We called them the ‘Prideful Ones’ or the ‘Conceited Gang”. I remember that well, from school.
They liked the names, even if they were not kindly meant. They could afford to, for their pride arose from their social status. Every school has them, the ‘in’ group. The pre-requisites and qualities required for entry to the legion were mysterious and complex, but somehow some rose into their ranks and adorned themselves with that certain confidence that rankled with all we left outside the circle.
She was the worst and the best of them. I don’t know what her real name was, but she called herself Persephone. Fancied herself the bride of the devil. It was all a game to her, till far too late. Every lunch time she ate pomegranates to make her point.
She didn’t know what she was calling to her. None of them knew. They revelled in popularity that was mysterious and overwhelming. And they loved themselves, deciding only they were worthy of love.
Oddly we agreed. Schoolyards are strange like that. Our little personalities still so unformed, we’d just go along with things. And we’d call them vain behind their backs, but to their faces we’d be so sweet. Just in case. just in case one day they’d let us in.
When they all disappeared that day we were happy, finally, they had not. No-one knew what became of them, not really. Even when some bodies that might have been them were found. All too disfigured and burnt out to be sure. It was many years ago, before the days of DNA. And I’m so old now I can hardly remember.
Except what I do remember. That last day before they disappeared. Persephone in the playground, blowing me a kiss, like a joke on the air. I had a sense, even then it was the last we’d see of them. Like I saw Hades rise, winking at me, ready to drag her and her friends down.
Be careful what you wish for, I thought, looking at her.
But she always cared too much for herself to ever really take care.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2016