A Hit of Jealousy
Lauren Mallory's life was carefully scripted, but Bella Swan refused to read along. So she took a hit of jealousy and got through the day.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
1. A Hit of Jealousy
Rating 3.7/5 Word Count 1980 Review this Chapter
When she entered the bedroom, she did not turn on the light.
In the dark, the full-length mirror in the corner could not reflect anything concrete or substantial. There would be only shapes, varying shades of blue and indigo, the shadows of her movements.
Lauren slid into bed with her jeans still on, turning her face toward the wall.
She closed her eyes and wished her mother would come barging in. Hair wild, nightgown twisted, eyes blazing, finger pointing. Shouting where have you been and how dare you and you’re grounded.
It was three o’clock in the morning on a school night. She had made more noise than necessary coming in through the bathroom window. She had banged on the walls going down the hallway, pretending to be drunk and sloppy, though she hadn’t had a drink all night.
In the room across the hall, she heard her parents shift and whisper, although she couldn’t make out the words. Then the stutter of noise stopped, and the house was silent.
For someone who was supposed to have everything, it sure didn’t feel like much.
Her life, finally, had turned into nothing more than the cliché soap opera. She was pretty enough. Not really gorgeous, but good features and fantastic hair, which was the case with all soap actresses. And so, of course, she had followed the script. She had gotten incredibly close to the boy and lost him. She had gotten a modeling agent and been screwed. She had risen to the top, and then, horrifically, been abandoned and betrayed.
And, in classic soap opera style, she was going to blame someone else. Isabella fucking Swan.
Bella was pretty, too, but she wasn’t aware of it, and maybe that was why she didn’t fall into the natural play of Lauren’s script. She had first skipped the lines where she and Lauren were supposed to become friends, drawn together naturally because of their good looks. Even when introduced, however, she didn’t
seem very interested. Then she had further ruined the careful plot by not attempting to rule the roost—she was so unaware of any power she may have had over the sheep of Forks High. And she hadn’t even shown up for the finale, hadn’t even finished the job, leaving Lauren’s life in a half-ruined state, not necessarily bad, just appalling, and no one can properly complain if they haven’t been properly wronged.
She knew, on some level, that all of these things had happened (or, in some cases, not happened) because Bella was simply too modest to assume she had any lines. Once Lauren had finally realized that her modesty was even part of the attraction, for a while she had tried her own slice of humble pie. But even washing it down with a glass of this-is-good-for-you couldn’t make the taste less bitter. She could not shake the feeling that she deserved better than what she had. Why shouldn’t boys look at her? Why shouldn’t people gravitate toward her? What, really, did Bella have that was so special?
This had been the first blow. No one likes having their scenes stolen and their faults thrown into contrast against perfect virtue. So Lauren took a hit of jealousy between classes and got through the day.
Mike Newton had been the second blow. Everyone liked Mike, and everyone included Lauren. The rumors had flown, mere days before Bella had flounced into their lives, that Mike was going to ask her out. A date to Port Angeles had been planned behind the scenes—she had even looked up movie times at the Cineplex for Friday night. And the Tuesday before, Bella had strolled into Mike’s Biology II lab and stolen it from her. Lauren was suddenly old news. Just another familiar face in the halls. Suddenly uninteresting.
And so she took a hit of jealousy at every meal and between classes and got through the day.
The modeling agent, she had to admit, had not been Bella Swan’s fault. Bella had barely existed those days anyway. It was her own damn fault, to be taken in like that. She had cut her hair and everything. Now instead of falling gently around her shoulders it chopped off in straight layers by her chin.
But if she tried, if she tried really, really hard, she could say that the aftermath was Bella’s fault. Bella was always so strong, even when she was practically comatose. She was so determined to be depressed, so utterly complete in her devastation that Lauren envied her. That modeling agent had destroyed her hair and taken her money, and yet she was still capable of conversing, still laughing unguardedly at the lunch table. No one took her moments of depression seriously, and how could they with such a convincing act to compare her to?
And so she took a hit of jealousy before bed and at every meal and between classes and got through the day.
Outside it began to rain. The button on Lauren’s jeans was pushing uncomfortably into her lower stomach, but she was determined not to re-situate herself. She couldn’t decide if it was because she deserved the pain or because she wanted it, but it didn’t matter. It was too hot under the covers and it felt like anger and bitterness had crawled into bed with her.
That night she had snuck out of the bathroom window—loudly, maybe her parents would call the police—but there was no getaway car. Instead she walked along the highway, without purpose, until she reached the high school. There was a single lamp on in the parking lot, leaving the rest of campus drenched in darkness.
She walked the wooden pathways, running her fingers along low bushes and against the sides of buildings when she could reach. Her fingertips started to sting.
