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Once upon a time, four girls would be seen walking through the halls of high school with their arms linked. None of them would be defined as popular nor were they considered the school “freaks”.
They were all different shapes and sizes with different backgrounds, but that didn’t stop them from bonding. There was some invisible force that fused them together over time. Everything was as perfect as it could get for the bunch—which was far from cinema’s interpretation of perfection.
One day, something stirred in one of the girls. Her name was Liz and she’s neither the leader nor the most beautiful out of the three, but with her long blond hair, blue-green eyes, and lean yet curved frame it was undeniable that she was the all-American beauty. She’d always felt alone and belittled in their presence. Liz would want to go out and have a light night excursion, but they’d want to go out to an abandoned park and smoke pot. Liz never saw it before so clearly, but she was the misfit of the group.
At first it started out just as pity, knowing that each of her friends was irrevocably damaged. She knew that their psyches were far from the norm, but she embraced them regardless. Then the idiosyncrasies that once made her laugh started to cause her to grimace. She finally noticed their coarse, damaged hair that derived from all the daily straightening and constant dying. Even their hair follicles couldn’t take the abuse anymore.
They were all small things and she knew that she probably had characteristics that got on their nerves as well, but she couldn't think of one if asked on the spot. She became frustrated with their chain smoking, makeshift pipe-making, and underage drinking.
After that, she quickly grew tired of their anti-conformities. They were cookie cut outs of the anti-preps, trying to find their place. She observed their desperate attempts to be accepted by those who they deem their idols.
Even with all of these things that slowly began to bug her, she put up with them. That is, until the day they nearly forgot her birthday. The blond-haired girl anticipated baked goods, presents, and balloons. She wanted to be worshiped on the day she took her first breath on this planet. It was all she ever asked for. So as she drove to school in her big, shiny car she found that hardly anyone had remembered. A few people created on-the-spot birthday notes or cards. She felt forgotten, abandoned, and abused. Even her closest friends had forgotten or failed to give her a present that required thought and care.
Something boiled inside of her as her friend was using quarters to pay for her burrito.
“So that’s it, huh?” the blond said out loud.
“What are you talking about?” her friend said as she was handed back her change by an Indian teenager.
“A burrito from Taco Bell and a handwritten note you did second period?”
Her friend’s gray eyes conveyed all the confusion she felt inside as she flushed from embarrassment. That blush was the only color on her pallid complexion aside from the dark makeup on her eyelids that emphasized her sullen features.
“What are you talking about?” the friend asked, trying to grasp what’s happening before her eyes.
Liz ran a hand through her blond hair to keep her nerves in check, but it wasn’t working.
“I did so much for you on your birthday and you couldn’t at least give me a gift card?”
The hurt in her friend’s eyes were clear as day, but Liz didn’t seem to care. She had no idea what possessed Liz to say such hurtful things to a person that’s been in her life for so long.
“Liz, you know why I can’t get you the perfect present right now,” she said in a low voice.
“I know, I know.” Liz rolled her eyes as if she were tired of the excuses. “You’re practically homeless, but what about everyone else?”
Her friend flinched and turned even redder than before. “I’m not homeless—”
“Not yet,” Liz corrected as she looked down at her tiny friend.
Liz’s friend ignored the comment and continued, “Everyone else is having a hard time too, you know. We can’t do everything.”
“It’s just one present for one person. Is it that difficult to get one lousy present?” Liz challenged.
Something changed in her friend. The little gray-eyed girl was no longer sad, but incredibly furious. Her fiery red hair glowed in anger and her stance became aggressive. She wouldn’t take this abuse from anyone, especially not the girl who claimed to be her friend.
“Buying a frivolous present isn’t on my priority list, Liz,” she snapped. “Paying bills, getting my brothers to school, and keeping my dad sober are. Get off your high horse, okay?”
Liz stood there frozen, as if she were slapped in the face.
“Fine. Keep the burrito. You can find your own ride, freak,” she sneered as she walked out the door.
The horrible thing was that they both knew that Liz meant every word of what she said. Liz discovered that the person she thought was her friend, no her best friend was in fact a freak of nature as she looked at her friend’s straightened, teased, and dyed red hair; Monroe piercing that glistened above her lip in the fluorescents; and ethereal tattoo on her temple.
She had no idea why she hung out with them in the first place. She was eagerly welcomed by those who had identical blond hair and willowy frames like her. Liz eventually joined the cheerleading team for kicks. Never once while she was shimming down the field with pom-poms in her hands did she spot her former friends in the stands. It was then she realized that she wasn’t the misfit, they were.