The worst night of my life started at the Junior Prom.
It was the one night of my life where I actually bothered to make an effort to look nice. I pulled my long, black hair up into a bun, removing my veil, taking off the mask so to speak. I kept my scar-riddled arms covered up, but I chose a dress where the sleeves didn't start until my collar bones, showing off my pale shoulders.
The dress was beautiful, all dark blue silk and taffeta. It clung to my form until it flared out slightly at the waist, where the taffeta came in. I actually wore a pair of silver heels, strappy and slightly high, something a normal girl would wear for her Prom. A bit of silver jewelry later and I actually looked like a pretty girl. I looked like I belonged. I was a new Isabelle, a prettier and cooler Isabelle that didn't look like a freak.
'Maybe tonight was the night,' I thought to myself, hoping against hope that things would change for me. No more names, no more petty insults, no more paper balls and other things thrown at me. I would finally fit in.
I left my home at seven; my stepfather was passed out on the chair and my mother was probably upstairs, taking care of her "perfect baby boy." I slipped out of my house without much trouble; no one ever really noticed me unless they were angry or drunk.
The fifteen minute walk was nice, but uncomfortable in the heels. I wasn't really used to walking in the shoes, but I refused to take them off. This Isabelle would know no pain. She would not show up to her Prom without shoes. She would be normal tonight. No matter what it took.
I finally got to the school and bought my ticket. I could tell the girl behind the table was wondering who this new girl was. I was glad she couldn't tell that the pretty girl in the blue dress was the infamous Isabelle Ashland, the freak who always wore dark jeans and long sleeved shirts to hide the evidence of her cuts. This night was going to work out in my favor, I was sure of it. I took a deep breath and opened the door to the gym.
As I walked into the room, everything seemed to stop as the entirety of the Junior class turned to see who had shown up late to the biggest night of a teen's life. Expressions of confusion were slowly replaced with shock as each and every one of them realized who the unfamiliar girl was. I smiled as I fully entered the room; no one had thrown any insults my way and for a while, I felt like just another one of the girls in the room: perfect and pretty and flawless.
I danced for a couple of songs, and then some of the popular kids got up on the stage. I wondered what was going on; did that normally happen at dances? I had never been to one before so I wasn't sure.
"Hey everybody," Annessa said. I flinched as her gaze swept the room. Out of all of my tormentors, Annessa was the worst one, the one to land the first blow. "We just wanted to come up here and give a warm welcome to a student that we all know that we admire. Isabelle Ashland, would you please come up here?"
My name. Annessa Cavanaugh had said my name, without malice, without any sort of mocking or disgust. This was it, my moment. I was finally going to be acknowledged by the class as a person, not just the freak in the corner.
I held up my skirt a bit as I climbed the stairs, as I had seen so many actresses do in movies. I tried to be as elegant as possible, and it seemed like I was doing a good job. Annessa looked impressed before taking my hand and drawing me to the center of the dais.
"We all know that Isabelle isn't very sociable, but she had the courage to come tonight and for that, we should all admire her. We may have been ungenerous towards her in the past, but tonight we need to show her what we really think of this girl. About who she truly is and about her art that has been placed in the school's front entry way and in so many glass cases in our hallways," she said before turning to me. "Isabelle, we have a present for you tonight to show how much we appreciate how your art and your individuality. It is just a little something to show you how much you mean to this student body." She gestured to someone off stage before giving me a hug and backing away.
I couldn't believe that they had gotten me a present. I closed my eyes to make the anticipation greater. I wanted to remember this moment forever.
The next thing I knew, something wet and thick was being poured all over me. I could feel the stickiness of the substance and some part of me that wasn't in shock identified it as paint before I could even open my eyes.
When I did open them, all I could see was a sea of laughing and mocking faces. The teachers looked angry but they had hands over their faces. For some reason, I thought that they were laughing at me too. Annessa was beside herself, the hated word slipping from her lips.
"What a freak! I can't believe that you actually thought that you could just put on a pretty dress and be accepted. Little freaks should know better than to play dress up," she said, ripping the tiny tiara I had used to put my hair up out of my hair.
I ran out of the gym, tears in my eyes. Why couldn't I be pretty enough for them. Why couldn't I be normal, so that I couldn't offend everyone? Why couldn't I do anything right?
As I sat against a tree, I realized with a rush of anger that it wasn't me. It was them, those parasites who try to hurt others. I wasn't the freak, they were. They were the ones who couldn't accept what truly was pretty. I was pretty, they were the true freaks.
Rage suffused my every pore, my thoughts swirling in a dark haze. I wanted to see them hurt. They needed to be punished and I would be the one to do it. They thought they were hot; I would make them the hottest people ever. That was a promise.
I walked over to the school and found the gas meter. The school was rather old and the gas meter hadn't been updated for a while. I turned the valve half way up, just enough for the gas to circulate but not enough to be completely noticeable. Then I broke the handle off; it was rusty and old so the job was far too easy. Then I ripped off a portion of my dress, found a half full beer bottle, obviously disposed of by one of the chaperones, and one of the druggies' lighters, tossed to the side during an escape from the ever watchful liaison officer. I stuffed the piece of my dress into the bottle with part of it outside of the bottle.
Then I crept over to the open gym window and lit my Molotov cocktail. I am just right and threw it before anyone could notice me. The moment the bottle hit the floor and the flames hit the gas, the gym burst into flame. I had run back to my tree and just watched as the gym was consumed. The screams were like sweet music to my ears and I drank them in like the sweetest of cognacs. The doors opened and the few who managed to escape collapsed on the ground, severely burned. One of them was Miss Perfect and Pretty Annessa Cavanaugh.
I walked over to her, hair in front of my face as usual, my veil covering my face, but this time my mask was completely off.
"How does it feel to be the hottest girl around, Annessa," I spat, delighted at her pain. "I myself will probably never know the agony of being so popular. You should thank me though; before you were fake, now you are truly hot."
Annessa looked at me in fear and I took a mental snapshot of that moment. Her fear, her burnt face, half of her perfect blonde hair missing and the other half charred beyond repair. Perhaps that would be my newest art piece for the school. "The Price of Being Hot." 'Yes that would be a perfect title for the memorial to this wretch,' I thought as I walked home, slipping my heels off and throwing them away. Come Monday, everything would change. Come Monday, Isabelle Ashland would never be looked at the same way again.
A dark smile crossed my face as I thought about it. No one would ever bully me again. For the punishment would be severe for hurting the truly pretty girl in the school. I would make sure of it. With pleasure.