"How dare you suggest that I had anything to do with this?" Fashionista practically screamed at Tulip in our senior level fashion art class. My two best buds were about to get into an ugly catfight. I had to do something before one of them lost an eye. And fast.
"I saw you say something to Professor Damon and then he spat out that bitch's name, adding her to our group!"
"What in fuck's sake makes you think I wanted something like that?" Fashionista countered. "I suggested that we'd take another person. How was I supposed to know the flipping jerkette didn't have a group already?"
"Because...duh? She has no friends!"
I put my arms between them. "Children! This isn't getting us anywhere."
Pointing, Fashionista said, "Well tell her to simmer down before she spurts out a cow."
"Are you calling me a heifer?"
"If the cow fits, honey."
In a low threatening voice, Tulip said, "You take that back."
"Why should I?"
Rubbing my friend's shoulder, I said, "Fashionista...really?"
Threading his fingers through his hair, he sighed. "Well...okay...I guess that was out of line. I'm...s-sorry. I didn't mean that. I'm just...mad at the situation, I guess."
"Tulip?" I said, hoping she'd forgive F and we could move on.
"What?" she moaned.
"Fashionista said he was sorry." I nodded toward Crystal who had just been added to our group. "You see the real enemy? It's not me. It's not you or you." I stared both friends down. "How are we supposed to be successful if we're at each others' throats? I have a plan on how to deal with Crystal, but we can't do it if you guys are fighting."
Smirking, Tulip said, "Your plan better be good." Holding up a fist, she offered, "Truce?"
"Truce," Fashionista answered with a knuckle bump.
Looping my arms around my friends, I patted them. "There's nothing like bonding against a sworn enemy. Now follow my lead."
"What are you three idiots doing over there?" Crystal's irritating voice rang out, shattering our warm fuzzies. "It's time to get to work."
"Oh, God," I muttered under my breath.
We all sat down at the table. I could see my friends snickering, no doubt thinking I'd come up with something great to offend or piss her off, but in actuality that would only make our lives more miserable. I knew how to handle Crystal over the years, but when I was younger, she was always trying to get the best of everything at my expense. This time, I just wanted to get through the project. It was worth 30% of our grade.
It was time to butter her up.
Glaring at me, Crystal said, "I don't have time for your nonsense, Siobhan. It's bad enough I was put in the least talented group here. Just let me work on my own and leave me be."
"But if you work alone, we'll all get a bad grade. It'll be a disjointed collection."
"I've got the highest grade in the class," Crystal huffed. "The professor knows my brilliance. There's nothing I can't do to make it work, so...yeah. I'm not worried."
"Okay, but you realize we all just agreed to make you our leader," I said.
"Yeah, I know you're going to be the leader," she countered, obviously not listening at all (as usual.) "You always want the best for yourself. You always have." Then she suddenly stopped, eyes narrowing at us.
Tulip plastered on the fakest smile I'd ever seen. I had to stop myself from giggling.
Turning to Fashionista, she asked, "Did she just say you all agreed to make ME the leader?"
"Nothing gets past you, sweetie," he said with the same plastic smile Tulip wore.
Flustered, she said, "I'm not stupid. What are you all up to?"
"Listen," I said, knowing she was going to eat up my next words like a luscious vat of chocolate chunk ice cream, "we just know great work when we see it. With you as lead, we can take advantage of your genius and get a good grade. Simple."
"Well..." she said, eyebrow arching. "I can't disagree with that logic."
Nodding toward Tulip, she asked, "And she agreed to this, too?"
"Like the good little heifer I am," Tulip bantered.
Fashionista doubled over in laughter.
Without missing a beat, Crystal said, "Good. You can start by doing exactly as told without your disgusting ideas muddying up my plans."
"Siobhan...so help me..." Tulip muttered, darts shooting from her eyes.
Quickly trying to salvage the situation, I suggested, "W-Well, I figured we all could have a say in what we do. You know. Like a team."
Crystal lurched her head back. "Excuse me? I thought you said I was lead."
Damn. It was like I'd opened the cage of a beast thinking it wouldn't hurt anyone if I gave it a little food. Unfortunately, instead the beast grew five sizes and there was no way of getting it back into its cage. It also had a head the size of San Myshuno itself.
I stared at her and said what I wish I could take back, "Yes, I did. You're lead."
"That's what I thought. So, like I was saying, I'll have no input from either of you two ninnies." She pointed at Fashionista and Tulip. "Jayden, take notes of all my glorious ideas. You'll be our official secretary."
Grumbling, Fashionista grabbed the notebook and pencil.
"Oh and since it was obviously your brilliant idea to make me lead, I'll let you have two ideas, Siobhan. And if you're lucky, they might even get into the collection. Just think classy this time. 'K?"
It took all my skills I'd learned in debate class to win over my friends to the idea of keeping Crystal the lead.
Well, I bribed them. If we came out of the class without them gouging Crystal's eyes out, I promised to take them on a trip to Windenburg. My treat.
They both told me I was going to owe them a lot more than that when it was all finished. I was a bit worried, too. Power went to Crystal's head like electricity crackling through Frankenstein. We definitely created a monster. But there was no going back. If we took it from her, she'd throw a kindergarten fit and probably bring the professor in on it, too. And to spite us, she'd do her one dress which would not gel with our collection.
No...I was convinced this was the best plan to make a good grade. I hated to admit it, but Crystal was quite talented even though I didn't think she could hold a candle to my friends. I made sure to tell them that as well. Their egos would suffer in the coming weeks having to work with the beast.
By the time I got home, I was wiped out trying to stop WWIII. All I wanted to do was soak in a warm bubble bath and nurse on a pleasant glass of wine.
But I was surprised to find my two brothers waiting for me in the living room.
"What's the matter?" I asked, heart freaking out. I could see something horrible happened just by the look on their faces.
"Siobhan, why don't you sit down?" Eli said.
Bracing myself, I said, "God, Just tell me, Eli!"
"Grandpops had a heart attack. He died two hours ago."