Monday, November 11, 2013

Chapter Twelve: Diana Gets Dominant

Diana drove the Volkswagen to school in silence, absorbed in her fears and speculations.

She couldn’t bring herself to care about Vitto’s death, other than being still shocked (at least a bit) that her dreams had somehow come true. She knew what his death looked like. She’d killed him. Then she’d set his dogs free; to help blur the truth? She was confused about her motives in the other form. She looked at herself in the rearview mirror after parking in one of the last free spots in the lot. 

“I am not your bitch,” she declared to herself, though she immediately felt unsure about the response to that. 

When she parked, she grabbed her bag, which always had a few books in it, even during summer, and her soccer ball. It was a totem. She just kept it in her locker for luck, since the practices and games used equipment of the home team for the most part. She walked through the school with her head up for the first time, maybe ever. She could not summon the servitude to cower here. 

Inside the senior’s locker hall, Diana smelled fish. She passed other kids holding their noses as they walked out, complaining. A group of kids, mostly girls, were standing around, gawking at someone on the ground. Diana pushed her way to the front, something she never would have done last year. But now, making contact with others seemed to give her confidence. No surprise, many of the girls Diana dreaded seeing most were there. All of them in fact. Worst of all was Katrina Vandenberg, beauty queen. She was the head cheerleader and her mom was the coach. They practically were the cheerleading squad. Diana couldn’t have cared less, though. 

The girl in the center carefully replaced some pieces of fish from the floor, and mopping up rice and what looked like apple sauce, with a small pile of paper napkins from the restroom. No one could be bothered to help her, though someone had obviously helped her spill her lunch. This explained the smell of fish and apples. 

“Sorry teachers  don’t make enough to buy their kids clothes,” Katrina mocked. Diana didn’t understand at first, but she watched the girl with the spilled lunch. She had long, black hair in two pigtails at the back of her neck down to her shoulder blades. When she looked up, she had Asian features, with a flattish nose and bright black eyes that gazed cooly at Katrina. Her clothes were department store specials a few years out of date and a size too small for her. When she stood, her skirt came to her knees. Diana noticed her shoes were very good running shoes. New ones. But still, Katrina was making fun of her clothes. Really? Diana felt her cheeks flushing and her hands balling into fists. She squeezed the soccer ball. It felt like putty to her, but she was gentle. 

“Man, that’s gross. How could anyone eat that?” a boy complained loudly.

Diana could sense… dominance, an aura of power  coming from Katrina. But she smelled humiliation and anger from the girl with the glittering eyes, though she showed neither. The girl was trying to think of something to say. Finally she blurted out a string of Japanese (Diana thought she recognized it; she did want to take Japanese this year) and angrily resumed cleaning up the mess. This was met with tails of laughter from the girls standing around. Diana knew what it felt like to be this girl, teased and kept outside. She wasn’t pretty like Del’; too big and too bookish… ‘Diana Horseface’ they’d called her freshman year. These girls had already decided they didn’t want this new girl on their team and the first day of school hadn’t even started yet. She repressed a growl.

Diana tossed her ball. It took the boy (Trevor Young, she thought his name was) by surprise and bounced perfectly off his head and back into Diana’s arms. She caught it without looking and addressed the girls. “Nice,” she said. “So much for esprit decor, hospitality, or basic human decency. Good job team.” She’d realized most of these girls were her teammates on the soccer team. She had a picture somewhere of last years (almost) winning team. Katrina had tossed her a ball at the last second. The photographer, for whatever reason let it stand. Only Diana’s family had protested, but when he’d offered the opportunity to photograph the entire family for Del’s graduation for free, her dad had to accept. Right?

She saw surprise, recognition, and attitude light across their faces like christmas decorations blinking different colors. Katrina was a pro at the social game. She practically tackled Diana. “Di!” she squealed. “Goal-darn winner! How ya been, sistah?” Katrina had shining blonde locks and a perky personality that reminded Diana very uncomfortably of her sister Del.

“We need to talk,” Diana said. She smiled up at the rest of the team and onlookers, including the girl in the middle. Then Di swung Katrina up and pushed her back into the lockers with some force. 

“What the fuck?” Kat objected, trailing off at the end, rather than make a big scene about being tossed around by someone as uncool as Di.

“Why don’t you and the rest of the jackals help with the mess and treat our new friend with some respect?” Diana leaned on the locker looming over the smaller girl and pinning her in place without actually touching her. But she didn’t quite get it.

“Or what?” Katrina asked, then whispered, “Are you going to beat me up? You can’t even ask a guy to dance or…”

Diana leaned in conspiratorially, “I want to rip out the soft flesh of your belly and eat it. It’s going to be so fucking yummy.”

Katrina looked shocked. “You’re fucking sick, Di. Get off—“

Diana grabbed the other girl’s chin, still driven by anger. “Do it. Or I will rip you to fucking pieces. Mmkay?” She patted Kat on the cheek.

The girl looked stricken, as if she’d seen something awful in Diana’s eyes. Diana smiled a thin, cruel smile and let her go.

Katrina surged forward, “Come on, ladies, let’s get this taken care of. Di’s right. What a bunch of bitches.” There were some laughs, but the girls mostly helped or at least got out of the way.

Diana, afraid to stop moving forward because she might question every damn thing she’d just done, turned and fixed on the Japanese girl standing up and letting the other girls finish cleaning up. She stepped forward as the crowd dispersed. The first bell would ring any minute.

“Hi,” she said, “I’m Diana.” 

The girl looked up at her sullenly. “My name,” she said in quiet, well-formed English, “is Moriko.”
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