Chelsea, of course, was the first one to speak up. “Okay, am I the only one who noticed how gi-mungous Mimi Nichols’s dress makes her ass look? Of course, you can barely notice it since her freakishly giant boobs are practically hanging out the top of it.” Chelsea glanced at Jules and grinned. “No offense, of course,” she offered, raising her eyebrows at Jules’s chest.
Claire giggled, and Jules wrinkled up her face in disgust at Chelsea’s teasing barb. “You’re just jealous,” she retorted, eyeing Chelsea’s chest in return.
“Touché, Jules. Touché!” Chelsea admitted.
Claire wanted so badly to join in on the catty conversation, but she was terrible at finding other people’s flaws…at least intentionally. Still, she gave it her best shot. “And what about Jennifer Cummings?” she asked accusingly, trying to mimic one of Chelsea’s cutting looks.
They looked around at one another, wondering what it was that they weren’t getting. Chelsea was the only one brave enough to ask, “What about her, Claire?”
“She does not even look kind of cute!” Claire stated, her face a mask of mock horror.
They all stared at her, not sure what to say.
And then once again, of course, it was Chelsea who broke the stunned silence. “I swear, Claire-bear, I am going to call your mom and tell her you need to start riding the short bus. You really need to start practicing your bitchy comments. What are you gonna do when we’re not here to get your back?”
Claire rolled her eyes, too oblivious to be insulted, which was why she was the perfect friend for Chelsea, who was too insulting to be oblivious. “Geez, Chels, I don’t even ride the bus.”
Jules couldn’t help herself; despite her best efforts to hold on to her detached cool, she started laughing. And pretty soon they were all laughing, even Claire, who still didn’t realize what they were laughing at.
“You guys are so mean!” Violet charged accusingly. “Can’t you just have fun and stop picking everyone apart?”
Chelsea looked disgusted. “You’ve gone soft, haven’t you? Jay has made you soft!”
Violet rolled her eyes, smiling despite her best efforts. “Whatever. Everyone’s soft compared to you.”
“Ouch!” Chelsea pretended to be wounded. But again, she just couldn’t pull it off.
They spent some time primping in front of the mirror, fixing stray pieces of hair and touching up lip gloss. Violet looked down at her bandaged foot and tried to wiggle her toes, which felt like they were being pinched in an unyielding vise. Her mom had obviously wrapped it too tight.
She sat down on a wooden bench that was bolted to the floor…in case some high school hooligan like herself decided to make off with it, she supposed. She set down her crutches, leaning them against the wall, as she assessed the damage to her throbbing foot. She wondered briefly if the stretchy Ace bandages could actually cut off her circulation. She only half jokingly hoped her toes wouldn’t fall off.
“Ready?” Chelsea asked after using the bathroom, as if now that she was finished, they all should be.
“Mmm…not yet,” Violet said, leaning down to loosen the wrapping around her ankle. She glanced up at her three best friends, who looked amazing in their dazzling dresses, and she felt guilty about keeping them away from the dance any longer. “You guys go ahead. I’m just gonna redo this and I’ll be right there.”
Chelsea looked a little skeptical about leaving Violet behind, the first hint of humanity she’d shown all evening. “I don’t know….”
“Go on, I’ll just be a few minutes,” Violet assured her.
“You sure?” Jules asked.
“Seriously. I’m right behind you,” she said convincingly.
Violet watched them go before turning her concentration back to her foot. She carefully unrolled the bandage, breathing easier as she felt the restricted blood begin to flow more freely. She sighed out loud when she felt the last remnant of bandage slacken and then snap elastically off her swollen ankle. She could see the impression of the bandage in her distended skin. She leaned back, giving herself just a brief moment to savor the relief, allowing her foot to breathe a little.
She knew she needed to get on with it, before Jay got impatient and decided to come in after her.
She leaned down, suddenly glad that she wasn’t strapped into a tight, corset-style dress like Jules was wearing. Honestly, she didn’t think she’d be able to breathe in that thing, let alone bend over. She started to wrap the flexible fabric around and around, giving her foot a little more space than her mom had. The bench beneath her began to vibrate harder, as a song change meant even more of the insufferable bass, setting Violet’s teeth on edge as she struggled to concentrate on what she was doing.
She heard the door, but she was almost finished, she almost had the last piece of bandage right where she needed it. She absently reached for one of the small silver clasps with the jagged teeth that would hold the binding in place. When the door opened, the music grew louder, as did the deep rumbling from the speakers. Violet assumed that someone else had the same idea that Chelsea had, about avoiding the overcrowded bathrooms nearest to the dance. She didn’t look up to see who it was.
She fumbled with the first fastener, finally getting it right, and then reached up to grab the second where she had placed it on the bench beside her. Her fingers groped but found nothing there.
She glanced back at the bench beside her, moving only her eyes, but before she could find it, she was distracted. A hand reached out in front of her, holding the clasp out to her.