Pride Goeth, a short story by Gabriella Balcom at

Pride Goeth

Pride Goeth

written by: Gabriella Balcom


Starr opened the compact and tilted it this way and that, studying her image in the mirror. She smoothed her long blonde hair, touched up her eye shadow and lipstick, then winked at herself.
“Girl, you’re beautiful,” L’Quonna said.
“I know.” Starr shrugged.
“All the girls wish they were you,” Belle commented.
“Of course they do.” Starr’s tone was matter-of-fact. “But there’s only one me.”
Belle asked, “How do I look?”
Starr barely glanced at her best friend. Guys chased her a lot, too, but only because she hung around with Starr. “You look fine,” she replied dismissively.
After focusing on her reflection again, she blew herself a kiss and set the compact on the table.
She glanced around the high school cafeteria, her eyes falling on Kyla, who sat a couple tables away. “Look at her stuffing her face,” Starr whispered to L’Quonna and Belle. “Oink, oink,” she called out, careful to pitch her voice loud enough to carry to the people seated around them, but low enough that the teachers across the room couldn’t hear.
Laughter rang out as dozens of teenagers looked at Kyla.
Her face paled, making her freckles stand out. She lowered her eyes, dropping her fork when she tried to set it down.
“Piggy’s all fumbly-fingered,” Starr sneered.
Kyla raised her head, face flushed. Her voice shook. “I’m not a pig.”
“What’s going on?” Mrs. Bozeman asked, walking toward them.
“Nothing,” Starr replied. Staring into her mirror once more, she wrapped a lock of her hair around her finger, and smiled at her reflection.
“I heard what you said a moment ago.” Mrs. Bozeman frowned as she surveyed Starr and her friends. “Calling people names is inappropriate.”
“It’s not my fault she’s fat,” Starr retorted, shooting her pals a small smile when one of them giggled.
“Kyla isn’t fat, though. She’s simply built differently than you. You’re tall and thin. She’s shorter with broad shoulders, but also thin.” Mrs. Bozeman addressed everyone who was staring at them. “Lunchtime is almost over, so I suggest all of you finish eating.” She turned back to Starr and said, “I want you to come with me.”

One week later
“Ow,” Kyla cried out as the fork struck her head and dropped to the floor.
Starr grinned. “Now that you have two forks, you can shovel the food into your mouth twice as fast.”
Kyla grabbed her tray and headed to a different table farther away.
“Run, pig. Run,” Starr called out. Beside her, Belle and L’Quonna laughed.

The cafeteria was abuzz with everyone talking about this or that. Many chattered excitedly about the upcoming prom.
Starr rolled her eyes as Belle droned on and on about the guys who’d invited her, which one she’d decided to accompany, the new makeup she’d gotten, and what to wear.
“Can I join you two for lunch?” Trevor asked.
“Of course,” Starr purred, answering for herself and Belle. They’d just sat down for lunch by themselves, because L’Quonna was out sick.
But fifteen minutes later, she was gritting her teeth to keep from screaming as Trevor and Belle smiled at each other — again. He’d been acting as if she were the only one at their table, barely even looking at Starr even though she was a thousand times more beautiful than Belle.
She mentally catalogued her attributes: platinum blonde hair — check; sky-blue eyes — check; perfect, white teeth courtesy of braces and porcelain veneers —check; equally perfect nose, lips, and ears — check. Cosmetic surgery had seen to all that. Her bust had been enhanced, too, and her personal trainer helped ensure she stayed slender and sexy.
Belle, on the other hand, had plain brown hair and green eyes which were nothing special. Her teeth were okay, considering they hadn’t been worked on. And, she was naturally well-endowed, with larger breasts than Starr, even after her augmentation, but so what?
“I have to take care of something.” She forced herself to talk and act normally, then left to dispose of her lunch tray. She heard the two behind her laughing, imagined them continuing to stare into each others’ eyes, and she felt like gagging.
The Junior-Senior Prom was only two months away. Despite being a sophomore, Starr was going. Guys had been inviting her for years. This year, she’d agreed to be a Varsity linebacker’s date, but it was Trevor she actually wanted to go with. She’d had her eye on him ever since he’d broken up with his girlfriend months earlier, and it was still her plan to get him to ask her. He was the best athlete, and she deserved the best, not Belle.

