Quite Contrary

Why is it that writing in a bitter voice can be so much fun? It would get old doing it all the time, I’m sure, but every now and then talking on a narrative voice that is so cyclical, so tainted that it makes the average Stephen King story feel like a fairy tale is just plain pleasant.

I didn’t know where this one was going when I started, which is, honestly, the case most of the time I write flash fiction. I get a sentence or an idea in my head, begin to find a voice and just go. The prompt from the 500 Club was none other than my opening sentence, which implies that Mary is not what she seems.

Oh, and forgive me for the title. I couldn’t help myself.

quite contrary

Everyone thought Mary was the nicest girl.

When she was little, adults doted on her. It was easy, what with her golden hair and those ridiculously big blue eyes. Practically every day her mother pulled those blonde locks up into pigtails, securing them in place with bright ribbons as though she were a gift to the rest of the world.

When she was in high school she was the girl who somehow bridged all social divides. She was popular, but not snobbish. She was pretty, but not conceited. She was smart, but not condescending. She was all things to all adolescents. It won her multiple student body elections and rocketed her right to the top of the most-likely-to-save-the-world-with-a-hug list.

In college, she volunteered for any cause she could fit into her schedule, all the while maintaining a 4.0. Her professors and peers alike found her to be charming, insightful, kind, and, I kid you not, down to earth. The school’s crackerjack news team published not one, but two exposés about her good deeds in the school’s newspaper.

As an adult, Mary has maintained this absurd public image. Everyone, people who have known her for years and the guy who stood behind her in line yesterday at 7-Eleven, all treat her like she is one part Mother Teresa, one part think-tank candidate, one part super model and utterly adorable all over.

It makes me fucking sick.

I know a thing or two about Mary. She and I have known each other for a while. We were friends in high school and ended up at the same college. When she asked me to be her roommate, I seriously thought I might well be the luckiest girl in the freshman class. We lived together for the entirety of the following four years and then, against my better judgment, moved into the same apartment in Dallas.

Whatever–we both got jobs there. It made sense, she said, for us to keep expenses down. Why did I listen to that bitch?

See, Mary figured out early on that her looks and sugary-sweet disposition could get her just about anything. As a child, she used those assets to manipulate her parents into spoiling her rotten, all the while dazzling their friends and acquaintances with her allegedly angelic nature. In high school she was the handjob queen. I swear. Everyone liked her because she knew who to please, who to tease and how to keep all of them quiet. In college she moved on to full-blown fucking with the occasional foray into drugs. She slept or dealt her way to that perfect grade point average and her pristine reputation made it laughable that anyone would ever believe she was even capable of such Jezebelitry.

And now, in Dallas, she’s unstoppable. She’s doing drugs, herself, I’m pretty sure. I know she’s still sleeping around. No one goes from account rep to director with that kind of speed without slinging a little leg. And I’m still stuck in the slipstream of her chaos.

I gotta move out. I have to get away from her. Everyone thinks that Mary is such a nice girl, and I’m tired of pretending I don’t know the truth.