So since both Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com decided to have PRETTY AMY available for sale a FULL- TWO -WEEKS EARLY! I am celebrating by sharing the first two chapters of PRETTY AMY with you. Enjoy! ( I apologize about the formatting, it is directly from the E-Arc PDF )
Unfortunately, I am only myself. I am only Amy Fleishman.
I am one of the legions of middle-class white girls who
search malls for jeans that make them look thinner, who
search drugstores for makeup to wear as a second skin, who
are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins.
I am a walking, talking True Life episode. Your highschool
guidance counselor’s wet dream, and one of the only
girls I know to get arrested on prom night.
When my mother dropped me off at Lila’s, rather than
running like hell the way I usually did, I sat next to her in our
minivan and waited for a speech. The speech mothers give to
their only daughters on nights when those daughters are all
dressed up and the mothers look all wistful and teary.
I assumed she was building up to it, was working through
exactly what she was going to say so it would be perfect. I
knew from TV that she must have practiced in the mirror, but
maybe, faced with having to say all those things to me, she’d
frozen up. I could understand that.
When I saw Lila peek out to see who was sitting in her
driveway, and then felt my phone vibrate with a text that I
knew must say, WTF R U DOIN?, I figured I had waited long
“So this is it…,” I said. My mother stared at Lila’s small,
birdshit-gray house and bit at what was left of her nails. After
I’d started hanging out with Lila and Cassie, my mother
gnawed at her nails the way a baby sucked her thumb. “…my
senior prom,” I continued.
Maybe she was overwhelmed. Her little girl was all grown
up. Her ugly duckling had finally become a swan.
“I don’t want to ruin this for you, so I’m choosing to hold
My mother loved using old-time folksy sayings. Hold your
horses. The early bird catches the worm. The penis with two
holes puts out the fire faster.
All right, fine, I made up that last one.
She had been holding her tongue for a while now. When
yelling at me about my “degenerate” friends hadn’t helped,
she went for the semi-silent treatment.
Stupid me for trying to get her to talk.
“There’s something very wrong with this, Amy,” she said.
She meant that Lila’s boyfriend, Brian, had arranged a
date for me. My mother had never met this boy. I had never
met this boy. It may have seemed wrong to her, but I was used
to Lila bringing the boys. And, it was still my senior prom. It
was still my night, and she couldn’t even have a special, sappy
moment with me.
“I want to tell you to have a good time, to enjoy every
moment, to be safe, but I know you won’t listen anyway. I
know you’ll do what you want to do.”
She was talking to herself again.
My mother’s favorite hobbies were talking to herself
and bitching. Though I suppose those were hobbies for most
mothers, my mother honed them like skills. If bitching were
karate, my mother would be a black belt.
I looked down at my dress. It was strapless and light blue
to bring out my eyes, which weren’t blue, but raccoon gray,
and picked up whatever color I put next to them. The bodice
was tight and shiny, like what a superhero might wear, and the
skirt flared out and fell just below my knees. When my mother
had seen it hanging on the bathroom door earlier tonight,
she’d said it looked trampy, which made me even happier that
she hadn’t been there when I picked it out.
She also hadn’t been there when I got my shoes and clutch
purse dyed to match. Sure, she had given me money, but she
hadn’t been there. Not like I would have asked her to be there,
but she hadn’t offered, either.
“Thanks for the memories,” I said, opening the door.
Her only job tonight was to tell me I was beautiful, that I
was her beautiful baby girl all grown up, but she couldn’t even
“I can’t help the way I feel,” she said, like some self-helpbook
junkie. Well, not like one—she was one. For Chanukah
last year she had gotten me an itchy sweater and Chicken
Soup for the Daughter’s Soul. The inscription had read, FYI.
I found Lila sitting at her vanity, playing with her hair. She was
wearing a lilac dress and smelled of lilac perfume, like some
flower-variety Strawberry Shortcake doll. Her vanity was
really just an extra chair from the kitchen and a small desk
with a mirror propped up on it, but nonetheless the effect was
Lila saw me walk in but stayed seated. This was what
she did; she liked to force you to watch her for a moment, to
drink her in. And since I knew this, I hung in the doorway and
waited while she put on mascara.
