“What’s our timing for Finn’s party tonight?” Octavia asks while fixing her hair in the mirror.
Raven’s busy typing on her phone, so she only shrugs.
Octavia looks at Clarke expectant like they always look at her to decide things. It’s strange really. She is the one who constantly has to decide what they are doing and how, and yet they always seem to disagree with what she eventually decides.
“We have to be late of course,” Clarke tells them while slightly pouting her lips. She has the bad habit of biting on her lip, which results in them being cracked of course. Her mother hates is, so maybe that’s why she continues doing it. Although, it doesn’t make her lips prettier exactly.
“I heard he’s bringing back the ice luge,” Raven adds to the conversation. She tucks away her phone and joins the other two girls at the mirror in their school’s bathroom. Just like Octavia, she runs a hand through her hair. Clarke can only look at her jealousy. Everyone seems to love her blonde hair, but she doesn’t have as thick hair as Octavia and Raven.
“Oh please, do not throw up again,” Octavia laughs, while shaking her head slightly.
Clarke joins the laughter and Raven just looks extremely bothered.
“Can you guys forget that already, it was a one time mistake.”
Octavia and Clarke exchange a look, making clear to each other that they are never forgetting the incident.
Raven had been busy gathering courage to ask a guy out. She found that courage in the alcohol from the ice luge, but that ended badly. She ended up throwing up all over the guy. It’s safe to say they never went on a date after that.
Clarke’s eyes fall on a girl who is trying to hide herself as much as possible. It’s clearly a freshman who secretly looks up to the three girls with whom she’s sharing the bathroom. It seems arrogant, but those type of girls remind Clarke of groupies. Besides their obsessiveness, they tend to drive her crazy.
“Can I help you?” Clarke asks, her voice more arrogant than she would like. She deems it necessary in this situation.
Before the girl can react, the school bell rings. The three girls start to collect their stuff, when the door opens.
“Oh look, it’s Kendall and Kylie,” a familiar sarcastic voice fills the room.
Clarke shares an annoyed look with Octavia in the mirror. Of course, Lexa would interrupt their peaceful break.
Octavia and Raven don’t know that Clarke used to be friends with Lexa. They don’t really need to know. Lexa and Clarke were a few years old when they met in the playground close to their primary school. They had a short friendship, which ended quickly after Lexa started hanging out with those burnouts. Her new social group were the last people Clarke wanted to be associated with. Even at that age, she was more than aware of the consequences of her interactions with people. Her mother made sure of that.
Clarke and her friends don’t even respond to Lexa and just pass her while giving her a dirty look. Lexa doesn’t seem impress, although she never really does. Just when Clarke is about to leave the bathroom, she quickly looks back.
“Not the friendliest bunch, are they?” the girl says to Lexa, who reacts by blowing smoke in the girl’s face.
A disappointed sigh combined with a small amused chuckle escapes her mouth. It’s no surprise that Lexa would be vaping in the bathroom.
“What are you laughing about?” Raven asks curiously - always afraid to miss out on something.
Clarke just shakes her head to let her know it’s not important. “Nothing.”
Raven doesn’t seem convinced, but she has no time to press because Octavia beats her to it.
“I need new clothes for the party though. Can we go to the mall after school?”
Her two friends once again look at her for confirmation. “Sure,” Clarke lets them know.
“Sweet,” Raven responds, before waving at Clarke and Octavia and turning a corner to get to her class.
Octavia and Clarke continue walking to their shared class. In the hallway, Clarke notices how Octavia’s eyes linger on a big guy leaning against the lockers. His head is shaved and his dark eyes are intense. Clarke has to admit she has never seen the guy. She wants to ask Octavia what that’s about, but they are interrupted by Finn who throws his arm around Clarke.
“Hey babe,” he whispers into Clarke’s ear.
She knows it appears sweet, but Clarke can feel her toes curl just because Finn is near her. She liked him. She really did, but the last month things started to change. He started to annoy her and there were even days in which she tried to avoid her own boyfriend. Finn is clueless to all of that when he presses his lips to her.
“Excited about the party tonight?” he asks her. He clearly feels like he is the king of high school by throwing a highly anticipated party.
Clarke just thinks it’s sad that his dad continues to allow these parties because he wants to make up for divorcing his mother and bringing home another young woman every week. She never tells Finn that - of course.
“Yeah, I can’t wait!” Clarke says, hopefully the faked excitement in her voice comes across as sincerely.
