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Survival

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Galinda Upland woke slowly, snuggling deeper into her lacy pillows and pink comforter. Her Ama would be knocking on the door soon, bringing her tea and telling her that breakfast was almost ready. Soon she would be dressed in one of her many expensive, fashionable outfits, and she would start yet another day in the life of sweet, beautiful, privileged Galinda Upland. The thought made her smile, but for now she was content to just cuddle into her giant, fluffy bed and drift back to sleep.

But this wasn’t her giant, fluffy bed. A small weight settled in her chest as she remembered that she wasn’t in Frottica, and she most certainly wasn’t in her luxurious bedroom. No, this room was much smaller. And it was shared with the most vile, cruel, green thing she had ever met. Galinda sighed. This, she remembered, was Shiz.

The blonde girl opened her eyes and stared out the window, her back facing her roommate’s bed. It was a Monday morning, her first day of classes at the university. Judging by the light, she still had plenty of time to get ready. For a moment, she just stayed in bed, listening for any movement from the other side of the room. When she heard nothing, she rolled over.

Her roommate’s bed was jammed into the corner of the room farthest from the window, though Galinda had no idea why. Perhaps the green freak hated sunlight. Yes, that would be just like her. The mattress itself was garbed in dark sheets and pillows—it was simply impossible to tell if they were green or navy or black—and had only one thin, woolen blanket. Although they had been here for only one weekend, the covers were already wrinkled, not to mention littered with books of various sizes. But despite all this horror, only one thing stood out to Galinda. The bed was empty.

A grin spread across the blonde’s face as she leapt from her own bed. Life at Shiz may not have had the best start, but that would all change now. She had worked too hard to get to the university to let anything stop her from succeeding. Her parents had wanted to marry her off as soon as she turned eighteen, and all of Frottica—Oz, most of the Gillikin—had expected her to oblige. But she had wanted to attend Shiz, instead. Sorcery had always fascinated her, and she wanted to become more than just another housewife. If she could learn magic, then she could get married and still do anything she wanted. It had taken a long time to persuade her parents, but the rich blonde could be surprisingly stubborn. She had shocked everyone by making it into Shiz. Despite all the odds, she was here, and not only was she going to become a sorceress, but she was going to be the prettiest, most popular girl on campus as well. And nothing, not even a green roommate, was going to ruin that.

In fact, she might even be able to use the situation to her advantage. Galinda paused for a moment, staring at her reflection as she carefully dabbed on some powder. She remembered very clearly the looks of sympathy everyone had given her when she was paired with Elphaba Thropp. Well, most of them had been sympathetic. The green freak herself had simply looked horrified, and Madame Morrible had merely glanced at her with contempt. Why the headmistress already disliked her was a mystery, but she shrugged it off. It was just another obstacle to overcome.

But if her classmates were as appalled by the green girl as they originally seemed, then maybe rising to the top of the social ranks would be easy. After all, everybody loved a martyr. Galinda smiled again, thinking of what everyone would say. Poor, sweet Galinda, stuck with that awful Elphaba girl. Why, she doesn’t deserve that horror!

Oh yes, things at Shiz were indeed going to get better from here.

 

***

 

Galinda saw no sign of her roommate that morning, which was just fine by her. She made her way to the café near Crage Hall, smoothing her hands over her soft pink dress and straightening the white belt that wrapped around her waist. No sooner had she walked through the door that heard her name being called out.

“Miss Galinda! Oh, Miss Galinda, over here!” Three girls sat at a table, each wearing stylish dresses and appropriate amounts of makeup. They were average compared to Galinda, of course, but pretty nonetheless. Galinda beamed at them as she made her way over.

“Why, Miss Pfannee!” she said, recognizing one of the girls from move in day. “How are you?”

“Simply wonderful, Miss Galinda. May I introduce you to Misses Milla and Shenshen?” The girls all shook hands and exchanged pleasantries as Galinda sat down.

“Miss Galinda, we’re dying to know,” Milla started, leaning in. “What’s it like rooming with that…that…”

“That awful green thing?” Galinda offered. “Even worse than you can imagine.”

