Also by Lauren Myracle
The Internet Girls series
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:
Myracle, Lauren, 1969–Rhymes with witches / Lauren Myracle.
Summary: High school freshman Jane believes that she would do anything to be popular until she is selected to be in the school’s most exclusive clique and learns that popularity has a price.
[1. Popularity—Fiction. 2. Cliques (Sociology)—Fiction. 3. Witchcraft—Fiction. 4. Conduct of life—Fiction. 5. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 6. High schools—Fiction. 7. Schools—Fiction.]
paperback ISBN 978-0-8109-9215-3
Originally published in hardcover by Amulet Books in 2005
Copyright © 2006 Lauren Myracle
Designed by Jay Colvin
Published in 2006 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved.
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115 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
the original Bitch,
who couldn’t be a bitch if she tried
about the author
Thanks to Tobin Anderson for inducting me into the world of the weird. Thanks to Laura Pritchett, Todd Mitchell, and Jack Martin for helping me make the weird even weirder. And thanks times ten to Susan Van Metre, who tempered weirdness with vulnerability, spookiness with humanity. Susan, you are the cat’s meow.
I so shouldn’t have worn this thong. It was hiking up my butt, and there was nothing I could do about it because there was no way to subtly reach up and yank it out. “They’re comfortable,” Mom had said. Then, “Well, they do take some getting used to. But Jane, if you don’t want panty lines …”
Thanks, Mom. This was the wedgie from hell.
“I’m thinking maybe board shorts and a red tank top,” Alicia said.
I shifted on the hard cafeteria chair. My new dress, the one that demanded no panty lines, wrinkled under my thighs.
“If I can find black board shorts,” Alicia went on. “Or board shorts with enough black in them to count as black. We all have to wear black and red, did I tell you?”
“Go Devils,” I said.
Alicia speared a spaghetti noodle. She twirled it around her fork. “You’re being stupid, you know. They have spots for five freshmen. You could sign up after lunch and still have—”
She was interrupted by a high-pitched yowl as a rangy butterscotch-colored cat bolted from the kitchen. It leaped over one table and skidded down another, sending a plate of spaghetti crashing to the floor. Cries erupted as people jerked out of its way. Chairs screeched.
“Get out! Get out!” one of the cafeteria ladies shrieked, brandishing a spatula. “Filthy overgrown rodent!”
The cat bounded through the wide double doors. The cafeteria lady flung her spatula, and the cat jumped sideways and tore down the hall.
“And stay out!” the cafeteria lady yelled. She stared after it, her face flushed and her hairnet slipping out of place. She stomped back to the kitchen to the applause of the student body.
“Jesus Christ,” Alicia said. “You’d think we could have one day—one day—without those cats breaking a frickin’ plate. But nooo. The whole damn school is possessed, I’m not even kidding.”
“They’re cats, Alicia. Not spinning-head girls from The Exorcist.”
“They’re diseased. Why doesn’t someone call the Humane Society?”
I raised my eyebrows. Mr. Van Housen, the principal, had called the Humane Society, as well as Animal Control. He’d sent out e-mail after e-mail explaining the difficulty of capturing feral cats once they’ve taken over a given territory, e-mails that Alicia had received along with everyone else.
“Whatever,” she said. “But it’s driving me insane.” She stabbed a fresh noodle and demanded, “So will you? Sign up after lunch?”
“I’m not trying out for cheerleading,” I said.
“But why? I know you’re convinced you’re this big loser, but you could at least try out.”
My skin grew warm. “I’m not convinced I’m a loser. Who said I’m convinced I’m a loser?”
“Hmm. Would that possibly be you, Jane?” She assumed a hangdog expression. “‘I am worthless and alone because my daddy abandoned me. Boo-hoo-hoo.’”
I put down my garlic bread. Alicia was not nearly as clever as she liked to think she was.
“I’m kidding,” she said. Her face showed her regret, although only for an instant. Being real with each other wasn’t something Alicia and I knew how to do very well. “But how are you going to, like, rise above it if you never even make the effort? I’m serious. Don’t you ever just want to be more than who you are?”
A new disruption sent ripples through the crowded cafeteria, saving me from having to answer. It was the Bitches, Crestview’s elite, strolling majestically through the doors. They filed in according to rank: first Keisha, who was a senior; then Bitsy, a junior; then Mary Bryan, a sophomore. A lull fell in the hum of eating and talking, and then conversations swelled back up. Brad Johnson’s laugh rang out, shouting, Look at me! Look at me! Sukie Karing smiled hard and waved. “Over here!” she called. “I saved you guys seats!”
“They’re not cheerleaders,” I said. “You don’t have to be a cheerleader to be cool.”
Alicia snorted. Still, she straightened her spine as Bitsy passed. So aware, all of us, of being in their presence. I watched as they waltzed into the food line, then I gloomily regarded my spaghetti, knowing they’d emerge with fettuccine alfredo.