Why did the other kids treat Margery like she was from outer space?
|Margery Bourg was changing out books at her locker when someone slammed it shut on her. She wheeled, blinking.
"I saw you looking at my boyfriend last period," Allison Twillinger sneered at Margery. She glowered. "If I ever catch you—"
"She's not worth it, Allison," Haven Granbury interrupted. She took her friend by the arm.
But Allison glared back at Margery over her shoulder as her friend pulled her away. "Booger-Body!" she hissed.
Margery stared as the two cheerleaders melted into the crowd. What was that about? she wondered.
Had she been staring at Derek in math class? It would have been on accident. Probably she was trying to work out one of the algebra problems, and her eyes just happened to come to rest on him.
Still, she couldn't help blushing. Derek Garvey was hot. He was on the football team, and he wore tight t-shirts and jeans. His raven-dark hair curled over his ears and got tangled up in his eyebrows.
She sighed. If Derek was my boyfriend, she thought—
But there wasn't any point finishing the thought, because there was no use fantasizing about any of the hot guys.
Because no one will let me near them, Margery reminded herself.
"I'd let you gawk at me," Cor Philmont assured her. "Here, I'll even take my shirt off for you!"
Margery giggled as Cor peeled his t-shirt off. He was pale and his ribs stuck out, but she still blushed as he danced in front of her. They were sitting on the bleachers overlooking the school track. Classes were over and everyone had gone home, but she and Cor, with nothing else to do, had stuck around.
She had told Cor what happened with Allison, and he was impressed that a cheerleader had even talked to her. "Hey, maybe if I started staring at Derek," he said as he fluffed his shirt out in the afternoon breeze, "she'd start talking to me too!"
Margery couldn't help wincing.
"Used to they didn't talk to Barbara," she told him. "Then they started talking to her, and she stopped talking to me. Same thing with Jenny."
"Jenny Niedermeier. She had me over for slumber parties a few times in ninth grade. We'd make fun of Haven and them. Now she goes to slumber parties at Haven's and calls me 'Booger-Body' too."
"What did you do to these girls? I'm sorry!" Cor instantly added when she gasped. "It was joke! I really don't get why they—!" He bit his lip. "I mean, I like hanging out with you!"
Cor looked so crestfallen that Margery had to forgive him. And it was a sweet thing for him to say.
"That's how come I don't want them talking to you," she said. "Because then you might get snooty and stop talking to me."
Margery didn't know what she had done. She'd been mostly popular back in Nebraska. But then she moved to southern California her freshman year, and it was like a secret memo went around. Don't be nice to the new girl.
Margery couldn't help suspecting it went back to Colleen McGreevey. Colleen was a senior—a year ahead of Margery—but the whole school body was stuck on her. She was a cheerleader, an honors student, and she'd had bit parts on TV when she was in middle school. Everyone sucked up to her.
And on her first day at school, Margery had caught Colleen glaring at her with sheer hatred in her eyes.
Why? Margery had no idea. But within a week, she'd gone from being "Margery Bourg" to "Major Booger-Body," and then to just "Booger-Body." Even the kids who had been friendly at first started cold-shouldering her. By the middle of her sophomore year, Margery was reduced to hanging out with the geeky, D&D-playing boys like Cor—guys who had lost a lot of their own "cool friends" over the year as well. Even the girls who smoked in the E wing bathroom wouldn't tolerate her.
Not that there was anything wrong with Cor and them. They were sweet, and they seemed to really dig having Margery around. But she missed having a girlfriend to share with, or who could set her up with a guy who didn't play D&D.
"Hey, check it out," Cor told Margery a few days later. He pressed close to her at her open locker. "I saw this sticking out of Colleen's book bag in math, and I snatched it when she wasn't looking!"
It was a thin sheaf of notebook paper, stapled at the corner. A handwritten list of names ran down each sheet in two columns. Each name had a dot, in colored marker, next to it.
"You stole this from Colleen?" Margery gasped.
"I think it's their 'Who's Hot, Who's Not' list. Check out who's on it, and what color grade they get!"
Despite her frown, Margery couldn't resist snooping. Colleen's own name was at the top, with a green dot beside it. Haven's name was also dotted green, as were most of the other cheerleaders. Derek also got a green dot, along with most of his teammates.
It gave Margery a jealous twinge, as she shuffled through the other sheets, to see that her old friends Jenny and Barbara also got green dots. So of course did their boyfriends, Joey and Oliver.
But most of the other names had yellow dots beside them. A few of these also had stars next to them, including Cor's and Allison's, she noticed. Margery studied the list closer. Some of the green-dotted names, including Jenny's and Barbara's, looked like they'd had stars crossed out from next to them. And, judging by the color of the ink, all these had also originally been yellow dots.
And where was her own name? On the last page, of course. And it, like most of the other names on the last page, had a black dot next to it.
"Well, this is interesting, I guess," she told Cor, "but we already know who's hot and who's not. Right?"
Cor had more news for Margery a week later. His old friend James, who had dropped him as a "Not" at the end of their sophomore year, had invited him out to the abandoned quarry for a party. "I think you should crash it," he said.
"I don't want to go out to the quarry!"
"It'll be cool. I asked James who all would be there. It ain't none of them'll be there."
"Who? The Green Dots?" That had become her and Cor's shared name for Colleen's groupies.
"Well, there'll be some there, like James. But I checked, and it's mostly Yellow Dots."
"I'm a Black Dot," Margery reminded him.
"So come out, be cool, get bumped up to a Yellow Dot!"
Margery grumbled, but with a sigh gave in to his badgering.
Margery's eyes nearly bugged from her head as she stared down into the quarry. That's a spaceship down there! she thought for about the twentieth time. It still didn't seem real.
Cor hadn't been waiting when she got out to the parking area, so she'd had to go in alone. She'd been extra nervous after spotting Derek Garvey's van.
It was a moonless night, and the crickets were silent. The only light came from the glow of the spaceship. The football team—Derek and his friends—had a dozen squirmy kids, including Cor, in headlocks. The aliens, who looked like giant, quivering slugs, crept about in front of their spaceship, undulating and changing shape.
As Margery watched with a hanging jaw, one of the footballers shoved his prisoner into one of the giant slugs—like pushing a wiener into a mass of jelly. It swallowed him up, and quivered, and melted into puddle. But a moment later it pulled itself back together.
But where the slug had been, there now stood the kid it had swallowed, along with a pile of clothes. He quietly dressed in these, and went to stand with another group of kids chatting in a corner.
One, and then another, and then another kid got eaten. Yes, eaten! Margery began to shake. But she didn't feel like throwing up until Allison Twillinger was dragged forward and fed to a shapeshifting slug by her own boyfriend.
And it wasn't until Cor, rising onto swaying feet from a puddle of alien goo, picked up his shirt and fluffed it out in the night breeze, that she took off running.
But even worse than knowing that Cor and Allison and a dozen more schoolmates were now one of them—
—and even worse than knowing that they would be after her, too, probably—
—was another and worse that thought kept running through Margery's head as she scampered back to her car.
Green dots are them. Yellow dots will become them. And Black Dots?
Margery nearly burst out crying.
Not even booger-bodied space aliens wanted anything to do her!
Winner of "SCREAMS!!!" for 3-13-21
Prompt: A socially ostracised teenage girl