Chapter Twenty-Four

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            Pink, fussy frills everywhere in sight. So many of them, in fact, I feel like I’m being attacked from the waist down by some flamboyant magenta monster. Ava, it appears, as I emerge from the dressing room, shares the same opinion. As soon as she catches a glimpse of my appearance, she’s unable to suppress her laughter and immediately bursts into a fit of giggles.

            On the other hand, I’m not so amused.

            “I cannot believe I let you talk me into trying this.”

            My best friend clasps a hand to her mouth in an attempt to contain her amusement. It’s only partially effective, though, as after a moment of quiet another snort escapes her. “Well... it did look better on the hanger.”

            “It didn’t look too great then,” I mumble, but as soon as I turn towards the mirror, my own face breaks into a smile. I can definitely see the comedic aspect of my attire; the dress hangs awkwardly, fluffing around me as if I’m stuck in the middle of a giant pink marshmallow. “Why do they even have this?”

            “I guess some people are into that kind of thing...” Ava suggests, shrugging.

            I dread to think what type of people she’s referring to.

            “Wouldn’t it be great if Charlotte turned up in this?” I say, as the image enters my mind. “I don’t even think Connor would be able to stomach her then.”

            Unfortunately, I – along with the rest of the planet – know that Charlotte has already found her dress for the Winter Formal. Reserved at an exclusive boutique for weeks beforehand, she never misses an opportunity to boast about it. It’s custom-made, designer and ridiculously expensive; our entire grade is in for a let-down if it doesn’t live up to expectations.

            I, on the contrary, have not been so lucky in my dress hunt. That may be on account of the fact I’d barely given the dance a thought until yesterday, when Nathan asked me, let alone considered what I’m going to wear. After being stuck in detention all lunch – with only the ever joyful Mrs. Young for company – I had missed a chance to consult with my on-hand stylist (Ava) about what color, cut and style I should choose. Consequently, she’d called me first thing this morning, demanding the immediate commencement of my search.

            Which, I suppose, is kind of sensible. And the reason we’ve been stuck in the mall for hours now, trailing from store to store in the hope of finding something that isn’t frilly, made of sequins, or just downright indecent.

            No luck so far.

            “I can’t take it; I’ve got to get out of this thing,” I say, shaking my head in despair. I hurry back into the dressing room, eager to escape from this suffocating chiffon prison. After yanking the zipper down and letting it fall at my feet, I breathe a sigh of relief. “Which one’s next?”

            “Try the purple one!” Ava calls. “You can’t go wrong with purple.”

            An image of my favorite childhood outfit – a bright purple pinafore and matching leggings – that springs to mind begs to differ, but I don’t protest. Instead, I reach up for the other dress that’s hanging on the back of the fitting room door.

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