Act 1: Chapter 1, Part 1

Posted on February 19, 2017

Chapter 1: In Which Megan Attempts to Make Amends

Megan. First Day of School. Early.

“My, Megan, you’re up early. Your mother didn’t even have to call you,” said Megan’s father as he glanced up from the paper.

“Daddy,” Megan replied, feeling exasperated, “it’s the first day of high school. I have to be prepared. How does my outfit look?” Megan spun, showing off her sky blue sun dress, knee length and swirling, and her rose red cardigan sweater. They contrasted nicely with her lower-back length silver blonde curls, already washed and styled, with over an hour left until school started. She had completed the ensemble with her silver, bell-shaped charm1 (though it wasn't a real bell, so that she wasn't ringing just all the time) on a copper chain around her neck.

“You look great, honey,” her dad said, taking a sip of steaming coffee and looking back to the Wall Street Journal.

Megan rolled her eyes and turned to her mother, who was eating oatmeal and drinking tea at the other end of the table. “Mum, do I look okay in this outfit? I trust Daddy’s fashion sense about as far as I can throw him.”

Megan’s mother smiled. “You look lovely, honey. I especially like your Mary Janes.” Megan beamed down at her new shoes, their shiny black leather. “You’ll leave all the boys in a daze in your wake, I’m sure. Now that you’ve spent so long on your outfit, do you have everything you need?”

“Powers, Mother!” Megan said. “I’m not a little kid anymore. I’m fine! I have all my school stuff already packed. It’s not like we have books yet or anything.”

Her mother sighed. “Okay, honey, I was just asking. You should probably get going.”

“I’ll go soon,” Megan replied, her tone back to chipper. “I need to wait a bit still, I think.” She drifted over to the front window. She sat on a couch where she could see the street in the opposite direction from school.

“Whatever you think, sweetheart,” her mother replied.

Megan sat in silence for a while, staring out the window, then sprang up and ran over to give her parents hugs and kisses on their cheeks. “I’m off! Bye Mom! Bye Daddy!” Megan cried as she rushed back toward the door, scooping up her backpack as she went.

“Megan!” her Dad said as her hand touched the door. “Don’t forget your piece!”

She froze, then turned and picked up the holstered revolver hanging by the door, its blue gunmetal barrel poking out of the end of the holster, and slipped it into the holster pocket on her backpack. “If you say so,” she said, sighing. “I’m more likely to shoot one of my classmates than a Beast, even if one does burrow up into the middle of the quad.”

“Honey, we’ve been over this. Just take the damn gun,” her father said with a frown.2

“Yes, Father,” she muttered, and was out the door.

Megan. First Day of School. Slightly Less Early.

The door thudded shut behind Megan, not loud but audible enough, and the red-headed girl on the other side of the street, a couple dozen feet in the direction of school, stopped in her tracks next to one of the ubiquitous brass gas lamps lining the residential lane.

She was wearing crimson shorts, of a shade surprisingly close to that of her short hair, and a white tank-top, a black gun belt and holster, and white high top Converse. She stayed frozen for a long moment. Just as she shifted her weight to take another step, Megan found her voice and said, “Hey Angie! Wait up?”

Angie froze again, and then slowly turned toward her. As she did Megan bounced down her front steps and stepped lightly across the lane. Their lane wasn’t tracked for the trolley, so there wasn’t much danger of her tripping, though she’d been known to stumble over less. A couple of blocks away, the engine of a motor-wagon purred, echoing through the sleepy streets. Angie reached out and wrapped a hand around the pole of the gas lamp.

The other girl regarded her with a wary expression. Other than their heights—Megan was five feet three inches, and Angie looked to be an inch or so taller than her now—Megan O’Sadie and Angela McMillan were a study in contrasts. Megan’s hair was long, blonde, and bleached Moon pale from the summer sun. Angie’s pixie cut hair was the color of an ember, or of a red fox, or of the Little Mermaid’s hair; at first glance it seemed like it had to be dyed, but on closer examination it became clear that her eyebrows matched and that there wasn’t even the faintest sign of roots showing through.

Over the course of middle school, Megan had developed what she liked to think of (on a good day) as some real righteous curves, while Angie had stayed more slender and androgynous, with (comparatively) long coltish legs. Megan had a warm, rosy complexion and a light summer tan, whereas Angie was very pale, except for the vast swaths of freckles that had covered her exposed skin over the course of the summer. Megan’s face was oval, just barely not round, with apple cheeks, a small, upturned nose, and wide blue-violet eyes. Angie’s face was diamond shaped, with high cheekbones, narrow, mischievous green eyes, and a sharp nose and chin.

“Uhm. Hey Megan,” Angie said as Megan came within normal conversational distance, “How’s it going?” Her expression was still guarded, and her grip on the pole tight enough that her knuckles were bone white. Up close, Megan could see Celtic knots worked into her belt, and a triskele charm blending copper and some sort of stone hung from a silver chain around her neck. Her ears were pierced, and she wore studs of some sort of glossy, opaque green stone that matched her eyes. On each wrist she wore a wooden charm bracelet of some sort; Megan had to imagine Angie knew what the symbols on each meant, but Megan didn’t.

The two girls faced each other, and even though she’d played out how she wanted this conversation to go in her head over and over for weeks now, Megan started panicking, unable to remember anything she’d wanted to say. After too long a pause, she said, “You know. Starting high school now. Tenth grade. We’re finally in the double digit grade numbers.”

