The Girl With A Temper
The Popular B*tch (aka Addison Holland)
The handle on the door for the girls’ bathroom is sickeningly greasy. Do girls wipe their asses with their bare hands before touching these doors? Do they let their boyfriends ejaculate onto these door handles just for funsies? I try not the think about the diseases living on the piece of metal about to be wiped onto my skin, making as little contact with it as possible as I heave open the door.
My feet stop moving as whispers that are hardly whispers echo through the damp bathroom, catching my attention. My own manners and numerous lessons from my mom on “How to be a Decent Fucking Human Being” tell me I shouldn’t eavesdrop. I tell myself it’s probably some useless drama about another girl that will be spewed and giggled over behind closed doors but just stew and sit and never make its way to the public. I doubt this is the first time today that girls have used the bathroom for something other than excreting their fecal and urinary matter. But a magnetic pull seems to be keeping me in my spot and my mouth shut. My heart races with excitement that I would be embarrassed if anyone was there to see it. It’s like that feeling when you were a kid and you lost your mom in the grocery store. You’re nervous and jump, but excited at the same time, all for something so common and anticlimactic. That feeling guides my decision. To keep any curious boys from snooping in and seeing something as scandalous as a - gasp! - girl washing her hands after taking a massive shit, there’s a wall in front of the door that you have to veer to the left of to get to the actual bathroom area. I press my lips together and tuck myself behind the tiled wall, listening to the conversation secretive enough to have in an empty bathroom.
“...what she did? Putting her pretty little feet up on the chair in front of her, like there wasn’t someone sitting there, and just admiring herself? Like some sort of goddess. It’s disgusting, really.” It’s Thing One’s voice. Or Thing Two’s. I can’t really tell: they both sound equally pitchy and annoying. The source of the voice has little to no importance, though. I’m taken back.
I hadn’t even realized someone was sitting in the chair in front of me. Apparently, they did. And, apparently, it pissed them off enough to take a mental note of it to whine over later.
“Tell me about it. I was trying so hard to be nice. I feel like if I made one wrong move, her long nails would turn into claws and she would just attack me. I just wanted to smack that matte lipstick right off her face,” the other one dishes. I touch my fingers to my light pink matte lipstick. I had only worn it to cover the split lip I’d gotten last night. I supposed it had done its job of distracting from the scab on my lip, not that I cared what those ugly fools thought of me. I catch myself in that moment of self-consciousness and snap my hand back down toward my side, wiping my finger furiously on my shorts even though no lipstick had even rubbed onto it.
The hole they’re digging for themselves deepens. “It’s sad if you think about it. That no one actually likes her. Her life is so fake, with people acting fake around her for….no reason I can understand. Her family isn’t rich. She’s not smart. She’s a little bitch. Actually, the word ‘whore’ suits her better. Why do people even try around her?” I hear a pair of lips smack together and I wince at the grotesque sound. I can imagine them fixing their makeup in the mirror, batting their eyelashes at themselves and touching up their mascara. Like anything can fix what’s on their face. It’s hard to make something with no raw materials. It’s like putting together a chair with only a toothpick and some glue.
My heart of hearts tells me I shouldn’t be surprised. That I’ve always known that people feel threatened by me, especially after my encounter with Mary last night. The feeling is like when your mind tell you it’s stupid to be afraid of the dark because, realistically, there’s probably nothing in there. It’s rational, foretelling, and should be comforting. But it doesn’t stop you from lying awake at 11 pm, frozen from fear in your silk pajamas, staring fearfully at the chair in the corner of your room that didn’t look so human-like when you bought it off of Wayfair. That voice in the back of my head is good at making its case, but I’m even better at shutting it up and acting on my initial, less rational emotions.
The heavy wooden bathroom door opens. I swing around, just in time to avoid being smacked in the face with the edge of the door. Wide eyed, I watch as three girls strut in, chattering about nothing important. The giggling and gossiping stop when they see me, staring right at them. The look of a startled deer washes off my face by some invisible wave and my gaze turns neutral toward then. I swear I see a glint of fear in their eyes.
“Oh, em GEE! Did we almost hit you with the door? We’re so sorry, Addison. Do you want a piece of gum?” A girl already smacking on a piece of gum frantically says, already digging through the front pocket of her backpack before I’ve even answered. I couldn’t care less about my foundation almost being wiped off by the bathroom door or this girl’s Trident spearmint-flavored gum, which she eventually holds out to me.