As lame is it sounds, Lila was the kind of person who
danced through life on her tiptoes, a ballerina with woodland
animals holding up the train of her dress. And, as much as I
hated to admit it, I was one of those woodland animals.
“What were you doing out there?” she asked without
turning around. This was another game she liked to play—she
was busy and you were interrupting her.
“The usual. Ruining my life and ruining my mother’s in
She swept a blush brush over her cheeks. She hadn’t
dipped it in anything, so I wasn’t sure if this was also part of
her act or if it was some beauty secret I was unaware of.
“What do you think?” she asked, standing with her hands
on the skirt of her dress, then twirling around slowly so I could
see her from every possible angle.
“You look great.”
Lila asked how she looked, in one way or another, at least
every twenty minutes. Sometimes I was supposed to say You
look great. Sometimes I was supposed to say You don’t look fat,
or I love your jeans, your hair, your shirt, you smell soooo good.
It was okay. I knew it was my payment for hanging out
Besides, I can’t really say anything about needing constant
reassurance. Just because I don’t get it from Lila doesn’t mean
I don’t need it. I’d taught my parrot, AJ, to say Pretty Amy,
among other things. And when I’d asked him how I looked
that night, he’d obliged as usual.
“You really mean it?” Lila asked.
“I love your dress,” I said, just like I was supposed to.
I guess when it came to Lila I was just like AJ, repeating
“You need more eye shadow.” She pushed me down
into her seat. Once she got going it was hard to stop her, and
before I knew it, she had redone my whole face.
Rather than the soft, natural effect I’d had when I arrived,
after Lila was done I looked like I was ready to go up onstage.
Not the way people onstage look when they’re actually
onstage, but the way they look when you see them close up
before or afterward.
“Much better,” she said, stepping back to appraise
her work. I knew how I wanted to respond, but instead,
I responded how I usually did when it came to something I
didn’t agree with. I said nothing.
I wondered if she had done this on purpose, like some
bride/bridesmaid thing. Lila did act like a bride at a wedding
that never ended. She always had to be the most beautiful,
the most interesting, and in this case, the least likely to be
mistaken for a blind prostitute.
Cassie threw open the bedroom door and entered the
room looking like the photo on a slutty Halloween Devil
costume, all fire-engine red and skin and cleavage.
“Wow,” we both said. Well, really I said it, but I could see
Lila’s mouth open to make a word and stop in a perfect O. I’d
never seen Cassie in anything other than an oversize flannel
shirt and cargo pants. She usually dressed like a lumberjack—
it might have been part of the reason Lila put up with her.
That night, it was obvious that Cassie was far too
attractive to be as crabby as she was. Maybe that was why she
always tried so hard to hide it.
She lit a cigarette. “I know, I know,” she said, exhaling, “I
look like the lead singer of a Vegas lounge act. My brother
already told me.”
“Not at all,” Lila said, looking to me like a combination of
shocked and jealous.
I nodded in agreement. I was shocked and jealous. At
Brian’s house later, two boys would have two girls to choose
from. The way Cassie looked that night, she would be chosen
first. I would be the one who was left, as usual, but that is the
arithmetic that equals love in high school.
“Turn around,” Lila said, walking toward her and reaching
for her dress.
“Fuck off,” Cassie said, pushing her away. “You can see my
ass on the way out.”
Cassie pointed at me with the tip of her cigarette. “What
the hell did you do to her face?”
“How do you know I did it?” Lila asked.
“Because Amy thinks light blue is daring.”
I hated to hear it, even though she was right.
“Don’t listen to her,” Lila said, holding my face between her
hands and squeezing like a proud grandmother. “She wouldn’t
know beauty if it crawled up her butt and pitched a tent.”
“Well, I know what it looks like when something crawls
out,” Cassie said.
“Maybe it’s a little too much,” I said, looking over at Lila
with eyes that begged for tissues, water, turpentine.
“It is too much,” Cassie said.
Lila stood there with her hands on her hips, her nails
painted shiny silver, waiting for me to disagree. With Cassie on
my side, there was no way.
“Fine,” Lila said, throwing me a box of those blessed tissues.
