A bag of trash was stolen from a business.

-Lake Oswego Review Police Blotter

The Earring

"That's her! Look at her. Ugh it's disgusting. She always has to be so perfect. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect body…" Christi scowled at the girl that walked past her spot on the floor confidently.

"What do you have against her? You're perfect too. Perfect hands, perfect artwo—" Sofi was cut off by a glare that could bring birds down from the sky.

"I swear, Christi. If looks could kill—" Once again, the look was administered.

"Shut up, Sofi. You don't know what happened between us. You have no idea. Would you like to hear how she made me like this?" She then fixed the look on a random passerby. He took one look at Christi and scuttled away like a cockroach from a flashlight.

"Yes, I'd like to know. Why are you so sour with Elena?" Sofi asked, truly intrigued at the slightest hint of feeling from Christi.

"Well… We used to be friends. She got her first boyfriend and drifted so far; she thought she was the hottest new stuff on the planet. Evidently, we don't talk." Sofi was silent. For a moment it seemed like she had opened a window for which she could peek through and see what Christi was like underneath the mask of out-of-style clothes paired with eccentric makeup and poofy hair. Sofi felt, for the first time, that she and Christi might have a little more in common than material likeness.

As Elena walked down the main hallway of the school, people waved and said her name to get her attention. She flipped her perfect hair over perfectly shaped shoulders, nodded and smiled, kept walking. When she passed a particular part of the hallway, one that was very familiar to her, one that had sorrow shoved into every crevice possible, she turned her perfect head straight and didn't even acknowledge the ones who called her. She ignored everything but the 'Exit' sign she so intently stared at with eyes the color of liquid gold.

She did not want to see Christi. She did not want to see what she used to have. She wanted to avoid that stare—that piercing look that made her feel so bad about drifting away. She had never wanted to drift, it just happened. After she started going out with Mason, she realized that she really enjoyed having lots of friends, not just a select few. Apparently, Christi felt differently and that was when the tension started to build.

Christi knew everything about Elena. From her daily habits to her most personal secrets. She knew that behind the beautiful, perfect, skinny little body lied a girl that had O.C.D. about how she looked, tried to impress because she didn't like criticism, and a girl who absolutely LOVED to eat cheese. Christi knew that secretly, on the weekends, Elena worked in a small, home-style cheese factory.

"Sofi! I have just realized a perfect plot of revenge! We could steal some trash from the cheese factory and spread it all over her lawn! Then people would know that she likes to eat cheese!" Christi seems more evil today, thought Sofi, I wonder if she would really do something like that. I mean, things like this happen all the time. Why is she so upset about it?

"Uhh, I guess that could work. But how will we steal it without getting caught?" Sofi was being dragged into this plan like a fly towards a bug light. The plan was bound to fail, like the fly doomed to fry to death.

"We shall watch. Watch like hawks do a small mouse in the grass. We will see who takes the trash out, and when! Then we will steal a bag, sort through it to make sure it is suitable for our cause, and spread it all. Over. Her. Lawn! BWAHAHAHA! AHHHHAAAHAHAHHA!" She laughed manically, beckoning Sofi to join in.

"Huh… Okay…. AHHHHHHAHAHAHAHA! BWAHAHAHAHABWAAAAAA! Hmmm… I think I'm done now, Christi…" Sofi scratched her head and avoided the looks from passing crowds by slightly dipping her head.

"BWAHAHAHA! AHHHHAAAHAHAHHA!" It seemed Christi could not stop. Her face was turning red, and a look of panic was coming over her.

"Uhh, Christi. You're not looking to good. You might want to stop now… Christi? Uhh… CHRISTI?!" Christi had suddenly gone limp and was slumped against the wall. Sofi nudged her and called her name. She snapped up and looked around cautiously.

"I'm okay. Don't let me laugh so long next time." Christi straightened her vest and patted down her black pants. She had never expected to pass out from lack of air while laughing manically.

Oh the joy of going to work! The joy of making CHEESE! It is so hands-on, so satisfying that at the end of the day you had accomplished so much. Elena loved making a mess, cleaning it all up, and having just the product of her labor sitting smack-dab in the center of the kitchen. It looked so… sophisticated. She worked at a small cheese factory on the outskirts of town. Sometimes, she worked as the cashier. Sometimes she worked in the back, making the cheese. Either way, she had as much fun as a monkey in a banana tree.

