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The week of the dance, life on campus seemed to stop. Everyone was concerned with one of two things: exams and the dance. We had Monday and Tuesday off as study days, and then finals were on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I had two exams each day. I didn't know how they were going to go, because I had let my schoolwork go somewhat this semester. I just didn't care enough to do my homework. I thought I should get As just for showing up to class.
On Monday, I decided to go to the library and actually read the book our final was on for English. After we'd finished As I Lay Dying, we had read a book of essays by Thoreau. All Ms. Gutierrez had told us was that we should be familiar with his essays and be prepared to write about one of them. I thought transcendentalism was ridiculous. During class when we actually discussed Thoreau, I usually wrote poetry in my notebook or stared out the window. Gutierrez never commented about my lack of participation, and if we had a written assignment, I always turned it in. I just didn't actually read anything we were supposed to read. It took me about five hours to get through all the essays, since I was so bored with all of it, but I somehow made it through. It probably would have taken me half the time if I had actually read for more than five minutes at a time. After that I worked on a packet of Physics problems, and then I decided to go back to my room and call it a day. That was more work than I had done most days the entire semester. I knew my grades were going to fall dramatically, but I didn't care.
When I got back to my room, all I wanted was to sleep. I usually took a long nap after classes ended every day, which is probably why I never got work done. Sleep was nice, because I didn't have to think about anything. Sometimes Jennie would try to come by and see me, but I wouldn't answer the door. I would roll over, and after she knocked three or four times without a response, she'd leave. Sometimes I felt bad, because she sincerely wanted to be friends with me, but I just couldn't deal with having a friend right now. I rarely saw Matt as well, because he was either with Tim or being flocked by Erin and Ashley. Erin still seemed hell-bent on getting him to date her. I just observed it all, taking it in and trying not to let the sight of the two of them hurt me too much.
Tuesday, I did more studying. I practiced some Pre-Calculus problems, ran through some Spanish vocabulary, and memorized some dates and events in US History. In speech class we didn't have a final because we had already had to give our final speech. It had been a persuasive argument, and I had thrown it together the night before. She told us we could use that final time to either sleep or study for our last period final. I think our teacher just didn't want to come into work.
My finals went somewhat okay. I don't think I got perfect scores on them, but I hopefully passed all my classes. I knew if I failed something I'd have to repeat the class, and I really didn't feel like doing that. When I turned in my US History final, all I wanted to do was sleep. I made my way back to my room, and was about to enter it, when Jennie appeared out of no where.
"Hey! How did your finals go? I hate finals. I'm not sure how well mine went, but I don't care. The only people who actually care are my parents. I hate when grades come, because that is all I ever hear about. They keep telling me I need to get my grades up, because they will not tolerate me going anywhere except U of M if I go to a state-school. Do your parents act like that?"
I thought about Heather studying at the University of Chicago. I knew my parents had high expectations, and when I brought home a report card lacking straight As they wouldn't be too thrilled. I opened the door up and told Jennie she could come in.
"Well? Are Mommy and Daddy going to be mad at you or what?"
I sighed. I wanted to sleep, and now I had to deal with her. Jennie was probably the closest thing I had to a friend right now, but that didn't mean I wanted to spend time with her.
I noticed her looking at me expectantly from the chair she had settled in, and decided I had better answer.
"I'm sure they'll be mad. Heather does go to the University of Chicago. If I don't at least go to U of I my parents will be disappointed. That's where my friends and I had planned on going to school anyway." With that, I realized I had said more than I had meant.
Jennie looked curious. "Your friends from back home? Matt?"
I nodded, deciding that I could lie and act like they were all still back there. "Yeah. I don't know if that's going to happen anymore, but we'll see."
"Everyone from my hometown either goes to an Ivy League, Michigan, or State. It's kind of ridiculous how predictable it is. I think I might try to go somewhere else, just to change things up. My parents might disown me if I went somewhere other than Michigan, but it'd be worth it to see the looks on everyone's faces."
I didn't even know if I would be alive when it came time to pick a college. That was still over a year away. The same went for Matt. Would any of our group make it to college?
"What are your plans for getting ready for tonight?"
Now I knew why Jennie had come here. She wanted to get ready for the dance together. Sometimes she did things that were so stereotypical for girls to do together, and it was almost ironic. She hated doing things that were commonly done by others, yet here she was. I wondered if her mother wanted photo evidence that the night had really happened. I knew my mother probably did. I should probably ask Jennie to take a few pictures tonight.