The school was nestled against the forest, like everything in Forks. She stumbled off the walkway when she hit the gym, which was in the back and the most secluded building. The shadows seemed to stretch from all sides, even though that wasn’t possible. Trekking behind the gym seemed to take too long, and when she was finally on the back wall, right in the middle, she sat down in the tall grass and closed her eyes.
She was hoping it would rain. It would be a better effect, if they were ever to make her life into a movie. Her life would make a good movie, if it were translated to a big town school, if the character of Bella were a little crueler, and if Lauren
were depicted as fighting for her territory instead of meekly giving in to this new girl. And, of course, it would only be any good if it ended well—in her own personal triumph. Maybe Bella could get hit by a bus.
Which, of course, reminded her of the time Tyler Crowley almost killed Bella Swan with a van, and that of course reminded her of Edward Cullen.
Edward Cullen was as much responsible for Lauren’s downfall as Bella Swan was. He had meant nothing to nobody, except his family, for two long years before Bella moved to town. He was simply pretty wallpaper. And then here is this girl, this insufferably plain, uninteresting girl, and Edward Cullen peeled himself away from the brickwork and walked into the sunset with her.
Who the hell was this girl that even Edward Cullen found himself dazzled? The Cullens never gave anyone the time of day, and then one day Forks woke up and Edward was dating this ugly girl with mousy brown hair, who was the biggest klutz to ever walk the earth. Lauren found it nothing less than absolute scandal. Who was this girl who could achieve the impossible, who could live out their wildest dreams? Lauren had never even considered the Cullens a viable option, and here they were, out in full force in response to this ridiculous child.
When Edward and the rest of his stuck-up, self-centered family disappeared into the mist, and Bella disappeared into herself, Lauren felt familiarity return, and let herself get comfortable. People resented Bella. Angela and Jessica, affronted, turned their backs to her and their faces to Lauren. Mike Newton started sitting next to her at lunch again. And then Bella was just a waste of a table seat, and Lauren was queen. Where she belonged.
So what had gone wrong? Lauren had wondered, picking blades of grass behind the gym and splitting them in half with her thumbnail. The butt of her jeans were soaking through. It seemed too early for dew, so it must have rained earlier, but she couldn’t remember. Who can bother to keep record of the rain here?
She stayed firmly seated in the wet and dark until she could no longer control her shivering. She began stalking home, thinking about the final blow that Bella Swan had dealt her.
It would have been fine. Everything would have worked out, except nothing ever went right for her where Bella was involved. Exactly three hours and twenty-two minutes after Jessica Stanley confided in Lauren that she was worried about Bella, exactly three hours and twenty-one minutes after Lauren said that Bella didn’t care about any of them anymore, Bella Swan once more lifted her head and started making conversation.
Just like that.
Out of the blue.
When Jessica reported that Bella had been like a crazy person on their trip to Port Angeles, Lauren dared to hope. And while she sat around and waiting, she lost Mike Newton, Angela Weber, and everything she had worked so hard to keep. At least Jessica stuck by her.
And then Edward Cullen reappeared and Bella started smiling and sighing and talking and it happened. Lauren felt bad for her, unable to hide from the feelings that flowed between the pair. He had clearly devastated her. Is there anything worse than feeling pity for your one rival?
Yes, apparently, there was. Realizing that you have spent your entire existence competing with someone who didn’t care, realizing that you hate someone who never noticed, realizing that despite the devastation Bella inflicted on her life, she had hardly had the same effect. Bella had not suffered from Lauren’s indifference. In fact, she had had no effect. Her glares had gone unnoticed, and her hatred had swelled against nothingness. Whether or not she lived or died, whether or not she loved or hated, Bella Swan did not care. The final blow.
And so she tucked her jealousy in her pocket to carry around with her, to take out and slide between her fingers when no one else was looking.
It occurred to her, then, that if Bella Swan did not care, who did?
If she came home on time she snuck out later. If she finished her homework all the answers were wrong. If she ate with her parents she didn’t eat at all. If she
was on time to school she skipped fifth period. Her grades suffered. She lost weight. No one said anything.
Except perfect Isabella, who said, “Hey.” Who said, “Are you okay?” Who said, “You look so tired these days.”
To stop herself from looking pleased, Lauren had nearly growled, fighting the urge to bare her teeth.
Lauren smelled like grass and pine when she spilled onto the bathroom floor. Her pillow smelled like rain against her cheek. The mirror reflected the light from passing cars across her wall. She pretended that there was someone there to hold her, cradle her, and maybe she would finally be okay to cry.
The arms that were there to hold her were green, not gentle but suffocating, and when the tears came to roll down her cheeks she felt anger and hate, and the sadness that had sat heavily on her chest for these past few weeks melted along her bones and sank into the marrow.
She closed her eyes.
The next day Lauren broke the mirror in the corner with her fist. It was very simple, really. She didn’t like what she saw. She didn’t want to see it anymore.