“Wake up Sunshine! It’s girl’s day!” Ava screamed as she jumped on top of me this morning. My bed creaking beneath us as she continued to jump as high as she could.
I groaned. The sunlight was leaking behind my curtains and I knew that I had slept in for a while. I blame Phoenix because he left late and I went to sleep even later.
The events of last night had played over and over in my head. Phoenix showing up with a picnic basket, listening to his traveling adventures, the mixtape he made me, and him asking me to the homecoming dance. I did not expect any of it. I called Ava the minute that Phoenix left and told her everything. She told me that Phoenix had planned something bigger and she talked him out of it. A flash mob is the last thing that I wanted and she knew it. The mixtape was perfect for me. It was more me. The timing was also perfect. Ava and I had plans to look at homecoming dresses today. A day with my best friend is exactly what I needed.
“Okay. Okay. I’m up.” I said once Ava ran to open the curtains and the sunlight flooded in. I looked at my phone, it was 9:30 AM. The mall didn’t open for another hour so I still had time to get ready.
She jumped back into bed with me and we spent the next hour talking about what kind of dress we wanted to buy. The theme for our homecoming dance was vintage Hollywood. Ava told me all about a red dress that she had been eyeing for months at the mall and that we had to buy it before anyone else. She told me that it was her dream dress and it made me even more motivated to get out of bed. I finished getting ready for the day as she continued to describe the dress to me. It was clear that she had only one dress in mind.
When I walked towards the kitchen, the aroma of freshly made breakfast filled my nostrils. My mom stood in front of the stove with flour in her hair and a mess of eggshells on the kitchen counter. She had her headphones in as she swayed back and forth as she continued adding to the stack of pancakes. I could see who I got my moves from.
I tapped on her shoulder as Ava took a pancake from the stack. My mom took out her headphones and smiled when she saw us.
“Looks like Ava finally got you out of bed.” She said after giving me her famous kiss to the forehead. My mom made us sit down and put the stack of pancakes in front of us.
“So what’s the plan today ladies?” My mom asked.
“Jimmy asked me to homecoming and Mila got asked too, so we are going dress shopping,” Ava said with her mouth full of pancakes.
“What? Who asked you? When?” My mom said bombarding me with questions.
“Phoenix asked me last night.” I shrugged.
“Excuse me? Prince Phoenix asked you?” She began to laugh.
I frowned, “What’s so wrong with asking me?”
“Oh no, princess. I didn’t mean it like that. I just didn’t know you two were so close. He is lucky to be taking you.” She said with a hug.
Ava finished up her pancakes and washed both of our plates. She grabbed her purse and told me that she would meet me in my Jeep as I looked for my purse. My mom went into the closet and pulled out my purse. She handed it to me along with a hundred dollar bill.
“Oh mom, I can’t take this. I was going to pull something from the clearance rack.” I said trying to hand it back. She grabbed the bill and tucked into my purse.
“I want you to find something nice. You deserve it.” She said. It filled my eyes with tears. As a single mom, she has always had to work hard and there was never a lot of extra cash lying around. We saved up until there was something worth buying.
I gave her a big hug before grabbing my keys and jumping into my Jeep. When I turned the ignition, Phoenix’s mixtape filled the silence. I still haven’t listened to the entirety of the mixtape and wanted it to last forever. A new song on the mixtape played as we drove to the mall.
Once we got to the mall, we headed straight to the store that had Ava’s dream dress. As we approached the store, Ava gasped and ran to the display window. The red dress that Ava described stood right in front of her and I could understand the fantasy behind the dress. It was beautiful. It was a red satin dress the was cut on the shorter side. It had a deep v neckline with two thin spaghetti straps holding up the dress. There were jewels covering the whole bodice of the dress that made it shine on the display window.
I dragged Ava into the store and we got an associate to pull off the dress of the mannequin. We got lucky. The only dress that was left was in Ava’s size. I held her purse as she tried on the dress. She absolutely glistened in that dress. I have never seen her smile so wide and I have known her since we were toddlers. It made me happy to see her so happy.
“Jimmy’s jaw is going to drop to the floor when he sees me in this.” Her face was lit with excitement. Suddenly, her smile dropped as she looked at the price tag.
“I can’t afford it Mila. I only have 100 dollars. I’m so stupid. I should have checked the price before trying it on.”
She went back into the changing room and handed me the dress over the changing room door. I looked at the tag. My eyes widened at the $249.99 listed price. I could hear soft sobs coming from the changing room that Ava was in. It broke my heart knowing that she wanted this dress more than anything and couldn’t afford it. Ava was far from a materialistic person and has never acted like this before. I knew this was really important to her.
I took the dress to the cashier as Ava finished changing. As I was waiting to get rung up, I noticed that the cashier was actually Becca Fuller, one of Phoenix’s lunchtime admires.