"I didn't really have any," I said.
"Well, we should get ready together. The bimbos have already headquartered in my room. You should see them. It's disgusting. Daddy has paid for them all to get hair and nail appointments, and then they're coming back here to do their make-up. I basically have a small window of time to get my dress out of my room."
"I guess we could." The last thing I wanted was to put effort in so I'd be drawing attention to myself. Maybe Matt would notice me tonight if I tried… wait. He's going with Erin. He'll be so busy with her he probably won't even know I exist tonight. We've barely spoken this month.
"Great. I can do your hair and make-up. I have some ideas for what I want to do with it. I'm so mad the pink has started fading out of mine. The last thing I want is to have my natural hair color. Ick."
A part of my wondered what her natural hair color was, because she had even gone so far as to dye her eyebrows pink. I thought it looked kind of freaky, but that was what Jennie was going for. I'm sure her mother loved it. "What color is your hair when it isn't pink?"
"Blue. Black. Purple. You know. Anything to make my parents and the school mad. I'm surprised they haven't forced me into a salon yet. My mom did that the first time I came downstairs with dyed hair, and she hasn't done it since because I always re-dye it immediately after I get home. She doesn't have time to deal with it anymore."
I wondered why she hated her real hair color so much. She couldn't want to make people mad that much, could she?
She glanced at her watch and told me she had to run and grab all her things. The hair appointments must have been going on, because she seemed to be in a hurry. I could always fall asleep and pretend not to hear her when she knocked…
That would be mean. It wouldn't kill me to get ready with her, since I had to go anyway. It wasn't like we were going to be revealing all our secrets and making pacts with each other. We'd just get ready for the dance, go when it came time, and then do our own thing. It wouldn't be all bad. I had even bought a pair of long gloves to go with my dress so my arms wouldn't be showing. It was perfect. No one would have any idea what my past was like or what my present was like, either.
I decided to take a shower before she got back. My hair was looking really greasy. I was just so unmotivated, all the time. Even showering took effort. I washed my hair and combed out all the knots, which seemed to accumulate more and more often these days. When I got out of the shower, I decided to change into some normal clothes. The dance was still quite a few hours off.
Jennie came back, carrying a garment bag. She had her backpack on her back, and was trying to hold onto a giant make-up kit as well. I took the make-up kit from her, and set it down on my desk. She looked relieved to have that out of her arms.
"They were coming back when I was leaving. I had to run to hang onto everything and get away from them. I really don't need a bimbo moment right now."
I hung up her dress in my closet, and then realized that we had nothing to do. I didn't need to paint my nails, since I was wearing gloves. This could get quite uncomfortable.
Thankfully, Jennie asked me if I would do her nails for her. She sat and talked all about how she was leaving tomorrow and was dreading everything. I pretended to be too engrossed in making sure her nails turned out alright to respond. In reality, I was thinking of the last time I had gotten ready for a dance. It had been Freshman year. Allie, Sylvie, Aimee, and I had all gotten ready at Allie's house. We had all done everything for each other. We had all worn different colors, and it had taken us hours to get ready. Allie's parents took pictures of all of us, and then they drove us over to Matt's to take pictures with him and Jack. My parents had been there too.
I had been standing next to Matt in the pictures. Allie had been on my other side. I remember Matt and Jack joking about how they were pimping, and my parents looking slightly appalled. Sylvie and Aimee had kept whispering about something. Now I realized it was probably Jack. He had been standing next to Aimee in the picture, and at one point, even put an arm around her shoulder. I wondered where all those pictures had gone. I think that was the last time any of us were photographed together.
Now I had depressed myself thoroughly. I was really setting myself up for a great night.
Once Jennie was satisfied with her nails, we let them dry. She sat and started suggesting all the ideas she had for my hair. I hated most of them, but I wasn't going to tell her that. She told me to go put my dress on and everything, so as soon as her nails were dry we could fix my hair. It was nearly dry from the shower, and I guess she wanted to style it or something.
I ended up with a somewhat-fancy up-do, and Jennie ended up wearing her hair down. She did her make-up and mine, and with a half-hour to go, we were ready. She suggested trying to take pictures of ourselves, and I realized her mother DID want photographic evidence. I almost laughed.
After we had taken a few haphazard photos, it was time to go. The moment I had been dreading most of all.