You Don't Know My Name(7)

By: Kristen Orlando

The rumor-spreading, shit-stirring Madison Scarborough is what bonded us last year. I noticed Harper and Malika on my first day of school. Malika because she’s gorgeous and Harper because she has the type of effortless coolness money can’t buy. But they didn’t hang with the field hockey and lacrosse crowd, the self-anointed “popular” girls. They were what Madison and her friends liked to call “fringers.” Invited to the big parties but never the exclusive sleepovers or birthday dinners. They were known around school but never the center of attention. They quickly became my target group of friends. I needed to get into a small, uncomplicated group and blend as quickly as possible, so when I caught wind of terrible rumors Madison was spreading about them, I knew it was my chance.

Madison has had the same boyfriend for over a year. A preppy lacrosse senior who wears salmon shorts and mirrored sunglasses at parties and uses the word summer as a verb. Even with a d-bag boyfriend, girls think twice about getting involved with anyone Madison’s ever dated. When Madison’s ex-boyfriend asked Harper to homecoming, she spread a rumor that she was a lesbian and that none of the field hockey girls felt comfortable sharing a locker room with her. Then when Madison heard that Malika kissed a guy who dumped her two years ago, she started a rumor that sweet Malika made a sex tape even though Mal had never even had sex. Still hasn’t.

During study hall, I hacked into Madison’s Twitter account (@PrincessMaddie. Cue the eye roll) and had Mal and Harper help me compose a stream of hilarious apology tweets to every person she’d ever terrorized. They were deleted twenty minutes later but that act cemented my place in our little group.

I almost hate to admit that my motive to get into the fringers was part of my training because I sort of love everything about them. I love that Harper eats all the orange and purple Skittles because she knows how much I hate them and how her shoelaces are always coming untied because she refuses to double-knot. I love how Malika is deathly afraid of spiders but has seen every slasher film ever made and how she’s still a virgin but has a hilarious goal of making out with a guy from every continent. They’ve become real friends now and not just part of my never-stand-out strategy.

“Got to love a guy in uniform,” Harper calls over my shoulder and whistles a loud catcall. I turn around in time to see Luke Weixel’s creamy cheeks turn a dusty rose. He shakes his head at Harper, his lips crinkling into a crooked smile before turning his pale blue eyes to me.

It’s uniform day for the Junior ROTC and Luke looks extra sharp in his dark pants and tan button-down shirt, decorated with colorful medals, arc pins, and accolades. Six foot three with hair the color of summer hay and defined cheekbones, Luke always has girls swiveling in their seats or craning their necks to stare, but he looks especially stunning in uniform. It’s not just the way the uniform makes him look but how it makes him feel. He stands a little taller, walks a beat faster, and smiles a little wider in that uniform.

I raise my right hand to my forehead and give Luke a tiny salute. His crooked smile cracks wide, unmasking a pair of dimples so charming, even if you were mad at him, one smile would make you forget why. We hold each other’s stare for a moment before he steps out of the lunch line and heads for our table.

“Hi, girls,” Luke says, sliding into the seat next to me. He purposefully bumps his shoulder into mine, the right corner of his lip rising into a sideways smile. “Hey, Mac.”

Luke is the only one I let call me Mac.

“Hey, soldier,” I reply, my voice shyer than I expected it to be. Luke rests his strong arms on the table next to mine. Our skin is separated by my thin cardigan, but even the slightest touch from him manages to make my body buzz. Harper eyes the two of us and from the slow rising smile on her face, I know my olive skin is turning crimson.

“Luke, help us,” Harper says, pulling her wavy hair into a messy bun. “Reagan is refusing to go to Mark Ricardi’s party.”

“What?!” Malika practically screams then pouts. She loves a good and rowdy Mark Ricardi party.

“Oh, come on, Mac,” Luke says, his smile still lopsided but wider, exposing his white, perfectly straight teeth. Orthodontists make a good living in this town. “Mark’s parties are always epic.”