Slowly, Angie raised an eyebrow. Megan had forgotten how scathing she could make that expression when she wanted to. “Yeah. Those are facts about our current life status, but they apply to me as well as you, so they don’t really tell me how it’s going. Like, with you.”

Megan let slip a nervous giggle. “Sure, of course. I’m good. Excited! It’ll be cool to see people.”

Angie nodded. Her expression was back to that wary blankness. “Sure. All your friends.”

Megan regarded her, feeling hopeful. “Yeah. All my friends.” The words hung in the air, and the hope started to drain away as Angie continued to regard her coolly with no response. Megan opened her mouth again, not knowing what she was going to say, and what came out was, “I’ve missed you.”

“Yeah!?” The word exploded out of Angie’s mouth, her face twisting. She let go of the pole, slashing that hand through the air in front of her as she yelled, “Why did it take you two fucking years to come to that conclusion? I’ve been here the whole fucking time!”

Megan flinched and looked away. Took a step back. Took a deep breath, and looked back at Angie, taking in her anger. “I don’t… It didn’t. I’ve missed you the whole time.”

“Yeah! I’d think that you SHOULD!” Angie shouted. Megan flinched again, wondering if it was loud enough for her parents to hear. Angie twirled and started walking away, her longer legs eating up ground.

Megan started after her. “Angie, wait!” Angie continued, and Megan had to half jog to keep up with her as they passed alternating gas lamps and trees. “Angie, please,” she said, and tears broke the surface of her eyes. Angie glanced at her and slowed. “Angie,” Megan said, “I was wrong. Wrong and stupid.” Tears started running down her face, and she felt her nose getting stuffy, already. Dammit.

Angie slowed more, allowing Megan to walk next to her, still crying, but she didn’t stop. She looked at Megan, instead, expectantly. Megan opened her mouth, to tell her the reason, why she’d had to, and found that she couldn’t. She’d come to terms with it, but she still wasn’t ready to talk about it, here in the middle of the street when they were supposed to be going to the first day of high school.

Angie started to turn away, so Megan, desperate, blurted the other reason, the reason it had taken this long. “L-Lauren didn’t, doesn’t like Ryan and Evan. She—“

“Who are my friends, Megan!” Angie hissed, her narrow eyes narrowed further. “Who were your friends, at one point.”

Megan hiccupped. “I know. I’m sorry. I just… all the girls thought she was so cool and everyone listened to everything she said and, and... She didn’t think…” she paused, and said, “Never mind. What she thinks doesn’t matter. I was wrong.”

“No, go on. I’d love to hear all about what Lauren thinks. It’d be really cool to hear what the cool girls’ opinions are,” Angie replied, her voice even and reasonable, except when she twisted the word ‘cool.’

Megan hiccupped, and sobbed a little. “I don’t think she had a problem with you, except that you were hanging out with… with them. I just... couldn’t hang out with them without her being mean, and you only hung out with them. I couldn't just… just tell you to dump them, I had to just... I was so wrong!” Megan wasn’t paying attention to where she was going, just watching Angie’s face as she continued to walk, and almost tripped on a dip in the surface of the lane, stumbling several steps before catching her balance.

Angie’s expression softened a little, for a moment, before hardening again. “So you only threw me under the bus because I wouldn’t let go of the actual people you were throwing under the bus? Pretty cool, Megan.” As Megan opened her mouth to reply, Angie stopped and spun to face her fully. “Yeah, you were super wrong! We’ve been friends since kindergarten! And Evan since first grade! Ryan since fourth!’

Megan faced her, tears still dripping off her face, probably snot leaking out her nose. “I know.”

Angie studied her for a moment, then said, “So you’re done being cool?”

Megan looked away, then back. “I don’t know. Depends on them? I’m going to hang with you, all of you, if you’ll let me. If Lauren and the other girls don’t want to be my friends anymore because of it, so be it.” She blinked, and saw that there were tears in Angie’s eyes too.

Angie wiped her face, the motion harsh and angry. Then she reached into her bag and pulled out a handful of tissues, handing them to Megan. “Blow your nose. You look terrible.” Megan did so, blowing her nose and then wiping up her ruined mascara and other eye makeup. After, she smiled tentatively. Angie did not return the expression, instead looking away and saying, “I’ve missed you too. I can’t believe you cold shouldered me for three years because of that asshole Lauren. I fucking knew that’s what it was, too. Fucking knew it.” She wiped her own face with a tissue, leaving her also mostly make-up-less.

“I’m such a fool,” Megan said, and hiccupped.

“Yeah,” Angie said. “You are. I’m not promising anything. If Evan and Ryan are cool with you, I’ll be cool. This is up to them.” She turned to start walking again.

Megan moved to keep pace with her, clutching the tissues. “Of course.”

“You should have belted that dress. It would have shown off your hips better,” Angie said, and the corner of her mouth twitched.

“Mother!” Megan muttered. “Can’t count on you for anything.” The corner of Angie’s mouth twitched again.

  • 1. A common shape for charms against evil spirits.
  • 2. It’s recently come to our attention that there is some disparity in usage for this word between American and British English. When we use the word frown, we are referring to the standard dictionary definition of “to contract the brow in displeasure or concentration,” from here.