So I’ve been writing a novel for a little while now. Below is the first draft (well like the 95th draft, but the first draft of an almost finished manuscript), of that novel. I would love to hear what anyone thinks about it. I think I have something here, but I’m a little close to the project.
For as long as I could remember, it was always the three of us: Dakota, Bridget and me. Dakota and I lived on the same street from birth. Our moms had the same picture with the two of them huge and pregnant at a Labor Day picnic shortly before we were born hanging proudly in their respective living rooms. With Dakota, I got to escape my two older brothers and have some much needed time being a girl in the sandbox behind her old house. That was before her parents divorced and she and her mother moved across town when we were nine. Bridget joined the picture in kindergarten when we all started school. She brought a balance to our friendship against Dakota’s rough exterior with her softness and brilliance. As much as we were one unit, as we grew, we were becoming very different young women. Those differences could have caused a rift to form, have our friendship slowly wither until we weren’t the friends we had been. For us, though, it made us stronger. Our differences gave the three of us that much more to love about each other.
We spent most weekends lounging in Dakota’s room, even though hers was the smallest. We would split our time between studying, gossip and just hanging out. I loved those weekend days. Dakota’s room was a pale lavender under all the posters and magazine cutouts that covered nearly every square inch of wall. I only remembered it was purple because the three of us all painted our room’s different shades of purple without telling each other about the summer after fifth grade: mine was the deep purple of a mushed up blackberry, and Bridget’s was somewhere in between, sort of like a purple crayon.
I laid on my stomach across Dakota’s bed while Bridget laid on her back on the floor, both of us with one of the hundreds of fashion magazines Dakota had collected in milk crates the same way most people kept books. Dakota sat at her desk– head bent over her sketch pad drawing away.
“I think I finally got Bridget’s figure out!” Dakota exclaimed turning in her chair toward us.
“Bridget’s what?” I asked not looking up as I flipped a page.
“I’m designing our prom dresses,” Dakota explained like we were supposed to know this even though this was the first time she’d mentioned it.
About six months before, after we binge-watched several seasons of Project Runway and Tabitha’s Salon Takeover during a disappointing rainy spring break, Dakota announced to us that she had discovered her passion: design. She’d always been artistic, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise. She started sketching clothes and taught herself to sew before summer break started. By the time we got back to school, half of Dakota’s wardrobe were pieces that she had made herself.
“For All of us?” Bridget asked sitting up. “You’re going to have enough time between now and May to design and create three prom dresses?”
“The Project Runway contestants do this kind of thing in three days,” Dakota said rolling her eyes as she tucked a piece of her bright pink hair behind her ear. “I’ll be fine as long as I can figure out how I want them to look. I know that Bridget wants her dress to have the full of Cinderella puff. So I’ve been working on that design.” She tapped her pencil against nose as she spoke. “I know exactly what I want. Penny is ridiculously indecisive, so I’ll draw hers up last.”
“I’m not indecisive,” I scoffed, dropping the magazine to my chest.
“Where do you want to go to lunch,” Bridget replied, locking eyes with mine from the floor.
“I don’t care,” I shrugged. “Whatever you guys want.”
Bridget and Dakota looked at each and started laughing.
“Let me see what you got?” Bridget chuckled as she pushed herself up to a sitting position.
Dakota turned her sketch pad toward us. I rolled to my side for a closer look. Dakota had drawn a beautiful ball gown, exactly the kind of thing Bridget would look fantastic wearing. It puffed out at the waist and looked like it would have two layers of fabric that would show over the all the puff. There were capped sleeves and a fitted bodice complete with a corset. Perfect.
“Omigod,” Bridget gasped. “You’re going to be able to make this?”
“Of course,” Dakota smiled. “It will probably be the hardest thing I’ve ever made, but it’ll really look good in my portfolio. I can make the three of them a kind of prom dress slash formal style line. I got the casual and business casual stuff down pretty good. No one is impressed by drawings of sports jackets. These though these will be my masterpieces before I start making real masterpieces.”
“So this is going to be, like, pink?” Bridget asked.
“No,” Dakota said firmly. “I have a color palate for all of us that I know we’ll all look good in it won’t look too matchy-matchy, but it will look like they all belong to the same collection.” The light and excitement in Dakota’s eyes as she spoke was pure magic. She could see the us wearing she designs as she spoke about them. “For Bridget’s, I’m thinking a lighter purple/pink. I’ll have Penny in a middle color, and then I’ll be in a very dark purple-red; inky-like. It will look really cool all together. I have swatches somewhere. I have to finish sketching then measure you both to get the perfect fit.”
“When were you planning on telling us you had our prom planned out?” I asked.
“I told you months ago,” Dakota said as she pushed up from her chair and opened her closet door to find her binder of fabric swatches. “Right after your brother’s ex-girlfriend went to prom in the ugliest dress I’ve seen in my entire life. I said right then, ‘Guys I’m making our prom dresses next year.’ Y’all agreed.”
“Do you remember this?” I whispered to Bridget.
“I remember Kara’s ugly ass dress,” Bridget replied. “She looked like an overripe avocado. Definitely not the color or style that she should wearing with her body type. There were way better silhouettes she could have chosen. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t forget that I didn’t have to set up appointments for prom dresses.”
“Well,” I shrugged. “A Dakota Elmsford original will be way cheaper than whatever you would be getting from a store.”
“True,” Bridget smiled. She picked her magazine back up and started to flip pages. “But my step-mom already paid for an appointment. I had to, literally, beg her to do it. I’m going to have to, like, fake hate all of them. You know how my step- mom can be. She’ll probably straight up murder me. She’s only even agreed to take me because I got into three AP courses this year.”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “Well, that’ll be fun.”
