Thirty Nine

114 12 8

They say that even the cruelest and most evil of people are still someone's child. There is somebody, somewhere, who loved them once, even if it was only their mother and no one else.

As horrible as Ariana could be, she had always kept a good side. If she hadn't, I wouldn't have been friends with her for so long. For every backhanded compliment, there was something she could offer that somehow made it all okay. If she said something hurtful about my appearance, she'd make up for it by shoving handfuls of her clothes into my arms for me to borrow. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I happily accepted.

Ariana had expensive taste and a budget to feed it. I didn't. So, when she tossed a brand new cardigan sweater that still had the three hundred dollar price tag attached to it and told me how great it would make me look, I took it. In a way, I felt vindicated whenever I accepted, almost as though I deserved to wear her new clothes before she did since she had been so hurtful. Little did I know that this was her plan, her perfected way to keep me just where she wanted me.

When she said how much she hated my swimsuit as she flaunted herself in her string bikini, she would make up for it by inviting me over to swim and sleepover. She knew how to press my buttons and how to reel me back in, and it worked every time. Slowly I had become isolated from everyone except her, loyally following along with the pack behind her solely because I had nowhere else to go and no one else to follow. It never occurred to me that I could lead.

I knew not to speak up or voice my opinion too loudly if it clashed with hers. The key was to not get mad at Ariana, but to make her think she had hurt my feelings so she would feel obligated to make it up to me. Then, during that small window of weakness, I would have to find a way to regain control of my body while her guard was down.

As Ariana made her way around my room, little things would catch her attention. Instead of answering her with short responses or totally ignoring her altogether, I did my best to occupy as much time as possible by getting her to talk about memories of our friendship. She went through my closet, found the pile of her old clothes, and went through them. I could tell she missed the typical teenage girl stuff that she had enjoyed so much when she was alive, like shopping and makeup.

Finally it was sunset and I anxiously waited to hear a knock on my front door. Ariana was still in my bedroom, having lost all sense of time, when they arrived.

"That must be your friends! The hottie's mom and nut job! This ought to be fun," she said as she made her way down the stairs.

She opened the door and smiled while inviting them in. I was desperate for them to realize it wasn't really me, but Ariana, as they made their way into the kitchen. Ariana took a seat at the kitchen table before they did, so when they each took a seat as well, they shared the same expression on their faces. Vivian looked at them back and forth a few times before saying anything.

"Would it be alright if I got a glass of water?"

Ariana ignored her. I guessed it was because she forgot she was me and this was my house, making her the hostess instead of a guest.

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