Tonight we’re going to the mall to fall in love.

In the bathroom I open my eyes as wide as possible, feeling tears building up at the edge of my mascara. “I can’t believe you, Dawn.” My voice is heavy and scratched. “Telling that guy I was hot for his skank friend.”

“He’s all right,” Dawn says, putting on lip gloss with a fingertip. “He has long hair. What’s with you?”

“I don’t want to hang with him, is all.” I press my index fingers to the corners of my eyes. The tips of my fingers are black with mascara and tears. There’s a noise at the back of my throat that wants to come out, but I know Dawn will be mad if I let it.

My stomach feels huge. The thought of that skanky Barney Rubble out there makes me want to puke, though he’s no worse than some of the others I’ve had to put up with. It’s no coincidence that every babe Dawn finds has a skanky-looking best friend along with him. That’s what people see when they look at Dawn and me. I’ve noticed how beautiful people like to have a skank friend to hang out with. It makes them look even better.

“Oh, man,” Dawn says. “Are you my best friend, or what?”

“You know I am.” My voice cracks in half. Carefully I wipe away the black tear running down my cheek with a twist of Kleenex. “I just don’t want to be with that guy,” I tell her. “He’s a skank, and you know it.”

A lady comes into the bathroom carrying a shopping bag. She goes into a stall. Dawn turns the hand dryer on so we can talk privately. “Look,” she whispers, “if you’re my best friend, you’ll do this for me. Because I’ll tell you one thing for sure: only my best friend can sleep over at my house tonight.” I stand there weeping. It takes forever to get my breath.

“Janine,” Dawn says finally, tiring of my crap, “fix your face and let’s go.” I get out my compact and brush powder across my cheekbones, and then redo my mascara and eyeliner. I work quickly, knowing Dawn will leave me behind if I don’t hurry. A woman comes in with a little boy, chocolate ice cream smeared down his cheeks. She lifts him up to the sink and wets a tissue to wipe his face. I want to go away with her.

“Look,” Dawn says, her voice softer now. “You don’t have to do anything. I just don’t want to be alone with the guy the first time. We’ll stick together, I promise. And later when we get home, we’ll eat some eggs or something. OK?”

I nod my head. My face is glowing again in the mirror. I open my eyes wide, testing my mascara. A toilet flushes, and the woman with the shopping bag comes out, washes up, looks at herself in the mirror. She slides her lips against each other, evening out her lipstick. She’s pretty for an old lady. She must be at least 40. It’s depressing to think about all the years I’ll have to worry about my makeup and my hair before I get old enough that no one cares.

We leave the bathroom, head to Macy’s, and there they are, waiting for us by the exit. The babe sees us and pulls a wig crooked on a mannequin to show off. I smile. My skin is tight with layers of powder, but underneath it I can feel my face swollen from crying.

“Hey, what’s up?” the babe says. “This is my buddy. Stevie. He’s cool.”

“Hi,” I say. I bend my lips up into something like a smile. Dawn is giggling with her hand over her mouth.

“What’s up?” Stevie says. His eyes are crooked and small.

We head out to the parking lot. It’s dark out. Headlights reflect off cars as we walk out to the strip of grass that separates the highway from the Macy’s parking lot. Thick green bushes are planted in a row leading to the entrance and exit signs that separate the lanes of traffic in and out of Macy’s.

Dawn and me lean against the Enter sign. Stevie and the babe stand across from us. The babe has a pint of Southern Comfort. He passes it around. A wind is blowing, drying the sweat under my arms.

“So,” the babe says finally, “what’s up?”

“I’m cold,” Dawn says.

“Here,” he says. He takes off his leather and wraps it around her, leaving his arm on her shoulder.

Suddenly they’re going at it. She falls against the Enter sign with a bang, and I move away quickly as he presses into her with his hips and chest. I look at Stevie, and past him at the cars streaming by on the highway. He makes a noise in his throat and spits on the grass.

“What’s up?” he says.

“Nothing,” I say, looking down.

He puts his arm around me. The babe has a hand up Dawn’s shirt. I catch a corner of her bra under his cupped hand. Stevie’s hand curls around my shoulder slowly. I can tell he thinks I won’t notice.

The babe breaks away from Dawn and says, “Time to hit the Pit?”

