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In the days leading up to the dance, Vivienne almost forgot about their grim fate. Everyone was preoccupied with getting ready with their girlfriends. Everyone, except Sam who was now a pariah. She was ignored by Zissa for her outburst during the showdown with the Lethes. She was also ignored by her other friends for getting drunk and making out with their boyfriends at the diner. For once, Vivienne didn’t feel like the loneliest girl at Remin High.
So, Vivienne ended up asking Sam to go dress shopping with her at the mall. Sam immediately picked out a brassiere over a tutu and tried to convince Vivienne to try it on. Vivienne agree to try it on in order to be polite but threw the outfit back onto the hangers as soon as Sam’s back was turned.
“I was supposed to go dress shopping with Zissa and Nicole. Now they’ve banished me to Siberia.” Sam said, sadly as she picked out some lacy underwear. Vivienne hoped that she was going to wear a dress over the lipstick red thong she was holding. “Did you have friends back where you came from, V?”
Vivienne ran her fingers over a long black dress with a clerical collar and laced detailing. Beside it was a white cardigan with black trim, gold piping and plastic buttons. She remembered a cardigan like that once. Allison had a cardigan like that.
“Yeah,” Vivienne said, trying to drag herself back into the present. “I had a really good friend once. I guess you can say, we had a fight too.”
“Mm-huh,” Sam said, clearly barely hearing a word Vivienne said. “I’m going to go into a fitting room okay?” She was holding a a tiny mini-dress with gold sequins and knee-high pleather boots.
Vivienne nodded. She looked back at the cardigan and the memories came flooding back to her. The cardigan had been a perfect fit. She and Allison had always been the same size. Allison had given it to her after she had been caught in the rain walking to school. Her father was supposed to drive her but he stayed out all night at the casinos and forgot again. Vivienne hadn’t even asked for it but Allison had insisted. The cardigan seemed beautiful because it had been on Allison. She had that kind of magical effect on everything she touched. Vivienne remembered it smelled vaguely of jasmine and rose.
“Keep it. You can bring it to my house the next time you come over,” Allison had said. “We can have a sleep over.”
Vivienne had been relieved Allison had invited her over instead of coming over. Vivienne’s house was always a wreck. Her father perpetually had all his ancient texts scattered all over the dining room table. He and her mom were always fighting about the bills. Vivienne remembered Allison’s house had been small but warm. Allison’s mom showed up at the door with a tray full of finger sandwiches and milk. Vivienne had never experienced anything like that in her life. Her mom usually just threw something into a microwave.
Allison’s room was covered in ornate wallpaper in shimmery blue with painted vines. She had a leopard print couch. Vivienne felt glamorous just sitting on it, as though she should be holding a cigarette holder and wearing a long string of pearls. On the wall there was a pin-up board full of pages ripped from fashion magazines. In there middle, there was a dress with pink ribbons over the shoulders that was made entirely of silk flowers.
“That dress is magical,” Vivienne said, as Allison was digging through her closet for her make-up bag so they could do each other’s nails.
“That is what I want to wear to the prom, one day,” Allison had said. “I don’t know how, but one day I’m going to wear that dress.”
“It must be expensive,” Vivienne had said then immediately regretted being a downer. Allison had just laughed and threw her crimson curls over her shoulder.
“It’s just a dream, silly. What do you want to wear to prom?”
Vivienne had paused. “Never thought about it.”
“Everyone has thought about what they want to wear to prom,” Allison said. “Think you’re going with Daniel?”
“No, ew.” Vivienne replied, making a face. “I don’t want to go with anyone. I guess I’ll wearing something black so I can blend into the background.”
“Come on,” Allison teased as she sat down beside Vivienne and stroked her long black hair. “Who do you want to go with to the prom? If you don’t tell me then I’ll make you be my date.”
“No one,” Vivienne insisted.
“In your darkest, wildest dreams.” Allison continued, with a mischievous smile on her face. “If you could go with anyone at all.”
“There is a boy,” Vivienne finally surrendered. “I see him in my dreams. But it can never happen. He’s dead, you see.”
“Why him? Was he cute?” Allison demanded.
“I don’t know either.” Vivienne had said. “He wasn’t the nicest person. I guess I felt something special when I was with him, something I never felt again.”
“I understand you,” Allison said and wrapped a red silk shawl around Vivienne’s neck. “You’re not as dark and as depressing as you think. We’re going to go to a party together, this weekend and you’re going to meet someone new. That’s the thing about people who are dead, you sort of form this idea in your head of who they should be. Like after my father left, I was grateful for it. I wish he never comes back.”