How It All Started
Imagine it’s a couple of years ago, the summer between seventh
And eighth grade. You’re tan from lying out next to
Your rock-lined pool, you’ve got on your new Juicy sweats
(remember when everybody wore those?), and your mind’s
On your crush, the boy who goes to that other prep school
Whose name we won’t mention and who folds jeans at
Abercrombie in the mall. You’re eating your Cocoa Krispies
Just how you like ’em – doused in skim milk – and you see
This girl’s face on the side of the milk carton. MISSING. She’s
Cute – probably cuter than you – and has a feisty look in her
Eyes. You think, Hmm, maybe she likes soggy Cocoa
Krispies too. And you bet she’d think Abercrombie boy was
A hottie as well. You wonder how someone so. . . well, so
Much like you went missing. You thought only girls who
Entered beauty pageants ended up on the sides of milk cartons.
Well, think again.
Aria Montgomery burrowed her face in her best friend
Alison DiLaurentis’s lawn. ‘Delicious,’ she murmured.
‘Are you smelling the grass?’ Emily Fields called from
Behind her, pushing the door of her mom’s Volvo wagon
Closed with her long, freckly arm.
‘It smells good.’ Aria brushed away her pink-striped hair
And breathed in the warm early-evening air. ‘Like summer.’
Emily waved ‘bye to her mom and pulled up the blah
Jeans that were hanging on her skinny hips. Emily had been
A competitive swimmer since Tadpole League, and even
Though she looked great in a Speedo, she never wore anything
Tight or remotely cute like the rest of the girls in her
Seventh-grade class. That was because Emily’s parents
Insisted that one built character from the inside out.
(Although Emily was pretty certain that being forced to hide
Her IRISH GIRLS DO IT BETTER baby tee at the back of her
Underwear drawer wasn’t exactly character enhancing.)
‘You guys!’ Alison pirouetted through the front yard. Her
Hair was bunched up in a messy ponytail, and she was still
Wearing her rolled-up field hockey kilt from the team’s endof-
The-year party that afternoon. Alison was the only seventh
Grader to make the JV team and got rides home with the
Older Rosewood Day School girls, who blasted Jay-Z from
Their Cherokees and sprayed Alison with perfume before
Dropping her off so that she wouldn’t smell like the cigarettes
They’d all been smoking.
‘What am I missing?’ called Spencer Hastings, sliding
Through a gap in Ali’s hedges to join the others. Spencer lived
Next door. She flipped her long, sleek dark-blond ponytail
Over her shoulder and took a swig from her purple Nalgene
Bottle. Spencer hadn’t made the JV cut with Ali in the fall,
And had to play on the seventh-grade team. She’d been on a
Year-long field hockey binge to perfect her game, and the
Girls knew she’d been practicing dribbling in the backyard
Before they arrived. Spencer hated when anyone was better
At anything than she was. Especially Alison.
‘Wait for me!’
They turned to see Hanna Marin climbing out of her
Mom’s Mercedes. She stumbled over her tote bag and waved
Her chubby arms wildly. Ever since Hanna’s parents had
Gotten a divorce last year, she’d been steadily putting on
Weight and outgrowing her old clothes. Even though Ali
Rolled her eyes, the rest of the girls pretended not to notice.
That’s just what best friends do.
Alison, Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna bonded last year
When their parents volunteered them to work Saturday afternoons