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Drop Dead Gorgeous: Part 4 – Chapter 28

Narrated by Morgan Fear

Part 4 – Five Years Earlier

My main way of communicating with my mother is with a sarcastic eye roll.

She asks a question. I roll my eyes.

She makes a comment. I roll my eyes.

She asks me to do something. You get the idea.

It’s a very efficient form of communication, and it even saves some arguing time.

My delightful mother, Amelia Fear, likes a good family discussion—especially if it’s a talk in which we criticize what I’m doing and tell me that I am wrong. A long sarcastic eye roll puts an end to most discussions and saves me more than a little grief. And no shouting match between the two of us is very good for my throat and vocal cords.

Of course, Amelia Fear’s intention is always to improve me, and I guess I need a lot of improvement, since she seldom lets up. Sadly, her idea of improvement is to make me more like her and less like me.

Am I being too hard on her? Maybe. I think most sixteen-year-old girls are hard on their parents, and I think they have every right to be. Parents need to know when you are ready to separate from them, when you need time to be on your own, without their watchful eyes and their unnecessary comments and suggestions.

So I was brushing out my hair in front of my dresser mirror, getting ready to go pick up my friend, the other Morgan, Morgan Marks. My mother was stuffing a pile of folded-up laundry into my closet.

“I don’t know how you can do that to yourself, Morgan,” she said. “You’re such a beautiful girl.”

I rolled my eyes. I knew what was coming.

“You have the most beautiful red hair, such a gorgeous color. Why cover it up and ruin what is special about you?”

I rolled my eyes. “I like it, Mom.”

“I know why you like it,” she persisted. “So you and that other Morgan can be twins. But you are special. Why do you want to look like her?”

“We’re soul twins,” I said. I knew she hated when I said that, so I tried to say it a lot.

“Soul twins doesn’t mean you have to be identical twins.” She brushed something off the shoulder of my black sweater. “Look at you. Dressed in black. Black hair. Blue lipstick. That awful ring in your nose. Blue fingernails. What are you supposed to be?”

I shrugged. “It’s a look.” I set down the hairbrush and picked up my car keys.

I could see Mom in the mirror. She was frowning as she stared at my reflection, biting her bottom lip. “Is that what they call Goth?”

“I guess.” I turned to leave. “Don’t worry, Mom. It’s just a phase I’m going through.”

It was supposed to be a joke, but she didn’t laugh.

“You could go to one of those Comic-Cons,” Mom said. “And you wouldn’t need to wear a costume.”

I laughed. “Good one, Mom.” She can be funny when she wants to. She’s actually very sharp, especially when she’s on my case. What a pain.

I think I must get my dry sense of humor from her. Also, she really can figure out people quickly. Sometimes I think she is a mind reader. She seems to know what people really mean when they say things, and I can do that, too.

And Amelia Fear has a dark side. She tries to hide it from me. But I see her brooding looks and can read her cold thoughts on her face.

I’m a member of the Fear family. And it took me a long time to accept the fact that Fears aren’t like other people.

She followed me out of my room. “Where are you going? To meet your twin?”

I rattled the car keys in my hand. “Yeah. I said I’d pick her up at her job.”

“She has a job? Where?”

“Behind a frozen yogurt stand at the mall.” I grabbed a black jacket from the front closet.

“It would never occur to you to get a job,” Mom said. “Something to do after school.”

Now she was trying too hard to be obnoxious. “Morgan’s family has money problems,” I said. “She has to pitch in.”

“What does her father do?” Mom asked.

But I was out the front door, slamming it behind me.

It was a cool day for spring. The gusts of wind were biting and carried a chill. I was glad I brought my jacket. The late-afternoon sun was already dipping behind the trees, casting long shadows over the ground.

I tossed my jacket onto the passenger seat and climbed into the Subaru Outback. This was Dad’s car originally. But he got carried away and bought himself a Range Rover, and since Mom drives a small BMW, the Subaru became our third car.

Of course, they wouldn’t give it to me. Dad said he wouldn’t trust me behind the wheel of a skateboard. That’s his idea of a joke. Makes no sense at all. Why should I even bother to tell him that skateboards don’t have steering wheels?

They don’t say the Subaru is my car, but they let me drive it almost whenever I want. So who cares?

I drove to the Division Street Mall and parked in front of the TJ Maxx. There were only a few other cars in the lot at this side. It’s the last mall in Shadyside, and Morgan says it’s in trouble. A lot of the bigger stores have closed, and the place is nearly empty except for weekends.

I stepped through the entrance and felt a blast of cold air. The air-conditioning was on even though it was still cool out. Soft, boring music swirled around me. I walked past a shoe store and a jewelry store and a teen clothing boutique. All were empty.

I saw two women with baby strollers checking out the window of a kiddie store. And a worker in a blue uniform was half-heartedly pushing a broom across the floor down the aisle.

The yogurt stand was at the other end, across from Best Buy. As I got close, I waved to Morgan, but she didn’t see me. She was talking to another girl behind the cart.

Morgan and I really could be twins. I mean, I admit it, my mom is right in a way. Being a Goth is kind of like wearing a costume. Cosplay, you know. Morgan Marks and I have the same raven-black hair and silver nose rings and blue lipstick with fingernails to match.

Morgan wore a short black skirt over black tights and a deep purple vest over her black top. And lots of strands of clanky beads.

