Skin Deep - Episode 1
by Elyse Endick
I just woke up in someone else’s bed.
How the heck did I get here?
I sit up – my head is pounding.
So this is what a hangover feels like.
I grope around the bedside table searching for my glasses – I’m blind without them.
I finally find them and put them on, noticing a note addressed to me:
“I’ll be back soon. We need to talk about last night. – Xander.”
Oh no.
Did I really get so wasted…
That I hooked up with our school’s biggest social pariah…
Xander Haladay?!
I mean…
It’s not like I’m Miss Popular or anything…
But, at least I’m not as much of an outcast as Xander.
I look down and notice that I still have my clothes on – thank god.
Maybe nothing happened between us?
I pad into the hallway and call out:
Is anyone home?
No response.
I duck back into Xander’s room…
And grab my phone to FaceTime my best friend, Madison.
Unlike me, Madison’s a budding flower on the brink of popularity.
She’s the one who got us invited to last night’s party in the first place…
She’ll know what went down.
Mads, what happened last night?
You mean you don’t remember?
I shake my head.
And tell her whose bed I woke up in.
You slept with Xander Haladay?!
She’s practically screaming.
Carly, that’s social suicide.
I mean, that kid is seriously weird.
Last year, I was forced to partner with him for the science fair–
He wanted to like, do some freaky experiment on me.
I groan and shield my eyes with my hand…
As if I can hide from the embarrassment.
Now I’ll really never have a shot with Ethan.
Girl, not to be harsh – but you never did.
Ethan’s only like, the hottest guy in the entire school.
Besides – Lucy has Ethan wrapped around her little finger.
I groan louder at the mention of Lucy’s name.
Pretty, perfect Lucy Hughes.
Beautiful on the outside–
But ugly as sin on the inside.
Ever since freshman year, she’s made my life a living h***.
We actually used to be friends…
But then everyone started changing.
My hair, which had always been perfectly straight, started to frizz.
My eyesight got worse, so I needed thick glasses to see.
And, worst of all – my skin.
I broke out in the worst acne imaginable.
It’s never gone away.
And my face is marred by ugly scars.
It’s hard to believe anyone would want me like this–
Even Xander.
My mom has a saying:
“Beauty is only skin-deep.”
But Lucy’s beauty has gotten her everything she’s ever wanted-
Including Ethan Lang.
Speaking of Lucy…
How in the h*** did Xander get an invite to her party?
I try to remember something, anything, about last night–
But the last thing I remember is being in the woods behind Lucy’s house…
And then a blinding light.
I don’t know - he must have crashed.
I remember seeing him in the woods…
My head throbs when I think of those lights…
What was that?
Why was I in the woods?
Why was Xander there?
And why can’t I remember anything afterwards?
I collapse into Xander’s desk chair…
And bury my head into the crook of my arm to block out the pain.
So that’s where you went?
I thought you went home after your fight with Lucy.
My what?!
You seriously don’t remember?
I shake my head, keeping my face buried on Xander’s desk.
I can’t look Madison in the eye–
She worked so hard to get us invited to Lucy’s party.
Man, you really are a lightweight.
It was my first party…
And I guess it’s also my last.
Are you kidding?
Everyone’s talking about last night.
How you stood up to Lucy…
And threw your drink right in her face.
I jolt upright, my eyes wide.
Madison tosses back her head and laughs.
It was so epic.
You should have seen the look on Lucy’s face when you–
Madison stops mid-sentence, as if she’s just seen a ghost…
But she’s staring right at me.
Mads? What’s wrong?
Madison is pale, breathless.
Carly…your face.
I frown.
Madison knows I’m insecure about my looks.
She would never comment on my appearance unless something was seriously wrong–
Like if I had a big chunk of lettuce wedged between my teeth.
I lean in closer to my phone’s screen and study my reflection.
And then, I see it–
I touch my hand to my face to make sure it’s real–
All my scars, my hideous zits…
Are gone.
Is that some new kind of filter?
Because girl, you’ve always been cute…
But this look is flawless.
I rush over to the bathroom attached to Xander’s bedroom and look in the mirror.
Suddenly, my vision grows fuzzy–
Another splitting headache.
I whip off my glasses and blink as spots form in my eyes.
I squeeze my eyes shut, praying for the pain to dissipate.
And when I open them…
I can see perfectly.
As I come face to face with my reflection, I realize–
It’s real.
And not just real–
It’s like…
Coursing through my veins.
Girl, you’re glowing.
I read in Cosmo that that can happen after great sex.
Who knew that Xander–
I did not hook up with Xander.
You ran into him in the woods, he took you home…
And introduced you to some miracle skin regimen?
That kid almost has worse acne than you–
No offense.
I touch my newly flawless skin, not believing what I’m seeing.
None taken.
I tear myself away from my reflection, realizing what I have to do.
Mads, I need to figure out what happened last night.
When’s the last time you remember seeing me at Lucy’s?
Mads taps her finger on her temple, thinking.
Well, I stepped away to get us drinks.
You had already downed your first shot way too fast.
By the time I came back, you were shouting at Lucy–
And Ethan had to hold you guys apart.
