I opened the scarlet oak door of Theta Gamma Nu, hoping to sneak upstairs unseen. No such luck.
“Spoke with Lauren,” Mallory said with a sour face. “She requested we remove you.”
Mallory folded her arms,and ran her tongue over the gap in her teeth. The hairs on my neck stood up.
Can’t I catch a fucking break? My internal thoughts yelled.
“Mallory, no offence,” I said allowing my duffle bag to slide off my shoulder and crash at my feet. “I’m in mourning right now. I just took a long flight with a very pissed off selfish man. Every molecule in my body is tired. Can you just spare me?”
Mallory’s face turned a few shades lighter. “I, ugh, yeah…sure.” She turned on her heel and I watched her frizzy mess of hair bounce with each stride. I exhaled and grabbed my bag and suitcase.
My body felt a hundred times heavier as I climbed up the stairs to my room. I changed into grey yoga pants and my over-sized Baylor sweatshirt. I let down my hair and fixed it into a careless, side braid. As soon as my head hit the pillow, the lamp in my brain switched off.
“Oh, my God,” Leah said crashing into my room. I felt my stomach jump into my throat as I was ripped out of unconsciousness.
“Leah? When did you get back?”
“Brie, there is a police officer outside the door. He’s asking for you.”
I jutted up from my bed and scurried down the stairs. Leah said something behind me but I didn’t understand. My feet could hardly keep pace with my body on my way down.
At the door was a young officer wearing a golden badge on a crisp navy blue uniform. I wrapped my arms around myself and felt my nails dig into my skin, as I approached him. His squad car was parked in front of the house, and I could see the flashing lights strobe behind him, like red and blue flames.
“Um, yes, officer?”
“I am she.”
“There has been a report made by a Charlene and a Krissy. It was regarding an instance when you resided at Vallentine Hall.”
“Um, yes sir. I know of them.”
“Do you know which incident that they have reported?”
“Honestly?” I said, glancing over my shoulder at a cluster of nervous looking sisters.
“Yes honestly,” The officer responded, with stone eyes.
“I think I do know….there was a misunderstanding. I was walking to the bathroom late at night. Char stumbled out of her bedroom in men’s clothes, and she looked rather…impaired. Look, I don’t want to get her in trouble.”
“Frankly, Miss Merritt, she seems to have the opposite wishes for you. She filed an incident report after the fact.”
“Oh my God.”
“Realistically, and she knows this, it won’t hold up well in court if she chooses to press charges. There is no definitive proof and her witness is unreliable due to apparent bias.”
“Witness? Whom? No one was there.”
“Krissy alleged she was there.”
“No, that’s not how it went, she’s lying.”
“And what is your version, Miss Merritt?”
“Beg your pardon, it’s not my version, this is what really happened. I had a razor with me. When I was in my room, um, I just saw that my eyebrows looked off and there was this guy in my class the next day I liked, so I went to the bathroom to shape them. Better lighting in there.”
That’s true enough, I thought.
“And what time? You said late at night.”
“Yes, it was probably about 11. But I’m sorry, I really don’t remember, this was like, what, 9 or 10 months ago?”
“Why were you shaping you eyebrows so late?”
“Er, honestly, I don’t have a good answer. I was under a lot of stress and up late and I just felt like doing it right then.”
“Mmm,” the officer said, shifting his weight. “Go on.”
“Char thought what I was holding was a needle and she accused me of doing drugs.”
“What? No! Then she tried to grab the razor from me and she cut her hand pretty good. I mean, it was super sharp. I felt so bad.”
“She tells a completely different story.”
“She’s lying! What did she say?”
“Young lady, I’m not here to gossip. I grew out of those games and I believe you and Char should as well.”
“Well, if she’s making bogus reports I don’t know what to do about that.”
The way the officer’s eyes changed shape made me regret my word choices.
“I’m sorry,Officer, that sounded rude. I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just…I barley even see her, I don’t know why this is coming out right now. My dad just died only a week ago. It’s like she’s trying to kick me when I’m down. She already spread these awful rumors on campus. Now all this time later she’s talking with authorities?”
“Many times victims of crimes don’t speak up until much later, making it almost impossible to prove anything.”
Holy crap. He thinks I’m lying. He thinks I’m a monster who goes around stabbing people!
“Sir, Char is not a victim! She is trying to ruin my life. Isn’t it obvious?”
“Nothing is obvious to me,” the officer said, crossing his arms. “I wasn’t there. Everything thus far is hearsay, which equates to nothing.”
“I, just,” I said, bring my hand to my flushed cheek. “I don’t know what to say. Should I get a lawyer? What’s going to happen?”
“It’s within your rights to obtain legal representation at anytime. I will recommend that you to stay away from the victim. No contact over social media, through mutual friends, and no acknowledging her presence in public or private places, should you cross paths.”
“I promise,” I said nodding. “It would be my pleasure, in fact.”
“Good. Keep in mind, Miss Merritt, it’s not my job to mediate social issues. Whatever it is, I suggest you let it go.”
I bit my tongue. Literally and figuratively. I forced a smile as the police officer gave me a single nod and retreated back to his car. His radio chirped attached to his chest and he jogged to his car.
