She always knew where to sit- the rules were just there, hanging in the middle of nowhere like the law of gravity, ready to remorselessly pull you down. Her place was down at the end of the table. She took a seat across from a girl she knew faintly. Stephanie? Sarah? Something with an S. She had her face buried in a Harry Potter book, so she wasn’t going to have to remember.
At the head of the table, closest to the center of the cafeteria, were the alpha girls- perfect hair, designer clothes. In the middle was the border zone, the outpost of girls who want to be at the head of the table, but weren’t popular enough to be a queen bee. Then, down at the end are the girls who could only wish they had enough of that magical something to be worthy of even the middle. No one talked about the system, but everyone knew what it was.
She wondered sometimes what she had done to merit this. She knew she wasn’t as pretty as the goddesses. But had she done something, or said something, that made her unworthy of a seat in Middleville? She knew her place, but she thought she deserved a seat in the DMZ between life at one end and nonexistence at the other. She stared at the cover of the other girl’s book, suddenly not feeling like eating at all.