Victoria threw open the door to the Barden Grill and looked around, using one hand to support the Gucci bag hanging off her wrist and the other to slide her Ray-Bean glasses down her nose to inspect the grubby bar where her town girlfriends preferred to spend their downtime. With nothing tasty on the menu other than cheese fries dripping with fattening oil, Victoria was in a state of distress. Certainly not for the first time, she asked herself why the hell she was friends with those girls. But then again, the following thought triggered by the faintish glow she caught coming from the far corner of the Grill, she didn't really have a choice.
As usual, Matt yelled his greeting over the bar, drying yet another schooner and pouring lemonade to spend the time before he had the correct age to apply for his bar license. Really, Victoria felt sorry for him. Going after such a high class girl like her - what made him think a young woman like her, with her poise and her fashion and her ... standards, would even consider dating a washed-up loser like Matt?
She fell into the seat beside Amanda and threw her bag on the table, positioning her chin in her palms.
'So, I assume I wasn't called here for the good food,' Victoria announced, glancing down at the plate of chips in front of Emma.
'Or so we can all indulge in your glorious company,' Holland cut in. 'Trust me, it's urgent.'
Victoria scoffed. 'My definition of urgent is clearly different to yours, given what you're wearing tonight.'
'Her clothes are fine, Vicky,' Amanda snapped.
'Please, she's wearing her mum's clothes! You girls - you're too neat. Take risks with fashion, live a little.'
Under the table, Holland kicked Victoria in the shin. She yelped, her eyes filling with pathetic tears.
'Given that we're technically not living, I would say that you need to rethink you're choice of words. And who are you to judge?' Holland scoffed, her hands drawing into fists on the table. 'At least we buy our clothes. All you do is walk into a shop, change into something else in the change room and then walk back out again! You say you have class, but all you are is a cheap-skate skank.'
Victoria wanted to slap Holland. She hated it when she lost her tongue, making her feel less than she was. She didn't deserve that, she thought to herself. She deserved much more - more respect, more faith and different friends. She'd been stuck with Holland, Amanda and Emma for too long. With Emma putting on the pounds and struggling to fit into her clothes, with Amanda getting more guy attention than her (as a nerd) and Holland's tendency to think she ruled the whole world, Victoria needed to get out.
'All I'm saying,' she barked, 'is that nobody wears that sleeve length anymore, Holland, good grades are a turn off, Amanda, and no, Emma, that dress doesn't look any good on you anymore because all these cheese fries have pounded fat onto your thighs and around your now, wide waist.'
And with that, Victoria swung her bag over her shoulder and marched out of the Grill.
All three remaining girls sighed in relief, though the wake of Vicky's comments remained. Emma was staring at her chips, eyeing the melted cheese now with absolute disgust. She found herself suddenly noticing the extra width she carried on her fingers, how she couldn't get her hand around her wrist anymore. Holland was fiddling with her sleeves, searching the room for another female character wearing a similar top to hers. And, Amanda, struggling to keep from crying, was both stressed over the impact of Vicky's comments on her friends and the French test she had at nine am. the following morning.
'Well,' Holland sighed, 'That wen't well.'
'Doesn't it always?' Amanda groaned. 'I knew that would happen. She always does that. Can we take a rain check? I've got a test to study for.'
Holland opened her mouth to interrupt. 'But what about-We organised this meeting because we have something to discuss!'
'Something that doesn't matter anymore!' Amanda slid out of her chair and grabbed her coat off the rack on the wall behind their table. 'Without Victoria, we're useless.'
'That's not true. We can still concoct a plan!'
Emma coughed, making her entrance into the conversation. Amanda couldn't help but notice the way her hands were cupped over a lump on her stomach and guilt swelled in her. How dare Victoria say those things ...
'I hate to say it,' Amanda began, 'but without Vicky what are we? She's our advantage. She's the one they least expect. If we rocked up, just the three of us, that would be like reading a book backwards. All our secrets all out in the open!'
Emma sighed. 'She's not going to cooperate, though. She's not interested.'
Holland jumped up. 'Then we'll make her listen! She's not here for fashion or for boys!'
'If you convince her, give me a call!' Amanda turned away. 'Until then, I'll be studying in a language I'm very far from understanding!'