“At least now when we show up at Brian’s, he won’t try
to be her pimp,” Cassie said, putting out her cigarette and
Cassie started her rusted gold Civic, took off her red heels,
and threw them over her shoulder. One of them barely missed
“Hey, be careful.” I was sitting in the back, as usual. I
picked up the shoes from where they had landed and placed
them next to each other on the seat, so it looked like there
had been someone standing there who had suddenly vanished.
“What do you want from me? I can’t drive in those
things,” she said, lighting another cigarette.
Cassie, Lila, and I smoked a lot. We were proficient at
leaning against things—walls and cars and fences—and we
liked to lean against them and smoke. Like we’d seen James
Dean doing in posters for movies we didn’t know the names
of. When we couldn’t lean against things and smoke, we just
Lila lit her own cigarette and threw one to me in the
back. “You can’t drive, period,” she said to Cassie, pulling the
rearview mirror toward her so she could put on more lipstick.
Cassie glared at her and moved the mirror back.
“I’ll tell you if there’s anything coming up behind you,”
“If I believed you could actually take your eyes off
yourself for two seconds, I’d feel a little safer.”
“Then Amy can do it,” Lila said.
I just smiled. There was no way I was going to ride turned
around with my knees on the seat, clutching the back window
like some panting dog. Well, at least not while I was wearing a
“Isn’t this great?” Lila said, watching her reflection in the
window. “The three of us together for the most memorable
night of our lives.” It was as if she wanted to see herself saying
it, and then compare it with the way other girls had said it on
nights like this.
I knew exactly what she meant, though. There was some
kind of magic that resulted from being dressed up and young
and headed for a night you were supposed to remember
forever. I was about to try to put that incredible feeling into
words when Cassie said, “This song sucks. Shut the fuck up
and put in a new CD.”
Not quite what I would have said, but this was Cassie we
were talking about.
“There’s no way I’m getting my hands dirty searching
around the floor for your CD case. Why don’t you have an
iPod like the rest of the world?” Lila asked.
“Why don’t you have a car?” Cassie retorted.
“Amy,” Lila demanded. And, since I knew I wouldn’t be
able to get away with saying no twice, I rooted around on
the floor, using only the very tips of my finger and thumb to
pick up what I found. I didn’t find a CD case. I found a lot of
sticky change, a glass pipe, and about twenty empty packs of
Cassie turned around. “It’s not there. My fucking brother.”
That was the way Cassie referred to the members of her
family. They were all her fucking something. Actually, that’s
the way Cassie referred to everybody.
“Who cares?” Lila said, rolling down her window. She was
not about to let Cassie ruin any part of this night for her.
The car screeched as we turned off Lila’s street,
Macadamia Drive, a name that made it seem exotic somehow,
but really it was just one of the streets named after nuts on the
other side of Main.
Lila pulled her cigarette out of her mouth and checked to
make sure there was a ring of lipstick around the filter. Things
like that made her happy.
“Don’t worry,” Cassie said, “they can see your lips from space.”
We sat in Brian’s driveway arguing. Well, Lila and Cassie were
arguing about whether we should walk to the door together or
Lila should go on her own.
“I’m not sitting in the car like someone’s mother,” Cassie
said, turning to me and gesturing for her shoes.
“But they don’t know you yet,” Lila said. “It’s probably
better if I go alone and bring them out.”
“I don’t care either way,” I said, but the truth was, I kind
of liked the idea of waiting in the car. There was no point in
giving my date the opportunity to back out by letting him
have a look at me first.
“Good, then let’s go.” Cassie slammed the door behind
her and clomped up the walk.
She rang the doorbell and we waited. Waited for Brian to
swing open the door and smile at us like a game-show host,
telling us we looked stunning and introducing Cassie and me
to our bachelors for the evening.
But the door stayed closed.
“I’ll do it,” Lila said, pushing her way through, her
reasoning for Brian’s absence apparently the fact that Cassie
didn’t know how to ring a doorbell. “They’re probably in the
basement doing bong hits.” She rang the bell over and over so
it made the impatient sound of a car alarm.
“Where are they?” Cassie asked.
“They have to be here,” Lila said, as much to herself as to us.
“Maybe we’re on Punk’d or something,” I said.
