Dysmorphia

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Things We Don't Talk About

“Flo, honey!”

Florence groaned as she buried her face deeper into her pillow trying to block out the inevitable fact that after six blissful weeks of doing nothing and sleeping in, today she went back to school.

The List didn’t even cross her mind until she checked her Facebook and saw the official Phillipson High List account had put up two posts since yesterday, both concerning today and the big reveal of The List. She didn’t understand why the page hadn’t been taken down yet, parents made complaints often enough, but she guessed that someone, somewhere in charge of the accounts felt like too much internet traffic headed to the page, meaning more adverts for Facebook and consequently more money, it would be an economical inconvenience to take it down.

Florence ate when she felt nervous, and she could feel her stomach growling as she sat on her bed, she knew there was no reason to feel nervous today she had been at Phillipson High for four years and was well liked by everyone mostly due to the fact that her parents owned the diner ‘The Dive’ and she could often get them the best seats and discounts.

She also had her group of solid friends, Madison, Lauren, and Cooper, they stuck together through thick and thin and just that morning she had received several messages from their group chat informing her that Cooper would be ready to pick her up in, she glanced down at her watch, less than ten minutes. That was the thing about Florence if you knew her slightly you didn’t really know her, she had to be comfortable with you to show her true colours.

Florence hurriedly put on her grey school skirt,

Was it just her imagination or did the waistband feel much, much tighter?

She had bought it at the beginning of the holidays but surely she couldn’t have put on that much weight in five weeks?

The thoughts cleared from her head but didn’t quite leave when another shout came from downstairs

“Flo! Your waffles are ready!”

Having a Mother who was an amazing cook and always keen to try out new recipes meant they usually had fairly interesting breakfasts.

Florence surveyed the plate in front of her, three waffles were stacked high with blueberries and maple syrup.

Blueberries were fruit meaning they were healthy right?

“You not hungry dear?”

Caroline Clarke was a stick thin-woman with sugar pink hair and a face usually lit by a smile, but now she was peering at Florence with concern, Florence again felt another jolt, was it so weird that she didn’t immediately start swallowing the food in front of her, is that what her Mother thought of her?

Why was her mother so skinny?

Why had her skirt not slipped on as easily as it used to?

But she didn’t want her Mother to worry, she did enough of that already, or be offended so she carefully cut off a piece of the waffle and popped it in her mouth with an exaggerated “mmm” for her mother’s benefit.

Five minutes later a loud horn sounded outside, the signature horn meaning her friends were here, the thought alone made her instantly straighten in her seat knowing that they were here for her brought a bounce into her step as she walked over to her Mother.

“That’ll be Cooper” she announced and grabbed her grey satchel, she leaned over the counter and hugged her mother breathing in her sugary scent, suddenly wanting to stay in the warm and safe kitchen just that bit longer.

“Have a nice first-day honey!” said her mother, kissing her lightly on the head.

She had known Cooper for the longest, they had been best friends from the age of seven when they had both started their primary school a week late, Cooper because she had chickenpox and Florence because she’d only just moved to Phillipson and hadn’t been registered at a school in time for the beginning of term.

Everyone had known each other and already created their groups of friends, but even at the age of seven the other children immediately respected Cooper, she had been a beautiful child and was extremely clever, she could have been friends with anyone in their year. Instead, she had walked up to Florence who had sat on the edge of the playground humming softly to herself and told her that she liked her shoes. Florence had moved her feet around so that the pink glitter on them had caught the sunlight and then given Cooper her biggest smile.

Two weeks later she’d given Cooper an identical pair of shoes for her birthday, and they’d been best friends from then on.

Madison and Lauren had both joined their little group later, first Madison when they were nine and Lauren when they’d first gone to their high school. People may have often wondered why the four of them were friends in the first place, at face value they certainly didn’t look like they had anything in common.

Cooper with her gorgeous looks and big blue eyes and tendency to come top in every single class without even trying, Lauren with her black curls and ready smile always having her face buried in a book and Madison with her calm and composed way of carrying herself which melted away once she was on the football field, she was more skilled with a football than anyone Florence had ever met.

But they all shared a bond that wasn’t easily broken, the kind which didn’t break over small things, they fought occasionally but always made up.

Florence opened the door a smile already plastered on her face, Cooper sat in the front seat next to her older sister Chantelle who drove them every day, in the back were Lauren and Madison beaming from ear to ear.

All feelings of unease she had in her room disappeared, she had been stupid, everything would be great now that she’d seen her friends, she hopped in the car next to Lauren who squeezed her shoulder.

“Hey, Flo! Someone was a sleepy head this morning we were all awake at six a.m!”

A short drive later, Chantelle pulled up to the gates of Phillipson High where hundreds of students were spilling into the school.

They all climbed out of the car shouting their thanks to Chantelle as she drove away.

Cooper linked her arm in Florence’s.

“So The List, who do we think going to be on it this year eh?”

Lauren and Madison gave her a knowing look, every year Cooper tried to act nonchalant about The List, but they all knew it was only a matter of time before she appeared on it, to put it simply Cooper was stunning, model-material.

“I’m willing to bet a large sum of money you’ll be on it Coops”

Florence said punching her friend lightly on the shoulder.

Cooper pretended to protest but she turned to Florence and shot her a smile that meant she was appreciative of the compliment. They were all great friends but like all groups, there was always a slight division, Cooper was Florence’s absolute best friend, her rock.

The four of them walked into the school giggling and gossiping not knowing that this was the last day they would be carefree, the four of them together because what waited for them inside the building was going to change their friendship forever.

Because Cooper wasn’t the only one on The List that year.

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