Mitzy Cole suffered from something many high school girls suffered from, she was blossoming. While this was natural and wonderful in so many ways that even she was unable to fully comprehend, Tracy Colter, Janice Melton and Brin Whitmire found this to be totally unacceptable.
While high school, structurally, allows for the common progression of students from grade to grade, year to year, it seems to do little to accommodate the varied levels of development of its inmates beyond the academic.
Mitzy, Tracy, Janice and Brin had known each other since the 5th grade. In 6th and 7th grade, they were fairly thick, sharing secrets and pizzas over random sleepovers, going to skating parties, exchanging friendship bracelets and giggling until they could barely breathe. They hugged and cried a bit when 8th grade split them up and 9th grade brought about the reunion of the other three, leaving Mitzy on the side to figure things out on her own.
There are a million stories of that mystical time, those one or two summers, when kids seem to go from awkward kid to awkward more adult looking kid loaded with hormones and confusion. In May or June they go away all geeky and wobbly and they come back in August all buff and disenchanted. Nature is either cruel in not letting all kids advance at the same rate to level the playing field, or smart and calculating by knowing that the rest of the world could not handle all of that condensed development in one fell swoop so it meters it out for the safety of all.
Mitzy was clearly on a different track from the other three, who had physically matured quite a bit heading into 9th grade. They had discovered make-up and shopping at Calification, a store that brought the styles of California to Billings. You needed more money to shop there, which they apparently had. Tracy began to pull together a small group of like-minded shoppers with Janice and Brin as her lieutenants and the other girls as her minions.
Mitzy believed that whoever was putting the highlights in Tracy’s hair was using something unnatural that was warping her perception of the world and her place in it. To her credit, Tracy assumed power quickly. She was taller than her recruits were, she was quicker when it came to smart remarks and practical lies, and she had a dangerous stare. Benji Coleman says he swore he saw that very stare melt a glass in the cafeteria once.
Mitzi had been shorter than most of the girls heading into 9th grade. She liked to read and mostly kept to herself until the circumstances of the cafeteria and biology gave her the opportunity to create a few potential friendships. She hated the clothes from Calification, so she wore her usual array of t-shirts and sneakers. She was comfortable, smart, and not much of a threat to the power trio and her minions.
But that was 9th grade, and when the doors opened that August and Mitzy stepped into 10th grade, she herself felt very much the same…on the inside, but those around her noticed many changes. She had grown a solid two inches, decided to let her hair grow out a bit longer and she did some more experimenting with make up. Her overall style was similar, but she wore her clothes differently. Different enough that it drew Benji Coleman out of his conversation with Matt Billings about the latest Sizerman comic book long enough to say, “Hey Mitz…wow!”
It happened that, while he intended nothing of the sort, Benji’s ‘wow’ was just loud enough, and just close enough to Tracy Colter to draw her attention.
Ever on guard, Tracy whipped her head around, appearing casual and disinterested as if she was flipping her hair, to see what source this wow created. When she saw the new girl at her locker, she stopped. That wasn’t a new girl at all. It took a moment, but after watching a series of double takes from others passing her by to confirm what they were looking at, it clicked…Mitzy Cole.
In that second of recognition, even Tracy would have been hard pressed to answer the harder question of why, but Mitzy Cole, for doing nothing more than brushing her hair differently and growing a bit taller became a target.