Authors: Stephanie Hale
“The girls are in my room,” Susie says, leading me into a bedroom that looks like a cotton candy machine exploded in it. Two other sisters, Brittney and Juliet, are waiting cross-legged on the bed. Susie shuts the door and joins them. I stay standing, knowing I’m about to get my third task. By this rate, I’ll be on Z before next weekend.
“Are you aware of the rivalry between Alpha Alpha Alpha and Zeta Sigma Alpha?” Brittney asks, her innocent features clouding up with hatred.
“Not really,” I admit, wondering if there was some dossier of Alpha rivals I should have read up on.
“Those girls are poison. They’ve stolen our boyfriends, started vicious rumors about us, and worst of all, dominated the university cheerleading squad for years. Alphas aren’t even allowed to try out. It’s a travesty and we’re sick of it,” Juliet shouts, shaking her head in disgust. Brittney moves over to touch her arm, which seems to calm Juliet down a bit.
“We’ve been presented with the perfect opportunity for a little payback at the football game tomorrow. And that’s where you come in,” Susie explains.
“Um, okay,” I respond nervously.
“The school mascot is going to be down with food poisoning tomorrow and you are going to borrow her uniform to sneak into the girls locker room. Once you get there you need to go through all the lockers and take out their cheer panties. Then you’ll use this,” Susie says, waving a large box cutter at me. “You are going to slice a line through the back of their panties, right in the middle. That way when they bend over for their big half-time show, they flash their butts to the entire crowd and get thrown off the squad.” The three of them squeal with joy at the thought of the entire cheerleading squad mooning some poor spectators.
“How do you know the mascot is going to get sick?” I ask.
Brittney fans her face with a stack of dollar bills and I suddenly get it.
“What if I get in trouble?” I ask, hating that I sound so paranoid. Grace Kelly was the scaredy cat always planning by the rules, GK should never be asking such a goody-goody question. But she is, or I mean, I am.
“You’ll be wearing the mascot uniform so nobody will know it’s you. If you get caught in the locker room, just run. But you’ll be in there really early so no one else will be there,” Suzie says.
I hate to be so paranoid, but I’ve never been in any trouble my entire life. Not so much as an overdue library book. Now I’m expected to hijack the school’s mascot and slash a bunch of panties?
“It will count for C, P, and Z,” Brittney adds. As much as it drives me crazy that my tasks obviously aren’t going to continue in a sequential order, I agree.
“How do I get the uniform?” Susie tosses something from behind the bed. A huge bundle hits me square in the chest. It’s a zippered bag that formal gowns are normally kept in. I unzip it to find a polyester blend nightmare of black and white. I don’t know how it slipped my mind that our school mascot was a zebra. As much as I love McMillan College’s mission statement, ‘It doesn’t matter how you look at the world, just as long as you do’, and how the whole, ‘Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?’ fits in with that, I still don’t particularly want to dress up like one.
“Here’s the head,” Susie says, tossing a purple suitcase at me. The four of us start dying laughing as I pop it on my head and start prancing around the room. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all, maybe it will actually be fun, or maybe I’m still buzzing from drinking all that beer.
A few minutes later I’m back downstairs trying to find a closet that I can stash my obnoxious zebra pelt in. The party is still in full swing. It looks like my beer bonging paid off. I skulk around the edges of different groups trying not to be too obvious looking for Charlie. I don’t know why, but I’m actually kind of relieved when I can’t find him. The kiss was delish but my cheeks are burning just at the thought of facing him. My phone vibrates angrily in my pocket again and I quickly bolt out the front door to answer it. If Mom heard bump and grind music in the background she would be here in a couple of hours to pack up my stuff and take me back home.
“Hi, Mom,” I say, praying there isn’t some new technology that enables the person calling to smell your breath. Mom’s voice is the vocal equivalent of black coffee.
“You sound different, Grace,” Mom says. I don’t miss the edge in her voice.
“I think I might be coming down with something,” I fudge, immediately hating myself for needlessly worrying her.
“Meningitis spreads like wildfire on college campuses. You should get to health services immediately,” she demands.
“Mom, it’s not meningitis. I’m fine, I promise.”
“Prove it. Take a picture of yourself and send it to me.”
