The Evolution of Ivy:Poison

By: Lauren Campbell

For my mom, who has only read Pippi Longstocking and The Boxcar Children, and who now has to read this book. Happy birthday.



Also, for my sons, who can’t read this book until they’re grown up (which will be terribly sad). I love you always.





March 6, 2015



For the last ten years, I’ve vowed that this moment wouldn’t bother me, but it does. I hunch over the breakfast table in my dated kitchen and clench my fists, my fingernails digging into my palms. The chattering of my teeth like a tap dance in my head as I’m plunged into a sea of self-pity, tears warming my cheeks, streaking down my face and soaking the keys of my laptop. He’s engaged. Brooks Jansen, the most beautiful man in the world—my ex—has proposed to Eliza James.

My eyes scan the announcement over and over again. Acid climbs the back of my throat, eliciting a gag. I almost vomit on my laptop, but I fight it. Swallow it repeatedly until the urge flees from my throat. There Brooks and the bitch stand, in front of some Ferris wheel on a beach with their toes in the water, embracing one another, the bitch sticking out her left hand to show off an obnoxiously large rock to match her obnoxiously large smile. And Brooks looks happy. Really fucking happy. That should have been me in his arms.

I scream and sling the laptop off the table, delighting in the cracking of the LCD screen—the cracking of their love—as it slaps against the seventies tile. I stand, my apartment a blur of pathetic seclusion and loneliness. Kicking over my chair, I allow my feet to drag me to the bathroom. Looking at my reflection, I recoil as I wipe my runny, repulsive nose. Cry harder over the stupid line in the middle that makes it look like a miniature butt, and sigh at my too-thin lips. I poke hopelessly at my mushy belly before swinging my arm fat back and forth and wondering what might have been.

But I give the ugly girl in the mirror a nod of encouragement and wipe away my tears. The engagement makes things more difficult, but I won’t let it get in my way. I’m rich now, and money changes people. I’ll let it change me, and then I’ll change them. I’m going to destroy Eliza, and I’m going to fuck them up.

And then … I’ll take back what’s mine.

I know what people would think if they could read my innermost thoughts. They’d say I’m crazy. A lunatic holding onto the past, magnifying its importance in my mind. Letting it run my life. But they’d be wrong. My parents always taught me that you follow through on your promises. You keep them no matter what. And Brooks, well … he hasn’t kept his. He told me that last day before moving to France that one day he’d marry me. He said it, so essentially it’s a promise. Brooks made me happy, and I made him happy. But obviously Brooks was afflicted with the same problem that plagues so many these days: always looking for the next best thing. If it weren’t for that bitch, Eliza, who’s to say where Brooks and I would be now? I’m fully aware that I’m not exactly pleasant to look at, but is that really all that matters? What about heart? Don’t people care about what’s on the inside anymore? Because on the inside, I’m motherfucking Angelina Jolie compared to the self-absorbed twat he’s with.

But, on paper, I’m as undesirable as my outsides. I’m now twenty-seven years old, which is damn old for a woman to still be unmarried and without children. I might as well nail a sign over my vagina that says CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. If Brooks just hadn’t become so shallow, we could have had a few kids by now, and I wouldn’t be sitting here in my rundown apartment with no marriage and no babies. I don’t judge the assholes who wouldn’t give me a chance after Brooks moved away. Screw them. I know I was never going to be Marilyn Monroe. I know I was never going to be beautiful. I was a perfectly average plain Jane, and I was just fine with that. Brooks was fine with that. But the torment I endured as a side effect of Eliza’s carelessness forever changed the course of my life. Though Brooks is not innocent, either. He got to know my heart. He got to know the real me. Fell in love with me. And then he just threw us away, all because I’d changed on the outside. It’s no better than a man leaving his wife after she becomes disabled, which is overwhelmingly, statistically true. Ugly should be a disability, too, because true ugliness affects a person’s entire life. At least, it has mine.