Dawn looks at me. “Come on, Janine.” I shake my head. She puckers her lips. We go behind the Exit sign. She’s sweaty, her makeup rising like a film over her face. “Janine, you want a place to sleep tonight?” Her voice is thick, breathless. It’s dark enough out that I just let my mascara run with a flood of tears. I know Dawn can see, but she just flips her hair and steps back away from me, talking loud so the guys can hear.

“You think you can do better?” she says. I look at her. Even in the wind from the cars and the sweat on her face, she’s still something I’ll never be. From the tiny points of her shoulders to the long swoop of her legs, down to her ankles, like glass balanced on high heels. I give in.


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  • MikaylaT May 3rd, 2013 3:32 PM

    Wow..this story was

  • limegreensunset May 3rd, 2013 3:36 PM

    i love this.

  • abby111039 May 3rd, 2013 4:27 PM

    This was beautiful. It certainly hit home for me. Well done.

  • jenaimarley May 3rd, 2013 4:28 PM

    This makes me so sad!

  • elliecp May 3rd, 2013 4:36 PM

    Wow. That was so powerful, and relatable. I started reading and just couldn’t stop…there should be more stories about reality like this out there.

  • Hibawot May 3rd, 2013 4:42 PM

    Oh wow..this blog is always my favorite source of intellect and entertainment. Go guys! :)

  • Saana V May 3rd, 2013 4:50 PM

    It’s sad to think that i was kinda in her place just few months back. It wasn’t that bad tho, my “dawn” wasn’t such a bitch but we were on a never ending diet and she knew how to throw up – i didn’t. I ended our friendship after realizing how much shit she had caused to me. It’s better now.

  • Xtina May 3rd, 2013 6:46 PM

    This is my absolute favorite short story ever and I am so happy to see it on Rookie!!! If you guys are interested in reading more stories like it, it is from a book called “Evil” by Rennie Sparks. I ordered it from Amazon- it seems like its not really in print anymore and I’m pretty sure it was sent to me by the author herself!

  • MabelEnchanted May 3rd, 2013 6:49 PM

    Once I started reading I couldn’t stop…so amazing.

  • catpower44 May 3rd, 2013 7:27 PM

    This is an amazing story. I love your writing! This is so sad, but I still love it very much. I cannot relate to the characters, but it was still amazing.

  • K8 is Gr8 May 3rd, 2013 8:54 PM

    Wow… That left me speechless. I thought it was going to have a happy ending, but it didn’t…

  • onewithahippiesmile May 3rd, 2013 10:09 PM

    i really loved it, beautiful story, good text, i like the irony on it. thats inspiring stuff, made me wanna make a movie with that! just amazing xxxxx

  • peanutbutter May 3rd, 2013 11:28 PM

    So painful to read.

  • Tallulah May 4th, 2013 2:05 AM

    This is so sad, towns and friendships like that kinda make me feel claustrophobic

  • Nomali May 4th, 2013 6:14 AM

    Oh wow.

  • neenbean May 4th, 2013 1:26 PM

    This was fantastic, incredible writing. When I went through my eating disorder it was all on my own, I had no girls like Dawn around me to push me to keep going… I don’t know how I would have turned out if that was the case.

    I remember girls like her though in high school. They never end up doing much with their lives or drop out early.

    I feel like this story could easily be turned into a film, or a piece of longer fiction. It’s really impressive, painful, beautiful. <3

  • MaggieMae May 4th, 2013 3:25 PM

    Wow! So many wonderful stories have been posted lately, awesome job Rookie writers! Please continue with with awesomeness!

  • unicornconnect May 4th, 2013 7:38 PM

    Wow, this makes me really really sad.

  • jill May 5th, 2013 1:45 AM

    tragic story. their friendship kind of reminds me of the movie “13″

  • I W May 5th, 2013 3:35 PM

    This is beautiful. I need to read more by this author! So tragic and so rooted in the mundane at the same time.

  • sunshine May 6th, 2013 10:49 AM

    this is so magical and beautiful

  • Jes June 9th, 2013 3:07 PM

    I love it.

  • Hailey Mah June 22nd, 2013 4:23 PM

    All I can say is…wow. This story was so moving, realistic and devastating. I can tell that it’s going to follow me around all day.