Page 9 of Before (After 5)

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“Stephanie can drive you home, honey,” my dad offers on my behalf.

“Dad, I have to get my prom dress, and they close in thirty minutes!” I toss my bag across my shoulder and reach for his keys.

“Olivia and Sierra can ride with you.”

My sister interrupts. “I won’t mind. Just let me use the bathroom for a second.”

Her soft brown hair moves when she talks. She’s wearing khakis and a short-sleeve shirt with bright flowers printed on it. My dad smiles like his eldest daughter is the most thoughtful and considerate girl alive.

It’s super annoying.

“Fine,” I huff. “But this is the last day they’ll hold it for me, so if I can’t go to prom, it’s your fault.” I glare at my sister. Olivia nods, and I push past my dad to get outside. “I’ll be in the car.”

I start the car and wait for Olivia. Five minutes pass. Ten minutes pass. I send two texts and she doesn’t respond. I know she read them from the little indicator on my phone. Yet she’s still inside the house. I’m guessing her and my mom are on their fourth goodbye hug. My mom does that when we go to my grandma’s house, too, requiring multiple hugs to satisfy her need for affection. Twelve minutes go by, and I finally leave the car to return to the house.

Just as I begin to close the car door, my sister walks outside with a languid pace and an oblivious smile on her face. She still has to buckle Sierra into her car seat.

“Olivia, we have to go,” I say, to rush her along.

She sighs and mutters a half-hearted apology.

IT’S 8:03 WHEN I PARK in front of the dark shop. The sign on the door is turned around to CLOSED and the lights are off.

And now I can’t get my dress. Today was the last day, and this was after my second extension. I begged for extra time, but I was told repeatedly that this was my last day. This sucks so bad.

“I’m sorry, Stephanie,” Olivia says as I lay my head on the steering wheel.

I turn my head to the side and scowl at her. “This is your fault.”

“It’s not my fault,” she says, with the nerve to look surprised. “Dad wanted to take me shopping to get some new shoes for Sierra. She outgrows them so fast—”

New baby shoes? Are you freaking serious? I missed my prom dress because her baby needed new shoes—the child doesn’t even walk!

“Why couldn’t Dad just take you home directly? You would have been back way sooner,” I say, raising my head, and my voice.

“I wasn’t tired then . . . I don’t know.” She shrugs her shoulders like my time means nothing to her. Like this isn’t a big deal.

“This is such bullshit!” I shake my head and put my hands over my face.

“Don’t talk like that in front of the baby!” my sister whisper-yells.

I groan and back out of the parking space. We’re both silent the entire way home. Olivia doesn’t feel as if she’s done anything wrong, and I’m too mad to talk to her right now. I’m so tired of her stealing everything from me—and on top of that, Sierra keeps crying as if she’s trying to split my brain in half.

I hate my life.

When we get to Olivia’s house, she thanks me for dropping her off. I don’t want to step foot into her new house, so I’m glad she doesn’t ask me in. A house that I’m pretty sure my parents helped her and Roger buy. Her husband is quiet; he doesn’t say much around my family. Olivia probably tells him not to. I’m sure everyone gets the warning label read to them before they have to have any exposure to me.

I don’t really want to go inside, but I have to pee and it’s another fifteen minutes back to my parents’. Walking into Olivia’s house, I immediately notice that it smells heavily of cinnamon. Olivia burns those candle-oil things in every room.

Roger is sitting on the couch with a remote in one hand and a computer on his lap. When he notices us entering the room, he smiles up at his wife and then politely asks me how I’ve been. I say I’m the same as before, though I can’t remember the last time I actually saw him.

After a few minutes of awkward small talk, Olivia tells us that she’s going to put the baby to bed. She walks upstairs with a stuffed teddy bear in one hand and a bottle in the other. Roger barely glances at me as I walk by, looking at all of their stupid family pictures on the mantel above the fake fireplace. Roger stands up and walks into the kitchen—trying to avoid further conversation with me, no doubt.

In the last picture, their perfect little family poses in all matching white and black in a small wooden frame. Heading toward the kitchen, I find, hanging on the hallway wall in a big metal frame, a picture of Olivia and Roger on their wedding day. She’s so perfect in the picture: perfect hair, perfect makeup, and her dress is beautiful. A soft, silky white dress that touches the floor in a regal way. She looks like a princess, like she was made for that dress.

Her dress is the exact opposite of my would-be prom dress. The dress I was supposed to pick up tonight is made from black cotton and tulle. The bodice is tight, lined with lacy tulle along the edges of the star-shaped skirt. It’s a dress that, thanks to Olivia, I’ll never have. I find myself wishing I had a bucket of black paint to ruin her stupid, perfect dress. I look to the next photo on the wall and stop at a picture of Roger, his arms wrapped around Olivia’s pregnant stomach.

She ruined my prom dress. I’ll ruin her wedding dress.

When I walk into the kitchen, Roger is standing in front of the fridge, his face buried inside and hidden by the doors. I tap my hand against the stone counter to get his attention. The moment he turns around, I tug on the hem of my shirt, exposing a nice amount of my cleavage to him. He inhales and then lets out a little cough.

I smile. I bet my sister hasn’t fucked her husband since she popped out his baby.

“Sorry.” I wrap my hair around my finger as Roger’s eyes try not to run down my legs, taking in my fishnet hose.

“Hi,” I say, and keep walking toward him.

My heart is racing and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I’m pissed off at my sister and I’m fucking tired of her getting everything and I’m thinking of how everything is always about perfect Olivia and nothing is ever mine and so she shouldn’t have anything that’s hers either. Especially not a cute and loyal puppy of a husband.