Back to the Beginning
Angelica stood there, bemused by the fear she favoured in.
Her glare was cold, as she looked around at the trophy cabinet, full of glimmering gold awards and silver medals glittering in the mid-morning light that came streaming like ribbons in through the high windows placed uncivilized on the upper wall. She breathed heavily. Her face was uncertain, but still determined. She stepped forward, making a creak in the floorboards beneath. My heart was racing as she carefully took her place by the springboard. Her smile had vanished.
She took another deep breath, took a step, and ran forward. She lunged onto the board and jumped to do a stunning leap into the air; into a spin like a hurricane, twirling three times round then landing that same perfect split I had seen not so long ago. Terrified to do anything else, the crowd broke into a wild applause, except for me, Miley and Phoebe who stood there awkwardly, sharing looks of undenied hatred.
You see, we’ve hated Angelica since primary school. Me and my group used to speak to Angelica a lot more, and not in spite of each other. We all laughed together and used kind, naturing words just like I still do with Miley and Pheebs. We shared our life with her; we went on camping trips together, visited theme parks and had sleepover parties every other weekend. It was so much fun. But as I now know, once the viciousness has infected your blood, you cannot be cured.
It all happened so quickly. One day she was sweet, loving Angelica, and the next, she was as horrible as the devil himself. One day, she was convinced that she was ‘the rightful leader’ of our little BFF group. Another, she sabotaged Miley’s perfect English exam test results to a preposterous 0%. That was until we found out it was actually Angelica’s paper she had swapped for Miley’s, and told the teachers. The fights started off small. Then they got louder, and louder! Soon, she was a monster behind a pretty little mask of perfection, who inside, everyone hated, and were so wimpish that they worshiped her at her very order. No one stood a chance against her, unless they had a global rebellion. Of course, that has yet to happen, if not happen at all.
Time went on, and nothing changed. It was only the day that Phoebe fiendishly (but bravely) kicked her out of our group that we felt a little more at ease. But obviously, she then targeted us. We found polystyrene at the bottom of our school soup, missing school uniform after a PE session (only to find it at the bottom of the swimming pool, drenched) and many more unforgettable and unforgivable pranks that I have experienced in my time at school. The worst part was: Angelica had no friends. Rumours spread about her reign of terror and everyone decided not to mess with this kid. She was a lot of work, and a lot of trouble.
To the teachers, she was just a helpless little angel who did everything right: won awards for the school in allied-school’s talent shows and had a close-to-professional pirouette in ballet. The teachers were so proud of their champion that they even gave her her very own table and seat right next to the teacher, in every class. The principal Mr. Hollow even gave her permission to wear a non-school-uniform on a Friday, as we were only at school until after lunch. This was at our private primary school, which we were relieved of last year.
From first glance, Angelica was a rich child with extremely wealthy parents, who probably lived in a mansion or something of the sort. If you saw her on the street, she’d most likely be carrying handfuls of shopping bags from expensive stores like Apple or Gucci. She looked like a care-free child who received everything she wanted, whether she behaved or not. This is something that continues to this day, other than her ghastly pranks, which such plans she fortunately halted when we started secondary school.
Angelica is the leader of the ‘popular gang’ at this school now. She has dozens of followers who really, deep down, just don’t want to get involved in her crazy outbreaks when someone mis-pleases her. Which was often. I believe that she tries to get people in trouble with her, just so she has something to bark about to the teachers, or make the other girls more scared about.
So, of course she was going to get this stunt right. She always did. Back to the present now, Angelica sat, motionless on the floor, with the rapid circle of claps and whoops from her brain-washed minions still cheering away as the minutes passed. She stood up, and every few seconds she would do a curtsey or wave as if she had just been titled the Queen of England, being carried off in a fancy carriage after her royal coronation. Secretly, I had been praying that she would snap a hip in a turn, or land on her leg in a funny position, only for the nurse to find out that the bones had been shattered. It seems, though, that little perfect Angelica had a secret magical barrier, protecting her from any willing thoughts or distractions in the world outside her pretty little head.
“Well done! I’m afraid we’ll have to end our lesson short today,” the coach announced, “So each of you who did not get to perform will just have to show us on the day of the team openings - for those who want a space, please write your name neatly on this sheet of paper with a pen and have a good day.” He strode out of the room, leaving the sheet on a table in the near corner.
The children began to murmur, disappointedly. Groups gathered together again and a queue was formed for putting forward names for spaces on the team. Once me and Miley had written down our own names (Phoebe didn’t really care for ‘bendy clubs’ as she called them), we left the gym hall, shoulder to shoulder, easing past Angelica as we did so.
As you may remember, my next class was double English, and only me and Miley had that class, so we said goodbye to Phoebe and the casual, “See you at break,” and went our separate ways. For the time being, anyway. I walked with Miley, on our way to the English block on the top floor.
“So, umm, Lila?” Miley asked, a little bit flustered.
I wondered if something was wrong, “Yeh? What’s up?”
“It’s just, I couldn’t help but look over at your practises, back in gymnastics - and they’re really good - so I was wondering…” she trailed off.
“Yeh?” I smiled awkwardly.
“What if I’m not good enough? Many of the performances we saw were quite good, and Angelica’s bound to get in -” Miley glanced around worriedly.
I understood. “Don’t be silly! Your performance is going to be amazing! Besides, if any one of us two gets in, it’d be you. If I get in, you get in.” I tried to sound as encouraging as possible.
Miley smiled. “I hope you’re right.”
Double English came and went, and since me and Miley were on opposite sides of the room, we didn’t speak much. We kept smiling in each other’s direction at the beginning, but that started to get a little weird, so we stopped. As we exited the classroom, we started to talk a bit more about the normal stuff. Like what we were doing at the weekend, or how boring the previous lesson was. That was how it went for the rest of the day. We met up with Phoebe on the way to or from lessons, and went up and down the winding stairs dozens of times toward new, boring classrooms. At this school, we didn’t learn much. The teachers told us a lot, but no one really ever took any of it seriously. Pottery classes were just an excuse for teachers to tell you that your hands were dirty, and told you to wash them, even though their own hands were no more hygienic than ours, really. Day one is over.
I wake up in bed the next morning, the same pile of hair tangled together above my head, awaiting another tragically boring day of school. I open my eyes and step sleepily out of bed, treading sluggishly over to my wardrobe. I see the pink blazer and groan loudly. Once again in my pink (actually too pink), horrible uniform, I walked to school to meet Miley and Phoebe. Once Miley hazed into view, I ran over to her and smiled.
“Hi Miley.” I greeted her, “Where’s - Oh, you know the question.”
“Oh, Phoebe? She’s over there.” she grinned, adjusting her finger to where Phoebe’s head could just come into view over a brick wall. I raised my eyebrows. “What is it?” Miley asked.
“It’s just, she never goes to anyone else. She’s always here. With us.” I murmured, looking Miley in the eye.
“Well, you can’t blame her.”
“What do you mean?” I enquired. Today did seem like people weren’t only talking about Angelica’s stunt. It was strange. Really strange.