I had always been a tricky Ugly.
I realized this as every time I escaped my dorm room window, as I slid down the roof, my hoverboard under my arm. I realized it every time I ran silently down the streets, clinging to shadows, desperate to pull tricks that would make people remember me. I was smart. I was a novelty. I was a trickster at heart.
I was special.
The moonlight streamed through the trees as I weaved between them on my hoverboard, my tight black jeans and t-shirt fitting to my body like a second skin. I was skinny enough, but I had never been able to completely get rid of my soft, pudgy belly, or of the extra baby fat that lined my dry cheeks. My eyes were too far apart, one higher than the other, but they were dark blue with flecks of green; they could almost pass for a Pretty's, in color. But my face never could; my nose a huge protuberance, and one covered in blackheads at that; my hair tangled and thin, the color of the mud and dirt that was caked to the bottom of my grippy shoes, as the ground was soft due to today's rain; my lips thin and cracked unless I was constantly applying Lip Saver, which made them as soft and plump as a child's. My body was no miracle either, with my aforementioned soft pudge, with a practically nonexistent chest and very slim hips. I was built more like my guy friends Ryder and Heath than my girl friends like Alyshia and Pajon, who were both soft and curvy. I had more grit than the both of them put together to make up for it, though, I thought wryly as my hoverboard led me to the natural mineral deposits that lie in the fast-racing river that surrounded New Pretty Town. The navy blue sky, the same color of my eyes, was lit with green, purple, and red fireworks. Delighted cries laced the air, but I could barely hear them over the water; I was approaching the White Water, and soon, the Rusty Ruins.
I flew silently past the ruins, past the bones of the smiling dead that sat in their grounded hovercars. I went straight towards the tallest building; to the direct left, I saw a faint glow from the sheet that hung over a doorway, fluttering slightly in the wind. I strode towards it purposefully and threw it aside, making a grand entrance, simply because I could.
My friends were circled around a small fire that cast shadows around the small room. Dirt covered the tiled floor, tiles that used to be white. As I approached them, I saw Heath turning the used fire starter in his nimble hands, his too-small brown eyes completely focused on his task from the other side of his large glasses. Pajon was checking her backpack for something, one large arm rummaging through, her dark skin shining in the firelight. Alyshia and Ryder were in a corner, locked in a tight embrace, their lips moving together, Alyshia's huge, frizzy hair obscuring Ryder's zit-plagued face.
"About time you got here, Bro," Pajon said, looking up at me with a smirk. I dropped down next to her.
"Oh shut up, Fatty. You guys wouldn't be here without me." I smirked a little at her. Pajon smirked back. We both used our Ugly nicknames, but I loved her like a sister. If I still had a sister.
"We were afraid you had chickened out," Heath said. The light flickered off of his frames.
"Me? Please, Four-Eyes. Don't you know me at all?" I smiled at him, thankful it was dark; his soft smile made my cheeks feel a bit warmer, after he had kissed me before our trick last week. "Will you two get over here?" I barked towards Ryder and Alyshia. They soon disengaged themselves and wandered over, although they still held hands.
"That's disgusting," Pajon said flatly. "You two are disgusting."
"Shut up, Fatty," Alyshia said nonchalantly as she picked at her fingernails that were on the hand that wasn't intertwined with Ryder's. "It wouldn't be so disgusting if you had a boyfriend."
"You call him boyfriend material?" Pajon shot back, but I noticed she was upset. She snorted to hide her chagrin. "I'd rather stay ugly for the rest of my life then be with him."
"Watch it, Fatty," Alyshia snarled.
"You watch it, Friz, or I'll–"
"Enough," I said, and my voice cut through the air. They fell silent. Ryder leaned over and murmured something in Alyshia's ear, then kissed her neck. "And really, you two. That is enough. We don't need you guys sucking face in the background."
"Whatever, Bro," Ryder muttered, but he leaned further from Alyshia.
"Watch it, Zits," Heath said quietly. Ryder gave him a look, and they had some form of silent guy communication that always drove me insane. I ignored it and pressed forward.
"Tonight, ladies and gentlemen," I began, and Alyshia giggled at the Rusty phrase, "we are going to change history for Uglies everywhere. We're going to make the Pretties see that we deserve to be among them. We're going to make them know that we deserve to walk their streets and go to their bashes. We're going to make history tonight."
The excitement showed on their faces, despite my lame speech. It wasn't the best the speech I had made – I had given far better ones during school – but they knew I meant what I said. We did deserve to be with the Pretties. They could give the operation at twelve. I was fifteen and a half. I was impatient. I wanted to be Pretty. But above that, I wanted glory. I wanted to be remembered, like the Rusties we still studied in History Class. I wanted to be known. I wanted to be remembered. Because I knew I was different. I was smart. I was able. I, Tabitha Elizabeth Cable, was special.