She’s a little overweight and she keeps her hair a lot shorter than mine and shaved on one side. She’s been having trouble with her contacts and hasn’t been wearing them, and I noticed that she squints a lot, trying to see clearly.

“Hey,” I said, stepping up to the counter. “What’s up?”

“Have you met Shamiqua?” Morgan asked, motioning to the other girl.

Shamiqua smiled. “Hi. You must be the other Morgan.”

I nodded. “Yeah. We’re Morgan and Morgan. Weird, huh?”

“Shamiqua is my new best friend,” Morgan said. “That’s because she showed up for her shift early.”

“It was an accident,” Shamiqua said. “It won’t happen again.”

We all laughed. Morgan slid her backpack over her shoulders. We said bye to Shamiqua and started to walk.

“Easy day?” I asked.

Morgan struggled to untangle the orange and black beads over her vest. “No way. The raspberry ran out and I only had vanilla and mango. And no one ever orders mango.”

I laughed. “Did you have any customers?”

“Not really.”

We passed three guys about our age. I didn’t recognize them. They didn’t go to our school. They looked kind of tough.

“If no one buys yogurt, think you’ll still have a job?” I asked.

She squinted at me. “You mean they might put me out of my misery? I dunno.” She sighed. “I hate having to go to an afterschool job every day. It means I have to spend the whole night doing my homework. I can’t see friends or anything.”

I grinned. “Doesn’t matter. I’m your only friend, remember?”

“Well . . . I might have more friends if I didn’t have to work every afternoon. And I might get to spend more time with Lonny.”

Lonny is her boyfriend. We have a big disagreement about Lonny. I think he’s a creep. And I think the only time he pays attention to Morgan is when he doesn’t have some other girl around.

Morgan thinks he’s Chris Hemsworth. A superhero. You know. The guy who plays Thor. He does look like Chris Hemsworth a little if you squint and ignore his stringy hair and pale, yellowy face. I don’t think he’s ever seen the sun.

Trust me. The only colorful things about Lonny are his tattoos. He and his pals at the shop spend a lot of time practicing their art on each other. Lonny has a full sleeve of Darth Vader, C-3PO, and other Star Wars characters.

He graduated from Shadyside High a few years ago, and he went right to work in the tattoo parlor. It’s called INK, INC., by the way. Clever, huh?

Lonny is four years older than Morgan, and he pushes her around like she’s his little sister. She doesn’t seem to notice. Morgan is very smart about everything but Lonny.

I think she knows how I feel about him, although I’m never totally honest about him. I know if I throw shade on him, she’ll just get angry and we’ll have a whole thing.

We turned the corner. The exit was straight ahead. “Why doesn’t Lonny ever pick you up after work?” I asked.

“You know why,” she said. “He can’t get away from work. He’s there till nine every night.” She frowned at me. “Some of us have to work. We’re not rich . . . like some people.”

“Hey, my family isn’t rich,” I said.


“Morgan, we’re not rich,” I insisted. “My dad is the black sheep of the Fear family because he became a tax lawyer.”

“Don’t pretend you don’t have money,” she said. “My dad hasn’t worked in two years, and my mom keeps having breakdowns and taking to her bed. You have three cars and you live in a huge house in North Hills.”

“But it’s falling apart,” I said. “My dad can’t afford to keep it up.”

Morgan grabbed my arm and we both stopped and burst out laughing.

“We are having a pity-me contest!” I exclaimed. “Who is the poorest?”

“I could keep it going,” Morgan said. “My brother needs braces but we can’t afford them. Our car is leaking oil and—”

“Shut up!” I cried. I pressed my hand over her mouth. “Just shut up. You win, okay? You’re the most pitiful.”

We started to walk arm in arm to the doors. The three guys I’d seen before were hanging out near the exit. One of them had a cigarette hidden between his hands. The guy next to him carried a shopping bag from the grocery store.

As Morgan and I started to pass them, they called out. “Hey, what are you supposed to be?” one guy shouted.

The others laughed as if he had made a great joke.

“Are you witches or something?”

“Hey, you know what rhymes with witches?”

Another burst of laughter. Like donkey hee-haws.

“You dudes are a riot,” I shouted. “Look how we’re laughing.”

“I like the fat one. How about you, Flip?”

“The other one is prettier, but I wouldn’t touch her.”

“You’d never get the chance,” I said.

“’Cause you’re into girls? Ha-ha.”

Morgan tugged me toward the door. “Let’s just get out of here.”

I watched the guy named Flip reach into his shopping bag. “Got a present for you. Think fast!”

He tossed an egg at me. I ducked away.

Morgan swiped at it. Missed. The egg smacked her in the forehead. It cracked loudly, and yellow egg yolk oozed down her face.

“HEY!” she screamed. She swung her backpack around and began to fumble inside it for something to wipe off her face.

The three guys hee-hawed and bumped knuckles.

I raised my left hand and pointed at them. I shut my eyes and began to murmur the words I had memorized. Time for a little Fear family magic, I thought.

“Let’s get out of here. What are you doing?” Morgan demanded.

But I didn’t break the spell. I kept my finger pointed at them and my eyes shut as I recited the words from the old book, the words I had worked so hard to memorize.

Morgan squeezed my arm. “Stop it!” she cried. “No. Stop. What are you going to do to them?”


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