“That show is only for famous people, stupid,” Cassie said.
“Well, maybe we’re on a new show that we don’t know
about yet,” I tried.
Cassie smirked. “Did you tell them the right night?”
Brian did attend a rival high school. It was possible he
had been misinformed of the date of our prom. Even though
I knew it was a crock, I attempted to hold onto this like a
drowning person grabbing for an outstretched hand, because
I was drowning.
Lila ignored Cassie and stuck her face to the sidelight
window. She banged on the door like she was locked on the
inside of it.
“There’s obviously no one home,” Cassie said, in a tone
that suggested she was talking as much about Lila’s behavior
as she was about Brian’s empty house.
I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had been punched in the
throat. This was supposed to be the night where my date
would realize that he couldn’t live without me, that he would
love me forever. But that date didn’t exist.
“I’m going to look around back,” Lila said, walking away
in what appeared to be an attempt to shut Cassie up; this
“She’s so fucking clueless,” Cassie said, plopping down on
the grass. She pulled out a handful of blades and burned them
with her lighter. “Maybe he’ll come home if I burn his house
I nodded. Not that I wanted her to burn his house down,
but a small grass fire might attract some attention.
“This is so typical,” she said, lighting a cigarette. “I didn’t
even want to go. Fucking Lila.”
“We don’t know they’re not coming,” I said. I wasn’t ready
to let myself believe that this was going to be my memory of
prom night for the rest of my life.
“Well, maybe we don’t,” she said, taking a long drag, “but I do.”
I stared at my nails. I had painted them in the same light
blue as my dress. I thought about how the nail polish was still
sitting on my nightstand, how when I got home I would scrub
my nails raw and throw it away.
We looked up, startled by a crash that came from the back
of the house.
Cassie shook her head. “You should never climb a trellis
“You think Lila’s breaking in?”
She grabbed another handful of grass and lit it up. “You
know what would be classic?” she asked, smiling like she was
trying to keep a bird from flying out from behind her teeth.
“She finds him in there with some other girl.” She watched
me for a moment, gauging my reaction. “Don’t tell me that
wouldn’t make you happy.”
It would have, so I didn’t.
Lila came around the side of the house. “No one’s there,”
she said, as if that were news. “I did find this, though.” She
threw a gallon Ziploc bag of pot on the ground in front of us.
“Holy shit,” Cassie said. “This is better than a stupid dance
any day.” She held it up.
I knew Brian was a dealer, but I guess I didn’t know what
that really meant. This was what that really meant.
“I’ve been stood up for my prom, in case you haven’t
noticed,” Lila said.
“You’re the one who took it,” Cassie said, opening the bag
and smelling it.
“Not for us; to piss off Brian. How can this be happening
“It’s happening to all of us.” I wasn’t about to let Lila take
all the pain for herself, even though this was probably the
first time she had ever experienced what I had felt so many
times before—the pinprick pop and subsequent deflation of
“But he was my boyfriend,” Lila said.
I had to give her that. At least I hadn’t had sex with the boy
who was dumping me. Though it did concern me that my date
was rejecting me even with the knowledge that I might have.
“What are we supposed to do now?” Lila asked in a voice
that seemed like someone yelling to the heavens after hitting
her last straw.
“I have an idea,” Cassie said, shaking the bag.
I didn’t care what we did as long as it didn’t involve going
home to my mother.
“How pathetic. My best prospects for dates are you two,”
Lila said, a tear running down the side of her face, shiny and
fat like a worm. “I can’t believe Brian would do this to me.”
Lila looked like a wilted flower in the center of the lawn.
“Shut the fuck up about Brian; it’s over,” Cassie said.
“Let’s go party.”
“I’m too upset,” Lila said, not moving.
I shrugged. Cassie could try, but I doubted we were going
anywhere without Lila.
Cassie harrumphed and walked over to the front stoop.
She pulled her dress up and her underpants down.
“What the hell are you doing?” Lila asked.
“Leaving him a present,” Cassie said as she peed all over
the evening edition of the Collinsville News. “Now we can go
have some fun.”
Maybe Cassie meant to drive by our school, but maybe
she just couldn’t avoid it. Collinsville is dissected by four
major streets. Collinsville South High was positioned at the
intersection of two of the major-est.
