From the moment I first laid eyes on her, I knew something wasn’t right. My first thought when I saw the pale face, blonde ringlets, and giant blue eyes was “What a freak.”
Kaylie, my five year old sister, met her “ best friend” at the park. Kaylie had always been the sweetest little girl, every friend at the park was her “best friend,” but within a day of meeting the new boy or girl, Kaylie would have forgotten about them. The same thing happened with Maggie. Kaylie met her, loved her, then forgot about her. But the next day, Kaylie saw Maggie again. And the day after that. And the day after that. Kaylie would go on and on about how great the Marvelous Maggie was. They were BFF’s, which according to Kaylie, ment they were like sisters.
Kaylie desperately wanted Maggie to come over. Mom and Dad weren’t comfortable having a stranger in there house, but after asking a million times, Mom finally let Kaylie ask Maggie over.
“This is Juliet, my big sister,” Kaylie introduced us.
“Like in the story of Romeo and Juliet. You know, Juliet died in the end,” Maggie’s voice was soft, almost dangerous. I shiver.
“Yeah, I did know that. Shakespeare wasn’t known for writing about sunshine and rainbows.” Maggie smiles, giving me another wave of the heebie jeebies.
“Want to play?” Maggie spoke with a strange precision, as if every word were its own sentence.
Her large blue eyes bore into my own hazel ones.
I almost laugh. “Play” to this nut job probably started with drowning puppies, I thought.
“Thanks, but I have a lot of homework. I’ll have to pass, maybe another day.” At my words, Maggie freezes. Her fists clench. Kaylie doesn’t notice the tense movements, and heads for the kitchen.
“Let’s go find something to eat, Maggie. I just found where Mommy keeps the treats,” She says, skipping off to the kitchen.
“You shouldn’t have said no.” Maggie stares at me. She’s furious, but I had no idea why. “It’s not nice to say you don’t want to play. Daddy said people who aren’t nice don’t belong in my world.” Her voice rises, then she takes a breath and goes back to her quiet voice. “Do you belong in my world, Juliet?” I stare at her for a second, not sure what to say. I’m about to tell her to piss off, when Kaylie saves me.
“Come on Maggie! We can play dress up in Mommy’s closet.” Kaylie heads up the stairs.
Maggie’s eyes are icy, ready for a fight.
“You’re lucky I like your sister. You’re lucky she’s my best friend,” she hisses at me, before following Kaylie upstairs.
I come in half an hour later, stomping snow off my boots. As I bend down to let Ash, our five week old puppy off his leash, a shiver runs over my spine, and I know someone’s watching me. Please don’t let it be Mom, I think, she would kill me if she knew I left Maggie and Kaylie home alone. I turn around slowly, and see it’s Maggie. She’s standing at the top of the stairs, glaring at me, and I know she’s only going to bring bad news.
“Don’t get in my way, Juliet.” She says, descending the stairs. “People who get in my way usually end up getting hurt.” I stare at her, feeling like a deer in the headlights.
“Kaylie and I are friends. And we’re going to stay friends. Forever. And if you do anything to jeopardize that, I will make you very, very, sorry.” with each very, she comes down another step. She stands at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at me.
“Don’t make me mad, Juliet,” And with that, she walks out the door.
I shake myself off, mumbling stuff about dumb blondes, as I retrace Maggies steps, up to Kaylie’s room.
“Hey Kay, Maggie just left, did something happen?” I sit down next to her, and pick up a Barbie from nearby, pulling my fingers through her plastic hair.
“No. She said she wanted to talk to you. What did she say?”
“Nothing. At least nothing important. I don’t like her Kaylie. I think she could be dangerous.” I meet Kaylie’s brown eyes, and to my surprise, I see she looks scared.
“I know.” I blink. Did Kaylie just say she knew that Maggie could be dangerous?
“Then why did you tell Mom and Dad that Maggie’s your ‘best friend?’ Why did you want to have a playdate with her so much?” I ask, feeling like I have a giant question mark over my head.
“I can’t tell.”
“Kaylie, I’m your sister, I won’t tell Mom or Dad, I promise.” I put down the Barbie and pull Kaylie onto my lap. “What can’t you tell?”
“I don’t like Maggie.” Kaylie whispers, like Maggie might be listening on the other side of the door. “She’s really scary. And weird. She likes to tell scary stories. I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.”
“Then why are you?”
“Because she says we are. She says we’re best friends. But I don’t want to be! I don’t want to be friends with her! But if I tell Mom and Dad, Maggie might find out, and then she might do something! Something bad!” Kaylie starts to cry. I sigh. This day is not going well.