“Good. I just got a text that the ice luge arrived,” Finn tells her. He is clearly proud of arranging that.
“That’s so cool!” Clarke hates how shallow she sounds. It seems a bit sad to her that the highlight of some high school party is an ice luge, but that’s just her life.
“I just hope Raven doesn’t throw up again,” Finn thinks aloud. “We had to change the carpet after that, because they weren’t able to remove the stain.”
Clarke snickers. “I will keep an eye on her,” she promises him.
“I know you will,” Finn whispers husky to her, as if it’s something attractive to say. He goes in for a kiss again, but Clarke just bends back enough so his lips only slightly touch hers.
“I see you tonight. Wear something pretty for me,” he says with a wink. Clarke sighs when she watches him leave.
Clarke strolls around the mall. She’s separated from Octavia and Raven. They wanted to go to another store and Clarke told them she quickly needed to run an errand for her mother and went the other way. They know her well enough to know that she would never have to buy something for her mother, but they didn’t care enough to question her. Clarke didn’t mind either. It gives her the opportunity to do what she came here to do.
She enters one of the bigger stores they have at the mall. It’s one of the first things she learnt. Never steal from small stores. It’s easier to notice someone putting something in their pocket when there are only a few customers than when the store is full of customers.
She walks to the department with glasses. With fake interest, she looks at the different montures. She has no idea why she wants to steal a pair of sunglasses. It’s been a while, she guesses.
It takes a few minutes before an employee joins her and asks her if she can help her. Clarke follows the saleswoman to the counter.
“Can I see that one?” she asks, pointing to one of the ugliest sunglasses she has ever seen.
The saleslady unlocks the case and carefully puts the sunglasses on the counter. It gives Clarke time to look at the saleslady. She’s the same age as her mother, she guesses. And while her mother knows how to hide her misery with a fake smile, the saleswoman can clearly not. The corners of her mouth are permanently down and a look of constant impatience has taken over her eyes.
“Wait, those too,” Clarke says while pointing randomly at some other sunglasses. “And those.”
Clarke continues this until there are six pairs of sunglasses placed on the counter. While randomly picking, she made sure that she actually chose a pair that she wanted.
“I like your blouse, by the way,” Clarke smiles sweetly at the saleswoman. It’s clear she yearns for compliments. “Where did you buy it?”
The woman looks surprised at her, but it’s obvious she loves the compliment. A careful smile appears on her face but quickly disappears again when another employee softly touches her shoulder.
“It’s Bran on the phone,” she whispers, but Clarke can hear it. She has to suppress the devilish smile that is about to take over her face. This is her opportunity.
“Tell him I’m with a customer,” the saleswoman snares at her colleague.
Clarke gasps indignantly. “No, no, no. Go ahead.”
She watches the saleswoman leave and can’t help but feel sorry for her. Bran is probably the worst guy ever, who just drinks beer and watches football. A bit like Finn actually. It strikes Clarke that she may even be more similar to the saleswoman than she would like. Now is not the time to think about that, however. Once the saleslady has turned her back to her, Clarke grabs the sunglasses she picked out and slides it easily in her pocket.
It’s important to not look around. It just makes you look guilty. Another big sign that you’re doing something you’re not supposed to do is walking away too quickly. No normal customer who actually wants to buy something walks away while the saleslady is busy with something else. They wait for her to come back, so that’s exactly what Clarke does.
When the other woman has returned, the corners of her mouth even lower than before, Clarke gives her the sweetest smile possible. “I always have a hard time choosing. I’ll come back later. Thank you! Bye!”
She waves and then wills herself not to walk away too fast. Walking out of the store with a trinket in her pocket is probably the most exciting part of shoplifting. It’s a bit like gambling. Are you going to get caught or not? Clarke casually puts her hands in her pockets, but she’s actually busy with removing the sensor and throwing it away. She walks past the electronic gates without any problems. Most of the time, those gates are fake anyway.
She turns around the corner and finally lets a smile take over. She did it again and she starts to wonder if she’s getting better or if everyone in stores just seems to get dumber.
Octavia and Raven agreed to meet her for fro-yo afterwards, so Clarke quickens her pace. They will only get suspicious when she’s late. She doesn’t get far, however.
A big hand lands on her shoulder like the sword of Damocles. With an even sweeter smile, Clarke turns around. She’s face to face with a big security guard. He looks at her just as sweetly. His smile, however, is crueller.