All I care about is Thing One and Thing Two knowing who they’ve just crossed.
I take a piece of the gum out of courtesy, flashing a forced smile their way. Then my vision goes red. The wall’s no longer of use in keeping my presence a secret, now that this gum-obsessed girl and her friends ratted me out with their haphazard opening of doors and loud voices. In fact, the wall is starting only look like a barrier between me and what needs to be done. The only thing protecting Thing One and Thing Two. The girls watch with wide, confused eyes, lined with way too much liquid eyeliner as I strut out from my hiding place.
Thing One and Thing Two’s eyes go wider than the other girls’ when they see me, connecting the dots between the door opening during their conversation and my death stare. Thing One’s open Kylie lip gloss even slips through her ragged fingers, clanking loudly in the dirty, porcelain sink. A streak of red smears across the inside of the sink, the cylindrical bottle promising to slowly dispense the product down the sink, but neither of the girls seem to notice. I smile at the thought of Thing One’s fear of me being powerful enough to waste $15 worth of lipstick. Probably bought on one of their weekly shopping excursions with daddy’s money and mommy’s approval.
Thing Two dares to crack a smile. Fake as her Louis Vuitton backpack draped across the shit-covered floor. I can almost see the gears turning in her head as she attempts to reverse the damage done. “Hey Addison. Did you catch the homework Mr. Eckert gave out today? Because neither of us heard it and...and….”
Her strained smile starts to waver as her panic grows and she realizes that her attempts are futile. That we’re not friends. Even if this never happened, it would be against the laws of...high school if I were to associate with them outside of awkward conversation within four classroom walls. Or bathroom walls, for that matter. But now, they’ve crossed the line of barely acquaintances to targets and there’s nothing they can do to reverse the damage. To take back the garbage that they got caught spewing. Every little thing about them screams DESPERATION and NEED FOR OTHERS APPROVAL. Thing One’s striped red halter top, which went down as ‘cute’ in my mental book when I saw it this morning, seems like it’s just yelling for me to claw it off her Pillsbury Dough Boy body. It would look better on the floor anyway.
I notice Thing Two lowering her gaze to the floor as if trying not to be noticed. As if trying to keep all the blame on Thing One. What a friend. Somehow that makes me madder at Thing Two than at Thing One. At least Thing One is trying to do something about it. I put on my sweetest voice. Sweet to the point of evil. “Laila, right?”
Thing One’s head snaps up at the sound of her name. Surprise and fear fill her gaze as she wonders how in the world I know her name. As if I would sit next to them for more than a month, listening to their brain-cell killing conversations, and not know their names. It’s all ‘Laila, omg you will not believe this’ or ‘Jennifer, you are such a bitch! You can’t say that. Teehee.’. I know their names. I just don’t particularly like them. Her emotion-filled face incites a feeling a satisfaction deep in my stomach that I don’t know if I’m proud of.
For a moment, I don’t know if Laila will respond. If she will just go back to examining the piss-crusted floor, acting like she isn’t in deep shit. I don’t know if I would be more or less satisfied if she dared to do such a thing.
She finally speaks. “Yeah...that’s my name.”
I get my answer: I would have been a lot happier if she had just kept her mouth shut. Her half-assed answer, which I’m sure was produced by her innate inability to form higher-level sentences and need to piss herself, pisses me off in a way I didn’t know I could be. Do I look like a puny substitute teacher, meekly calling out roll and asking if the pronunciation was correct in an attempt to get through 45 minutes without any of their own bodily fluids being leaked onto the floor? If I do, they should just tell me now. At least it would justify Laila’s stupid answer and even further justify me fucking their shit up.
I walk over to them. It’s clear in their eyes that it takes everything they have to not back away from me. To stand their ground. What brave girls they are.
“Is this the new Kylie lip gloss? I saw it go on sale last week but by the time I went to check out, it was all sold out. You’re really lucky to have gotten it. So lucky,” I say, picking up the lipgloss from its place in the sink. The fuzzy part that you apply the product with ended up stuck in a glop of a mysterious brown substance clinging onto the side of the sink The once pink fuzz is now a sickening brown, with chunks of whatever sticking out every which way.
Laila and Jennifer watch my every move as I bring the lip gloss up to eye level, inspecting it. The three girls who walked in earlier are gone, probably leaving after sensing my malintent. I took them for a crew of dumb bimbos, like most people seem to think of me, but they seem to have some inkling of intelligence to leave. So smart of them.