“Duck,” Cassie said as we drove by. The pot smoke was
thick in the car. I didn’t think anyone could see us—not that
anyone was looking, anyway.
Even though I was supposed to be ducking, I couldn’t
help watching the limos lined up like a trail of ants marching
from the street to the school driveway. Kids from our class
were streaming out in cake-frosting-colored dresses and
black tuxes; girls were hugging, boys were fist-bumping, and
everyone was taking pictures with their phones.
I was hiding in a car smoking pot.
I wasn’t nearly as excited about having it as Cassie was,
but I kept smoking. I’d only had pot a few times. Usually at
parties, when other people were around to see me. I’d have
just a small hit or two to look like I belonged there.
But that night, I inhaled and coughed, inhaled and
coughed, until my lungs burned. I probably should have been
scared to smoke that much, but I needed to be annihilated. I
had to forget tomorrow, when I would wake up in one of the
three hotel rooms we’d rented, alone in that big bed, my dress
crumpled up on the floor like a discarded attempt at a love
“Maybe Brian is there already,” Lila said. It seemed
unlikely, but no less unlikely than being stood up for prom,
no less unlikely than driving by our school in Cassie’s car
pretending we didn’t want to be there.
“He’s not,” Cassie said.
“He could be,” Lila said. “Let me text him again.”
Maybe our dates were already inside. I let myself believe
it. Let stupid hope take over.
“We’re wasted. I’m not going in there,” Cassie said.
Lila looked at me in the side mirror. I’d seen that look
before. It was time for me to observe and obey.
“Then drop us off,” she said, still looking at me.
“Yeah, drop us off,” I said, feeling stupid as I said it,
knowing I was reciting just like AJ.
Cassie huffed. “Ten minutes,” she said. “And you owe me.”
She met my eye in the rearview mirror. “Both of you.”
I knew that look, too.
We parked a few blocks away and went in the back
entrance of the school—the door we’d sneak into after we’d
ditch out during lunch. We couldn’t arrive, just the three of
us, in front of everyone. It would be as bad as walking up all
It was strange being there after hours; the hallways empty,
overhead lights on, music coming from the gym. It smelled
different, like dust and ammonia. The things you couldn’t
smell when the halls were filled with people. I was so messed
up that the gray lockers lining the hallway made me think of
intestines, so messed up that the fact made more sense than it
ever had. Like intestines, the hallways at school could dissolve
you into a nameless, faceless drone. Unless you made yourself
We walked past the cafeteria, the nurse’s office, the
janitor’s closet, and the boys’ bathroom, our heels slapping the
floor like horses’ hooves.
“Let’s have a smoke first,” Cassie said, pushing open the
girls’ bathroom door.
“What if they
are waiting inside for us?” Lila asked.
“They made us wait,” Cassie said. “Now they can wait.”
“Amy?” Lila asked.
“I could have a smoke.” I shrugged.
Smoking with my girls was something I was used to. I was
not used to being stood up. I was not used to entering my
prom through the back door of my high school, so no one else
would know that I had been stood up.
If having a smoke for five minutes allowed me to stop
thinking about that, then yes, I wanted a smoke.
“Fine,” Lila said as we followed Cassie inside.
Smoking at school was definitely against the rules, but
I guess I felt like what had happened to me was, too. Some
cardinal prom law had been broken. That had to balance out
anything I needed to do to pretend otherwise, even getting
so high that my head felt like one of the shiny balloons that
probably covered the gymnasium ceiling like bubble wrap.
Our shoes echoed as we walked into the bathroom and all
the way back to the last stall. We stood around the toilet as
Cassie took a cigarette from her small red purse and lit it.
“I’m so fucked up,” Cassie said. She wobbled in her heels
and started to laugh. Her laughter bounced off the sea-green
“Just try to keep it together till we get inside,” Lila said,
grabbing the cigarette from her, taking a drag, and then
passing it to me.
I started to laugh, too. It was funny crowding into a
bathroom stall in our fancy shoes and fancy dresses and fancy
hairstyles; like sophisticated city women at a cocktail party—
with a toilet.
“Great, now you got Amy going.” Lila snickered.
