9 - Where They Attend a Dinner Party

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         The first day of school arrived much too quickly—I’d barely managed to wake up early enough to hand in my permission form. I had just enough time to nip down to the office and give them my form and cheque, and hurry back to my first period class, not exactly sure where it even was. My excitement lasted me the entire week. It was rare for our school to go on field trips. Our funding was never quite enough to cover what we wanted. So this overnight fieldtrip to Lake Ingorian Historic Site was a one in a million opportunity.

         So I carried that happy balloon with me all week, up until Friday morning when my mother reminded me of our afterschool plans.

         “Jasslyn, you remember where we’re going today after you come back from school, right?” she said, washing up the pan she had just used to fry eggs.

         I sighed. My balloon was beginning to deflate. “Yes, I do.”

         “Good. You know what you’ll be wearing, I hope?” She gave the pan a shake and set it on a drying rack. She washed dishes whenever she could—made sense, though, because our dishwasher was ancient and would probably get rust on the dishes instead of cleaning them.

         “Mom, I only have that one dress.”

         She frowned and turned, drying her hands on a dishtowel. “Didn’t we go out and buy you a new one?” she asked.

         I shook my head slowly. “Nooo…We haven’t gone out since camping.”

         My mother’s eyes widened. “We haven’t?”

         “No,” I confirmed.

         “Well, then,” she said with an exhale that heaved her shoulders. “You wear that dress to every occasion. Should I pick up a new one while you’re at school or wait for to come home?”

         I paled. “Wait for me to come home, Mother! Who knows what kind of nineties dress you’ll pick up for me,” I said, half-joking.

         “All right then. But you’d better hurry. The get-together starts at four, remember?”

         I nodded. I remembered all too vividly.

         Scooping the last of my breakfast into my mouth, I picked up my schoolbag and went to the front door to slip on my shoes. After checking the time on my cell phone and giving a start, I tied my laces tight. Another just-in-time start to the day.

         “Jasslyn, you’d better hurry. We’re going to be late. The Harolds live at least fifteen minutes away.”

         Jacoby lived in the well-off part of town. His mother was a successful businesswoman—thus her newest promotion, and his father was a rather well known architect. Their house was a normal two-story building. What set their place apart from the others in their neighbourhood was their amazing garden. Big enough for a gazebo and half a dozen paved trails, Mrs. Harold was always inviting guests over for dinner parties.

         “Okay, okay, I’ll just go with this one.”

         I popped out of the change room and hurried towards the line-up.

         I didn’t wear dresses often enough to vie for something expensive; what was the point in buying something pricey when I was almost one hundred percent sure I wouldn’t wear it on regular occasions?

         “Oh, Jasslyn, why couldn’t you have inherited your father’s punctuality?”

         I was startled to hear my mother talk about my dad so casually. It was like we were still together, all of us.

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