“Can I try it? Just to see the color. You know how the color never looks the same as in the tube. It would be great to see it on real skin. Not to be weird or anything. ” I ask, adding a giggle for effect and glancing back up at them at the end of my sentence, daring them to answer. They both look at the dirty applicator and back at me, then back at the dirty applicator. I can see their internal battle. Refuse me or be responsible for shit being smeared on my lips? Ooo, the choices. I feel like Howie Mandel hosting Deal or No Deal.
Deep down, they know this is some sort of trap. They’ve been caught red handed talking shit about me and they know there’s a price to be paid. They know somehow, someway, I’m going to screw them over. They just can’t quite see how this will play out in my favor. They just know it cannot play out in theirs. Watching them think is like watching a mouse being strangled by a snake. So small. So weak. So utterly powerless.
They have no idea.
Laila makes a choice. “Yeah, of course. Have at it.” Relief starts to take over their faces. Their shoulders relax. She’s probably thinking, Hey, maybe she doesn’t care and is just letting us off the hook and just wants to try our lipgloss. She’s thinking, Maybe Addison isn’t as bad as we thought she was. So utterly stupid.
I take another step closer to them and look in the mirror, rubbing my lips together to prepare for the application of the lipgloss. My reflections stares back at me for a second, all evil-eyed and arrogant, and for a second, I think about not doing this and just leaving. About letting this go and allowing these poor girls to just go to lunch. About being the bigger person.
But no. I snap my body toward them, Laila mainly, and smear the lipgloss across her face. Not just the little fuzzy part. The whole stick, up and down her pale cheek and forehead and nose and lips, like coloring a white wall with one of those long paint rollers. A video of me doing this could go on one of those satisfaction accounts, nestled between hundreds of basic videos of slime-slapping and soap-cutting and foam-crushing. I could start a trend. I’m a revolutionary for doing this.
For a pitiful second, she just stands there and takes it. The sight almost makes me sad, watching this poor girl stand there, mouth slightly open, just taking the humiliation and shit being smeared all over her moon-shaped face. Time slows for a second and I reconsider my actions.
Then she collects herself and her dignity and smacks my hand away, leaning back in repulsion and anger. The applicator flies onto the floor, skidding a few feet under one of the open stall doors, stopped by the edge of a toilet. Laila and I make eye contact for a second and I just see hurt. She steps back, her mouth open a little further as if she needs a few seconds to think of her next move.
Times up, bitch.
I take a Mac lipstick from its place on the edge of the sink and charge at her, smearing more product onto her face. She holds up her hands in defense. Jennifer is just standing there, watching, with her hands cupped over her mouth like a woman being proposed to by her highschool sweetheart. I smear loops and swirls and lines and penises onto her face. I work the lipstick down to a cherry-red nub and throw it into the sink, not bothering to look at the work of art on Laila’s stupid, judgemental face. Looking at her would just make me madder. Would just make me do even more damage.
“You know, Laila. I think this is the best I’ve ever seen you look. I think the brown really brings out your shit-colored eyes. The red really compliments your irritated cystic acne. I think this is the best it gets, considering what your face looks like regularly.” I dig deeper. Their words echo in my head. Fake. Bitch. Whore. “But if you ever want to look better than a 4, I know the best plastic surgeon in town. He can get that doughy face up to a solid 6. I just know it.”
Another fake, plastered smile. The icing on the cake.
I spot a small, four-color eyeshadow palette placed on Jennifer’s backpack and I realize she hasn’t gotten in on any of the fun. I’ve focused all my anger on poor Laila. I pick up the eyeshadow palette and see Jennifer move for the first time during my whole attack. She flinches toward me and her beloved palette, almost as a silent plea: Don’t do this. Please.
I throw it as hard as I can onto the floor. Not only do the powders break and scatter, forming a cloud of blue. The whole thing shatters, covering the entire floor of the small bathroom with shards of plastic from the L’oreal Pocket Palette Eyeshadow. I did her a favor: those shades of blue are disgusting. Fit for a fairy, maybe. Not for Jennifer’s sun-damaged eyelids with severe yellow undertones.
Without bothering to look at the two girls, who I don’t even have to see to know are on the verge of tears, I adjust the backpack strap on my right shoulder and leave. The door slams shut behind me.
Thing Two / The 4 (who could be a 6) (aka Laila Walton)
When Addison spoke to me for the first time, I couldn’t help it. My excitement and nerves shot through the roof. I’m sure my face went beet-red, flush with eagerness. With a whole lot of fear.
