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Alice Brown had a life that was, as she described it, “as good as one could get.” Her parents were very much in love and treated her with love as well. They didn’t care if she didn’t really like dresses or makeup; they supported her no matter what. Her father had struggled with alcoholism in the past, but he was better now. She had a few close friends and was fairly popular at school. Her best friend, Heather, was always by her side.

It was a normal day at Sandhill High. Alice was walking through the halls before class, chatting with Heather about school drama, pausing every so often to say hello to her acquaintances. She stopped to talk for a minute. After a few seconds, she felt a tug on her arm. It was Heather, impatient to get back to their conversation. Alice apologized and ended the conversation.

“What, Heather?” Alice barked, “I was having a talk about our next basketball tournament.”

Heather widened her eyes, “But I thought we could hang out then!”

Alice smiled, “You can watch me play. I’ll hang out with you after.”

Heather hid a small grimace and nodded. “Alright. Now, lets talk about the senior prom!” Heather squealed. “You’re coming, right?”

Alice was silent.

“Right?”

Alice let out a small sigh and reluctantly agreed.

“Yay!” Heather cheered, earning her a few odd glances. “Alice is going to prom!” she explained. People nodded, as it was a well-known fact that Heather had been nagging Alice to go to the senior prom for several months. “You’re going to wear a dress, right?”

Alice looked conflicted. “I don’t know. I don’t really like dresses.”

Heather scowled, but quickly hid it. “You'll look beautiful! Plus, it’s tradition! You can’t look like a tomboy at prom!”

Alice sighed. “Fine. I’ll text my mother. She’s been wanting to know if I will go for weeks.”

Heather nodded enthusiastically. “Ask her to buy you a dress once she’s done with work. Prom is in three months!”

Alice nodded, composing a text and sending it to her mother. Then, the bell rang.

“Shit! We’re going to be late!” Heather screeched.

“Relax. We’ve got five minutes to get to class.” Alice said.

They rushed to class, Heather panicking the entire way about being late. “If I’m late, Mr. Ren will deduct a point from my conduct grade. I can’t afford that! My parents will kill me!”

Alice shook her head as she ran, not even out of breath. “Your parents will radiate disapproval as usual. They disapprove of everything. It's not like they care about your grades. You’re an awesome friend and a straight-A student. Your parents just have sticks up their asses.”

Heather nodded as she disappeared into her class, and Alice went into hers.

Later, Alice walked home after school. She opened the door and cheerfully announced, “I’m home!” Her father was on the couch, watching a movie. She hugged her father and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Then, she put a pizza in the oven. “Call me when it is done.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder as she headed outside, “I’m going to practice basketball.”

About half an hour later, she went back inside. As soon as she got inside, her father’s phone rang. He picked it up.

“Yes?”

The voice on the other end spoke.

“Yes, this is Mr. Brown. Why?” What the voice said next caused the phone to fall from his grasp. Alice asked, “Dad? What’s wrong?”

In a choked voice, he said, “Your mom... she’s… she’s dead.”

Alice started sobbing and fled to her room. She called Heather.

“Yes? Alice, what’s wrong?”

After a few seconds, she managed to say, “My mom died.” Heather gasped and immediately started apologizing. “You don’t have to say sorry.”

Heather asked her if she wanted some time alone. Alice responded, “Yeah,” her voice cracking. As soon as Heather hung up, Alice buried herself in her homework. She heard her father slam the door on his way out.

The next morning, her father was passed out on the couch. He reeked of alcohol. She sighed, shaking her head. She made breakfast for the both of them and left his portion on the kitchen counter. As she walked to school, she felt detached from reality, like it was all a bad dream.

At school, everyone crowded her, asking if she was okay, over and over. Their voices drilled themselves into her brain. All through school, she felt numb. She went through her day like it was normal. Heather was constantly there, reassuring her that she would be fine. At the end of the day, she collapsed into Heather’s arms, sobbing her heart out. Heather rolled her eyes but stayed there until Alice calmed down.

At her house, her father was waiting for her.

“It’s your fault.” He growled at Alice, his breath heavily infused with alcohol.

“What?” Alice asked, confused.

“She was getting a dress for your stupid prom when her car crashed. It’s your fault she’s dead.”

Alice shook her head, starting to sob. “Stupid girl!” her father shouted, slapping her. She fled to her room, sobbing.

This cycle continued for a few weeks, her father gone in the morning and waiting for her in a drunken rage after school. One day, she confessed what was happening to Heather.

Heather snorted, “You think I believe you? Your father would never do that. You just want more attention.”

Alice stood up and started shouting. “You think I would lie about something like that?”

Heather snapped back, “Of course you would. Plus, you think I care about you? I only became your friend because you were semi-popular!”

Alice turned and ran, tears streaming down her face. She ran off into an alleyway, crying to herself. Eventually, she fell asleep.

When she woke up, it was morning. She headed home, entering through the back door. In the garage, her father was waiting for her. As she stared at her father, a hissing madness overtook her brain. Not taking her eyes off her father, she reached for a screwdriver lying in an open drawer. Her fingers closed around it and she ran at her father, screaming.

Her father stood there, a scared look on his face. She reached him and started stabbing him with the screwdriver. It took him a few seconds to react, but by then, it was too late. The screwdriver impaled him between the eyes. As he lay bleeding out on the floor, Alice left to look for Heather.

She found Heather walking to school. Her hand closed around Heather’s sleeve, and she dragged her off into an alley, where she released her. Heather froze, taking in the bloodied screwdriver and the manic look in Alice’s eyes.

“Please, Alice, don’t do this.” Heather pleaded, but Alice took no notice as she plunged the screwdriver into Heather’s shoulder. Heather screamed in pain and flailed around. Alice raised the screwdriver again and again, until Heather stopped moving.

Then, Alice ran. She ran and ran and ran until she couldn’t. She collapsed from exhaustion, too tired to move as she slipped off into dreamland.

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