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Home > Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)(4)

Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)(4)
Author: Sara Shepard

Courtney noticed Ali’s blue wedges sitting by the door and slipped them on. To ensure her mother would see exactly where she was—and where her sister wasn’t—she casually knocked another plate off the shelf. As it fell with a loud, hard-to-ignore crash, Courtney pushed the screen door open and watched as the girls, who were now arguing loudly, fell silent and looked up. By the intimidated, reverent expressions on their faces, she knew she already had them fooled. Of course they thought she was Ali.

“You can come out,” she yelled in the most confident voice she could muster.

The girls didn’t move.

“Seriously, I know someone’s there,” she said. “But if you’ve come for my flag, it’s gone. Someone already stole it.”

Spencer emerged from the bushes first. The others followed. And then it just . . . happened. They assumed she was Ali, and they asked her questions. Answers spilled from Courtney’s mouth so naturally, like this was a role that was perfect for her. And when Mrs. DiLaurentis appeared on the porch, her gaze flickered cautiously at the girls in the yard—these definitely weren’t Ali’s friends. But when she looked at her daughter, she didn’t suspect a thing. She just assumed Courtney was Ali. And when she closed the door again, the family was in the car within minutes. They drove away. Just like that.

Courtney was so excited and nervous and scared that she could barely keep up her apathetic act with the girls in the yard. She felt like she was about to burst. She felt like giving every tree in the yard a huge hug.

By the time Courtney returned to the house, she felt like she’d just run the distance to the Radley and back. Her head felt light. Her limbs felt heavy. She looked around the kitchen. Pieces of the plates were still on the floor. A flower vase had been knocked over, too. The quiet house seemed to reverberate with the phantom sounds and voices of what had just transpired. Violent, desperate screams echoing in the air. A scuffle to get into the car. A protest that they had the wrong twin.

She walked through the silent rooms, her sister’s wedges clomping on the floor. Her plan had worked. But suddenly, panic struck her. Now she had to keep it up. This wasn’t something that might only last a few days or weeks before people caught on that the wrong girl was at the Preserve. She had to figure out a way to stay home forever.

She ran upstairs to her sister’s bedroom, taking the stairs two at a time. Her gaze scanned Ali’s black-and-white bedspread, the cutout magazine ads and pictures of her friends on the walls, the bulging closet full of clothes. She darted to Ali’s bed and slid her hand under the mattress. Ali’s diary was buried precisely in the middle, just as it had been yesterday. She sat down, opened to where she’d left off, and read.

But when she got to the end, the fizzy feeling in her stomach had intensified. The diary was all about Naomi Zeigler and Riley Wolfe, and it made a lot of shadowy references to secrets and inside jokes that Courtney would have no way of knowing. There was no way she could remain friends with Naomi and Riley—she’d have to ditch them and form a new clique. Only, who?

The four girls in the yard popped into her head. Spencer, Aria, Emily, and that last girl, the chubby one. She ran to Ali’s fifth-grade yearbook and scoured the pages. Hanna—that was her name. They hadn’t signed her yearbook—none of them knew Ali well. Perfect.

Slam.

Her head whipped up, and she shoved the diary back under the mattress. Only an hour had passed. Had they returned already? Had they figured it out?

She peeked out the front window. There was a black car chugging at the curb; she couldn’t see the driver. Footsteps sounded across the kitchen floor, then creaked on the stairs. She remained stock-still as whoever it was padded down the hall. A figure appeared in her doorway, and she almost screamed.

Jason looked at her with narrowed eyes. “Did they already take her?”

Courtney nodded, still not daring to breathe.

Jason’s mouth became small and tight. “Well, I guess you’re happy now, huh, Ali?”

He shook his head and continued toward his room. The door slammed loudly, rattling the walls. A few seconds later, the opening bars of an Elliott Smith song blared.

Courtney ran her hands down the length of her face. He’d called her Ali.

She walked to the mirror. The girl in the glass wore a deep-pink shirt and wedge heels. She had glossy hair, a heart-shaped face, and an impish smile. After a moment, she threw back her head and tossed her hair over her shoulder, just the way Ali did, and then gasped. She’d nailed it.

Euphoria washed over her like a tidal wave. She was going to rule the school. Become fabulous. Turn into the best Alison DiLaurentis possible. She deserved it, damn it. And her sister? She thought of Ali’s face as her parents shoved her into the car, the life she would lead in the Preserve. But what was done was done. And it was only fair.

She stood up straighter, admiring the girl in the mirror. Suddenly, she remembered something, ran back into the guest room, opened the top drawer of the ugly bureau, and pulled out the silver ring she’d stolen last night when Ali had taken it off to wash the dishes. She pulled it out and held it to the lamp. A small A was engraved into the face. Smiling to herself, she slid the ring onto her right pointer finger, the same finger Ali wore it on.

Then she stared at the girl in the mirror again. “I’m Ali,” she said to her reflection. “And I’m fabulous.”

1

THE PRINCESS OF ROSEWOOD DAY

Alison DiLaurentis strode down the hallway at Rosewood Day Middle School, her kitten heels clacking, her blond hair bouncing, and her plaid uniform skirt riding high on her thighs. The earth science teacher poked his head out his classroom door and raised his eyebrows. The overhead lights, which made everyone else look washed-out and pale, brought out the honey tones in Ali’s skin and the green flecks in her eyes. Her footsteps seemed to march in time with the school’s “between classes” classical music. And as she rounded the corner toward the cafeteria, the crowds parted for her as they might a regal queen.

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