It was worse than when I had to present my speech at our 5th-grade Oration contest and I collapsed on stage from fear. Straight up fainted. The contest had to be moved to the following week due to my episode, onto the same day as the County Contest (which the winners of our school would have proceeded on to if the contest took place on its originally scheduled date). All 8 of the other contestants were furious, especially Jalene Parsons. The day of the makeup, she ‘accidentally’ bent my pointer finger back too far while playing tag and broke it. I withdrew from the contest to go to the hospital. Jalene won the contest.
But something about Addison looking right at us and acknowledging what we had to say sparked some sort of need for approval in me. It’s so stupid. She’s just another human being, a girl like us. But nobody would consider me a very headstrong person and my opinions and interests are very easily swayed. Hearing people talk about Addison day in and day out, reinforcing her influence at our school, only added to my mighty, all-powerful mental image of Addison.
But she lived up to that image.
She was so sweet and attentive, unlike Jenn whenever I manage to get a word in. I felt like she wasn’t just looking at me but that she was seeing me. Cheesy, Nicholas Sparks shit, I know.
My mom would always call me reserved, which is basically a nice way of saying that I’m a fucking hermit. I didn’t even think Addison knew who I was. But in that moment, when Addison smiled at me, she made me feel noticed. She noticed me, which is more than I can say about 97% of my seniors. My heart fluttered and I just wanted to feel like that forever. Like I mattered.
I know, I know. Gen Z is on that ‘Self Care’ wave, all about letting everyone know how valued and important they are. The message of my importance is shoved down my throat through faux-deep vloggers, midnight quote accounts, and soft white-boy twitter. I’ve heard/read the phrase “You must love yourself before you can expect anyone to love you” more times than my uncle has gotten drunk at our family barbeques. And he’s been to rehab twice. It didn’t work obviously.
But it’s really hard to believe all that self-importance, soft bullshit when really no one ever goes out of their way to make you feel important. Teen idols are so quick to tweet some ten-word message out to all their followers about how much they love them, but then go on to reinforce the idea that they would never be friends in real life. The same goes for high schoolers. They’ll post some a pic of their ass on their finsta with the caption “Love your body, no matter what!”, but shoot you the most judgemental look ever if you’re over 200 pounds and wearing a crop top. Actions just don’t seem to match up with words these days.
But when Addison looked at me, it was one of the first times in my life that I felt like I mattered.
It was pathetic, but amazing. I feel giddy and confident for the rest of the day. Well, I would have...if Jenn didn’t ask me if I wanted to touch up our makeup in the bathroom before lunch and almost dragged in with her. I was hungry and a Subway sandwich (BLT) was calling for me from my locker. But Jenn said I just had to try her new Kylie lip gloss. I had no choice. And I did kind of have to pee.
I barely paid attention to Jennifer’s mindless chatter as I touched up my makeup (basically just applying the Kylie lip gloss, wiping it off, then reapplying my Burt’s Bees chapstick). Honestly, Jennifer’s constant chattering sometimes gives me a headache and I hardly ever feel bad about zoning out. It’s not like I would miss anything. It’s all Netflix shows, the top 20 Billboard songs, and the outfit her crush of the week is wearing. But as redundant as her conversational topics seem, she never ever runs out of stuff to talk about. It’s fortunate in social situations, but annoying any other time. But our friendship is long-lasting and comfortable, and there’s nothing humans seek more than consistency.
My head was nodding along in agreement to whatever was spewing out of Jenn’s mouth at the time when I couldn’t help but freeze at what I was hearing.
“You agree, right? Addison’s the worst, OMG,” Jennifer sighed, in the exact same voice she used to describe how she felt about Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” less than a minute earlier. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t tell if she had been talking about Addison for a while now or if she was just starting on this tangent. So I did what I’ve always done when I don’t know what to do.
“Yeah, I agree.” Then I let out a laugh, which came out a lot more forced than I intended it to. But Jenn bought it. She even smiled, satisfied, into the mirror. I thought my agreement would be the end of it and for once, I was wishing for her to start talking about something like the new G-strings she got at Aerie last weekend. I should have known better.
