By Dawn DeBraal

Lana called dibs on the front seat. Her little sister, Abby, pouted and crawled into the back. As they were driving, Abby hummed some silly children’s song from a cartoon she watched that morning. As she sang, she kicked the back of the seat. Floor to the back of the seat, down to the floor in the rhythm of the song, her feet pedaled.

“Stop it!” Lana warned her little sister. Lana’s nerves were already frazzled, and the day had just begun.

“Make me.” Abby stuck out her tongue. Lana scowled. 

“The both of you stop,” Mother called out. The car was quiet. Lana looked out the window, Abby continued with her song. Soon her feet started to kick the back of the seat again. Floor to the seat, returning to the floor.

“Mom! Abby is kicking the seat again.” Mother shook her head.

“Abby, stop kicking the seat. Do you want Lana to do that to you on the way home?” Abby shook her head and stopped her feet midmotion. Lana snickered. 

Abby kept singing the song her hand snaked up the passenger side window, her fingers poked into Lana’s cheek to the beat of the song.

“Abby, stop it!” Lana put her hand up to her face, catching her sister’s hand and squeezing it as hard as possible.

“Mom! Lana is hurting my hand!” Abby whined. Mother threatened to stop the car. They were familiar with the threat. They’d sat on the side of the road until both girls were quiet on other occasions, so they faced forward with their hands in their laps.

Abby started her song again. Lana rolled her eyes. As long as Abby wasn’t kicking or poking, Lana would live with the silly song. They stopped at the light. Lana sucked in her breath and turned around, facing the back seat.

“Mom! Lana is looking at me!” Abby wailed.

“Abby, I am just looking out the back window. Stop it!” Lana saw Jimmy Macken in the crosswalk, she didn’t want him to see her in a family situation, she wanted him to think she was as cool as he thought she was, at school. Lana thought maybe Jimmy had a crush on her.

“Please, God. Change the light!” Lana whispered to herself, staring out the back window. When the car moved ahead, she could see Jimmy on the sidewalk across the street. Lana quickly faced forward, but not before she caught the look of laughter on her mother’s face.

“Mom!” Mother shook her head.

“What?”

“Stop it!” They pulled into the department store parking lot. Today the girls were shopping for a dress for Lana. Jimmy Macken asked her to the Spring Fling.

They walked into Dalworth’s Department Store and took the elevator to formalwear on the fourth floor. Lana was drawn to the dresses with puffy sleeves, she tried on a few, but her five-foot-two stature made the dresses drag on her. Lana knew she couldn’t pull off heels.

Abby found a rack of dresses that kept her out of Lana’s hair, at least. Dress after dress, Lana went back to the changing room and tried them on. They all looked better on the hanger than on her. Lana was fighting back the tears Dalworth’s was the only formalwear in town.

Abby came with a dress she loved, 

“Try this,” she pushed the garment through the curtain. Lana looked at the size and was surprised to see Abby picked the right one.

“Where did you find this?” she asked her sister.

“On the special rack. Try it, Lana. It’s a good color, and so pretty.” Lana wanted to play the role of the big sister and tell Abby the dress wasn’t her style, but it was a beautiful dress—a satiny powder blue skirt with a glittery bodice. Lana fingered the shoulder straps of tiny rhinestones sewn together that crisscrossed at the back. She took the dress off the hanger and stepped into it. She could only pull the zipper up partway, she needed help. Lana sighed.

“Abby?”

“Yes?”

“Please come here, help me zip up the dress.” Abby was more than happy to help her sister. Lana looked at herself in the mirror. It was perfect.

 “Oh, Abby, you’ve found the dress!” Lana turned in the mirror, looking at herself at all angles, almost afraid to look at the price. The dress was probably out of her price range. Lana fumbled for the tag. Her eyes shot up when she saw the cost. Would mom go for it?

“Girls?”

“In here, Mom!” Abby called out.

“Are you decent, can I see?”  she pulled back the curtain.

“Oh, Lana, that is a lovely dress,” Her mother twirled her finger in a motion so Lana would turn around. She could tell by the look on Mother’s face she approved of Abby’s find.

“How much?”  Lana watched her Mother’s face as she read the price tag. “It’s the dress you should have,” she said quietly. They all knew Father would blast off when he found out the cost, and they hadn’t bought the shoes to go with the dress.

The rhinestone sandals went with the dress perfectly. Lana’s Mother pulled cash out of a special pocket in her wallet and paid for them. 

Lana was so grateful to her little sister for finding the dress she didn’t fight her for the front seat, nor did she kick the back of the car seat or reach around to poke her sister in the face as she planned to do to Abby, earlier. For some reason getting back at Abby was no longer as important as it had been. Her little sister had redeemed herself by finding “the dress.” 

Lana was excited. She couldn’t wait for Jimmy Macken to see her come down the stairs wearing that dress and those shoes. Today, she felt like a grown-up.

2 thoughts on “The Dress

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