This story is for the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Inspiration From Inexplicable Photos

I had to choose a picture to base a story on and they were crazy enough I went with a random number and got 22.

That’s 22 on this page:

From that picture I came up with this.

Olga was beautiful. Ashley hated her for it.

Olga, what a horrid name. Olga Some-unpronounceable-last-name-no-one-cared-about. Ashely knew that wasn’t true and hated her even more for it. Joshua Adams cared. Or thought he did. She’d fix that.

Her hands still felt oily. She scrubbed them harder with the wad of paper towels then tossed them in the trash can. There was still a tinge of stain on her fingers; her manicure was ruined with dried dark flecks. She hoped no one would notice.

Brighton was a nice, progressive school. Everyone wanted to go there. The teachers were smart and well paid and not overworked. Having it on your transcript was a big deal so families moved nearby or sent their kids from abroad. Being as progressive as the school was they loved to have them. It made them look even better.

Ashley had never minded the foreign kids. At best they made the school feel international and at worst she could ignore them. At least until Olga had showed up in the fall. The girl with the blonde hair and blue eyes. With legs that went to she-didn’t-want-to-know-where and a chest to match. The only reason she didn’t immediately send a killer wave through the social pool was that she barely spoke english and there was something a bit off about her.

This let Ashely ignore or ridicule her. As long as no one took her seriously why should she? She was quickly shoved into the ignorable file and almost forgotten. At least until right before Christmas break when suddenly she was not being ignored. Not by Joshua. Argh! She still remembered the moment when she’d caught him watching Olga across the hallway. Olga hadn’t even looked bashful having his nuclear hot gaze on her. She’d just smiled back and walked to her next class. Josh had followed.

Joshua was Ashley’s! She’d been working on him since freshman year. Building interest, leaving clues, dropping hints. Everything was all set, and this year they’d become a couple. It was all about to go down when stupid not-from-around-here girl had landed like a boulder on Josh’s head.

She smoothed her custom made dress, careful not to stain the hand made velvet. Around her the other students waited quietly where they lined the sides of the assembly hall. Soon, soon.

Where was this girl from anyway? To swoop in like this. I’ll-believe-anything Marci had heard she was a witch from some remote, icy, castle in the far north. More sensible Janet said she’d immigrated with her grandma and lived in an old house full of cats. Ashely liked this version much better and did her best to spread the tale. It didn’t help. The other girls twittered ferociously about her, but the boys didn’t care. Boys, like always, only paid attention to one of their senses.

The principal was standing and speaking now. Starting the ceremony. Some poor jerk from band had to stand up and play a tune to get things rolling. Then the doors opened and the student representatives started marching in.

Just like every year it was one student per country. It was a big deal to march. For many it was the highlight of their time at the school. Each carried a large flag and was dressed in something apparently native to their country. In they filed in alphabetical order, a regular parade of nations. That meant Olga would be near the end.

Ashley did her best not to smirk too much.

This should finally do it. This should finally shove Olga over the cliff to weirdville. She could still picture the outfit hanging in the locker: fur lined dark felt, with a cloak and thick hat. Olga would have looked stunning in it. Ashely also remembered the feel of the spray paint in one hand and the small vial in the other. Brown paint and cat piss, how appropriate.

Romania marched in and then it was Olga’s turn. And there she was!

Ashley stopped bouncing. Frowned.

There was no sign of brown stained, piss soaked furs. Instead she was dressed all in white. In a dress made of thin floaty material that clung and swirled about her. Even Ashley couldn’t help thinking she looked amazing. She marched right on in with her chin up; the flagpole supporting the blue, white, and red stripes laid jauntily back over one shoulder.

How had she gotten a new dress from so quickly?

Ashley got a better look as she came closer. Was that white plastic? Ashley gasped. Olga was wearing cut up white garbage bags and a bunch of crumpled paper atop her head. Or was she? Before her eyes the gown shifted until she was cloaked in snowy ice and frost covered silk.

Ashley opened her mouth to speak and then Olga looked at her. Looked right at her.

Her cheeks and nose were red even though it was warm in the room. Her pale lips were twisted in just a bit of a smile. But her eyes were hard. Like chips of ice. And they were on Ashley’s face.

Ashley shivered. Steam poured from between Olga’s pale lips. Ashley felt cold. Really very cold. She shivered again as if she was outside without a coat on. There was a cold in her bones. Olga was still staring. Ashley didn’t like that stare. She wanted to look away but couldn’t.

She tried to open her lips but they were numb and frozen together.

Now Olga smirked. Just a small one. An expression only Ashley could see. And then she turned away with a swirl of steam and kept right on marching.

Ashley couldn’t turn her head to see. She couldn’t turn anything at all. She shivered more, and then less as her heart slowed. She wanted to panic, knew she should, but she was so very tired, so very sleepy. She’d let her eyes drift closed if they weren’t frozen open.

Stupid Marci must have been right after —