Flicking my long brown hair off of my shoulders, I gazed out at the neighborhood from the car window, every tree, every piece of the sky, every house blurring together like an abstract painting. The neighborhood seemed familiar yet foreign all at once. I'd been here before. Not for a while. But in ninth grade I had attended school here. This was supposed to be my hellhole. Theodore Roosevelt Private School, full of popular girls who made my life miserable, and sleazy guys who found it entertaining to chew my heart up only to spit it out again.
But it was different now. I was pretty. Two years in Paris while my dad was on a sabbatical had done me well. I wasn't the fat, clumsy, awkward Jill those popular people had gotten to know. I was poised, elegant, sexy, and, after learning French while abroad, bilingual.
"You excited, kiddo?" My father asked in his typical geeky way. Dad was all the family I had. Back when I was uncool, we'd have a lot of fun geeking out together over anything relatively labeled "nerd status". Now, I found his dorky obsession with cuckoo clocks and everything Comic Con more pathetically endearing than anything else.
I gave him a small, close-lipped smile in return, my way of saying yes without saying anything at all. I had practiced the art of sophisticated smiling in Paris. A toothy grin exposed too much emotion. People could easily read you if you flashed your pearly whites in their faces like a neon billboard sign. It was better to remain cold and aloof, because if people knew your true feelings, they could easily take advantage of that and use it to burn you.
We pulled into our house's driveway, and I opened the car door and strutted into the house, my stilettos click-clacking on the pavement as I stepped in, leaving my father in the dust as he went to go retrieve the mail.
Once inside, I grabbed a glass of water and placed it on the coaster near the love seat. I sat in the love seat itself, my back straight and right leg crossed over the left like the glamorous snapshot of perfection I knew I was. I'm not conceited, just confident.
My outfit for school tomorrow was already picked out, and it was flawless. My hair was already designed in my head, every strand was in place. I had even orchestrated how I would walk into the school on that oh-so-important day one.
And tucked deep under my bed, in a box with all the macaroni art and old second grade stories, was a hot pink composition book. It carried all of my plans, everything I needed to take Andrea Benson, my old best friend turned arch rival, down combined into one little booklet.
I'd make Andrea pay for everything she did. Every nasty word, every time she pretended to be my friend. I'd make her suffer the way I did.
After all, I was armed. Armed with the secrets she told me years ago. That split second in seventh grade when we were actually friends. Of course, I couldn't just go and blurt out every juicy secret I knew about Andrea publicly. That would do no good. For this was high school. All the fighting had to be done with utmost secrecy.
I was ready.
They needed to be ready for me.