Home > Kiss Me With Lies

Kiss Me With Lies
Author: S. M. Soto

 

To love.

The hard kind.

The dangerous kind.

The two souls catching fire and incinerating kind.

The kind that promises to destroy you, and you still enter in willingly.

 

 

“God, your sister is such a bitch,” Winnie hisses.

Even though I wholeheartedly agree with the statement, I don’t voice it. Instead, I keep following Winnie as she winds her way through the trees in the forest, heading toward the growing sound of teenagers partying.

End-of-the-year fest.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. This party kicks off the summer at the end of every school year. I’ve lived in Ferndale my whole life. The small town is known for its pies and beautiful redwoods. For the most part, it’s quiet, but every now and again, we’ll get tourists here to visit. Located smack dab in the middle of Redwoods National Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Ferndale is the perfect location for a hiker or nature lover to vacation.

Normally, I wouldn’t be caught dead sneaking around in the middle of the night with my best friend, Winnie, especially since gossip travels faster than light in this town. How I ended up here with Winnie is beyond me. I don’t party. I don’t drink. And surely, I’m not on any guy’s radar. So again, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing here.

Winnie has always been an in-betweener—not exactly popular, but definitely not a nobody geek like I am. Athletic and beautiful, she’s everything I’m not. We’ve been friends forever, despite the fact we’re opposites. I’m pretty sure if she had stopped hanging out with me, she’d already have a front row seat in the popular club. Sadly, I know I’m the one holding her back. It’s my status. The way I look. How I dress. How smart I am. It all counts against me in the high school popularity scene.

She’s my only friend at Ferndale High, and quite honestly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m just glad I’ll have her to help guide me through my senior year. Living in my sister’s shadow is hard enough, so being around Winnie makes everything easier—she’s my backbone, through and through. Where my sister is crass and sassy, Winnie is a mellow wallflower. Where Madison is snobby and rude, Winnie is sweet and feisty when no one is around. She is quite literally a walking, talking contradiction, and I love her for it.

I once thought that having a twin sister would mean I’d be just as popular as she was, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. When Madison was in the womb with me, I’m pretty sure all the good genes that guarantee beauty, popularity, and homecoming queen status went to her. Just another one of the many things in a very, very long list of why my sister makes me feel inferior.

Beautiful? Check.

Insanely smart? Check.

Luscious, gold-spun blond hair? Check.

Incredibly athletic? Check.

Body that rivals the models of Victoria’s Secret? Double check.

I remember when we were little, my mom would dress my sister and me up in these identical outfits, and even then, Mads would always be the star child. Strangers would approach my parents and tell them how gorgeous she was. And where would I be? Clinging to the back of my mother’s legs, hiding. Much as I still do.

My only reprieve from Madison has been the past six months that she’s been gone. It was the first time in a long time that I remember feeling happy. And the main reason being, Madison participated in a foreign exchange program in Italy for half a year. Part of me was jealous that my parents agreed to let her go instead of me—we were twins, after all, so it only seemed fair we both go. But after she left, I started to notice little things, like how much easier it was to breathe when she wasn’t around. I still heard her voice in the back of my mind, telling me I wasn’t enough, but I no longer had to worry about her berating my every move.

She flew back home just a few days ago, and I noticed the change immediately. She was somehow meaner, prettier, and scarier than ever. Madison Wright was the most frightening creature in all of Humboldt County. I was sure everyone knew it, too.

“I still can’t believe your sister told you not to show your face here. Everyone got an invite tonight. I don’t understand how someone can be so…”

“Vile?” I finish for her, darting my gaze down to my ankles that keep getting scratched by the underbrush in the forest. That was Madison in a nutshell. Vile.

Who knew evil girls had the prettiest faces? I did.

Madison never lets me forget how beneath her I am. And it’s not as if her harsh words aren’t true because they are. She is the prettier sister. It wouldn’t kill me to drop a few pounds. And sometimes, my curly, dirty blond hair does look like a bird’s nest.

I never used to care about any of that stuff, but the more Madison tears me down with her comments, the more I realize she’s right. My perception of myself has changed drastically. I never truly thought I was ugly, but now when I look in the mirror, there’s no unseeing it. I understand that the way we perceive ourselves is relative. Facial appearance can be translated to judgments of character, making us all vain and in need of “looking” pretty, instead of focusing on being pretty on the inside, too. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment the idea of my ugliness began. One day, I was blissfully unaware of my looks. I didn’t realizejust how much they’d mean to others and how they dominate society. And the next, I couldn’t stomach looking at myself for longer than a few minutes at a time. Why? Because all that stared back at me was disappointment.

Up ahead, the thick brush of trees starts to clear, and I can finally make out the crowd of bodies and the glow of the bonfire. The closer we get, the more my nerves start to screw me over. I’m not your regular nervous person; no, when I get nervous, I turn into a sweaty, jittery, crackhead junkie, or at the very least, someone who resembles one. The beads of sweat have already made their trek along my spine, and the hair at my neck is matted to my skin in the most disgusting and uncomfortable way.

When Winnie pushes through the last of the greenery, I cringe, trying not to worry too much about the fact that we’ve been brushing against a multitude of plants as we navigate our way through the forest. What are the odds we’ve encountered poison oak? If I’m being honest, probably fifty-fifty. As long as there is no itching, swelling, or symptoms of afever, we should be okay. For now, at least.

Pushing away my worrisome thoughts, I shift my gaze around, and my eyes widen as I take in the party around me. This is my first time at the end-of-the-year bash. It’s always been a legend here in Ferndale, which means it’s usually a very hush-hush, invite-only ordeal. To my knowledge, this is the first year everyone got an invitation. The seniors at our high school run this party like they’re bookies running an illegal operation. They handle the “guest list,” the booze, the drugs, and the debauchery that takes place.

The fire in the pit is roaring, and a bunch of people I don’t recognize from my high school are sitting around on logs. Scratch that, I do recognize them. They’re all the popular kids. What I meant was, they wouldn’t recognize me; I’m a nobody swimming in a sea of stars.

Some people are making out—quite crudely, I might add—and I quickly avert my gaze, taking everything else in: the different cliques mingling with the help of liquid courage. You have the jocks socializing with the stoners, and by stoners, I mean the drug dealers. The cheerleaders chat freely with girls I recognize from the soccer and softball team. “Whine Up” by Kat DeLuna plays on someone’s speakers, livening up the party. Everyone is in their element tonight. Except me, of course. As I glance around, I’m still trying to make sense of what the hell I’m doing here.

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