"Why does life hate me as much as I hate her?"
This arc introduces the title characters, toward the end of their high school freshman year. Penny Levac is well-off, fashion-conscious, popular and something of a snob; her rival, Aggie D'Amour, is an eccentric loner, an aspiring progressive activist who resents everything she assumes Penny stands for and shows it with a constant stream of snark and attempts at showing her up in various situations.
As summer vacation begins, a lonely Penny, her few close friends having left town, takes a job at a bookstore, only to find Aggie working there as well. The two of them attempt to outperform each other in customer service, and are both fired for overdoing it. Penny then finds work at a clothing store, where Aggie becomes her customer from hell. Fed up with Aggie's harassment, Penny swears revenge, recalling how she once pranked the former school Alpha Bitch
, Meg, and took her place as queen bee.
Knowing next to nothing about Aggie, she insinuates herself into her home so that she can sneak a look at her diary and learn her secrets. Instead, she finds in the bathroom a journal of her impenetrable poetry...just as Aggie gets home. Keeping hidden, Penny overhears Aggie getting upset with her father, Nick, for attempting to throw out her late mother's medical journals she'd been saving as a memento.
Penny is now prepared to get back at Aggie by taunting her about her deceased mom...or is she? Troubled by scruples, she asks her parents if they've ever sought revenge; they both answer that they've resisted the temptation. So the next time Aggie shows up at her workplace, intent on further harassment, Penny acts unexpectedly friendly and kind. When the bewildered Aggie asks why, Penny replies, "We all have our secrets."