“Hey, Becca! How have you been girl?” The pitch of my voice raised. Becca continued to stare at me with a straight face.
“Ok, Becca. Here’s the deal. I need any type of discount you can give me on this dress.” I pleaded.
“What’s in it for me?” She said focused on her nails now.
“What do you want?”
“Hmmm. How about Phoenix’s phone number?” She said with a peaked eyebrow.
I sighed, “Fine.”
I ended up giving her my phone number. I didn’t think it was fair to Phoenix to put out his phone number out in the world like that. Becca ended up giving me a discount that made the dress an even 200. I took out 100 dollars out of Ava’s purse and handed Becca the other hundred that my mom gave me too. As Becca printed my receipt and bagged the dress, Ava found me.
“Hey, you disappeared. What happened?” Ava said with confusion on her face.
“Becca gave me a discount on the dress. I took the hundred from your purse and paid the rest.” I said handing her the bagged dress.
“What? Mila. It’s so expensive! I can’t let you do that, let’s return it.” Ava said handing the dress back to Becca.
Becca handed the dress back, “Sorry final sale darling.”
“You deserve something nice Ava,” I said repeating exactly what my mother told me this morning, “Plus I know you would do the same for me.”
“I would do anything for you Mila. You’re my sister and I love you. I will pay you back I promise.” Ava said and gave me a hug.
We continued walking around the mall with my new budget of 20 dollars that I had in my wallet. I hit every clearance rack possible and tried on a variety of dresses.
“That’s not your color”, said Ava when I came out in a pink short dress.
“Or style”, I added noticing the dress was one of those poofy dresses I hated.
I left the mall with no dress. As soon as we got to my house, Ava left to show her mom her new dress. She thanked me a million times before she left and assured me that we would figure something out for my dress soon. Time was running out with only three weeks left until the homecoming dress. I had gone to every homecoming dance so far and usually, I didn’t care what I wore. I mostly wore thrifted dresses to these events. This year was different though. It was my senior homecoming and I was going with Phoenix. I knew that he had some designer tux prepared for him that night and I wanted to equally stand out by his side.
I checked my phone and had two unread text messages. One was an unknown number with a simple “Hey Phoenix :)” from what I assumed was Becca. I felt bad that I lied to her. The other text was from Prince Charming himself saying he had a question for me.
I decided to call him. He picked up on the third ring.
“Hey, how did dress shopping go? Jimmy told me that I have to match my tie to the color of your dress.” His voice filled my ear.
“Yeah, about that. I didn’t buy a dress. Ava found her dream dress and she was short on money. I used my dress money to help pay for hers. I will keep looking and tell you what color to buy your tie.”
“Are you home right now?”
“I’ll be over in 15.” He said before hanging up.
I wondered what that was all about. While I waited for him I decided to put on some Gossip Girl and make some popcorn. My front door rang exactly 15 minutes later. That man was all about punctuality. I opened it and there he stood in some light washed jeans and a red flannel. He seemed to be getting more comfortable in his new apparel.
“So care to explain why you had to come over?”
“I felt inspired by your actions Mila. You would rather see your friend in her dream dress then have your own dream dress. Your selfless actions need to be reciprocated.” Phoenix came in and sat on my couch and grabbing some of my popcorn, clearly, Phoenix had no problem at making himself feel at home now.
“Well, an exclusive interview would sure feel like a reward to me,” I said joining him on the couch.
“You never give up, I like that about you. I had other rewards in mind though.” He pulled out his phone and scrolled down his contacts until he found the desired contact. A few seconds passed and Theo’s face appeared on the phone screen.
“What are you wearing mate? Is that what American fashion looks like?” Theo’s face scrunched up from what I could see. I chuckled. I liked Phoenix’s new love of flannels.
“I am diving fully in the experience Theo. I also need a favor.” He responded.
Phoenix slightly adjusted the phone screen to now include me in the FaceTime call, “This is Mila Torres. She is a friend of mine. She is in dire need of a dress in three weeks. I need you to work your magic, Theo.”
“Ah, look it is my latest Instagram follower, hello Mila,” He winked. Phoenix looked at me and I shrugged. “Three weeks is a short notice mate, but I will try my absolute best. Mila, I’ll send you a couple of sketches tonight.”
“Thank you, Theo. Talk to you soon.”
“Take care mate,” Theo said before Phoenix hung up.
“Latest Instagram follower?” Phoenix asked me. I don’t know if it was because he was being so generous or because he looked so pure, but I told him. I told him how I found Mr. Garcia online along with Theo and Tommy. I told him how I was snooping and really found nothing on Phoenix since he was absent from social media. I searched his face for any emotion but there were none.
Shit, I really messed up this time.