She kept talking about it. About how horrible Addison was. It wasn’t even a conversation, really. It was just her talking about how terrible Addison was and how two-faced she was, with me just listening and absorbing. It was like watching someone pick a scab. Painful and wrong to witness, yet pleasurable on their end. Knowing the deeper they go, the less self-control they have. She picked and picked and picked deeper and deeper and deeper until she was bleeding and she looked to me to do something, like it was my duty to make her feel better for what she had done. For me to affirm that she’s totally sane and normal for doing what she’s done.
I can complain and complain about Jenn all I want, but in hindsight, I’m no better. I gave in. I told her what she wanted to hear. That Addison is a bitch and a slut and a whore and a fake and nobody likes Addison because she’s the absolute worst. I started picking at my scab even though I was perfectly content with leaving it alone. And when you pick a scab, you have to deal with the consequences. The blood gushing out, with no way for you to stop it. The regret and withdrawals that feel like an itch just beneath your skin that you fear may never go away.
I didn’t hear the door open. I’m pretty sure Jenn didn’t either because - surprise surprise - she kept talking. And the more and more she talked, the meaner and meaner she got, and the meaner and meaner she wanted me to get. So - surprise surprise, again - I complied. It became a shit show of us just hating on Addison that dragged on and on that, after a while, I didn’t even think what we were doing was wrong. The words just flowed out of me from a place I didn’t even know I had. The scab was beyond repair to the point where it would no doubt leave a nasty-looking scar.
Then we heard the door open the second time. High pitched chatter quieted our ‘conversation’, but only one word stood out.
Her face in that moment she turned the corner is something seared into my mind for the rest of my life. But it wasn’t the anger etched across her features that made it so memorable, though there was a lot of it. It was a slight hurt floating in her fiery blue eyes. I swear I saw water welling up at the waterline of her eyes. She might just the type of person to cry when she’s just overwhelmed with all emotions, not just sadness, but I still couldn’t take the sight of Addison Holland on the verge of tears in front of me and me being the reason for it. I had to look away to keep myself from crying. And my tears would definitely be from pure sadness. Sadness for myself and Addison. Sadness for doing this to a person that made me feel like I mattered just three hours before.
I don’t even really remember what Addison said to us or what we said back. Trying to remember everything that happened is like trying to remember riding a roller coaster. You remember the build-up to it and the butterflies slamming against the walls of your insides. You remember it ending and your mind finally touching back to reality, your feet finally on solid ground. You remember the general feeling of your stomach in your ass during the twists and turns and fuck-me-ups. But you don’t completely remember everything that happened when you were actually riding the ride because it was going so fast and you were being pulled back and forth and you felt like you were going to throw up the entire time.
All I remember is Addison attacking me and me hardly doing anything to fight back. Why would I have? I deserved it and Addison deserved to do it. Addison had every right to act on her hurt and anger. The anger that Jenn and I caused. The hurtful words she spat out of anger afterwards hit me where it hurt, there’s no doubt about it. But I can’t imagine anything we said about her, in her presence, was any more kind.
I don’t know how I felt when Addison ruined the eyeshadow palette Jenn’s estranged dad got her for her 16th birthday last year. Sadness. Anger. Guilt. A mixture of all three. She was my best friend. I’d known her since 2nd grade when she sat next to the lonely new girl, pulled out her sandwich (with the corners cut off) and asked, “Do you think it would hurt if I slapped you with this piece of cheese?”. But she was also the reason everything was falling to absolute shit around us. I resented her. Addison could have broken her neck in that moment, for all I cared. Furious would have been an understatement of what I was feeling toward my ‘best friend’ in that moment.
When someone does something so utterly terrible and reckless to you, you have to wonder what caused them to do so. Most of the times it’s anger and pain that you caused them, so it’s very rarely that you can take time to feel sorry for yourself. Most people still take time to throw themselves a pity party, because that’s what humans do best. But not me. In my opinion, taking advantage of your ability to hurt and drive someone to their breaking point is worse than most anything they can do to you in return. And that’s what Jenn and I did. Jenn might go home and cry about it all to her mommy, making the situation all about her and how she was the victim. But I’d lick the floor of the boy’s bathroom before I do anything like that.
If I could go back to that situation and change one thing, I would stand up for myself. I wouldn’t stand up to Addison. I would stand up to Jenn. She dragged me into her shit and used my impressionable mind to affirm her own bat-shit crazy opinions. It’s not the first time she put me in such a compromising position that could only benefit herself, but it will be the last. She hurt Addison and me and only got a fraction of the punishment she deserved. I wish I could stick around to see karma bite her in her flat little ass, but I just can’t.
I’m never talking to that bitch again.