She stood looking down at the tiny photo for what seemed like hours. Crying was out of the question, here in the middle of the high school classroom. She didn’t want anyone to see her that way. Butterflies flew in a rush in her stomach, a headache, a bad one was creeping up the back of her neck. Feeling flushed, cheeks red from holding back the hot tears that were beginning to force themselves out anyway and despite her determination to stop them. There were more footsteps in the hallway, and she knew it was time to get herself together.
She thought they really liked her. Why else would they ask for her picture? Although is was strange they didn’t want her to sign it or write anything on the back. That was standard wasn’t it? But it was okay because they were busy with academic clubs and athletics and cheerleading. Having the most popular girls in the school, girls she had known since kindergarten, seemingly want to remember her with one of those tiny photos that came in the senior picture package her mom ordered was a real badge of honor. Wait until she shared it with the other members of the Library Club! They would be so impressed! Shy little Adrian giving her picture to all the popular kids. So, okay, in the Library Club, when talking about to the beautiful people there was disdain and mocking. But she believed they all secretly wished they were one of them. The ones the football players asked to prom or just watched as they walked by, not the ones that were laughed at and mocked. Yes, she wanted to be one of them.
The library Club met during lunch and just before the meeting ended she shared that both Kelly and Brooke had asked for her picture. The other members, Taylor, Karen and Beverly, stared at her like she had horns growing out of her head. How could you even talk to them, a shocked Beverly said. Taylor looked at her like she had never seen her before. Only Karen looked at her with wide, sad eyes. “Let me walk you to class’, she said as she took my elbow and headed out of the library.
“Why is everyone acting so weird?”, I asked her quietly. She was silent as we walked into the classroom and to my seat. “Oh, Adrian”, Karen sighed. “What?” I nearly shouted but didn’t because other students started walking in. Karen took a breath, “Adrian, they are having a contest to see who can collect the most pictures. They don’t care about you now any more than they have for the past 12 years.” My mouth opened to protest that she must be wrong, Kelly and Brooke weren’t that bad. They couldn’t be! Karen whispered that she would see me right after class and left the room. Suddenly all I felt was embarrassment and I wanted to die. How could they? How could anyone be so terrible? We had been friends, nor real close friends, in elementary school but once we got to middle school things changed. It made me sad but figured it was just the way it was. By high school they totally ignored me. I made other friends, a small knit group, not popular but did well in school and sometimes even went to football games. Other than that, we were bookworms and I was fine with that. Still, when asked for the picture I thought well, we may have drifted apart but this is our senior year so it made sense.
Looking back now she realized she had forgotten to ask them for a picture, she was so taken aback with their request. Would they have shared? Now that she knew the reason she highly doubted it. Karen was waiting when she left class and they began the long walk home. Well, it wasn’t that long, but today everything was different. “I hate them SO MUCH”, she said in a low angry voice. Karen nodded her head, “they are not worth even thinking about”. “Maybe”, she replied.
Just forget about it, Karen encouraged her. But hard as she tried she couldn’t. The pit in her stomach from this betrayal, that’s how she saw it, just kept eating at her. She started to realize that she wanted it to hurt because it was this feeling that was fueling her rage. Ways to pay them back for the way they hurt her started to form in her mind. Not a revengeful person usually she was surprised at how satisfying these thoughts were. Always the nice, quiet girl, a loyal friend, not a trouble maker, did whatever her friends asked because she didn’t know how to say no. But as the anger inside her grew she started to think about how great it would feel to make them pay for what they did. It was a new yet empowering feeling. These girls had everything she didn’t, they were pretty, had nice clothes (hers often came from the second-hand store) and best of all? The adoration of their peers and even the teachers. There was no way to continue to overlook all these things, especially not now. Revenge took over; no more the nice quiet girl. Just thinking about it made her heartbeat faster and for the first time since she found out the truth, she smiled.
Adrian was good in chemistry, really good. She had an advantage because her dad was a chemist and owned a pest control business. Since she can remember he taught her about chemical compounds, not to mix household cleaners and about the chemicals he used for his business. Was there something she could do with all that information? Sulfuryl Fluoride immediately came to mind because it is an odorless, colorless gas mainly used to keep those pesky pests away. When someone had their home treated for pests, they had to wait before they went back home, or they might suffer the consequences of the neurotoxin: irritation in their eyes, nose and throat, maybe nausea and even a stomach ache. And these could happen with just the recommended amount. All she needed to do was get a canister and apply the liquid gas where they would be exposed. Not their homes, even though their families were no doubt to blame for their disgusting behavior and she didn’t want to overdo it. But where? Their cars? Yes, that would be perfect. They all had their own, sometimes riding together, sometimes separate but they always drove. The next morning, after her parents left for work, she went out to the garage and grabbed a small container, the ones dad kept for their own home. Shoving it into her backpack she left for school.
As she had planned she arrived at school after the first bell. She would make up some excuse and they would believe her because she was a goodie two shoes student. Whatever. At least two of her classmates were about to find out she was nothing of the sort, not anymore. She found both cars, parked next to each other. They both drove that day, Kelly a Jeep and Brooke a Mazda because of course they did. Neither car was locked as who would have the gall to touch them! Quietly, she opened the back door of the first car. Slipping on a face mask she had taken from the garage, she pulled the cannister out of her backpack and proceeded to spray the back but not the front. She wasn’t out to kill them, although….no she told herself that was too far. But she certainly wanted to make them sick. She did the same to the second car. About a 10-minute walk from the school there was a pond. She walked as fast as she could without drawing attention, made sure the cannister was closed tightly, wiped it down and threw it as far as she could into the middle of the pond.
That day was another normal day of school. More than anything she wanted to watch the two girls get sick but decided it was better to just go home. As she and Karen walked their usual path, Karen asked her why she had been late that morning. Overslept she replied, up late studying for that days’ History exam. Karen looked at her quizzically as Adrian had an A and never needed to study. Adrian shrugged her shoulders, replying that for this part of the content she needs to…did not come as easily as the rest. Oh, okay, said Karen seemingly satisfied. After Adrian got home she went about her routine. The excitement was growing. How long before they got sick? Not too long she thought. News of their illness, both girls becoming ill around the same time, probably in the evening, should come soon. Around 9pm Karen called her. “Did you hear?”, her voice raised. “Hear what?”, Adrian lazily said. “Kelly and Brooke are really sick. They took them to the ER and they are going to be okay but probably out of school the rest of the week!” she spoke so fast Adrian asked he to slow down. “Wow”, she replied, feigning shock and sympathy, “That’s too bad.” “Yeah”, Karen said, “Now everyone is saying that they must be together, you know a lesbian couple.” Adrian, held the phone away from her ear, taking that in. “Really?” “Yes, and they think they may have made some kind of a pact to die together.” This could not have come out any better. Not only were they sick but now their friends thought they were lovers. Most people wouldn’t care but Adrian knew their families, Southern Conservatives all, would be horrified and there were always some students still living in the dark ages. Still, for a while anyway, people would be whispering when they walked by, and they would know what it felt like to be shunned and mocked. Good!! Adrian knew that eventually this would all be straightened out but for the moment she reveled in the glory of payback. The satisfactory knowledge that she got the better of them. What a glorious feeling.
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