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night I drove home with Mother on account of Mary Beth and the Polks
leaving before the spell-off. She warned me about the likelihood
of my classmates' jealousy. "The stakes are high, Iris. Keep your
eyes open," she said. That and a short lecture about humility. "Humbility,"
she called it. But nothing she said prepared me for what happened.
there were Mary Beth's exuberant congratulations in the car the
next morning, and then her laughing with the throngs of students
who surrounded me on the playground. Not only my classmates, but
a lot of the older students had collected around me. When an older,
pretty girl asked my name, Allison Witherow stepped forward and
proclaimed: "Iris. She's the new school dork." Giggling. Laughter.
But the crowd didn't bother me just then; I wasn't embarrassed by
their laughter because I wasn't seeing or hearing them. Only Mary
Beth. She cut her eyes away, glanced at the ground, but not fast
enough for me to miss the victory that was full on her face.
let on that I saw and understood what had happened. What good would
it do? Mary Beth used me. She used me to get into the world that
had shut both of us out. She was a brat Mother was right. She sat
those endless hours in my small, stuffy house until her mission
was complete, until she successfully abdicated her position as school
dork. But I never said a word. That would do no more than admit
defeat. And maybe the game wasn't over.