“You have to come with me,” he says. His voice is a lot higher than Clarke would have expected and if she wasn’t in such a fucked up situation, she would actually laugh at him.
“Is everything okay?” Clarke feigns innocence.
Of course, he doesn’t fall for it.
“I don’t think so.”
Clarke’s heart is beating faster than it ever did, but a weird feeling of calmness falls over it. Isn’t this what she was waiting for. To finally get caught? It’s a bit like drugs. You use, just waiting to overdose. Right?
Maybe that’s the whole point of living anyway. You keep going, waiting for everything to fall apart and once it does, it’s just your new life. Is that what her new life will be? Juvie, maybe? Do minors go to jail for shoplifting? Despite shoplifting regularly, she doesn’t even know the consequences. She didn’t dare to look it up, afraid they will look at her search history. Who 'they' are, she didn’t exactly know. It’s not like the security guard is allowed to look at her internet history.
While her minds keep spinning, they reach the store. The saleswoman is looking at her gleefully. It’s probably the highlight of her day to have caught a shoplifter. Clarke has no time to feel sorry for her though. She has much bigger problems, like the hand of the security guard disappearing in her pocket and returning with the sunglasses in his hands. The guard shares a look of triumph with the saleswoman and Clarke feels her heart stop beating for a few seconds. This is really happening.
“Not so innocent now, are we?” the security guard chuckles as he pushes her towards the office in the back of the store.
It is as if she can see her life falling apart before her. They are going to call her mother without question. Will she get a criminal record? Time in juvie? Everyone in school will find out. Her social life is as good as over. Yet, she doesn’t feel remorseful. People like to steal things once in a while. Everyone does, right? She just has the misfortune of being caught.
Everything will be alright, she tries to tell herself. She can only watch how the guard calls her mother. The sunglasses lay between them on the table as a reminder of what caused all this mess. A pair of fucking sunglasses, really? They live in Portland. It’s not like the sun ever really shines around here. She should have stolen an umbrella. That would have been useful at least.
Her mind drifts away. How would one steal an umbrella? It’s not like you can put it in your pocket. Hide it under her coat maybe? If she wore one of those longer rain coats, it would be possible to hide the umbrella and it wouldn’t even look weird.
The guard sits across Clarke and just looks at her like she’s an interesting piece of art at a museum, although she doubts he has ever been to one. Security guards don’t strike her as being interested in art.
Her mother gets there much too quickly. Clarke actually enjoyed the serenity of the grey office with the impending doom behind the door.
“Clarke!” Her mother’s voice fills the room and it’s the first time Clarke actually realises what mess she’s in. Leave it to her mother to make her miserable after being caught shoplifting.
Clarke turns around and sees that her mother isn’t alone. An attractive man in a suit is following her mother in the room. He stands beside her mother confidently. Unlike her mother, he looks at her gratefully.
Grateful? The situation got even weirder. Who is this man? And why would he look pleased to be there?
“Sir, I’m sure there’s no need to make a big mess out of something so small,” the man interrupts the silence of confusion.
“Small?” the guard scoffs. “She stole a pair of sunglasses that cost more than 300 dollars.”
300 dollar? She didn’t even know that. It would have been one of her most expensive trinkets. It’s a real shame she got caught.
Her mother and the mysterious man, who turns out to be a lawyer, start to discuss with the guard. Clarke just zones out. They don’t ask her anything. She’s treated like a child. Maybe she still is, despite her wanting not to be.
“Do you agree?”
Clarke shakes her head confused. “What?”
Her mother sighs. “Do you agree to go to the Shoplifters Anonymous meetings for the next two months?”
“Do I have a choice?” Clarke asks.
“Fine, I guess.” She knows she shouldn’t be playing the part of an ungrateful child. She didn’t know how, but the man got her out of a lot of trouble.
Shoplifters Anonymous it is.
Clarke was allowed to go to Finn's party.
It is a good reminder of how messed up her relationship with her mom is. As long as Clarke keeps up appearances, it doesn't really matter what she does.
Besides, her mother had plans with Marcus, the lawyer. Although Clarke would never admit it, Marcus was actually pretty decent. He drove Clarke and her mom home and stayed to drink some tea. They even had a good time, which seems ironic after she had been caught shoplifting.
Apparently, that's her life. Almost getting arrested and then going to a party and drinking tea as if nothing happened.
