ExcerptPage 2 of 12
Phoebe Gutle Rothschild met Mallory Tolliver in seventh grade, during the second week of the new school year, in homeroom. Phoebe had had one of her horrific asthma attacks and couldn't start school on time, but her so-called friend had kept her in the loop about Mallory. She couldn't wait to talk about the peculiar new girl.
It was her clothing that marked Mallory out. "Every day," Colette Williams-White said to Phoebe, "she wears something weirder than the day before. Yesterday, she had on this huge old T-shirt, like she thought it was a dress. But she had it on backward, with the tag sticking out at her throat. I mean, who wouldn't notice they'd done that? And, you know what? It smelled. Or maybe that was her. Also, with it? High heels."
"Is she maybe, you know..." Phoebe paused, delicately. "Challenged?"
"She's in regular classes, andno. Just no."
"Maybe she can't afford decent clothes?"
Colette shook her head decisively. "The shoes were Christian Louboutin, in this marigold color, with ankle straps. Flowers on the toes, whichI know!sounds like too much, but trust me, it wasn't."
"Could she just be expressing"
"Stop it, Phoebe, okay? Because, frankly? Not only are you wrong, but it's also really bitchy of you to keep arguing when I've met her and you haven't. Actually? It's bitchy and prissy, both."
Phoebe shut up.
Colette continued. "Mallory Tolliver is not making her own unique fashion statement. She just doesn't care. It's as if she throws on the first thing she finds every morning, in, like, somebody else's closet." Colette rolled her eyes. "And that somebody else, who owns the closet? Hate to say it? They're really screwed up."
Looking at the new girl now, Phoebe couldn't help herself. She exchanged a quick, incredulous glance with Colette, who had been right. Then Phoebe's gaze returned, compelled, to Mallory Tolliver.