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When Sarah saw the new girl standing in the gym doorway, she immediately felt embarrassed for her. The new girl, Sarah thought her name might be Alison, looked absolutely ridiculous. It was an outfit Sarah might have considered wearing when she was younger and wanted to feel like a princess, but now that she was in high school she knew how uncool it looked- a puffy silky dress, with capped sleeves, and a big skirt. The kind of dress you would see a little girl wearing to a celebration. Not the type of outfit you needed to wear to the first 9th grade dance, we’re being cool was the ultimate goal.
Glancing over at her two closest friends, Maddie and Alex, who were in full- on flirt mode with two boys that Sarah knew had “reputations”, she hoped that they wouldn’t spot the new girl. Because although they had been best friends since forever and Sarah usually loved hanging out with them, she knew that they were the type of girls that would rip the new girl to shreds, all in pursuit of trying to keep themselves on top. It made Sarah uneasy to realize this, but her long friendship with them made it hard to just break it off. Lately, she had been spending most of her time trying to deny the fact that they were turning into the girls she had always resented, turning a blind eye to the mean things they had already done, in only the first month of high school, so that she could convince herself she wasn’t making the wrong choice.
Sarah watched as the girl realized how out of place she was. Even in the crowded dance floor, she could spot the distraught face. Secretly willing the girl to turn back and spare herself the humiliation, Sarah watched in surprise as the girl smoothed over her dress and walked over to the crowd.
“Sarah. Snap out of it.” Maddie stood with her hand on her hip, looking impatient. “Why are you zoning so much? “We’re leaving with Zac and Drake”, she gestured toward the two boys and Alex, “Come with.”
“I thought we weren’t allowed to leave?” Maddie and Alex rolled their eyes, exasperated. Zac and Drake, just exchanged grins.
“Maybe not, but we still can. Come on. This dance is lame. Zac and Drake know a party going on that they can take us too.”
Sarah weighed the options. Here was her chance to finally stand up to her friends. But the consequence of being labeled as a dork, was heavy on her mind. But before she had a chance to make up her mind, she heard Alex’s high pitched laugh and then-
“What is she wearing?” There was the vindictive laugh in her voice that made Sarah fear the worst.
“Did she, like, raid her grandma’s closet or something?” The two girls laughed at their own cleverness.
Looking up, Sarah saw the new girl, just as she had known she would. She stayed silent, stuck in the limbo of wanting to the right thing and wanted to be liked. Basically how she had spent most of the year so far.
“Okay that’s the final straw. This dance cannot get any lamer. I’m out.” Maddie turned on her heel and began to cut a path through the crowd, followed by Alex and the two boys.
Sarah watched them through the crowd, as they turned heads. They strutted out of the dancing crowd, but before had reached the vacant floor, Sarah’s stomach dropped as she saw Maddie lean over to the new girl and whisper something in her ear. Maddie and her entourage moved on, but their victim stood there, tears sliding down her face, all alone on the edge.
The girl waited a second for the clique to leave, than speed out of the room.
Sarah knew the moment for her to make a choice had finally come. Go with her friends, be cool, have the right reputation, be safe from the scorn she would face or take a chance, do what she knew was the right thing? If only it wasn’t so hard, maybe if it was easier…
But she had known what she was going to have to eventually do, and she decided to meet the challenge on her own terms.
Sarah just hoped the new girl would be easy to find.