Mean girls are mean girls where ever you go and Stephanie Monarch was the reigning Queen bee of Dalewood High. She was tall and thin, with thick auburn hair and emerald eyes and a tongue as sharp as a knife. She ruled with an iron fist and all who crossed her were crushed under the weight of her popularity and complete lack of sympathy for anyone other than herself. Spoiled since birth by a rich father and an accommodating mother, she felt the world should worship her, fear was just as acceptable.
By the time Stephanie, and it was always Stephanie, never Stef, was 10 years old, she had managed to get every nanny ever hired to care for her, twenty-seven in all, fired.
“One day,” one of the last nannies had informed the Monarch’s as she packed her bags “One day you’ll wake up and see what kind of monster that kid is.” Stephanie had simply smiled her beguiling and truly innocent smile and her parents had the woman escorted off of their property. No other nanny or housekeeper would work for them after hearing the stories of the red headed terror.
At twelve, she’d had a piano teacher fired because the woman refused to give her Persian cat to Stephanie who wanted the cat with the soft blue grey fur. She’d repeatedly asked for the cat and had even gone so far as to accuse the woman of striking her.
When she was fifteen, Stephanie decided that she wanted to be a cheerleader. It was only fitting that she was Captain, even if they already had a captain. Margo Newman was a five foot two ninety-eight pound ball of pep who had taken dance and gymnastics from the age of four. She was a dynamo and had managed to take their team to National Championships twice and had gotten a full scholarship to University of Louisville during her tenure. During the first practice her senior year, Margo had been injured when she slipped on a before unseen wet spot on the gym floor and breaking her leg in three places and fracturing her skull.
The injury was devastating. Three months, three metal pins and two surgeries later, Margo still walked with a limp and could no longer dance or tumble as she once had. She suffered from dizzy spells and had trouble with depth perception. The doctors didn’t know if the damage was permanent, but she would need therapy for months. She had to forfeit her scholarship and ended up living with her parents for three years before she finally moved away for college. Everyone knew that Stephanie was responsible. No one could prove it and they were too afraid to even try.
During her senior year as Queen bee a new insect moved into her line of fire. The pixie like new student Gypsy Rocque or The Roach, as Stephanie preferred. The Roach had come into Stephanie’s crosshairs during homecoming the year Stephanie, now a senior was the only choice for Queen. She would be voted Queen and her perfect king would be Todd Marks. Todd was tall, dark haired with deep blue eyes and broad shoulders and mowed lawns in town for extra money. During the warm month you could see grown women watching a shirtless Todd as he worked shirtless in the hot sun. He was smart and funny and Stephanie had let it be known that she had designs on him, which meant hands off.
The only problem with that was the fact that Todd only had eyes for the petite and darkly exotic Gypsy Rocque which baffled Stephanie. Gypsy was short with big brown eyes and thick dark hair that always seemed to be tousled and unkempt. She wore jeans and vintage t-shirts, converse sneakers and was always covered in paint or charcoal. She spoke in a deep raspy voice and had a tattoo on her inner wrist of a moth. Gypsy was quickly becoming the Glenda the Good to her Wicked Witch of the West and in Stephanie Monarch style she planned on taking the little roach down.
Her plan to eliminate Gypsy did not go as she had planned and if the results of eliminating Margo had been devastating, her plot against Gypsy was the last straw. Homecoming was always a hug deal in Dalewood full of pomp and pageantry a full weekend of activity. There was the presentation of the court to the student body in the auditorium of Friday afternoon, then the parade on Saturday that led to the big game and a dance that night where the winning couple would be crowned.
Stephanie’s plan was put into action on Friday afternoon. Alphabetically, Stephanie Monarch was introduced before Gypsy Rocque and had a perfect view as her plan went into action. All it took was two well-timed buckets and a credit card to execute. She watched as the elfin Gypsy was introduced to the clamoring crowd, they screamed and stood and whistled as she shyly waved to them from the stage. And just when the noise hit its crescendo and Gypsy made her way center stage it happened.
What looked like millions of cockroaches descended upon the girl in a squirming waterfall. The sight was terrifying and the smell was even worse. They were in her hair and under her clothes, Gypsy screeched as they bit her face and neck. She gasped for air, her lungs tight as she turned to look at Todd who waited in the wings. He ran to her just as the worse of it happened Gypsy fell backwards off of the stage to the orchestra pit seven feet below.
Crowds rushed forward to assist her, someone yelled to call for help as chaos erupted in the auditorium. Todd raced to the edge of the stage to see an bleeding and broken Gypsy, her right arm hanging at a bizarre angle, her face and neck swelling as her breathing came in in strained bursts.” She needs an Epi Pen,” Todd was yelling as the crowd lifted the lifeless girl.
Stephanie Monarch didn’t hear the rest; she was standing center stage, laughing hysterically.
“You think this is funny? She’s allergic to cockroaches, she could die and her arm is broken. Don’t you feel – anything?” Todd asked and Stephanie’s response was to flip her hair and smirk.
“One day,” he said “your outside will reflect just how much of a monster you are.”
Retribution for such an act was swift and devastating, and Stephanie Monarch never saw it coming.