“Shh,” I said, trying to keep the giggles from escaping.
They were starting to simmer up, like my lips were the hole
in a volcano model that was ready to blow. I put my hand
over my mouth. Just because we were breaking the rules so
deliberately didn’t mean I wanted to get caught.
Getting in trouble—in our fancy shoes and fancy dresses
and fancy hairstyles—seemed like another cardinal prom law
that wasn’t supposed to be broken.
“I think if they’re not here yet,” Cassie said, taking a quick
drag, “we should stay. We should stay and we should dance.
This buzz is too good to waste in my car.”
You want to dance?” Lila laughed.
“Sure, why not?” Cassie said.
I couldn’t keep the giggles in anymore. Cassie dancing?
I pictured her as Frankenstein—big and green, lurching to
techno in her slutty red dress.
“What?” Cassie said.
“I didn’t know you liked dancing,” Lila said, looking at me
like she knew exactly what I was picturing, trying so hard to
keep her mouth from curling up into a smile.
I let out one of those laughs when you’re trying not to and
it sounds like you’re spitting all over yourself.
“Shut up,” Cassie said, pushing me, but not in a mean way
or the way she sometimes did to remind you that she could
kill you if she wanted to, but you were lucky because she liked
“Okay,” Lila said, calming her giggles. “Okay, we’ll stay
and we’ll dance.”
Cassie threw the cigarette in the toilet and lit another one.
“I thought you wanted to
dance,” I teased, realizing that I
was starting to have fun. It was like I hadn’t exhaled since I’d
begun getting ready that afternoon. I had been waiting for my
date to take my hand, but laughing with Lila and Cassie would
do for now.
“In a minute,” Cassie said.
“Can’t wait,” Lila said, smiling at me again.
“You do realize we all have our cell phones,” I said.
“You upload anything to YouTube and I’ll be uploading
my own video,” Cassie said, inhaling sharply. “It’ll be worse
than my dancing, believe me.”
“I’m not sure what could be,” Lila said, laughing again.
“Shut up,” Cassie said, giving Lila a light shove.
Cassie’s dancing felt like a big joke. But her wanting to
delay it made sense. Locked in the stall, it was only us. Boys
made things complicated.
Our dates might have been inside waiting for us, or they
might not have, but standing in a circle around the toilet, we
didn’t have to worry about that—
yet. We could smoke and
laugh and pretend this was just like any other time we were
together, when the smoke was hovering above us like insects
and we were laughing and whispering about nothing.
When nothing felt like everything.
“They are here; I know it,” Lila said as we left the
bathroom. We turned the corner past the trophy case and
walked toward the welcome table in front of the gym.
Joe Wright and Leslie Preston sat there, she in a purple
dress, he in a tux with matching tie. He was sweating and his
usually spiky blond hair was matted down, as though he had
just come off the dance floor.
“We’re in hell,” Cassie muttered.
“Tickets, please,” Leslie said, looking at us the way
everyone looked at us—like we were flies that were bothering
I didn’t really know Leslie, but I knew Joe, or had known
him. He lived across the street from me. We’d played together
when we were younger, like kids on the same street do. We’d
shared a bus stop until last year, when I stopped taking the
bus; we’d been friends until three years ago, when I started
hanging out with Cassie and Lila.
Were Leslie and Joe dating? It didn’t seem possible.
Of course, she dated anyone there was to date, was on any
committee there was to join, and was friends with anyone
there was to be friends with. Well, except for losers and dorks,
or rebels like Cassie, Lila, and me.
“Our dates have them. I think they’re inside,” Lila said.
“Names,” Leslie said, looking at a clipboard.
“You know our names,” Cassie said.
“Their names.” She squinted. I’d never said anything to
her, but from the way she was acting, my guess was Cassie had,
and that it involved swear words.
“Brian Reynolds and Kevin and Aaron,” Lila listed,
ticking them off on her fingers.
“Kevin and Aaron?” Leslie asked.
She didn’t even know their last names. I wasn’t sure if
that, or the fact that we were now begging to get into our own
prom, was worse.
“Not here,” Leslie said, looking at her list.