“How was the playdate?” Mom asks at dinner. I look at Kaylie.
“Fun.” She says. She won’t meet mine or Moms eyes. “We played Barbies, and dress up, in your closet, and it was soooo fun.” Her words have no enthusiasm.
“Juliet! I told you to keep the girls out of my closet!” Mom immediately jumps at me.
“Hey, it’s not my fault. I wasn’t even here!” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know I’ve made a mistake.
“Well than where were you?” Moms words are clipped.
“On a walk?” It comes out like a question.
“You took Ash on a walk, and left Kaylie and Maggie here? Alone?!”
“You’re the one who left me alone to take care of creepy Maggie! She’s a psycho or something!” I snap.
“First you leave two five year olds home alone, and now you’re lying to get out of trouble? I don’t know what’s going on with you lately, but I want it to stop.”
“Mom! I’m serious! Maggie threatened me today. And Kaylie doesn’t even like her!” I look at Kaylie for help, and I see her eyes widen from my spilling her secret.
“That’s not true!” Kaylie yells, “Maggie’s my best friend, not a psycho!” She starts crying.
“Juliet, please go upstairs.” Now Dad’s involved.
“Dad! Maggie’s a freak! She’s weird! She could be dangerous!”
“Upstairs. Now!” Dad raises his voice, and I feel tears prick my eyes. I storm upstairs, being sure to slam my door, knowing it will make Dad mad.
The next morning, I stare at the ceiling for a while, until I realize the rest of the house is already awake. I hear Mom in the kitchen, crashing around, Dad telling Mom to quiet down, and Kaylie talking to someone, who’s voice I can’t place. Then it hits me. The blonde freak. I jump out of bed, and race down stairs. Mom’s in the kitchen, making pancakes. She smiles at me, and hands me a plate.
“Hey sleepy head! How’d you sleep?”
“Crappy. What the hell is she doing here?” I demand, nodding my head towards the dining room, where I can hear Kaylie and Maggie talking.
“Juliet Iris Garcia! Do not use that kind of language! And be nice! What do you mean, what’s she doing here? She dropped by this morning to see if Kaylie wanted to go to the park. I invited her in for some pancakes!”
“Mom! Why doesn’t anyone believe me? Maggie is weird!” I hear the talking stop in the room over, and Mom sends me a death look.
“Girls? Can you come in here?” Mom’s voice is a strange contrast of sweetness from the looks she’s sending me. I hear the scraping of chairs, and Maggie leads the way into the kitchen, eyeing me warily.
“Juliet, you remember Maggie?” Mom said as though we hadn't just been talking about her.
“Oh course.” I say cheerily, then add “the dumb blonde,” under my breath. Mom hears, and I can practically see the steam coming out her ears, but she doesn’t say anything in front of Maggie.
“I was thinking you three could go ice skating together. Give Jewels and Maggie a little time to get to know each other.” I stare at her, horrified. She wants me to go babysit a psychopath? Again?
“Um, I’d love to, but I have a lot of studying to do. You know, lots of math.” I try to mentally communicate with my mom. Use that weird mother daughter connection you read about. It doesn’t work.
“Oh, honey you have all weekend to do your homework. Go out, have fun, here’s 20 dollars to rent skates, and maybe buy some hot chocolate. Hurry up and get some clothes on, Maggie and Kaylie will get all their winter gear. It’ll be fun!” She gives me a little push, and one of her “Do what I say and I won’t strangle you” looks. I glare at her, then stalk upstairs to get dressed.
“We’re here.” I say. “I’ll go rent the skates. You two wait for me by the bench.” I hurry back, and hand Maggie a pair of skates. She glares at them.
“These aren’t my size.”
“They’re the same size as Kaylie’s, I’m sure they’ll fit.”
“They’re not going to. Get me a four and a half.” I stare at her for a second, expecting her to give up and just put them on. When she doesn’t, I turn around muttering about dumb blondes.
“Did you just call me a dumb blonde? It’s not nice to call people names.” Maggie informs me.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” I say, trying to escape as fast as I can. I rush back to the rental, wanting to get far away from blondie. This time, when I get back, I hear Maggie and Kaylie talking.
“I’m just saying, Kaylie, cut your losses. Your sister is a pain. If I were you, I would get rid of her.” Maggie is saying.
“No! Give Juliet another chance.”
“That’s what you said this morning, and I did. She’s not a nice person.”