“Right now?” I glance around at the tall columns next to me, and the row of fraternity and sorority houses to my left and right. Not a good photo op. My only other option is to stand out in the darkened quad. Not to mention that my own mother wouldn’t even recognize me since my makeover. I’m not sure which would give her a heart attack faster, the makeover or the fact that I’m rushing a sorority.
“The camera on my phone is busted, Mom. I dropped it yesterday,” I say, doing some quick thinking.
I hear a small hiccup on the line and I’m positive she’s crying. The whole empty nest thing is definitely not a myth. I suddenly feel extremely guilty for lying to her. I wish I could tell her the truth. That I’ve found an incredible group of girls that like me, and for once, I might actually fit in somewhere. Of course, I’d leave out the part about all the panties I have to slash tomorrow. And the beer bong. And the boy I kissed. But to be honest, I’m a little overwhelmed by all of these new experiences. It would be nice to have her opinion. But if I told her everything I’ve done, she would never trust me enough to let me stay. And there is no way I’m leaving college.
“Excuse me, Miss,” a man’s voice says, tapping me on the shoulder. I jerk my head up, startled. Two campus police guards are standing in front of me looking very serious.
“Um, Mom. I’m getting pretty tired. I’ll call you tomorrow,” I say, clicking off.
Even though this is my first official kegger, I’m smart enough to know it isn’t a good thing when the campus police show up. The Alphas aren’t even being rowdy. I wonder how they knew we were having a party?
“Have you been drinking tonight, Miss?” One of the officers asks me. I go to stand up off the step to face him when I slip and nearly sprain my ankle. “That’s it. Let me see some identification,” he says, convinced I’m hammered.
“No, you don’t understand. I’m just normally klutzy,” I say, dialing Jentry’s cell phone number behind my back. I have to try and give the sisters a heads up. I just hope she isn’t too busy making out with that muscle head to hear her phone ringing.
“So are you saying that you haven’t been drinking tonight?” The other cop says glaring at me hatefully.
“I don’t drink,” I answer, which was true up until about an hour ago.
“Then you won’t mind agreeing to a sobriety test, will you?” They both say in unison.
I shrug my shoulders knowing that I don’t really have a choice. Between the beer and my natural klutziness this is going to go down really bad.
“Repeat the alphabet. Backwards,” one of them says, looking smug.
I try hard not to smile as I easily repeat the alphabet backwards with record speed. I almost feel bad for the security guards, as they stand with their mouths wide open after I say A. How could they have possibly known how much time I spent in the great room today gazing at the giant letters hanging on the wall that hold my fate?
“You totally saved us,” Lindsay says, gathering up plastic cups and other trash while I hold open the garbage bag for her.
I smile nervously. It’s been an hour since my run-in with the security guards and I’m still not quite back to normal. When I started to think about how much trouble I could have gotten into, I nearly hyperventilated. And I don’t even want to think about what would happen if Mom found out.
“My hero,” Jentry swoons, resting her head on my shoulder. I think she is still buzzing, not from beer but from Ron. All the other sisters agree and are beaming at me as we clean up the house.
“It was nothing,” I say, loving the extra attention. I bet Sloane is nearly foaming at the mouth with jealousy. I look around the room, but surprisingly, I don’t see her demon eyes glaring back at me. “Where’s Sloane?” I ask, disappointed that she is missing out on the sisters fawning over me.
“She went home sick earlier. The poor thing was absolutely green,” Lindsay confirms.
What horrible timing, I think, and then proceed to forget all about Sloane and bask in the glow of my sister’s adoration.
The next morning I’m just waking up from a dream about Charlie. I squeeze my eyes tight in hopes of getting back to it when I hear one of the snaps on the suitcase that Brittney and Juliet gave me last night click open. I bolt up in bed.
“Don’t. I’m serious,” I yell. Jentry looks up, probably surprised that I can be forceful when I want to.
“What have you got stashed in here? Like a head or something?” She giggles but backs away from the offending suitcase.
“Let’s just say that I don’t want you to be an accomplice and leave it at that,” I tell her, trying not to laugh at how right on she is about a head being in the suitcase. I’m so nervous that I’m going to get busted today. I wonder what exactly my punishment would be for dressing up like a monochromatic mammal who sneaks into locker rooms and violates cheerleader’s panties? I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.