Clarke is seated on a sofa with Finn's arm around her. The party is a good few hours underway and Clarke is starting to feel the effect of all the alcohol.
She started the party with downing a few shots because Octavia and Raven kept pressing on about where she went earlier that day. Clarke couldn't really tell them, so she was glad they came to the conclusion that she left to have sex with Finn. It took a few shots before they agreed to that conclusion, hence the drunken feeling that started to creep up on her.
While others might get extremely honest or emotional when they are drunk, Clarke gets melancholic and even philosophical. If she ever wants to start a career as a philanthropist, she just needs to get drunk, which is what is happening right now.
She looks around her group friends and starts to wonder why they are even friends. Raven is interested in mechanical stuff, which is the last thing Octavia and Clarke interest. And while Octavia gets excited about sports, Raven and Clarke herself have never seen a gym from the inside. And Clarke? She likes to paint, but nobody needs to know that.
The artistic people at her school are all a bit alternative. Clarke can't deny that she never laughed at a remark some of her friends made about the art group. So, are they really friends, or are they just a group of teenagers that pretend to be friends because they are all pretty and somewhat extraverted.
"What are you thinking about?" Finn asks her with a sly smile.
She gets his sexual innuendo, but she pretends like she has no clue. "Just drunk thoughts," she reassures him, which is the wrong thing to say.
His somewhat attractive smile turns into a smirk. "I like to know more about those thoughts."
Clarke suddenly gets very hot and not in a good way. Finn's presence, the way his arm always seems to be around her, his warm breath against her cheek. It's all too much and too suffocating.
"I need some fresh air," Clarke erupts and she jumps up and almost runs outside.
Of course, Finn follows her.
"What is it, babe? Did you get too hot?" He winks at her.
"Can you please leave me alone," Clarke whispers. She can't deal with him right now. She's had a shitty day and she doesn't even want to be at this party right now.
"Why are you always such a drama queen?" Finn asks annoyed. It's one of his sudden mood swings.
“I am not,” Clarke retorts, starting to get really annoyed.
“Look, why do you even bother coming if you’re going to be such a bitch?” Finn snarls.
Clarke feels herself getting scared, but she pushes it away otherwise it would feel like she’s letting Finn win.
“You’re being offensive.”
“What?” He follows when she tries to walk away. “Come on, let’s go back inside.”
Clark can feel the desperation taking over. “Finn, I just want to go,” she exclaims. She hates how weak and pathetic she sounds, but that’s the least of her concern right now.
Finn is going full in the attack right now. “What’s going on? You used to be more fun,” he says, knowing that it will hurt her.
Clarke isn’t going to let him know that it indeed did. “You used to be less of a dick,” she answers back.
Before she knows it, Finn grabs her arm and squeezes. It hurts, it really hurts. Clarke tries to wriggle away, but he’s too strong.
“You’re hurting me,” Clarke mumbles weakly.
He holds her arm for a while. Squeezing even more and looks at her with eyes full of rage. Clarke starts to wonder if this is the point at which he will hit her for the first time, but he lets go of her arm and scoffs before walking away.
Clarke takes a shaking breath and recollects herself, so she can go.
While fighting against her tears, she tries to leave the party as quietly as possible. It’s hard not to be recognized by someone, but she actually manages to walk towards her car without someone trying to talk to her. Well, almost. She can see her car from the porch and she quickens her pace, not really noticing the people around her anymore. It happens in a second and before she can even see the big guy, she feels liquid spreading all over her.
“Shit!” she gasps. She looks down and sees the red liquid all over her white top, which she stole a few weeks ago.
Tonight is the first night she’s wearing it and tonight is the night that she can throw it away because red wodka just ruins your clothes. She looks up to see whoever is the culprit when she meets friendly but scared big brown eyes.
It’s the guy Octavia was ogling earlier in school.
“Perfect,” she mumbles, before pushing past him. Now, she really wants to go home.
She just sits down at the side of the road and grabs her phone to call herself an Uber. She sees she has a text from her mom. As if her night couldn’t get any worse.
Mom: Tomorrow: first SA meeting, 11:30. Location attached.
Clarke really doesn’t want to be reminded of that, but now she can add that to the pile of shit of tonight. The last thing she wants is to sit around with a bunch of losers and talk about stealing stuff. It’s probably the only thing interesting about their lives, but she has a lot more going on. Besides, what if someone recognizes her? She’s doomed.
“Fucking Shoplifters Anonymous,” she mutters.