Pretty Girl walks up to the counter and begins to unload her cart. Plain Girl behind the till grabs the first item and swishes it past the electronic reader. Pretty Girl looks up and there is a spark of recognition on her face. She catches Plain Girl’s eye. “Did you used to go to Chancellor High?” she asks. A momentary blush crosses Plain Girl’s face. “Yes,” she says simply. “I THOUGHT I recognized you, says Pretty Girl, smiling. “We must have been there at the same time.” “I know your face well,” says Plain Girl, and it’s clear that she knows the face too well. She knows it from years of watching from her spot on the floor leaned up against her locker as Pretty Girl walked by with Jock Boy or Cheerleader Girl. She knows it from agonizing hours in the gymnasium or change room, watching Pretty Girl with all the other Pretty Girls giggling and exchanging secrets. She knows Pretty Girl, because in the darkest places in her heart, she either wanted to BE Pretty Girl, or see her suffer bodily injury or serious humiliation.
Now, all these years later, she has to serve Pretty Girl from behind a check-out counter at Wal-mart. Again she watches as Pretty Girl walks by with Handsome Husband and Cute Kids. A look passes over her faces. Again she wishes for a reversal of fortunes or bodily harm. Maybe Pretty Girl will trip on her way out of the store.
Pretty Girl leaves without tripping, and Plain Girl turns to serve me. She doesn’t know the meaning of my smile, but I know that I am no threat to her because I spent those same hours in high school watching.