“Yes she is!” Kaylie protests. “Please don’t do anything to my sister! She’s my best friend!” I watch as Maggie tenses up at those words.
“I thought we were best friends, Kaylie.”
“We are! I mean, she’s second to you.”
“If you don’t want to be friends, you only had to ask.”
“That’s not what I meant!” She’s about to go on, but Maggie notices me.
“Juliet. Hi.” Her voice is flat.
“Hey guys.” I’m too stunned, and a little offended, to be sarcastic.
“Let’s skate Kaylie.” Maggie grabs the skates out of my hands, yanks them on, than skates off.
“Can’t you be nice to her?” Kaylie is glaring at me.
“No your not! You’re being a butt!”
“Maybe I am, but I told you, there’s something off about her.”
“That’s why you have to stop being mean! If she get’s mad, she could do something bad. Something scary, bad.” Then Kaylie follows Maggie onto the ice, yelling at her to wait up.
I skate up to Maggie, blocking her way. She glares at me.
“What do you want?” She snaps.
“I’m sorry about earlier. For calling you a dumb blonde.” I’m not actually sorry, but Kaylie seemed so worried Maggie would do something to me. “I know you and Kaylie are good friends, and I won’t get in the way of that.” I have to bite my tongue from saying something mean.
“According to Kaylie, you’re her best friend. I don’t like it.” Maggie answers.
“Well I’m sorry, but I have known Kaylie her whole life,” I say. Maggie turns gracefully on the ice, and skates off. Somehow she seems more offended than before.
I try to search for her in the crowd, but have trouble finding her. I want to calm her down, before she pops a screw. I finally spot her over by the orange cones, marking the thinner ice. She pulls off a glove, and tosses it past the cones, the wind carrying it six feet into the thin ice area. She sees me and smiles.
“Where’s your sister? I want to ask her something.” Maggie asks me, looking doe eyed. I see Kaylie’s blue hat, and call out her name. She skates over.
“Kaylie, the wind took my glove way over there.” Maggie says, pointing at the white glove on the ice. “I’m scared to walk past the cones, and since you’re my best friend, I’m sure you’ll go get it for me, right?” she asks, innocently. I stare at Maggie, horrified.
“That’s where the giant drop off is. The ice is really thin. If you want your glove back so much, go get it yourself.” I growl.
“Come on Kaylie! Do it for me. Prove I’m your best friend. Or is Juliet your BFF?” Maggie asks.
“You don’t have to prove anything Kay. Maggie dropped her glove on purpose.” I say, taking a step towards Kaylie.
“Kaylie, you don’t want to make me mad, do you? You don’t know what a catastrophe that would cause. You know what I’m capable of. Go get the glove, and we can go back to being friends.” Kaylie looks between me and Maggie, then heads out past the cones.
“Kaylie, don’t!” I warn. She’s grabs the glove, and that’s when the ice starts to crack. A thin line appears where her feet are. Kaylie freezes, eyes huge.
“Oh no, what a disaster.” Maggie says, no sympathy in her voice.
“Juliet. I’m scared.” Kaylie whispers. She’s crying.
“It’s going to be okay. Just walk slowly over to me.” I say, trying to stay calm. She takes a step, and the cracks follow her.
“You really should go help her,” Maggie intones, then shoves me towards Kaylie. Mine and Kaylie’s combined weight is too much. We don’t even have time to scream, as the ice breaks, and we go under.
I wake up in a hospital. Mom and Dad are at my side, holding my hands. I have what I think is an IV in my arm, and a breathing tube around my face. I look around, confused.
“You were in an accident honey.” Mom’s voice breaks, and she starts crying.
“Where’s Kaylie?” Mom and Dad don’t answer. “Kaylie?!” I start looking around wildly, gasping for air.
“Your sister didn’t make it.” Dads voice is flat. Mom gives him a horrified look, like he wasn’t supposed to tell me.
“What about Maggie? Is she locked away? This is all her fault!” I’m wailing, Mom and Dad exchange confused expressions.
“Sweetheart, take a breath.” Dad is trying to stay calm. “Maggie didn’t have anything to do with this. The police talked to Maggie this morning. She said she went home early, because she didn’t really like ice skating. I know you were jealous of her, all the attention Kaylie gave her, and I’m so sorry this happened to you, but none of this is Maggie’s fault. Go to sleep honey.” I stare at him, wondering if maybe he’s right. Maybe I did make everything up. But as the sedatives set in, I look at the door. Standing in the doorway, creepy smile in place, is the crazy blonde herself.