After putting on makeup, doing her hair, she put on the perfect accessories, including a headband, some bangles, and a necklace that matched her most favorite pair of earrings. They were little blue and gold blown glass balls with gold veins running through them like the veins of a pearl. Elena then got into her cherry-red Corvette and drove to work.

When she arrived, she said hello to the receptionist, punched in, and walked towards the locker room. As she walked past the cheese-making room, she looked up at who was working today, and fell. She had slipped on some of the cheese juice (as she called it) that was on the floor. She immediately recovered and stood up, her back wet with cheese juice, and hair tousled. She hurried on to the locker room to change. She put on her spare pair of clothes and her white chef's jacket, and went to work. Today she would be making the cheese.

Christi and Sofi sneaked up to a ledge near the factory to watch the man named Jim take out the trash. They then tiptoed down the hill, stumbling now and again, to initiate plan 'Revelation'. When they reached the edge of the first pool of light, Christi broke off and scurried through the light into the shadows on the other side. When she was finished humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme song, she gestured for Sofi to follow.

Once inside the dumpster area, the girls searched around for a bag big enough to cover Elena's lawn. They found one that was particularly large and smelly, and started to lug it towards home.

"Ouch, my fingers are getting tangled!"

"No, Sofi, stop it! You're going too fast! Noooooooo!" Christi shouted so loud that Jim the trash man poked his head out of the door.

"Hey, you kids, get away from here! Put that back!" He stepped out of the doorway and started to shoo them away.

"Heh, sorry man. We need this. It's for a good cause, mind you." Christi pushed Sofi into the bushes and dragged the bag with both arms. She tried to go faster by taking more steps, but ended up falling backwards into the bushes, the bag flying up and over. A loud crash was heard, then: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Cheese juice!"

After four hours of lifting, sifting, flavoring, and packaging, Elena walked back to the locker room to gather her belongings and check her hair and makeup. She opened her locker. 27… 36… 22… Click! She took off her jacket, removed her purse from the hook, and placed the jacket, lovingly folded, into the locker.

"Until tomorrow, my loves!" She said as she closed the door to the locker room. Walking to the restroom, she combed her hair out with her fingers and adjusted her headband. She looked at herself in the mirror and pushed her hair behind her ears.

"Wait. Didn't I have two earrings?" She checked again to make sure. She shook her hair to see if it was caught in the curls. There was only one. These were her favorite earrings! How could she lose one?! She started to retrace her steps from when she came in.

"Oh gosh, it could have come off when I was working!" She gasped. Her eyes became very large as she realized: "The cheese." Then she remembered that she had been wearing a hair net. She scrambled to where she entered, said hello to the receptionist, punched out, and walked towards the locker room. As she walked past the cheese-making room, she looked up like she did before, and fell. She slipped on some of the cheese juice again.

"Cheese juice! It must have fallen off when I fell on the cheese juice!" She turned over onto her hands and knees, her hands splashing in slimy cheese juice, and started frantically searching under everything lift-able. She looked under the table and the desk and the trashcan. The trashcan. Elena stood up and seized the trashcan like there was a million dollars in it. It was empty.

"Veronica, was the trash taken out today?" Elena panted at the receptionist.

"Yes, Elena. Already done. Like you asked." Veronica seemed bored, twisting her hair around her finger.

"Get. It. Back… NOW!" Elena leaned dangerously close to Veronica over the desk.

"O—Okay, Elena. I'll ask Jim. He took it out." She picked up the phone to dial, but Elena had already taken off in pursuit.

"JIM! Who is Jim anyway? JIIIIIMMMM! Bring me that trash!" She was running full throttle after the missing trash. When she found Jim, he was talking, quite flustered, on the phone.

"Yes, that's what I said. Yes, two girls. In all black. Stealing. My. Trash. What do you mean, hang up? That was my property! There was cheese in it! They could be plotting to steal our secret cheesy recipe! Do you know how horrible that would be for business?" He had started to scream.

So it was stolen. What luck. Elena, with slumped shoulders and a very cheesy smell about her, trudged dejectedly to her car.

"Hahaha we have really done it this time!" Christi stood triumphantly over Elena's desecrated lawn. It had cheese juice, chunks of milk curds, rejected blocks of cheese, and discarded packaging all over it. It was truly a frightful sight.

"Christi?" The discontent was apparent on Sofi's face.

