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The new girl sashayed down the high school hallway, her tight jeans hugging her slim hips. Curly blond hair fell onto her shoulders, her long bangs clipped off to one side. Her sky blue eyes twinkled with light, mouth moving a mile a minute as she greeted everyone who came her way. Bracelets, matching her light pink shirt perfectly, jangled on her wrist. In every way, she was perfect.
I hated her.
No words could describe why, but I knew that there was something unnatural about her. She seemed real enough, and the way she talked to people was natural. Yet she seemed…different from all of us. The rest of us hid in dark clothes, navy sweatshirts and grey, baggy sweatpants. Our sneakers, torn and smelly, were nothing compared to the three-inch heels she wore. All the latest hair styles went out of fashion as she walked by. Everyone liked her well enough. Only I abhorred the idea of going near her.
The warning bell rang, and we disappeared into our classrooms. My homeroom Algebra teacher began the daily lecture on polynomials, square roots, and who knows what else. Already most kids’ eyes were glazed over. His continuous drone began to lull me to sleep. For the time being, I forgot all about the new student.
I woke up, startled to consciousness by the next bell. Slobber coated my hand and the inside of my mouth. I joined the queue of students rushing into the hallway. Each side of the hallway was packed, creating a miniscule amount of space for passerby to squeeze through. As I passed the English room, I saw the new girl inside, talking animatedly with the teacher. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but still my footsteps slowed until I was standing, mostly hidden, behind the door. Their words were drowned out by the loud conversations being held around me. However, I saw what happened.
The teacher, being a wonderful woman, gave the new girl a hug. As they squeezed each other, the new girl’s head popped off. My jaw dropped in disbelief. Yet even as the headless student moved to get her head, the teacher followed her, laughing calmly as if nothing had happened. The new girl reattached her head, then said her good-byes and walked by me. As she did, she gave me a smile like none other. It held innocence, yet there was something about it. I realized, quite suddenly, that she looked like plastic. Her features didn’t seem quite so real. The fluorescent lights gleamed harshly off of her perfect skin. Perfection, for a startling second, didn’t seem quite so perfect.
I rushed inside the English room, my mind chasing its tail like a young puppy. “Mrs. Fern, did you see anything…strange, while that girl was in here?” I chose my words carefully, wondering if we had witnessed the same thing.
“Oh, you mean Barbie? She just transferred from a design school in some fancy town out west. No, she just stopped by to catch up on any homework she might need to make up. Of course, I do wonder how her pencil managed to get all the way across the room by itself…” Mrs. Fern didn’t finish whatever she was going to say, wandering off-topic about homework assignments. I left her talking to herself about final exams and upcoming quizzes.
So Mrs. Fern had not seen Barbie’s head come flying off. How strange; most people can’t pop their heads off at will. At least, I know that I can’t. Barbie was the first person I had ever seen do that. Then the odd glare off her skin…A thought surfaced in my confused brain; I dismissed it quickly, not giving it another thought. It slunk back into the recesses of my brain, brooding quietly. There was something wrong with Barbie, I knew that much.
I joined the throng of students bustling towards the cafeteria. Compared to most school food, ours was pretty decent. The pizza was usually warm, and the milk was always cold. No one could complain too much. After receiving my plateful of food, I sourced out my friends, only to find them sitting with Barbie. Cautiously I sat down, watching her. She was talking to my dearest friend, Stormy. Stormy giggled at a joke Barbie had made and ate her burger. Barbie grinned, then stuck a fork in her salad. For the second time that day, my jaw dropped open, this time with half-chewed food inside. When Barbie had taken the fork to her mouth, nothing had gone inside. Her mouth was just a slight indentation, with teeth only barely visible. Instead, the salad leaves, drenched in Caesar dressing, fell into her lap. Again, no one noticed.
The lights flickered, and Barbie stood. Dressing slightly stained her jeans. I silently followed the new girl from the table, to the trashcan, and into the bathroom. That was where I cornered her, and began my investigation.
“Okay, Barbie, what is up with you?” I decided not to beat around the bush and just get right to the facts.
Her eyes, now looking more shallow and waxy, glared at me innocently. “What to you mean?” asked her honeyed voice.
“You aren’t normal. When you tried to eat your salad, it fell into your lap; there are the stains to prove it. Your face looks like someone wrapped it in Saran wrap. Get this: did you know that your head popped off in Mrs. Fern’s room?”
“What do you want me to say? I am not different than you or your friend Stormy. By the way, she is a really sweet girl.”
“Look, you aren’t normal! No one can pop their head off like that, unless they are Barbie dolls!” An evil glint sparkled in Barbie’s eyes. Malice seemed to be written across her face. Her mouth, still waxy, was pulled up in a delicate sneer.
“How very good of you, Angela. I was wondering if anyone would notice my…finer qualities. You see, that is exactly what I am. When I was still a real doll, gathering dust on a store shelf, well…I think that this story would be better if you experienced it for yourself.” I couldn’t grasp her words in time. Only when she reached for me, an empty Barbie doll box in her outstretched hand, did I understand that I was to take her place as a doll. My scream was cut short; when I opened my eyes again, I was staring out through a cellophane wrapper. I was officially a Barbie doll.