“The sisters were seriously impressed with you last night,” Jentry says, referring to the secretive phone call I made while dazzling the campus police with my reverse alphabetical knowledge.
“I’m just glad the Omegas were able to sneak the keg back to their house so the Alphas didn’t get in trouble.” I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to how cool it was when the girls found out that I saved the house from getting in big trouble.
“I wonder who called security?” Jentry asks, making her bed.
“Maybe they were just walking around and heard the party.” Even though I loved the extra attention I got last night, I was glad when Lindsay announced that there would be no more alcohol in the Alpha house because it was too risky.
“I’m guessing you have a busy day?” Jentry asks, turning on her cell phone. It beeps that she has a message and a huge smile breaks over her sleepy face as she listens to it.
“Let me guess? Ron?” I tease her.
“He just can’t get enough of me.” She laughs. I start to remind her of her guy strike but then I realize I wasn’t exactly picketing boys last night when I was kissing Charlie.
My face starts getting hot and prickly just thinking about his arms around me. Besides the whole burping-in-his-face incident, I couldn’t have had a more perfect first kiss. Or kisses.
“So, you and Charlie seemed to be examining the heck out of each others tonsils.” Jentry teases.
“For some reason, I think he really likes me,” I admit, amazed. The makeover and the bid from the Alphas has done wonders for my self-esteem but sometimes I feel my old issues rising back up again. “I mean, there is the whole debate about pheromones and all…” I trail off, still unable to fully grasp how a boy as cute and funny as Charlie is giving me the time of day.
“Build a bridge, GK. You’re a hottie Alpha pledge now. Charlie would be lucky to scrape the gum off your shoes for you.” She laughs.
She’s right. Why wouldn’t Charlie like me? I’m smart, funny, and nice and while I’m not quite sure about the hottie part, I know I feel a lot more confident about my appearance than I ever have before. Grace Kelly was the one with the self-esteem issues, not GK. It’s time to start thinking like GK all the time.
“I’m outta here,” I say, jumping up and into a pair of khaki shorts and an Alpha tank top. I wrap my hair in a ponytail since it is just going to be crammed in the zebra head anyway.
“We both got A and B yesterday. You’ll be done with this Alpha Bet in no time,” she says confidently. I wish I could ask about her tasks, but I completely respect the sisterly bonding that the tasks are meant to promote too much to jeopardize asking her.
“We’ll catch up later?” I ask, pausing at the open door with my suitcase and formal dress bag in my arms.
“Sure. You know, if you’re back from the prom in time.” I stick my tongue out at her and pull the door closed. Prom. I wish.
“Are you sure no one is here?” I ask, paranoid that some of the other sisters might still be in the Alpha house.
“For the third time, no one is here,” Susie informs me. She flings open her bedroom door as proof.
“This thing is really hot,” I complain as Susie, Brittney, and Juliet zip up the back of the zebra costume. I wonder if they could make a deal with the sister who has W and I could get credit for that one too because of the weight loss I’m going to have traipsing around in this costume in ninety degree heat. I’ll be lucky if I don’t pass out and I don’t even have the head on yet.
“Stop complaining. You look cute.” Juliet laughs.
“Totally,” Brittney adds, fluffing up my fur.
“It’s not every girl who can pull off stripes,” Susie pipes up.
“Thanks,” I say, trying to be a good sport and not waste any excess energy that I have a feeling I’m going to need later.
“We really appreciate this, Grace Kelly. This isn’t just some petty prank. The Zetas are truly evil,” Brittney clarifies.
“We’ve tried to rise above it but they just won’t leave us alone,” Juliet say, pounding her fist into her palm.
“Calm down, Juliet. We don’t know for sure they are the ones who tried to get us busted last night.” Susie says, running a hairbrush over my costume.
“Are you kidding me? They would do anything to get our charter revoked.” Juliet yells.
“You know what they say about paybacks,” Brittney laughs. While I completely get the whole sorority rival thing, I’m pretty sure I’m well on my way to heatstroke. I stumble toward the door, hoping this goes quickly.