gotten married right after high school.  There’s Tiff Stanton and Delia Jones, the party girls, out on the dance floor with guys I’m assuming are their husbands, but with Delia and Tiff, who really knows.  In the corner of the room, nursing a drink, is Cat Fiore, my high school bestie, who I hear is some do-gooder type now, running a charity that gets clean drinking water to people in third-world countries.  Penance.

I decide I need a drink if I’m really going to do this and head straight to the bar.  I haven’t even signaled the bartender yet when greasy Charles Macklin takes a seat next to me.   He was a player in high school, always chasing girls.  I don’t see a ring on his finger, so he must still be up to his old ways.

“Hello.”  He adds 100 L’s.  He smells like too much cologne and I wrinkle my nose, stifling a sneeze.

“Hi.”

“Are you here with someone?  I’m sure I would have remembered you if we were in school together.”

“You don’t remember me, Charlie?”  I ask, enjoying his look of confusion.

“Should I?”  He motions for the bartender.  “I’ll have a beer and she’ll take a…”

“Martini.  Dry.  Extra olives.”

He turns back to me proudly as though I should be grateful.  It is an open bar.

“So, why don’t I remember you?  Were you one of those late-bloomer types?  A wallflower?”  He chuckles.

“Well, I was a bit shy, but I’m sure you remember me, Charlie.  It’s me, Casey.”

I see him mentally scrolling through a list of all the Caseys he knows, having already decided I couldn’t be THAT Casey.

“Casey…”

“Casey Thompson.”

The bartender returns with our drinks but he doesn’t notice.  He mumbles some excuse about needing to talk to someone and rushes away, nearly knocking over a stool in his wake.  I notice he makes a beeline for Cat, whose eyes widen in surprise as he whispers in her ear urgently.

Of course they’re all shocked and running scared.  These people all thought I was lost forever, which is to be expected, since they left me for dead.

Read Part 2 – Smoke

 

 

New Girl

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It didn’t take him very long to realize something wasn’t right.  The address she’d given him wasn’t for a restaurant, but a private home.  Anya answered the door almost immediately.

“Simon!  You made it!”  She was just as beautiful as her profile pic, if not more.  “Make yourself comfortable.”  She scurried back to the kitchen.

A framed photo caught his eye.  The chubby, sad girl behind the glass somehow familiar.  They’d gone to school together.  He reddened, remembering how he’d treated her.

“I figured you wouldn’t recognize me.” Anya stood in the doorway.

“Why have me come here?”

“Are you really asking that?”

Simon looked down at his shoes, high school memories rushing over him.

“I’m sorry, Anya.  I really am.”

She nodded.

“I have to go.”

Later, she  opened her high school yearbook and drew a dark line through Simon’s photo.

“Five down, five to go,” she whispered.

 

Written for the Miniature Writing Challenge

Girlfight

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The storm had been brewing a while.  It all started a month or so ago.  Madeline said something unforgivable about Karina to Chloe, something about Karina and a boy, which Chloe repeated to Riley, not knowing that Riley and Karina had made up after their fight the week before and were talking again.  Had she known, she would have never said anything to Riley, of course, but it was too late now. Riley sent a mass text to EVERYONE, including Karina, about the horrible thing Madeline said.  Then the insults started flying, profanity-laden texts, whispered conversations in dark corridors, glares across the cafeteria, escalating nastiness.

Then it happened.  Madeline and Chloe were walking down the hallway between classes, when Madeline tripped and accidentally bumped Chloe, which caused Chloe to bump into Karina, who was standing next to Riley.

“Skank!”  Karina shouted at Madeline, who responded with a sucker punch to Karina’s nose.  Soon fists, hair, and insults were flying, with a growing crowd around them spurring them on.  It took four teachers to separate the girls.  There was no clear winner or loser.  Both girls emerged with ripped clothing, disheveled hair and scratched, bloody faces.

That night at home, after receiving lengthy school suspensions, both girls turned off their phones, which were practically exploding with texts, and crawled into bed early.  Karina reached under her pillow for her favorite book as Madeline was pulling the same book from the bag lying next to her bed.   Elle King, another shared favorite, sang softly into the girls’ ears as they fell asleep, both wishing for a friend that would understand them.

For Sunday Photo Fiction