The gym door opened—three girls from our class leaving
to go to the bathroom. Three girls dressed just like Cassie,
Lila, and me, having a totally different night. The music was
loud, bass thumping. I saw kids from our class jumping up
and down in circles in the middle of the dance floor in their
stockinged feet. I saw a glimpse of blue and white balloons
and sparkly lights as the door slammed shut.
We should have stayed in the bathroom.
“Can’t we just look?” Lila asked.
“Not without tickets,” Leslie said. “This prom took a lot of
work and cost a lot of money, not that you would know.”
“We bought tickets,” Lila said.
“Then where are they?” she asked.
“Probably scalped for weed,” Cassie said under her breath.
I looked at Joe. He looked down. I couldn’t remember
who’d stopped talking first. Who’d started glancing away when
we saw each other on the sidewalk, in the hallway. I guess it
didn’t matter. We’d fallen into that rhythm as easily as we had
fallen out of our old one.
The gym door opened again. A slow song seeped out as
school gossip-monger Ruthie Jensen entered the hall. She
stood there in her pale pink dress, acting as though she wasn’t
It was like she had a sixth sense for when your life was
“Come on, you know us,” I whispered.
“Sure,” Joe said, looking through me, “but you still need a
“We go to this school. Why would we not buy tickets?” I
was this close. There was no way I wasn’t getting inside, with
or without a date.
“School policy,” he said, shrugging.
Leslie smiled and snuggled into him.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. He had no reason to be
nice to me. We never liked seeing each other. It was always
uncomfortable. I hated that he knew who I had been before I
“You don’t have your tickets?” Ruthie asked, trying to
gather more information. She pulled her pale pink wrap
tightly around her. She was telling
everyone about this.
“Let’s go,” Cassie said, turning toward the door. “Thanks a
I didn’t bother asking if she still wanted to stay and dance.
It didn’t even seem funny anymore.
I looked at Joe, giving him one last chance. He didn’t take
We drove around aimlessly, smoking cigarettes.
“Well, that totally sucked,” Lila said.
“You suck,” Cassie said.
I took a drag and watched the ash fall like snowflakes as
I tapped it on the open window. “Which one was supposed to
be my date?” I asked.
“Aaron, I guess,” Lila said.
“Who cares?” Cassie said.
“What does he look like?” I closed my eyes. Maybe I was
out of it enough to create a fake memory.
“I don’t know,” Lila said.
“Like I said, who cares?” Cassie said.
I opened my eyes. Why
did I care? He had stood me up.
He obviously didn’t care.
“Brian’s friends with him on Facebook, if you want to look
him up,” Lila said, trying to give me her phone.
I held up my hand like a crossing guard, my light blue nails
still mocking me. I dropped it in a fist on my lap and shook
my head. There was no way I could handle the possibility of
seeing what Aaron was
really doing right now.
“This is so boring. Isn’t there anywhere else we can go?”
“Everyone we know is at the stupid prom or hiding from
us,” I said.
“Brian isn’t hiding from us.”
“Okay, whatever,” Cassie said, looking at me in the
“He forgot,” Lila said, having convinced herself. “He does
a lot of drugs. He only has a select number of brain cells left.”
“That explains why he likes you, I guess,” Cassie said.
I snorted. I couldn’t help it.
“Shut up, Amy.”
I covered my mouth.
“This is just like some sort of fucked-up fairy tale,”
Cassie said. I could see her smiling to herself in the rearview
mirror. “Like Cinderella, except all twisted up and without
“So, what does that make us?” Lila asked. “The ugly
stepsisters? Thanks a lot.”
“You’re welcome,” Cassie said, lighting another cigarette
and swerving onto the shoulder. “Fucking car,” she said as she
“I am not ugly,” Lila said, crossing her arms and screwing
up her face like a kid having a temper tantrum.
“We know,” Cassie said, rolling her eyes.
“All dressed up and no place to go,” Lila wailed, like a
cringeworthy audition from that one girl in drama club, the
one who never gets the part.
Her prayers were answered by the lights and sirens of a
police car coming up behind us.
“Fucking police,” Cassie said as they pulled us over.
I looked at the enormous bag of Brian’s marijuana on the
seat next to me. Crap.
We definitely should have stayed in the bathroom.
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