I sat towards the back, trying to keep out of everybody's way. I was staring at the way light reflected off of the tip of my shoe. I would bob it slightly, up and down, and watch the reflection change as the angles shifted. It was one of those stupid things I did when I couldn't read or sleep. I really didn't want to listen to what they were saying. In fact, I didn't want to be there at all. But there was a consensus in the air- you had to be there. So I got up, put my most solemn looking dress on, found some shoes to match, and asked my Mom to drive me down here.
There were faces I recognized in the crowd. Lots of teachers, but mostly students, some I knew and others I knew only by sight filled the tiny room, which quickly became stuffy and hot. There wasn't anyone I knew seated near me, only a tall, angular woman who had to be her aunt, along with three small girls, miniature versions of her, sitting in a row with tiny legs kicking softly while the adults droned on. It was just as well there were no friends nearby, because I could think of very little that I wanted to say. The room was tense, like everyone was holding their breath.
The day after it happened, the news had spread like the wind through the school, the emotional outbursts becoming so frequent that they finally abandoned all pretense and just held a giant assembly. They never told us how, exactly, but the consensus was pills, emptying Mom's medicine bottles late one night and never waking up the next morning. The principal, a fat balding man with his voice cracking at the edges, told the whole school what had happened and about the counselors they would have available. Blah blah blah, I thought, welcoming the break from conjugating French verbs and memorizing English kings, but not seeing what the fuss was about.
Rachel was one of those people that just got selected at some point, somehow told she was going to be important. She was more beautiful, more perfect, more poised and confident and smooth than anyone you knew. It was like you went to school with a movie star. Teachers treated her differently, listening to her more closely, almost asking her permission before assigning homework. Boys worshipped her, of course, and the leading question before every dance and prom was "who is Rachel going to pick?" Most girls secretly envied her and resented her influence, but no one would dare take sides against her. She held power silently, without seeming to hold it at all.
I uncrossed my legs and recrossed them, tuning back in to the voices coming from the front of the room. One of her uncles, I think, was describing how kind Rachel was, how generous and loving, to the point that I wanted to gag. She was those things, true- when it benefited her. She would be your best friend until someone said no. Then she would turn on a dime, being vicious and cold, as long as no one was within earshot. She never risked ruining her simon pure reputation.
The last time I saw her, it was one of those rough days. I had my period, plus I was sick, and I had my hair in a sloppy bun, feeling gross and sore and out of place. The day was finally over, and I was walking towards the bus when I saw Rachel gliding by, looking like her feet were barely touching the ground. I didn't count her as a friend, but I circulated in her orbit. Talking with her put as big a knot in my stomach as a cute boy would, constantly on guard for double meanings and hidden digs.
"Your hair looks so cute when it's up!," she said breezily. I wasn't used to compliments as a rule, but it was laughably untrue. I looked like hell, and I knew it, and I craved my bed more than all the money in the world.
"Thanks," I tried to say with the same lightness, but it came out sounding begrudging and mean. I was sure she didn't mean it. Compliments from Rachel had barbs attached- she was emphasizing the difference between you, pointing out that she was ten times prettier than you on your best day. My thoughts boiled as I watched her hips twitch as she walked by. "I wish you were dead," I thought venomously, my voice in my head a loud scream, edging on hysteria.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Melissa Brodsky challenged me with "your wish becomes somebody's command" and I challenged Dimdom with " 'I just hope to wake up, and it's not a disaster' -Keith Richards".