Starr saw Trevor less than twenty minutes later during her off-period. He came over to ask her about Belle’s favorite flower, color, and things like that, sharing that he planned to surprise her. Considering his excitement and obvious infatuation, Starr frowned.
“Belle’s beautiful,” Trevor murmured. “Her eyes are gorgeous. Her hair is like dark, spun gold, and I see red when the light shines on it.”
“Uh-huh.” Starr shrugged. “It takes the salon awhile to streak it.”
“I thought it was natural.”
“Natural? Very little of her is. You know — all the lipo and the boob job…” Seeing the startled look on his face, Starr put a hand to her mouth as if startled. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you knew.”
She thought of something else and murmured, “Hopefully, she’s not contagious still.” She forced herself to frown to keep from snickering.
“Contagious?” Trevor paled, and looked like he’d tasted something revolting.
“Yeah — the STD she caught…”
“STD? But, I thought she hadn’t, uh, been with anyone.”
“Oh, she’s gotten around. But you have to promise not to tell her I told you any of this. Don’t tell anybody else either.”
Starr’s eyes gleamed moments later when he asked her to the prom instead of Belle, and she gloated inwardly.

Four days later
“You back-stabber!” Belle yelled at Starr. “How could you say those horrible things about me? Your breasts were enlarged, not mine, and I’ve never had a sexually-transmitted disease in my life. I haven’t done anything to catch one.”
“Huh?” Starr played dumb. She adopted an innocent expression — blankness with wide-eyed innocence — but Belle’s slap left her ears ringing.
“I thought we were friends for life, but I was wrong. Friends don’t lie about each other. I’ve never talked bad about you. Never. I’ve always stood by you, but you care about just one person. Yourself. You trashed me to get a boy. Well, guess what? Trevor’s not just any boy. He’s real special and unlike you, he’s loyal. But he’s done with you. And I am, too.”
Starr glared as Belle turned and strode down the hall, accompanied by L’Quonna.
“What are you looking at, fish-face?” she demanded of a freshman who was still staring at her, mouth agape.
Belle was done? Fine. Starr knew she was too good for her former friend anyway.

She fell flat on her face during her next class when someone deliberately tripped her as she walked up front to turn in an assignment.
“Oops,” some girl said. “Hope your fake boobs didn’t pop.”
“Splat!” a guy called out, and the entire room exploded into laugher.
Starr’s cheeks burned as she got up.
During lunch, she sat alone. It was a first for her, but so what? Her one-time pals were losers, and never deserved her company anyway.
She’d only taken a few bites of her meal when she started feeling funny. Her skin itched. Her lips tingled. Her eyes burned. She got out her compact and shrieked when she saw her face. It was strangely puffy, and seemed to be swelling more by the second. She tried to speak but her speech was garbled. Touching her tongue, she found it enlarged, too. She stood but felt light-headed and collapsed.
The next thing she heard was her mother’s voice. “She wouldn’t eat almonds, because she knows she’d allergic to them.”
“Maybe not,” a paramedic relied. “But pieces of nut were in her salad.”

The next day
Starr prepared to shower after PE, but couldn’t find her shampoo. Luckily, somebody had left some out.
As she toweled her wet hair, her scalp tingled. She sipped the cold drink she’d found on the bench outside the showers, and scratched her head. A lock of hair came away in her fingers, and she gasped. Then a clump fell to the ground at her feet. Two more followed and she screamed, tears staining her cheeks.
Coach Weems appeared within seconds, her eyes widening. “Your hair — uh…” She stopped speaking, and bit her lip.
The coach sighed. “I think you’ve been pranked, and it’s not just your hair. Your teeth…”
Starr ran to the closet mirror, and wailed, her body shaking all over. Her head looked like a patchwork quilt. Bare, red spots interspersed with areas that still had hair which stuck out in every direction.
Raising a trembling hand, she gently touched a patch and screeched. That’s when she caught a glimpse of her teeth, and realized they were bright green.
Laughter rang out from behind her. She whirled, and saw her former best friends, Kyla and L’Quonna, standing there, holding their cell phones. Several other classmates were beside them. Clicks sounded as all of them snapped pictures.
Starr wondered what she’d ever done to them to deserve this. She was overcome by horror at the thought of even more people seeing how she looked, and she fled back into the showers.


The End

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