Alis Pretty Little Lies Page 34

The mixer started to turn. Gray cement poured down a chute into the hole, slowly filling it. The men stood around, smoking cigarettes. One of them told a joke, and a few of them laughed. Ali kept expecting them to turn toward the hole and suddenly scream out in terror, but no one did. The mixer whirled and whirled. The sludgy cement rolled down the chute. Ali assessed her feelings, but she didn\'t know what she felt. Relief, sort of. But also worry.

There was a knock on the bathroom door, which was ajar. Mrs. DiLaurentis stood in the hallway, fiddling with the hem of her T-shirt. ’’You have to tell us what you know, honey,’’ she begged, her eyes full of tears.

Ali shrugged. ’’Why would you think I\'d know something?’’

Mrs. DiLaurentis blinked at her. Ali looked down, trying to remain calm, and reached for her sister\'s cell phone, which she\'d found on the grass last night. But then she heard the mixer click off. It was all over. The hole was filled. Her sister was buried. Gone. Done.

Her fingers started to shake uncontrollably.

She shoved her hand under her thighs. Then she caught a glimpse of her freaked-out expression in the mirror. When she looked up, Mrs. DiLaurentis\'s mouth hung open. All the blood had drained from her face. In an instant, Ali knew that she knew.

Mrs. DiLaurentis set her mouth in a line. ’’Pack. Now.’’

Ali blinked. ’’Why?’’

Mrs. DiLaurentis turned toward the stairs. ’’Kenneth?’’ she screeched. ’’Kenneth, I need you.’’

Mr. DiLaurentis bounded up the stairs fast. Mrs. DiLaurentis whipped around and pointed shakily at Ali. ’’Honey, she . . . Alison . . . she . . .’’ And then she burst into tears.

Mr. DiLaurentis lunged for Ali as though he\'d been planning the move for hours. Before Ali knew what was happening, they\'d shut her inside the guest room and locked the door from the outside. ’’What the hell?’’ Ali screeched. ’’What\'s going on? Why are you two acting like freaks?’’

She could hear their voices in the hall, low murmurs. She did something. I don\'t know what, but something horrible has happened. We have to get her out of here.

Ali\'s spine stiffened. Out of here? They didn\'t mean . . . the Preserve, did they? But they couldn\'t. No freaking way. Ali\'s heart began to pound just from the thought of it. She\'d spent eighteen torturous months in that place. Hours inside that dark room. Days locked inside her head, so drugged-up from those indifferent nurses. And the doctors, oh, the doctors, they were even worse. Cruel. Careless. They forgot her name. They forgot her situation. When she said, tearfully, I\'m Ali, I\'m Ali, they stared at her like she was nothing more than a number, a case study.

Moments later, when her parents came back into the room, Mrs. DiLaurentis yanked the suitcase from the floor and began stuffing T-shirts and underwear inside. ’’Mom,’’ Ali said shakily. ’’I don\'t know what you\'re doing, but ’’

’’Don\'t talk,’’ Mrs. DiLaurentis interrupted. Her husband was on the phone. After a moment, a voice answered so loudly that Ali could hear her through the receiver. ’’Good morning, the Preserve at Addison-Stevens, how may I help you?’’

Frightened tears came to Ali\'s eyes. She tried to grab the phone from her father\'s hand, but he twisted away. ’’You can\'t send me back there!’’ she screamed. ’’I didn\'t do anything!’’

Mrs. DiLaurentis pushed her palms against Ali\'s shoulders with surprising force, shoving Ali back to the bed. ’’Stop lying,’’ she warned, her eyes full of tears. ’’Just stop all the lying!’’

Ali screamed and tried to roll off the mattress, but then Mr. DiLaurentis appeared and grabbed her around the waist. Her feet kicked as they hauled her down the stairs. She screamed so loud, she was sure the workers in the back would come running, but no one did.

’’You don\'t understand!’’ she moaned to her parents. ’’I\'m Ali!’’

But they didn\'t listen. She caught snippets of things as they dragged her to the car: the calligraphy lettering on her sister\'s seventh-grade diploma on the kitchen island, her sister\'s field hockey stick propped up in the corner of the laundry room, the whirling mixer in the backyard. The sky was so perfectly blue, the yards so pristinely manicured.

’’I\'m Ali!’’ she howled again in the garage, a desperate plea to the Cavanaughs, the Vanderwaals, even the Hastingses. But still no one came to her rescue. Her father shoved her into the backseat, and her head hit the opposite window hard. She tried to scramble out the door again, but her parents had already climbed inside the car and child-locked the doors. Then the engine growled. Then they were going in reverse. Ali\'s vision was clouded by tears now. Her throat felt sore from screaming. She peered out the window at the impassive houses all along the cul-de-sac. No one cared about her. She hated everyone on this stupid street.

And with that, they were gone. ’’You don\'t understand, I\'m Ali,’’ she repeated a few more times, but as they pulled out of the driveway, she realized it was futile. They didn\'t believe her. Her plan had backfired. She\'d never, ever be Alison DiLaurentis again.

And worse, they\'d somehow figured out what she\'d done. Perhaps they thought they were being kind. They could have called the police, could have had her locked up in jail.

But it didn\'t seem kind to her. She would have preferred jail. At least she would have gotten a trial. At least she would have gotten her name back.

Mr. DiLaurentis\'s face was splotchy as he pivoted to the right and started down the street. Shell-shocked, Ali cranked her neck to the side and watched as the cement truck topped off the hole, leveling it with the rest of the yard. She\'s buried forever. Her sister\'s words spiraled through her head: I just want a sister again. That\'s all I\'ve ever wanted. It had stopped her, at least for a moment. They passed the Hastingses\' house. Spencer stood on the porch, looking worriedly into the yard maybe she\'d heard Ali\'s calls. ’’Get down,’’ Mr. DiLaurentis barked, roughly shoving Ali\'s head into the footwell just as Spencer noticed the car.

After they passed, Ali sat up again and stared at Spencer\'s back. She was Ali\'s sister, too. Except all Ali felt for her was hate. When you got down to it, this was all Spencer\'s fault and Aria\'s, Emily\'s, and Hanna\'s. They were the ones who\'d intercepted her sister in the yard that day a year and a half ago. They were the ones who\'d facilitated Courtney\'s ascent into Ali-dom. A new batch of hate flooded her body. It was no longer her sister she was angry at. It was them.

Mr. DiLaurentis put on his blinker at the corner. Mrs. DiLaurentis let out a tormented sniff as they turned onto the main road, leaving their quiet, happy little street behind. Ali peered out the back window, wondering if she\'d ever see it again. She would, she decided. She would find a way to come back here, to clear her name. And once she did, she would get her revenge for real this time. She\'d make those bitches pay. She\'d make them wish they were never Alison DiLaurentis\'s friends in the first place. She didn\'t know how, and she didn\'t know when, but at least she had one person she could count on to help her carry it out. Together, they were going to make it happen.

Even if it killed her.

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