Ian: "So Melissa, did you tell Spence what we decided on for Halloween?"
Melissa: "Bonnie and Clyde!"
Spencer smiled. For now.
Aria shoved past a boy on the way to her father's office. He was young, and he was pretty, but she didn't notice him. He was just an undergrad back then, with a penchant for Modernist stories about small-town life.
In her father's office there was a girl reclining, a girl named Meredith, and this was the story she told: "I needed a quiet place to read," she said. She lay in that room like she owned the place. Byron, Aria's father, showed up soon enough. "Hey, Meredith," he said. That was the story he told. Aria didn't have time for coffee, so they said goodbye to Meredith.
Aria: "What's her story?"
Byron: "Students crash here all the time."
Aria: "Because you're so cool?"
Byron: "Yeah. Because I'm down with that.'"
It was funny. That's one of the stories he tells best.
MARIN HOUSE, AT NIGHT
Hanna was eating her usual amounts of popcorn, watching scary movies on cable and afraid to answer the telephone. Her power flickered, and the phone rang again: "Were you at the costume shop today?" asked Alison. "Did you send me a text?" Downstairs, the bell was ringing, and her questions made no sense, so Hanna said goodnight.
Downstairs, Ashley Marin was back from the Rosewood Grill, in the custody of Officer Darren, who'd noticed the number of martinis she'd drunk, and wanted to take her home. Hanna told him goodnight, and took her mother to the couch.
Ashley apologized for their circumstances, and Hanna told the story of her father: How he had deserted them, how he should rot in hell. Even on the edge of sleep Ashley told her to be kinder to her father, and Hanna covered her mother with a blanket, and told her mother's favorite story. And this is the story she told:
"You remember what I told you, right? She's pretty ugly... Hideous. And don't even get me started on her big ass."
And this was the story she told: "If you ignore it, it will go away."
She was talking about Mona, but she wasn't really talking about Mona. That's how her stories always worked. She wanted them honest and she wanted them to lie. If you ignore it, she wanted them to understand, It won't ever go away.