Bridget sighed and rolled her eyes. “Not even a remotely. She wanted to me ask my aunt Daniella in Vermont, but my dad convinced her that it would be good for Lilian and I to have this kind of bonding. Because, you know, she cared so much before.”
Bridget’s family, the Mansfields, were something interesting. They lived on the east side of town in a huge house with, like, eight or nine acres of land. She had horses, a whole third-floor suite to herself and things that most people our age would just kill for, but all that came at the cost of having a family who it appeared would rather she wasn’t even there. Her dad, Doctor Mansfield, (I’ve, literally, never known his first name) worked in Boston and was some kind of heart specialist. The current Mrs. Mansfield, Lilian, was his second wife. Bridget’s mom died when she was seven. Lilian and her dad got married when we were ten; they had a son, Bridget’s little half-brother, Dashiell, three years ago. Since Doctor and Lilian started their own little family, it was pretty much like Bridget didn’t exist. I could tell Lilian was counting down the days until Bridget left for college. It was just awkward being in her house. It was definitely one of those it looks better from the outside looking in.
“Found them!” Dakota shouted as she emerged from her closet with her book of swatches. She hit my feet with it to move before taking a seat next to me on the bed.
“This is my idea.” She pointed to a very dark, wine color. “That’s for me.” She then slid her finger down to her next swatch which was a pastel like pink and purple with a slightly darker silky purple next to it. “This is for Bridget’s. The darker color will be the underneath. The rest will be for the outer layer and the upper layer of the bodice. Then for Penny.” She flipped pages and showed a very pleasing shade of purple-pink that was truly gorgeous.
“I would prefer a green dress,” I said.
“Yeah, well,” Dakota shrugged. “You get pink-purple.”
“What are you doing with your hair?” I asked.
Dakota ran her fingers through her currently bright pink bob and smiled. “Well, obviously it won’t be this color.”
“My dress should be that color,” Bridget said under her breath.
“I might just let it go natural by then,” Dakota continued, ignoring her. “Or maybe I’ll do something really dark.”
“What color even is your natural hair?” Bridget asked.
“I’ve only been dying my hair for, like, a year and a half,” Dakota scoffed.
“But it’s been twenty-nine different colors since then,” I reminded her.
“It’s a touch darker than Bridget’s,” Dakota explained. “Dirty blonde, I guess. Not quite blonde, but way too light to be considered brunette.”
“I mean, like, I know we have tons of pictures of you with blonde hair, but it doesn’t feel ‘right’ now,” Bridget said.
“Because I’m really good at what I do,” Dakota smiled.
The hair dyeing thing started in the middle of our freshmen year. It began with a single dark blue highlight for one of our school spirit days and progressed to her whole head being different colors. It fit Dakota though, and now that her hair was bright pink she wouldn’t look right having natural colored hair.
“Now we just have to get dates,” Bridget giggled.
“It’s October, Bridge,” Dakota smiled. “We got plenty of time for that. Tickets don’t even go on sale for five months.”
“Never too early to start scoping possibles,” Bridget shrugged. “Omigod, Penny, you should ask Dylan!”
“Why would I do that?” I replied.
“Because you’d be super cute together,” Bridget answered.
“You think he might have prom plans with his, you know, girlfriend?” I said.
“Yeah, but she’s awful,” Dakota shrugged. “Do you think if I asked RJ he’d go with?”
“No,” I said starting at Dakota shaking my head. “I don’t believe there is a universe where you and my brother end up as prom dates. So stop thinking about it.”
“But if we got married, we’d be sisters,” Dakota smiled.
“You’re gross,” I said, kicking her in the thigh. “And you’re not going anywhere with RJ. I didn’t even know you liked him.”
Dakota shrugged. “Maybe I just wanted to see your face when I suggested it. You and Dylan though. That was serious.”
“First of all, no, I’ve been over that since 7th grade,” I said seriously. “Secondly, have you forgotten about Monica? Redhead, super pale, fake glasses, annoying as all get out? Dylan’s serious girlfriend of almost two years? And third, even if they weren’t together, I seriously doubt that he’d be the least bit interested.”
“Well,” Bridget chimed in. “Like Dakota said, a lot can change in a couple of months.”
Bridget was definitely the dreamer of our group. I knew that anything was possible, especially with friends like Bridget and Dakota. They were queens of dream boards and making things happen, but there was no way in this — or any other universe– that Dylan O’Leary, my middle school crush, would have any intention of going to prom with me.
“Anyway, are either of you even a little bit ready for the World History test next week?” Bridget asked into the awkward silence. “I’m going to bomb it so hard.”
“Bridget, you have a 105% average,” Dakota sighed. “In the AP class. You’re not going to bomb the test. Just make us some note cards so that we don’t fail, and you’ll be fine.”
“You can make your own notecards,” Bridget said. She reached under Dakota’s bed for her book bag and pulled out her history book. “If we all make note cards together, we’ll all do well. I got, like, six different colored note cards in here. We can use them for the different categories.”
“You are completely ridiculous,” I laughed.
“But I have a 105% average in AP World History,” Bridget winked. “And a 3.98 GPA, so don’t knock the notecard method. It works.”
“If it worked we’d all have 3.98 G.P.A.s,” Dakota scoffed.
“The second half of the notecard equation is being born brilliant,” Bridget smiled. “Some of us,” she narrowed her eyes and gave us a sly grin, “just don’t have it.”
Dakota reached behind her and threw one of her throw pillows at Bridget’s head.
These were the moments I craved. When my friends and I were free and laughing. When it seemed like nothing would ever break that bond we had forged before we were old enough to know what made a good friend.
Until next time Internet,