I slammed the door, and leaned against it. My fellow Thetas who stayed to watch the drama looked at me as if I was a naked man in a park talking to a leather boot. Leah approached me and offered a pained smile.
“Char strikes again,” Leah said as she massaged the back of her neck. “Bitch.”
I threw my hands up in the air and let them crash back down, smacking my thighs.
“She’s trying to ruin me,” I said. “She’s trying to ruin us!”
“Don’t let her!” One of my sisters chimed in.
“Fuck that witch-nose mess,” another added.
Mallory shoved through from the back. Her balled fists were resting on her hips. “She’s a joke, Brie. She’s insane with jealousy, and everyone knows that. You have Dillon and are in a sorority. She couldn’t even get into a sorority and her boyfriend is this old, gross townie. And Dillon blew off her best friend for you.”
“We got your back, Brie!”, “Yeah!”, “Screw her.”, “Maybe you really should have stabbed her.”
I felt as if I swallowed a batch of fuzzies. “Thanks everyone. This has been the worst, well, one of the worst things that has ever happened to me…this whole situation with Char. It’s gotten so out of hand. It feels so good to know you all have my back.”
“Lauren wanted us to strip you of your roll,” Mallory said. “She didn’t think you were committed enough.”
“Guys,” I said as I twirled my braid around my finger. “Maybe I’m not. I just don’t compare to Lauren.”
“You don’t,” Mallory said, her eyes burning into mine. ” But you are what we’ve got.”
“I wanted this to wait,” I said burying my face in my hands for a moment. I resurfaced.
“What?” Leah asked.
“I didn’t want to let everyone down, but. I don’t think I can stay with Dillon for much longer than a month. He’s a shitty per-.”
“Brie!” Leah yelled before I could finish my sentence. “You can’t dump him, Krissy would snatch him up and Kappa wins! Can’t you just wait until he graduates? That’s like, not that long off.”
“Leah, listen to yourself!” I said, my throat suddenly feeling dry. I was tired of talking. “You of all people know him.”
“Yes. I do. And he’s not that bad,” Leah said with arched brows. “I know you like cute country boy. But girl, you have to get it together.”
I felt as if the wind was knocked out of my lungs. I stared with Leah with unblinking eyes. “Excuse me? You need to get it together. That country boy that you are talking about is something that was between us. As friends. I trusted you!”
Leah’s eyes dropped to her toes.
So this is what it feels like to have a knife in your back, I thought. I’ll have to remember this for the stage.
Leah turned and marched into the kitchen.
Looks like someone is about to relapse, I jabbed, internally. I shuttered at my awful thoughts.
“Why do you need to dump him?” Mallory asked studying my eyes.
“He’s possessive. Condescending. He’s like, psycho.”
“Well, then you need to get rid of him,” Mallory said, chewing on a cuticle.
I slapped my forehead. “Mallory. That is the last thing I’d expect you to say.”
Mallory’s eyes darted to the others standing by. “Um, why? You are my sister.”
I opened my mouth and snapped it shut.
“So,” Mallory continued, “Do we need to get a baseball bat and a bucket of paint?”
“Woa…no-no,” I said. “But thanks.”
Mallory squared her shoulders. “Very well then. We can spin this to our advantage. Don’t worry, Brie.”
“Don’t worry? I am deathly worried! About all of you. I know I’m not the best Mascot Girl, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you guys. That’s the only reason I haven’t dumped him yet.”
“Stop it, I am the head of the social committee. I have some ideas.”
I felt the knots in my back unwind. “Really?”
Mallory wiggled her blonde, almost nonexistent, eyebrows.
I inched closer to the mirror above my vanity. “Is this really me?” I asked Daisy with a giggle.
Daisy flipped her shiny black hair over her shoulder and made a gummy smile. “Yep. Inverted makeup, just like Mallory suggested.”
I inspected the greyish marks under my eyes and false blemishes scattered on my cheeks. It looked so real.
“Daisy, you are really good!”
“I used to do zombie makeup and stuff, I know some fun techniques.”
“Ya, but this looks like, real, not like I have makeup on.”
“That’s the point!”
Mallory trotted in with a jar of coconut oil and a ornery grimace. She dug in and wiped it on my roots.
“It’s a two-fer.” Mallory said. “One, it’ll make your roots look greasy. Two, it’ll give your hair a nice healthy drink.”
“Guys…are you sure about this?” I said snickering at the ugly Brie in the mirror.
“Well, ya,” Mallory said with a half shrug. “You made him love you, make him unlove you.”
“I’ll do my best,” I said with a sigh. “Thank you for this.”
Mallory frowned. “Why are you thanking me? You shouldn’t be with someone who treats you like shit.”
“He’s so controlling. Yes, he is a hunk, okay, but he starts looking really ugly when his bratty side comes out.”
“Lauren doesn’t see him like that,” Mallory commented, rolling her eyes.
“Oh my God,” I shrieked. “That’s it.”
“I know a way that Theta can remain unscathed by this break up. It’s actually perfect.”
“What! What!” Mallory said with a jump.
“It’s time to call Lauren Cunnigham,” I said smiling with my teeth that were coated with beeswax, to make them look plaque ridden. “The real Mascot Girl!”