As of the first Monday in February, Mary-Anne McLean was officially the new girl in Fort Chester High School. All the boys had considered themselves blessed that their dreams have come true, of having the prettiest girl in the world become their new student. To them, Mary-Anne was like an enigma. She had the looks, that charm, and pretty much everything---everything except for a cheery disposition, that is. Allie did not appreciate that a mysterious new girl was stealing her thunder, but she was grateful that Mary-Anne was in only one class with her, which happened to be Creative Writing. That was the only time Allie had to deal with the likes of Mary-Anne.
It wasn't worse enough that in Creative Writing class, the class was working on a writing project together and they needed to be paired up, and Allie was pretty much alone in that classroom without the company of Betty Jane or Laura, mainly because they weren't writing fanatics just like she was. So she was paired up with Mary-Anne. The teacher, Ms. Wilder, was doing her job to introduce the new student. She said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new student in this class, it appears. So please come on right in, Miss McLean," she said to Mary-Anne, who entered the room.
Allie was a little flabbergasted to see that this girl, whom all the boys kept ogling during Midterm week, was the new girl in school. Ms. Wilder said, "Class, I want you to meet Mary-Anne McLean. Perhaps you may have recognized her as the daughter of Nurse McLean."
All the boys in the classroom immediately began falling head over heels for her, talking over each other as they each offered her a seat next to them. The other girls began giggling and whispering among themselves, and Allie shook her head and rolled her eyes in disgust, sickened by the image. What was this world coming to, she wanted to know.
"Mary-Anne, would you like to share a few words with the class anything about yourself?" Ms. Wilder asked.
"Well......." Mary-Anne was not one to speak about herself in front of people. But she managed to do her best anyway. "Obviously, I am the new girl in school, and I am the nurse's daughter..........there's not really much to say." She chuckled. "Also, I'm a freshman, and I used to attend Catholic school."
Everyone clapped for her, and Ms. Wilder said, "Wow, that's very interesting, Miss McLean. Say, why don't you take a seat right next to.........." There was an open seat in front of Allie, and Allie knew exactly what that meant. "You take that seat right in front of Alessandra, if that's all right with you."
"It's fine by me, Miss," Mary-Anne said as courteously as possible as she took the seat next to Allie, glaring at her in the process. Three other boys continually stared at her, doing all kinds of silly, dumb stuff to get her attention. Allie just wanted to shoot herself at that moment. She couldn't bear it anymore.
Ms. Wilder took a few notes on the board, then turned to the class and said, "We are having a storytelling project, which is also a competition. A short story contest, that's to say. You are to write a minimum of 1000 words, and you will be paired into groups of two. The contest is over by Wednesday the 28th." Then she continued to explain the project and concluded with, "So, does anyone have any questions at all?"
No one said anything. Then Ms. Wilder said, "Okay, I suppose that settles that. And now, for your groups........."
Allie was silently praying that she wouldn't be paired up with this new girl, but then again, she hardly knew the other girls in the class at all, so she didn't have a lot of options. Ms. Wilder then announced the groups, "Sheila, you and Tammy can work together. John, you and Cornelius are paired up. Lawrence and Tabitha, you two are partners. But please be sure to keep the public displays of affection to a minimum, otherwise I would give your group an F for lack of participation. Jesse, you're welcome to join Tabitha and Lawrence for now, since Angela is absent for today, but when she shows up tomorrow you'll be working with her." She paired up the other students and eventually arrived to Allie. "And Alessandra, you will be working with..........Mary-Anne."
Allie groaned to herself, apparently not getting her wish come true. Then Ms. Wilder said, "Now all you have to do with your partner for today is come up with a bunch of story ideas, take down some notes, plan out the summary, and so on and so forth. Got any questions about anything, feel free to come up to me, and I'll gladly help you out."
Allie then raised her hand. Ms. Wilder said, "Yes, Alessandra?"
"Can we, at some point, change partners?"
"Now why would you want to do that?" asked Ms. Wilder. "Alessandra, the purpose of class projects is learning to collaborate with your classmates, whether you like them or not."
Mary-Anne was glaring at Allie, and Allie was awkwardly quiet for a moment before she said, "Never mind........I was just asking."
"Everything's fine with you two, isn't it?" asked Ms. Wilder.
"Yes, Ms. Wilder," Allie replied. "Everything is peachy keen."
"I'm glad to hear that," said Ms. Wilder as she returned to her desk. She began writing down the group names on the board as everyone began working on their project.
Allie tried to start a nice, friendly conversation with Mary-Anne, who was certainly a real delight to work with. "So, you're the daughter of Nurse McLean, huh?" she said.
"What's it to you?" Mary-Anne said, kind of harshly.
"Oh, uh, I was just asking a simple question, that's all." Allie cleared her throat to humiliate herself a little less. "My name is Allie, by the way. But I suppose you already knew that."
"Duh, I heard the teacher say your name a thousand times."
Allie's level of patience was running out slowly but surely, but she tried to keep her cool and remain as polite as possible. "Well, then," she said with a chuckle. "I suppose we'd better get started on this project right away, since it's due by the end of the month." She took out her notebook and pencil, and started thinking of ideas. "Feel free to use my notebook for jotting down some ideas you may have," she said to Mary-Anne.
"No thanks, I'll just watch you do all the writing down instead," said Mary-Anne.
