"Am I really not allowed to complain about being here?" I ask as we enter Bedford High School about an hour late for the winter ball. In an attempt to make it more ball and less high school, the lights are dimmed in the front foyer and giant white snowflakes and twinkly lights dangle from the ceiling. They are supposed to look festive, but they are dingy from years of use. The white is sort of an off-yellow that looks like old tea-stained teeth more than snow.
"Come on, Rachel," my best friend, Alanna, pleads. "Can't we just make this fun?"
"How can it be fun?" I asked. "It's a school sanctioned event. We hate this school and the people here. Why can't we just watch old movies at my house like normal?"
"Because we always do that!" Alanna says, exasperated. "Can't you just suffer in silence?" she asks. "For me?"
I look at her huge moss green eyes and her quavering lip and sigh. "Fine, but I'm not going to be happy about it."
She squeals, grabs my arm, and drags into the gym. The decorations aren't much better in here, but at least there's good music. We stand on the sidelines for the first two songs until Matthias, a guy in our class, comes and asks Alanna to dance. Her eyes light up and she nods her head vigorously before following him onto the dance floor.
I smile and watch the pair of them for a while. Neither of them are very good dancers but they don't seem to care. The song comes to an end and a slow one comes on. He puts his hands on her waist as she wraps her arms around his shoulders. They look so cute together I almost forget why I was so against coming in the first place.
Until she starts heading my way.
Her name is Mariam and she's the nastiest bitch I've ever met. We used to be friends until, suddenly, we weren't. I don't know quite what happened but ever since we started high school she's been horrible to me.
She sashays over followed by Josefina and Linzi, her cronies. "Rachel, I can't believe you made it!" she says all fake-nicey. But I know better.
"Me either," I say with a equal level of false enthusiasm.
"Would you like some punch?" Mariam asks. "It's got pineapple juice in it. I know how much you love pineapples."
Actually she knows how allergic I am to them. My lips, mouth, and tongue all swell up and my throat could even close if I eat too much. Even if I don't, I get an awful stomach-ache for at least two hours.
"You wouldn't dare," I say.
"Oh, yes, I would," she says, still with that sickly-sweet smile on her face. She takes a cup of punch out of Josefina's hand and tosses it in my face.