By the end of the day, no one would even look at the demon queen of Dalewood High. She was no longer feared, but openly scorned by her classmates. They sneered as she sauntered down the halls her head held high, accusing her in loud whispers of nearly killing the nicest, sweetest girl in the entire town. What had Gypsy ever done to her to deserve such treatment? Who did Stephanie Monarch think she was? She should go to prison. But as with most of her machinations, no one could prove that she had done such a ghastly thing. And without proof nothing could be done. Sure she had been the only one to laugh at Gypsy’s misfortune but there is no crime in being an evil bitch.
It started as a blemish, a small red mark on her left shoulder that she stared at that night in the bedroom mirror. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought it were a freckle. Sighing, she ignored it as she hopped into a nice steaming bubble bath. Tomorrow would be a new day and Queen Stephanie would be back on her slightly tarnished throne.
She awoke in an ice cold bath, her eyes itchy and the bubbles long faded. She must have dozed off, which wasn’t unusual. She had often drifted off in the bath, but this sleep was different. Groggily and slightly pained, she pulled herself out of the icy water to find that her muscles her. She looked down to see that her arms and legs were now covered in a fine dusting of small red pimples. She frowned as they began to itch and some even hurt a little. Shaking her head, she assumed it must be an allergy to the perfume in her bath oil. It would be ironic, she thought.
Ignoring the pain and the growing itch all she could think about was her bed and the fact that she wanted to go back to sleep. She found it hard to cross the room, her legs stiff every move she made felt as if the muscle would burst through the skin. She took slow pained steps, the feel of the carpet under her bare feet was excruciating and she had no idea that as she moved, her flowing cascade of auburn hair was falling out in thick clumps. By the time she finally managed to lay naked and wet across the bed, she was nearly bald, her scalp raw and red. The feel of the cool pillow on her swollen face was soothing and the itching in her eyes intensified. It felt as if stray lashes had embedded in her lids and she could not dislodge them. All she did manage to do, without her knowledge, was leave a trail of jagged scratches on her once perfect face. The face that had been in turns angelic and demonic was a red swollen, pulpy mess.
She dreamt that these pimples had grown to be the size of eggs, red and painful beneath her smooth alabaster skin. That they hurt as they finally broke through her irritated skin and oozed blood and pus onto her designer sheets. The pain in her head and face were excruciating as the bumps continued to grow and burst, grow and burst the cycle continuing until sometime around dawn. That was when the cramps in her arms and legs began to intensify, the only relief she could find was to roll into a ball and weep. By then she’d managed to find comfort in a dark cocoon of warmth. Her mother must have heard her nightmare and came to cover her. Relaxing in this dark warm softness, she was finally able to relax into a dream free and relatively painless sleep.
Mrs. Monarch sat at the breakfast table, pouring her second cup of decaf when she looked at the clock. The Homecoming parade was in a couple of hours and they had yet to see their daughter. She mentioned this to her husband who looked at his watch in surprise.
Stephanie had been on the Homecoming court since her freshman year and every year she was dressed and ready by now. She should have been in the driveway with her friends as they decorated the convertible BMW that would roll through the town square with Stephanie perched prettily upon the back seat.
She should have already demanded that her escort, always the best looking boy in her grade, was waiting for her with a corsage and tie the exact shade of her suit. Her hair would be pulled back and a lovely hat specially made to rival those at the Kentucky Derby perched on her head. Yet, there was no sign of the future queen.
“Do you think she could be ill? Wasn’t there an incident at the school yesterday with that poor little Rocque girl?” Mrs. Monarch asked. They stared at each other for a second before they rose to check on their perfect princess.
A knock on her bedroom door yielded no response and Mrs. Monarch began to seriously worry. Slowly, they opened the door and saw that the drapes were closed. Squinting into the darkness, the sound of something moving, fluttering made their hearts race. Something large, near the bed moved and the noise, that fluttering started again. Anxiously, Mr. Monarch reached for the light switch casting an unnatural light across the pink and yellow room.
Mrs. Monarch looked at the scene in confusion, one hand clutching her husband’s arm as the scream bubbled up from deep within her stayed trapped in her throat. There was a trail from the bathroom to the bed of blood and what looked like sheathes of skin. There were thick coils of auburn hair and the smell of rot and death filled the room. Covering his mouth with his hand, Mr. Monarch stared at what he could only assume was an opened cocoon on his daughters bed. Confused and terrified he too fell to his knees at the sight of the monster in the corner. It was just over five feet tall with a wing span of double that, its buggy eyes staring at them, the body twisted into some sort of hybrid, but the face, the face beneath the bald pate was unmistakable and the effect was monstrous. It stood on spindly legs, cowering in the corner, near a mirror; the mouth moved exposing a sickeningly toothless maw and Mrs. Monarch did manage a scream at the grotesqueness of it all. The bright orange wings, the black fur covering what was an amalgam, of girl and insect. Her eyes had moved to the sides of her head making it disconcerting to look her in the eye. It was a visceral and disturbing site and all they could do was scream in abject horror.
Stephanie Monarch had become a butterfly.