Do tell us,” Pfannee said, grinning. Galinda puffed her chest up and did her best to look like a victim.

“Why, she’s terrible! Everything she owns is ancient—her clothes, her bed sheets, even the books she reads! She has no sense of style, of course, and her verdigris is simply nauseating.”

The other girls patted her hands, nodding seriously. The blonde went on, soaking up the attention. “But none of that would be so awful if she was a decent person. Do you know what I mean?”

“I can only imagine what kind of behavior a green person would exhibit,” Pfannee said, her nose in the air.

“Oh, she must be a horrendous soul,” Milla all but squealed.

“Pardon me,” a voice said. The four girls jumped as they saw Elphaba approaching. Galinda felt the blood rising to her cheeks.

“I thought I told you not to speak to me,” she said hotly.

A smirk tugged at the dark green lips. “My apologies, Miss Galinda. But I figured since you were already talking about me, then it was okay.”

“You know, it’s bad manners to just barge into a conversation,” Pfannee said, glaring at the green girl. “And eavesdropping is even worse.”

“I’m sorry, have we met?” Elphaba asked, her voice dripping with sickening sweetness. “I’m Elphaba. And you are?”

“Miss Pfannee, and I—”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Pfannee.” The green girl grabbed Pfannee’s hand and shook it, grinning at the horrified look on the rich girls’ faces. “Now, all pleasantries aside, I must ask you to keep all mention of me out of your oversized mouth. Gossiping is bad manners, you know. Or are the rules different for those who bought their way into high society?”

Pfannee opened her mouth, but no coherent response came forth. Elphaba laughed—a monstrous cackle that made the hairs on Galinda’s arms stand up. “Don’t hurt yourself now, Miss Pfannee,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll see each other later. If you come up with a response by then, do share.” With that, the green girl left their table and wandered out of the café. Pfannee glared at her retreating back, her mouth still open as her fists clenched the edge of the table.

“Miss Pfannee, people are beginning to stare,” Miss Shenshen whispered.

“Sweet Lurline, she is awful,” Milla said quietly.

“Indeed,” Galinda said miserably. “That is what I have to live with.”

Milla and Shenshen turned toward her, their faces full of sympathy, but Pfannee cut them off.

“No one should have to live with such a wicked creature!” she hissed. “Miss Galinda, I think something must be done to put Miss Elphaba in her place.”

Galinda could almost feel the color leaving her cheeks. “Miss Pfannee, I wouldn’t dare! While I agree with you, I must remind you that I’m the one who shares a room with her, and therefore I’d be the one to face whatever reaction she has!”

“She’s right, Pfannee. I certainly wouldn’t want to face the green bean’s wrath alone,” Milla said.

“But still,” Shenshen mused, “Surely there’s something we can do. Something harmless, just to let her know that she doesn’t own this place.”

Galinda hesitated. “I’m still not sure that’s necessary. I mean, all the students fear her anyway…”

“That’s it!” Pfannee said. She leaned in close, beckoning the others to do the same. “What worse punishment is there than social exile? We’ll make sure she never has a friend at Shiz. Why, with Miss Galinda as our girl on the inside, I’m sure we’ll have all the dirt on her needed to make some wonderful rumors!”

All four girls grinned. “Why, Miss Pfannee, you’re simply brilliant!” Milla exclaimed.

Shenshen nodded. “A plan as awful as its target!”

“Oh, that mean green thing will regret the day she decided to come to Shiz!” Galinda squealed, bouncing up and down in her seat.

Pfannee leaned back, looking quite pleased with herself. “So that’s settled. We can start right away. The café’s mostly empty—we can tell everyone in our classes how she followed Miss Galinda to breakfast and eavesdropped on her conversations. By the way, where are you ladies headed to first? I have life sciences.”

“Life sciences for me as well,” Shenshen answered, grabbing her bag.

“Me too!” Galinda clapped her hands together.

Milla gasped as she pulled out her schedule. “Oh, that’s my first class too!”

“Ladies,” Galinda said as they all stood. “I believe this is the start to a beautiful friendship.”