I wince at the thought of a drunken catfight in front of the guy I’ve been crushing on for years.
Why didn’t you step in and save me?
Girl, I tried.
But by then a crowd had formed around the two of you.
Before I could break through, you had already thrown your drink at Lucy.
And then what?
Then I got totally distracted, because Emmy walked in and complimented my hair–
You know how I get around cute girls.
Sorry, I’m pretty much the worst friend ever.
I let you run off by yourself, when I should have been watching you.
I sigh and run a hand through my hair–
My now perfectly straight, voluminous hair.
No, it’s not your fault.
I’m the one who begged you to get us into that party.
I thought if I could just get closer to Ethan…
That’s it!
You weren’t alone.
Ethan ran after you.
I blink.
You’re joking.
I’m not.
And I don’t remember him coming back to the party.
So whatever happened to you in the woods…
Ethan was there.
God only knows how you ended up in Xander’s bed.
Why would Ethan chase after me…
After I threw a drink on his girlfriend?
And what the h*** was Xander doing creeping around in the woods?
I don’t know, but I think you should talk to Ethan.
I sigh.
I don’t have Ethan’s number.
And I can’t face him at school on Monday.
Not after what happened.
It pays to have friends in high places.
I tap on my phone–
Madison just texted me Ethan’s number.
How did you get this?
Remember the science fair?
I wasn’t about to let Xander’s weird experiment tank my grade…
So I begged Mr. Hartford to let me switch partners.
Ethan wasn’t much better, though–
I wound up doing the whole project by myself.
But I did score his digits in the process.
Part of me is mad that Madison never thought to share this with me before…
But I’m too nervous to chew her out.
Call Ethan. Ask him what happened last night.
And Carly?
I look up–
Still amazed by my reflection on the screen.
I’ve completely transformed into a total hottie.
I hardly recognize myself.
I force myself to focus on Madison.
She has a twinkle in her eye as she says:
You should make it a video call.
I finally work up the courage to call Ethan.
At the last minute, I take Madison’s advice…
And make it a FaceTime call.
But when the call goes through and Ethan’s chat window appears on screen…
It’s not Ethan who answers.
Lucy Hughes looks up at me with her crystal blue eyes and perfect complexion.
And I can tell she’s not happy to see me.
Why are you calling my boyfriend?
Haven’t you done enough?
I grit my teeth.
And you’re using a filter to, what?
Trick him into thinking you’re actually attractive?
It’s pathetic, really.
It’s like I told you last night–
Ethan would never want someone as hideous as you.
So that’s what caused me to pour my drink on her pretty white dress.
I smile, giving myself a mental pat on the back.
You owe me, by the way–
That dress needs to be dry-cleaned.
And it’s not going to be cheap.
Don’t you have enough money for your own dry cleaning?
And your own phone?
Ethan left his phone here last night.
I thought whoever was calling might know where he is…
But now I see this is just your desperate attempt to steal my boyfriend.
You mean you don’t know where Ethan is?
Last I saw him he was running after you–
Chasing you off my property.
A piercing pain shoots up my temple…
I remember the lights…
And then I remember…
Ethan *was* there, too.
Calling my name.
After that I went upstairs to get changed.
And you didn’t think to, I don’t know – check on him?
I’m not his keeper.
I figured he crashed with one of his teammates.
I tried calling his house this morning, but his mom said she hasn’t seen him.
Lucy, this is serious–
We have to find Ethan.
She scoffs, and as she does, I notice something…
Is that a zit I spy on Lucy Hughes’ perfect little face?
So you can embarrass yourself in front of him again?
When are you going to get it through your thick, ugly skull?
Ethan. Doesn’t. Want. You.
And he never will.
And do you know why?
It’s because you’re ugly, Carly Hale.
No one is brave enough to say it out loud but me.
I can practically feel myself shaking with rage.
My head pulses, and for a moment, I see stars.
I close my eyes…
And when the pain clears, I open them…
To find Lucy’s face utterly transformed.
It’s covered in giant pimples, craters of puss, and pores like blackholes—
An image I’m used to seeing in the mirror.
But instead, it’s the hottest girl in school looking back at me.
I watch as Lucy’s eyes widen in horror…
And she lets out a piercing scream.
What the—
What did you do?!
Me?! How could I have done anything?
I couldn’t, right? I couldn’t have done this…
Or could I?
You better not tell anyone about this.
Or what?
You’ll tell everyone how ugly I am?
Because you’re right, Lucy…
I may be ugly.
But beauty is only skin-deep.
Lucy glares daggers.
I better not catch you calling my boyfriend ever again.
And with that, she hangs up.
I lean back in Xander’s desk chair…
As a huge smile spreads across my lips.
I just stood up to Lucy Hughes – again.
But only now do I realize the notebook open on Xander’s desk.
At the top, scrawled in black ink, are the words “THE CASTOR TRIALS.”
Okay…that’s not weird at all.
I scan the page, looking for clues, and that’s when I see it–
Written under “Experiment 5”…
Is my name, crossed out…
And below it…
Circled in red…
Is Ethan’s.