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Home > Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)

Ali's Pretty Little Lies (Pretty Little Liars 0.5)
Author: Sara Shepard

SWITCHEROO

Once upon a time, there were two identical twin sisters, Alison and Courtney. They were alike in every way: Both had long, blond hair; huge, clear, round blue eyes; heart-shaped faces; and winning smiles that melted hearts. When they were six, they rode matching purple bikes up and down their family’s driveway in Stamford, Connecticut, singing “Frère Jacques” in a round. When they were seven, they climbed up the big-kid sliding board together and held hands the whole way. Even though their parents gave each of them her own bedroom with her own canopied princess bed, they were often found sleeping on the same twin mattress, their bodies entwined. Everyone said they shared that indescribable twin connection. They made promises to be best friends forever.

But promises are broken every day.

In second grade, things started to change. They were little things at first—a dirty look, a slight shove, an indignant sigh. Then Courtney showed up in Ali’s Saturday art class insisting she was Ali. Courtney sat at Ali’s desk in school on a day her sister was sick. Courtney introduced herself as Ali to the UPS man, the new neighbors with the puppy, and the old lady at the pharmacy counter. Maybe she pretended she was her sister because Ali had a little extra sparkle, a certain something that got her noticed. Maybe Courtney was jealous. Or maybe Courtney was forced. Ali made me do it, Courtney told her parents when she was caught. She said if I didn’t pretend to be her for the day, something awful would happen to me and you and all of us. But when their mom and dad asked Ali if this was true, her eyes grew wide. I would never say something like that, she answered innocently. I love my sister, and I love you guys.

Suddenly, Courtney and Ali were getting into screaming matches on the playground. Then Courtney shut Ali into a bathroom stall at lunchtime and didn’t let her out. Teachers called the girls’ parents, their voices full of concern. Neighbors pulled their children close when they passed Courtney, worried she might hurt them, too. The final straw came that flawless spring day when the girls’ parents found Courtney sitting on top of her sister, her hands around Ali’s throat. Doctors were called. Psychiatric evaluations were performed on both girls. Ali handled it with poise, but Courtney panicked. She started it, she insisted. She threatens me. She wants me gone.

Paranoid schizophrenia, the doctors said in grave tones. That sort of thing could be treatable, but only with a lot of care. It was up to Ali to make the final decision, though— and, tearfully, she decided that her sister should go. And so a facility was found. Off Courtney went, away from her family, away from everything she knew. Her parents reassured her that they would bring her home as soon as she was better, but weeks passed, and then months. Suddenly, Courtney was sort of . . . forgotten.

Sometimes, a family is like an ear of summer corn: It might look perfect on the outside, but when you peel the husk away, every kernel is rotten. With the DiLaurentises, the girl who seemed like the victim might just have been the tormentor. Sending Courtney away might just have been Ali’s master plan. And maybe, just maybe, all Courtney wanted was what she deserved—a happy life.

This is Rosewood, after all—and these are Rosewood’s most mysterious twins. And as you know, in Rosewood, nothing is ever as it seems.

The first thing Courtney DiLaurentis heard when she woke up the morning her life changed was the ticking of the clock on the wall. It was telling her, in a not-so-subtle way, that time was running out.

She looked around the unfamiliar bedroom. Her parents had moved from Stamford, Connecticut, a few years ago to avoid the shame of putting a daughter in a mental institution. They’d relocated to Rosewood, Pennsylvania, a filthy-rich suburb about twenty miles from Philadelphia where even the dogs wore Chanel collars. Because they knew no one when they moved, they didn’t have to tell anyone about their crazy daughter in the hospital. They’d even changed their last name from Day-DiLaurentis to simply DiLaurentis in hopes that it would keep nosy neighbors from Connecticut away.

The guest room Courtney was staying in smelled like mothballs and had a twin bed with an old plaid comforter, a wicker dresser too shabby for even a mental ward’s day room, and a small, chipped bookshelf containing dated cooking magazines and a bunch of boxes marked TAXES and STATEMENTS. The closet was filled with Christmas decorations, pilled afghans her grandmother had crocheted, and ugly sweaters she couldn’t imagine anyone wearing. In other words, the room was a repository for everything her family wanted to forget about—Courtney included.

Courtney pushed the covers back and walked into the hall. The house, a huge Victorian, was designed in such a way that the upstairs overlooked a great room, giving Courtney a bird’s-eye view into the kitchen. Her older brother, Jason, was hunched over the table with a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Her twin sister, Ali, flitted around the counter. Her hair was a perfect blond wave spilling down her back, and her pink T-shirt gave her clear skin a healthy glow. She lifted a pile of newspapers and looked under it. Then she opened a silverware drawer and slammed it shut.

“Alison, what’s the matter?” asked Mrs. DiLaurentis, who wore a gray Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress and heels. It looked like she was going to a job interview instead of taking her daughter to a new mental hospital.

“I can’t find my ring,” Ali snapped, opening the trash bin and peering inside.

“What ring?”

“My initial ring, duh.” Ali opened another cabinet and slammed it hard. “It’s the one I wear, like, every day.” She whipped around and faced her brother. “Did you take it?”

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