So I caught the tail end of “Stick It” on TV the other day. For those of you who’ve never seen it, it’s a gymnastics movie about this bad-ass chick names Halley. As soon as I recognized the movie, and saw this girl in her baseball cap and ratty sweatshirt, I knew. This girl was spot-on for my character “Summer” from “Whatever’s Left.”
She’s kind of got that grungy thing goin’ on, and she can totally pull off the tom-boy persona. I can picture her on a horse, and sliding out from under Summer’s Camaro, with grease up to her elbows. And then I can also picture her with too much eyeshadow on, stumbling home from a party, looking cutely disheveled.
I think I have a girl-crush =]
Oh, right. Turns out she’s also on Rookie Blue, which is one of my new favorite shows. Derr. (She looks different now that she’s older, I swear)
So here’s a bit of Summer from the manuscript, so y’all can see what I’m talkin’ about:
My college acceptance deadlines were on the immediate horizon the day he’d asked me to prom, and I’d taken to carrying around my letter from the University of Tampa in the back pocket of my jeans, hoping a decision would come to me by osmosis.
It was getting to be the time of year when the seniors could literally feel graduation just a few short weeks away; the anticipation was a tangible, living thing. For seemingly everyone else, it was heavily laced with excitement. Me, I was a bit more reserved about the whole thing, probably because I was still very successfully procrastinating. I knew I needed to pick a school within the next week, but the decision carried so much weight that I was avoiding it at all costs, scared I’d choose wrong and end up screwing up the rest of my life.
I reached my locker and spun the combination. At this point, I could open it with my eyes closed. With my mind so far away, trying to picture myself on a college campus, I almost didn’t notice the CD placed neatly on the top shelf.
I knew before I picked it up that it was from Chris; he was always lending me albums that he liked, mostly in the hope that they’d distract me from the sounds of my parents’ marriage collapsing. I flipped the jewel case over, wondering what band he wanted me to hear this time, and had to read the words three times before I fully understood them, “Come to Prom with Me?”
I was still grinning like an idiot when Jenn came barreling around the corner, and she was tugging on the strap of my backpack before I even processed the fact that she was talking to me.
Jenn had always been this way, easily excited and overly dramatic. It never made sense to me that we were friends, because the truth of the matter was that Jenn liked girl things and I did not. It was a constant battle, but I couldn’t help it, I loved her anyway.
She was swatting her short brown hair out of her face, bouncing with excitement, and talking a mile a minute about what color dress she’d gotten and how she planned on doing her hair. I was well on my way to tuning her out when I heard her mention Chris’s name.
“What?” I was lost.
She made her words exaggeratedly slow, teasing me for not paying attention. “Chris. Wants. To. Know. What. Color. Your. Dress. Is. So. He. And. Tom. Can. Go. Rent. Tuxes.” She shook my shoulder playfully, laughing. “Jesus Christ, do you really turn your brain off every time I start talking about girl stuff?”
I shrugged, caught. “Can’t help it.” I wasn’t surprised in the least that she’d known before I did that I’d actually have a date; it was what she did. “Jenn,” the horror dawned, “I didn’t get a dress yet.” I’d been so caught up in making huge, life-altering decisions, that prom had entirely slipped my mind. The look on Jenn’s face suggested that I’d just spat on the Bible, and in a way, I supposed I had. Her hand locked around my wrist like a vice, and she started dragging me towards the door, her eyebrows drawn together, angry and determined.
“We’re going shopping.” The severity of her voice made it clear I didn’t have a say in the matter. I shook her hand off.
“Fine, but I’m driving.”
She smirked at me, letting me know that as usual, I wouldn’t get my way easily.
“Fine,” she mimicked my tone, “but I get to pick the store.” I sighed, defeated. As unappealing as AP History sounded at the moment, it was an honest-to-god toss up of whether I’d rather be there or confined to a dressing room with Jenn shoving one dress after another in my face.
“Fine,” I conceded. “You win.”
The curtain flew open, and Jenn tossed something blue and frilly at me while I frantically tried to cover up my many exposed parts. “Jenn! What the fuck, you could at least warn me before you do that.”
In answer, she just gave me a “shut- up-and-be-glad-I’m-even-helping-you” look and zipped up the back of what felt like the thousandth dress I’d struggled into in one fluid motion. She stood back, analyzing it from every angle, as though this were the biggest decision I’d ever make. “Not this one,” she declared. “This is definitely not you.”
I squirmed, the front of the dress was cut almost down to my belly-button, and I was not a fan.
“None of these are ‘me.’” I crossed my arms over my chest, the only way that I’d feel as though I were actually clothed. “The dresses, the hair, the make-up, none of it’s me.” My mouth turned down in a pout as I tugged at the tight fabric. I was being more difficult than the situation necessarily warranted, but I didn’t care. Some girls are built for evening gowns and high heels; this one was not.
Jenn spun me around and unzipped the dress that she had just deemed all wrong.
“That’s kind of the point,” she ducked back out of the changing room. I heard her rustling hangers around.
“Here.” She pushed something pale yellow through the curtain at me. “If you ever want Chris to notice you as someone besides the girl that grubs around in the dirt with him, you’re gonna have to shake things up a little.”
I snatched the dress, shushing her. I knew nobody was around to hear, but I still didn’t like my secret to be spoken aloud. “Well, can I shake things up without flashing our entire graduating class, please?” I tossed the low-cut number back to her, stepping into the yellow dress. Without bothering to glance in the mirror, I wiggled it up and called Jenn back in. “What about this one?”
Finally, after almost two hours of sequins and disastrous hemlines, she threw up her hands and gave me an actual smile. “Ohmigod! Summer, it’s gorgeous.” I raised an eyebrow at her, skeptical of anything that could elicit such an outburst from her. But when I turned and actually looked in the mirror, my first reaction was to agree.
The delicate halter straps drew attention to my slender neck, and the simple way the fabric wrapped around my waist and twisted down around my legs made me look elegant instead of bony. The bottom of the dress puddled at my feet, ending in a soft array of embroidered silver flowers.
Jenn leaned up against the wall, crossing her arms and nodding at me. “That’s definitely not you.” She grabbed my hand and tugged me into an unwilling little spin. “Don’t even look at the price tag,” she said. “Just buy it.”