"What? Oh, don't tell me you feel bad… Curses, you do. I knew I shouldn't have brought you along." Christi crossed her arms and turned away from Sofi.

"Christi. This is horrible. Look what we've done. What about the rest of Elena's family? How do you think they'll feel when they have to clean all of this up tomorrow? What are we going to do?" Sofi was now pacing like a tiger in a cage that was too small for it. She had her head in her hands and looked like she was really thinking hard.

"I'll tell you what we'll do. You are going to go home and I will clean this entire thing up. No need for you to do something you didn't want to do in the first place." Sofi could tell Christi was lying, but she didn't care. She just wanted to go home and take a nice hot shower.

"Promise you will?" Sofi wanted to attempt to do the right thing.

"Yes, honey. I'll do it all right now. Here, I'm going to start now. Watch me." Christi started to pick up empty wrappers and put them back into the garbage bag.

"Okay. I'm going to go home now. See you tomorrow, Christi." Sofi trudged away. Just then, a shimmer caught the moonlight amongst the cheese. Christi picked her way around the cheese to get to the sparkle. It was Elena's earring. Christi had given it to her for her fifteenth birthday. Christi felt… something… somewhere down very, very deep. Somewhere that hadn't felt in a very long time.

As Elena pulled up the driveway, she saw a mess of plastic and cheese on her lawn. Her mouth gaped and she almost ran right into the garage door. She parked, still looking at the pile of garbage. She stepped out of the car in disbelief and stood at the edge of the lawn.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Her call echoed like she was at the top of a valley.

"Wasn't that awesome last night, Sofi?! You should have seen her face when she saw it!" Christi nudged Sofi softly on the shoulder. This time, the roles were reversed and Christi was the recipient of a death glare.

"You said you'd clean it. You said I was right and you felt sorry we did it. Why did you lie to me, Christi? Seeing you do this now makes me wonder if you lie to me all the time! Did you lie about torturing that poor boy with seagulls? Oh, please tell me you lied about that!" Sofi was really putting her feelings out there for everyone to take a stab at.

"Well, uhhh… I didn't lie about the seagulls… But that's a different story. I knew you would only get in my way of revenge on Elena, so I had to ditch you somehow. You still don't understand my problem. Nobody can. And I will never be sorry for what I did to Elena. She was never sorry for just leaving me and never talking to me again." At this, Elena was seen walking down the staircase. People were gasping and stumbling backwards.

Elena's hair was ratty and tangled. Her eyes were puffy and her makeup was sloppy. It looked as if she had been crying all night long. Christi took a sharp breath in and stepped back to the wall for support. She reached her hand into her pocket and felt the familiar coolness of blue and gold blown glass on her fingertips.

"You have to talk to her, Christi. Look at her. She must have stayed up until midnight cleaning that mess up. You should really say sorry." Sofi's soothing talk seemed the most logical thing. Christi stepped forward, right in the path of a horrible looking girl. "Uhh… Hi, Elena. You okay?" Christi was very awkward with the old friend.

"No, Christi. I was up all night cleaning a mess some prankster left on my lawn. I couldn't sleep because I lost my favorite earring yesterday. I am tired, and I really don't feel like talking to you right now, Christi. See you later." Elena shuffled on with bad posture and a slight smell of cheese.

"No, wait Elena." Christi ran to catch up with Elena, "It was me who pulled the prank. I wanted to get revenge. But then I found your earring in there." She pulled the earring out of her pocket, "Just the fact that you still wore it and you just said it was your favorite one made me feel so bad. I really do wish I could have taken all of the things I've tried to do back. Like that snake in your shoe… yeah, that was me. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Elena." Christi had stopped walking beside Elena and was still muttering 'I'm sorry' when Elena came back.

"So it was you. That snake scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. I stayed up until two in the morning today. I am so tired, I could sleep standing up. You have made my life miserable, Christi. But I am willing to forgive you. Only on one condition." Elena stood a little straighter, "If you tell me why you are so angry with me, I will forgive you."

"Well… umm… Elena, I really don't know. It just seemed natural to me. I guess I might have been a little jealous of all your new friends. I mean, we were such a great pair." Christi was finally showing her true self.

"Good enough for me!" Elena took Christi into a giant bear hug.

"Awww, don't you love a happy ending?" Sofi stood by herself, looking triumphant.