"If you insist." Allie mentally killed Mary-Anne by pushing her into an imaginary river and drowning her. "Uh, feel free to let me know if you have any ideas.........at all." Allie ended up doing most of the note-taking and coming up with the most ideas. Mary-Anne was simply sitting there as if waiting for her turn to let Allie know that she disagreed with all her ideas.
The bell eventually rang for the end of class and the beginning of lunchtime, and Ms. Wilder said, "Okay, let's wrap this up. Your only homework assignment for tonight is to go over all your ideas that you've written down, edit and proofread---you know, all that simple English stuff. We'll meet again tomorrow, and enjoy the rest of your day."
Allie was inwardly furious that she had done all the work and Mary-Anne did nothing at all to pitch in, except maybe to criticize. Mary-Anne said, "I'd like to change your entire idea of the story since I don't even like it at all. You know, for someone who claims to love writing, you really are awful at originality. You're welcome," she added sardonically and walked on off without even saying good-bye or anything else. Allie did not know what just happened, but she felt degraded by the new girl in school who had criticized her amazing writing ability! She could feel her blood boiling right now.
Allie was telling Betty Jane and Laura all about her problems with Mary-Anne during lunch. She was mimicking Mary-Anne when she said,"'I'd like to change your entire idea of the story since I don't even like it at all. You know, for someone who claims to love writing, you really are awful at originality. You're welcome.' I mean, who in the world does that girl think she is? She's got such a self-righteous attitude, and she made me do all the goddamned work!"
"Oh, Allie, I know exactly how you feel," said Laura. "That girl is in my Art class, and you can't even carry on a decent conversation with her."
"It's like talking to a brick wall," said Betty Jane in agreement.
"You have her in P.E., Betty Jane?" Allie asked.
Betty Jane nodded. "And also in oceanography class. Geez, it's like she doesn't even wanna learn about the ocean or something! And that's a fun, interesting class."
"She is a total bitch," Allie said. "And what's worse enough is, all the guys keep staring at her like she's Audrey Hepburn or something. It's really gross. For the nurse's daughter, she's a real spoiled brat."
"Ah, well, you'll eventually learn to get used to her," Laura said with a shrug.
"I don't think I ever will get used to her," Betty Jane said. "Sorry to say, Laura, but anyone who is related to that Mary-Anne girl by flesh or by blood, I oughta feel sorry for 'em. She's a bad seed who's more than likely to spread her bad-seediness onto others like a contagious virus or something."
"More like a deadly virus," Allie said with a chuckle as she and Betty Jane gave a high-five.
Laura chuckled in a forced way. "Yeah.........that's true." To herself, she added, "I guess?" She wanted to find the right time to let Allie and Betty Jane know that Mary-Anne was actually her stepsister.
That day after school, Laura decided to confront Mary-Anne for her rudeness toward her friends before going over to the glee club. She said, "Now Mary-Anne, I really don't like the way you've been treating my friends. It's your first day here, and you'd think you ought to know better."
"Just because you're my stepsister, it doesn't mean you're in charge of me," Mary-Anne snapped. "And you may be a year older than me, but it doesn't mean you should tell me what to do or not. So how about you step out of my personal space and go on about yours? Sound like a plan?"
"You know, Allie tells me what a bitch you are," Laura snapped, "and that's saying something, coming from her because you just insulted her when you called her story ideas 'lame.'"
Mary-Anne scoffed. "One: I never actually said her ideas were 'lame'; I simply said I did not like her ideas. There's a difference, smart one. And two: I don't care what the Princess thinks about me. Just because she was crowned Princess doesn't give her the right to act all nicey-nicey with everyone. And ooh, I'm so scared, she thinks I'm a bitch," she said cynically. "Ooh, is that supposed to make me feel bad? I'm not afraid of her, you know. And if I have to put up with one more minute of her in Creative Writing class, I think I'm gonna go jump off a bridge."
"I'd rather you do that," said Laura snappishly.
"How nice---you're wishing for death upon your own stepsister."
"My father only has to put up with you just because he married your mother," snapped Laura. "Deal with it, Mary-Anne. Your life is not perfect, nor was it ever meant to be. You need to learn the meaning of respect. You've caused a lot of trouble in that Catholic school you've gone to; no wonder you got kicked out. You wouldn't even last one full year at a Catholic school; what makes you think you'll last a full year at a real high school like Fort Chester High?"
"Are you saying that I'm too dumb for school?" Mary-Anne asked.
"No, I'm not saying that, but it's certainly dumb of you to be disrespectful to my friends for no reason at all. Allie is my friend, and as long as you're in this school with me, you need to learn to show respect to everyone, which includes my friends as well. Allie hasn't even done a single thing to you, and you look like you wanna kill her! And she's right---you're nothing but a huge bitch, and all you ever really care about is yourself. I wouldn't be so surprised if you decided to start a rumor about Allie losing her virginity to the next guy she sees. I'm off to the glee club now---you know, where my friend Allie is right now. I won't miss you too much." Laura stormed off as Mary-Anne was standing there, boiling with rage.
And right there at that moment, Mary-Anne knew exactly what she was going to do to turn Allie's life upside-down, for she had just learned one thing about Allie that she would plot to use against her---Allie was a virgin, and she was going steady with Quincy MacKenzie. Well, not for much longer, on Mary-Anne's watch..............