Elizabeth Chase was the kind of girl who made heads swivel before she even entered a room. She would strut with an unimaginable confidence that made the whole world stop to take notes. She was stunningly beautiful, her golden locks of vicious curls swaying behind her perfectly sculpted body. But Elizabeth’s mind was what truly set her above the rest. She was brilliant and incredibly cunning. She knew just how to make you feel worthless, and somehow knew your secrets before you even managed to think them up yourself. And if you ever turned your back on her, Elizabeth had the power to turn everyone you’ve ever known against you with nothing but a single glare.
When I was sitting alone that rainy Wednesday in March, I never imagined that I would see Elizabeth walking up to my barren lunch table. I was two chapters behind in my newest book for English class and was anticipating another quiet lunch period to get up to speed.
She had her trademark smirk plastered across her face as she breezed by a table full of desperate boys. Her heels clicked against the plastic floor as she reached the table, and she placed a perfectly manicured hand on the chair across from me.
“Mind if I sit?” she inquired, as if this was a completely normal encounter. I nodded mutely, unsure of what was about to take place.
“I’m-,” I started to speak, my voice uncertain.
“Oh, Skylar sweetie, I know who you are. Actually, I’ve been watching you for weeks.” She beamed across the table at me and she sat in the blue lunchroom chair.
“Watching... me? Why?” I was at a loss for words. Elizabeth Radley was not a girl to admit to showing interest in others.
“Follow me,” she whispered with a mysterious smirk.
She rose an eyebrow and smiled as if she had just presented me with the greatest gift of all time.
“No buts, no ifs. You are coming with me. Don’t you trust me?” A small laugh escaped her lips.
As she stood, I felt myself rise too. Elizabeth sauntered away from the table without looking back, as if she knew that I would follow her every move. And I did.
Call it a moment of weakness. Call it desperation for attention. Or maybe it was nothing more that a shallow desire for popularity. Whatever it was, before I knew it I was halfway across the lunchroom and headed towards the quad outside of the high school.
“Elizabeth?” A shrill voice cut through the crisp outdoor autumn air. Elizabeth turned slowly towards the speaker with a sense of ease.
“Ms. Landford! How nice to see you.” She beamed at our vice principal with a innocence I didn’t know she possessed.
“I’m sure it is, especially since you seem to be leaving the campus during school hours,” Ms. Landford gestured vigorously with her pointer finger as she continued to speak, “And you’ve recruited a friend this time too?” Her cold, commanding eyes shot me a disapproving gaze and I felt myself quake.
“Ms. Landford, you have it all wrong. I was just showing Skylar how to do some math problems she didn’t understand and we came to sit on the steps to get some fresh air.” She sparkled a charming smile as she spoke. “Isn’t that right Sky?” Elizabeth turned to me a perked her eyebrow.
“Oh... yeah, sorry Principal Landford. I was just super confused on the algebra last night and Elizabeth was giving me some pointers. Don’t worry about us.” I attempted to mimic Elizabeth’s innocent smile, but mine appeared a mangled, weak grimace.
“Alright, just this time. But if I see you girls out here again, don’t think I’ll let it slide.” Ms. Landford held her suspicious gaze as she walked back up the steps and into the front doors of the high school.
“Elizabeth, what are we doing? I’ve never once been in trouble with the school, I can’t be out here looking for a reason to be punished.”
“Oh, come on. Loosen up sweetie. If there’s one thing I ever teach you, it’s that you are always better off with a really good lie.” She smirked again and beckoned me. “I want you to meet the rest of the girls.”
“Who?” I inquired, but I already knew I wouldn’t get a response. Elizabeth hooked around the corner of the building, looked back at me, then opened a silver door and glided in.
“Skylar, meet the girls.”
Three girls sat around a table, each appearing equally as nervous and confused as I was.
“That’s Lola, Mckenzie, and Ava. Girls, this is Skylar.”
First at the table sat Lola Wixford who I recognized from my freshman year math class. She was super smart, and was always the first to answer any question. Most people got easily annoyed by girls like her, but I always admired her confidence and intelligence. I was never the smartest student, and was envious of her mind. I also loved Lola’s shoulder length bright red hair, though her clothes looked like they may have come from her middle-aged mother’s closet.
Sitting next to Lola was Mckenzie Shryer, a petite blonde who I knew the best out of the three girls. She and I were lab partners in the first semester, and she had confided some pretty personal stuff to me one night when I found her crying outside of school. She made me swear to stay quiet, but I knew that there was more to the story then she let on.
On the other end of the table was Ava Grantly, who I only knew by name. She was an artsy, quirky girl who had a bad breakup last year and was the talk of the school for weeks. I felt awful for her, but I was guilty of spreading some of the rumors myself and felt ashamed as soon as Elizabeth said her name. She would never know that I did that to her, but still felt myself flush bright pink as we made eye contact.
“Hi,” Lola squeaked from her spot on the table bench. The other two smiled bleakly up at me. Elizabeth cut the silence.
“Girls, meet Skylar.”
Three weeks passed and the five of us somehow became the closest knit group in the school. I went from being a nobody who sat alone at lunch to a part of the popular posse, and I would be lying if I said I didn't love basking in the spotlight. Suddenly my weekends were filled with shopping with the girls and sharing secrets every night. Elizabeth dragged us to frat parties and college bars, and my once perfect record was tarnished with what Elizabeth called "harmless adventure". I was unknowingly pulled under the Elizabeth Chase spell, and Lola, Mckenzie, Ava and I were together for the ride, holding on for our lives. I put my trust in these girls.
"You know that you can tell me anything right guys?" Elizabeth said with a giggle one night at Ava's house. She pulled a small flask from her expensive purse lying on the floor and twisted it open.
"Elizabeth, where did you get that?" asked Lola, shocked with a hint of admiration. Elizabeth just grinned in response and handed it to Mckenzie.
"Drink up girls, this is going to be a night to remember," sung Elizabeth.
"If we drink too much there wont be a lot of remembering going on tomorrow," I added with a laugh as I snatched the flask from Mckenzie's hands.
"You can't let my mom see that Elizabeth. I'll be dead for the rest of my life!" Ava wore a worried look as I swigged the alcohol.
"Loosen up, Av. Don't you get sick of being you sometimes?" I reply with a cackle.
"God Skylar, you sound just like..." Ava stops midsentence. She furrows her brow and looks away.
"Girls, enough. This is our first weekend of summer and we can't let anyone ruin it. Hand me that!" Elizabeth giggles and reaches for the flask, but freezes as something clangs loudly against Ava's window. We all gasp and turn towards the noise and Elizabeth slowly stands and creeps towards the window pane.
"What is it Elizabeth?" Lola's voice quavers.
She reaches out of the open window and grabs a rock that was wedged in the frame from the outside. A worried look crosses her face, but is quickley masked by a phony smile.
"It's nothing, just some dumb kid's idea of a funny joke." I watch though as her eyes nervously dart towards the window as she reaches to close it.
"What's that red stuff on the rock?" asks Lola. Lola extends a hand to grab the rock from Elizabeth but she shrinks away from her grasp.
"I said don't worry about it. Enough Lola." She sits back down on the bed and sets the rock next to her. I tilt my head and am able to make out the lettering on the side in red paint. B****es deserve to die.
" 'B****es deserve to die? Elizabeth, that's probably just someone like Brandon Harris trying to scare us." I didn't see what the big drama was that she was clearly trying to hide. Boy's in our grade were idiots and liked to provoke girls like Elizabeth.
"Come on girls, drink up. We have a big night ahead." Elizabeth rose the flask up as if to toast us and tilted back her head. "Don't worry, nobody's dying tonight."