Beauty

Her name is Katya. She is a Russian exchange student and very beautiful, although at first I don't think that matters.

She's a ballet dancer, and carries herself as such. I'm no less poised and graceful than she is, but ballet training is something else. Several of the boys convince her to dance for them. She throws up her long spindly legs in a series of arabesques and pirouettes, and soon a crowd forms. The boys all think her dancing is "hot". Some of the girls are in awe of her, either because they have lesbian crushes on her or because they simply admire her talent, but other girls say the display is slutty.

The "slut" comments don't gain much traction, though, because she's in fact remarkably virginal if not an actual virgin. She has (supposedly) a long-distance boyfriend named Michael over in Russia, who she's saving herself for. Boys throw themselves at her and she sweetly rebuffs them all, saying she's much too in love with him.

Various contradictory rumors fly about Michael. He's madly in love with her, say some, has given her a big fat diamond ring and promised to marry her as soon as she graduates. He's abusive, others say, and he's threatened to kill her if she even talks to a boy here. Personally, I don't think he exists. But the rumors serve to make her a romantic figure among some of the girls, a star-crossed lover or a tragic victim. She's already a romantic figure among the boys, who prefer, of course, to concentrate on the tragic victim angle.

Sebastian naturally wants a crack at her. I encourage him wholeheartedly.

"Quite eager to see me fuck her, aren't you, Sis? Perhaps you'd like to join us for a threesome?"

I put on my best sincere face and say, "Sebastian, that's sick. I can't believe you'd expect me to join in a threesome with my own brother."

We both burst out laughing.

He comes away empty-handed, like all the others. This makes him fascinated with her. He's far too intelligent to mistake it for love, but the challenge appeals to him.

The girl poses no real threat to my popularity—she's far too shy and withdrawn for that—but I don't like the way the boys act around her. One in particular, who I was planning to eventually dump Court for, I don't like the way he looks at her. I decide to take her down at the earliest opportunity. Too bad Sebastian wasn't able to make it with her; that would've been an easy victory for me, considering what he does to girls.

I start looking to dig up dirt on Katya. It's slow going—no drugs, no affairs that I can find. I am able to neither prove nor disprove the existence of Michael. She appears to spend most of her time outside of school at the ballet studio. There may still be some skeletons from her Russian past. Or not.

I mention to some of my acolytes, in private, that I think she's a bit stuck up. I only mention this to the ones who really worship the ground I walk on and are incapable of imagining me jealous of anyone. They agree with all their might, the way they always agree with what I say.

At one point, I am in a fairly large group of other girls when the conversation turns to Katya. "What do you think of her?" one girl says. The acolyte looks at me, like she's asking for permission. I silently give her the OK.

"I think she's incredibly stuck up," she says.

She's my slave, but still, I'm impressed by the vehemence of her reply. And then the other girls join in.

"She barely says hi to anyone," a forgettable girl says, the kind probably nobody says hi to in the hallways. I'm trying desperately to remember her name when another one pipes up.

"I'm sick of her ice princess act," she says. I identify this one as someone I know who doesn't like me much at all. Soon they're all speaking.

"Thinks she's so precious."

"Thinks the guys over here aren't good enough for her."

"Thinks she's so goddam special, just because she knows ballet."

A few weeks later, without my prior knowledge, a group of girls corners Katya in the ladies' room. They start taunting her, and she defends herself weakly. Then they orchestrate a symphony of physical violence, putting her through several humiliating acts that climax in a broken leg, leaving her unable for months to do ballet. While she's walking around with a cast, the boys avoid her, and after she recovers they still avoid her. They've gotten the unspoken message that anyone who tries to become involved with her will lose hope of ever dating any other girl at this school. There's an aura of fear around her, and she's shunned everywhere. I'm well pleased. Her pariah status is complete, and the best thing is, I didn't have to lift a finger.

Eventually I do find the dirt on Katya, and it's a shocker. Apparently her father carried out a score of civilian massacres in Chechnya, a series of raids that left hundreds of people murdered and dozens raped. Some eyewitness accounts put her at the scene of the crimes as well. It's unclear from the reports whether she was an accomplice or just forced to watch. Probably the latter, given her age at the time. But nothing I couldn't have twisted around to my purposes. The student body at Manchester had no idea of any of this. I read the news articles again, then put them aside: not needed.

I make a note to myself to smile more around the other students, and to expose a few carefully picked anodyne flaws.

Beauty may make a princess out of some, but I am the queen of this school. And a queen must be both feared and loved.