Melinda mockingly describes the Marthas, the clique that Heather is trying to join. It is composed of three upperclassmen whom she refers to as Meg ‘n’ Emily ‘n’ Siobhan. She mocks their uniform-like preppy outfits, and their tyrannical rules, describing their obsession with Martha Stewart, and with various community service arts-and-crafts projects.
The clique that Heather wishes to join is one of conformity and fake cheerfulness. Although Melinda may mock them, however, she is of course incredibly jealous that Heather may have found a place for herself at Merryweather High.
Heather’s first project as a freshman probationary member is to decorate the faculty lounge for a Thanksgiving party. She pleads with Melinda to help, and although Melinda is disappointed with the shabbiness of the room, she agrees. She tries to help Heather, even engaging her in conversation, as Heather babbles about how amazing the Marthas are, and how much happier she is at school now.
This moment signals a break in Melinda’s apathy—she may constantly mock Heather, but she immediately helps when Heather needs it. Although Heather appears to be happy and excited, Melinda, as always, is skeptical about any positive emotion.
As the Marthas enter, Melinda exits. But she watches as the Marthas make fun of her lips and then force Heather to leave, pretending that they themselves decorated the lounge.
Although the Marthas may pretend to be do-gooders, they are in fact cruel, petty high school girls who take advantage of Heather and make fun of Melinda for no reason.
Alone in the bathroom, Melinda cries. She comments that the “salt in my tears feels good when it stings my lips.” Afterwards, she washes her face and looks in the mirror, imagining that she can scrub her face until nothing is left.
Melinda may be detached and defensive, but the words of her peers can still deeply wound her. Once again, she responds to bullying by wishing to disappear, then confronts her own reflection in a mirror and despising what she sees.