Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chapter 25

Chapter 25

When Regan was twelve she went to her first formal dance.  She had been given an allowance for a dress and shoes and left to her select her own gown.  It had been in that moment that she first saw pity in the face of her best friend.  Where Emma had selected a dress with a short skirt and spaghetti straps, Regan's selection was long and flowing, its high neckline not only hiding her budding chest, but her shoulders as well.  Emma had tried desperately to get Regan to consider something else, presenting asymmetrical skirts, off the shoulder cuts, backless, strapless, and even a cat suit with flared pants as alternatives.  Regan would have nothing of it and had insisted that her dress was perfect.

Regan had suspected that her father did not understand the drama that had risen over the last hour when he picked up the girls from the mall or how it was that the usually glowing Emma was so dour.  Regan for her part had refused to make eye contact with Emma.  The drive to drop off Emma had been awkwardly silent, the drone of the NPR reporters providing the only thing approaching conversation.  Regan had given quiet thanks that her father did not ask what was going on.  She could clearly remember how badly she prefered the silence.  By the time they had deposited Emma on her doorstep, her father seemed to accept that something had happened and that Regan would manage it as she always did.

The fight had been forgotten, of course, over the next few days and did not resurface accept for that moment when Emma's mom had picked up Regan to take the two girls to the dance.  Each girl had offered a terse "you look nice" to each other, and then walked stiffly back to the car.  Regan could remember the look of concern on her father's face as they had backed out of the driveway and he watched from the front porch.  But within minutes of reaching the dance, the two were engaged in a long conversation about Emma's streak of shockingly white hair that she had added that evening, Emma's mother's disapproval, and of course, which boys would be most interested in it.

Over the course of the evening, neither had really budged from the small stretch of bleachers they had staked out.  Emma had been asked to dance by a boy seventeen times, five of them for slow dances, twelve for popular songs.  Regan's count had ended the evening at ten, eight slow and two fast.  When she was asked for dance number eight, a slow dance, she felt she was winning in the count that mattered until Matt Newcastle groped her ass halfway through the song.  She had not exactly known what to do about the advance; it was decidedly unwelcome, but she did not feel  confident she should react at all to it.  She did not want to appear the prude and therefore ignored the gesture, turning and beelining back to Emma's side as the song faded and another began.

The entire ordeal had taught Regan many things, facts that the next five years of school and dances would regularly affirm.