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Defiance
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Winter 1997
Monopoly
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That 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.

First 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.

I never 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.

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