The Summer of Austin

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Chapter Three

“Happy fucking prom day!” Freya screamed, entering into Lara’s house unannounced.

Swearing was something that Freya typically reserved for only the most exciting of occasions, and Lara was not surprised that prom had made it on that list.

“Freya!” Lara mock scolded her friend as she made her way down from her room into the main foyer.

Freya was standing in the foyer wearing an old pair of leggings and a flannel button-up, holding her prom dress in a garment bag over her shoulder. Not even the off-brand swearing or fear of Lara’s parents hearing her could make her smile waver.

The group of friends all decided to meet at Lara’s house and head to their hair and makeup appointments together at Lara’s mom’s favourite salon.

Lara grabbed Freya’s garment bag and brought it up to her room to hang it up in her closet. Freya happily bounced behind her, seemingly floating as she hopped up the steps.

Lara had never seen her best friend so excited for anything before.

Freya had been waiting for this night for as long as they could remember. Her friends thought that prom night meant more to Freya than her wedding day would. Freya had always believed that prom was the most magical night that every teenage girl would ever experience.

So far, all of her dreams had been coming true and falling according to her plan. Freya’s longtime friend, and secret crush-- well secret to nobody except him--, Luke Greene, had asked her to the dance. Shortly after, she got the perfect saree created for her, one that outshined all of the sarees that she had pinned for inspiration on her prom Pinterest board. Now the day was finally here, and she could not wait to let the fairytale finally play out. Although Elle and Lara did not have the same intense joy for prom that Freya did, her enthusiasm was pretty contagious.

Freya was practically bouncing off the walls as the two girls waited for Elle to come by the house. Lara didn’t have the heart to tell her to calm down, so she just chuckled as she scrolled absently through social media.

As she went through Instagram, she saw that Aubrey had a new story uploaded. She rolled her eyes as she tried to resist the urge to see what she was up to.

Aubrey was not only the queen of Riverview, but the queen of Instagram in some realms as well. She had managed to rack up an impressive amount of followers thanks to the modelesque photos that she posted. That had not only led to Aubrey’s head growing five times larger than it already was to begin with, but also resulted in an excess of annoying posts as she updated her “fans” on all the going ons in her life.

As Aubrey had become more insufferable, Lara tried to avoid her online updates in hopes of not falling down another rabbit hole of anxiety and self doubt as she compared herself to Aubrey’s picture-perfect life. Now that she had finished her speech and was on a high from Freya’s buzzing energy, she figured she would be okay if she peeked at the update.

That was a mistake.

“What the fuck?” She said out loud, almost dropping her phone in the process as she leaped up from her chair in surprise.

Right at the moment, Elle burst into Lara’s bedroom. “Lara, don’t freak out, everything is going to be okay, but I need to show you something,” Elle said, nervously pushing her back into the seat that she had just stepped away from.

“I think I already saw,” Lara said, feeling anxiety churning in her stomach.

At the commotion, Freya’s bubble of bliss finally burst as she turned to her friends. “What’s going on?” She questioned, completely clueless.

“I’m sure it’s not going to be a big deal,” Elle said to Lara as she handed her phone to Freya, already opened to Aubrey’s profile.

Freya tapped her story as Aubrey’s voice filled up the room again.

“Hey everyone! So the big day is finally here, it’s prom day,” Aubrey chimed from the phone. “Now you all know that unfortunately I wasn’t picked as valedictorian, but I already had a speech written, and I didn’t want to go to waste. So I was able to talk to my principal, and he agreed to let me present it at my prom! I’m definitely going to get my friends to record it, so you guys can all listen as well. I’m just so excited to be able to share my gratitude for my gradu--” At that, Freya exited the story, cutting Aubrey’s recorded voice off mid sentence.

“Could she really not spend one day with the attention not on her? And spare me the bullshit of wanting to do it to ‘share her gratitude’ towards us,” Freya said, sarcasm practically dripping off her tongue as she mocked Aubrey.

Freya and Elle continued to bash Aubrey’s outrageous move, but Lara could barely stay tethered to reality. Their voices started to mesh into one another, and her eyes slowly went out of focus as the knot in her stomach grew tighter and tighter.

“Lara?”

She could hear a friend saying her name, but the sound was distant and far away. She wasn’t even sure who was calling to her.

Her world started to lose colour as her heart started rapidly beating.

The last thought she remembered thinking to herself was I’ve ruined prom for Freya.


“Lara? Honey, are you okay?”

Lara woke to her mom standing over. She rubbed the sleepiness out of her eyes as she slowly woke up, dreading getting out of the cozy cocoon of blankets that she was tucked in to.

It was the morning of prom. The fact that her mom came to check up on her meant that she had probably slept through her alarm.

But as she went to get up and saw Elle and Freya already standing in the corner of her room, worried looks on their faces, everything rushed back to her.

Aubrey.

Her impromptu speech.

“I thought that was all a dream,” Lara quietly mumbled as she put her head in her hands.

“Take it easy Lara, you just passed out,” her mom said, not being able to make out what Lara had grumbled to herself.

Passed out?

She was upset about Aubrey officially going head to head with her speech, but she didn’t realize it was so bad that it would physically affect her.

The speech had already worried Lara enough on its own, but now that Aubrey was going to be performing her own speech, it turned into a competition out of nowhere, one that Lara did not want to participate in.

She was already scared of people doubting her own abilities, and now that everyone was going to hear Aubrey’s “Fuck You, I’m A Brat, So I Do Whatever I Want Anyway” speech, they would be comparing the two of them as well. Lara was nowhere near confident enough for that.

“I can’t go to prom,” she said as all of the worst possible outcomes started playing in her head. She kept thinking about everyone walking up to her, telling her how there was no way she would beat Aubrey, and how they should’ve voted for her over Lara. She imagined her principal telling her that Aubrey would officially present at the graduation ceremony. She thought about having to go home and tell her parents that there was no point in all her extended family coming to the ceremony anymore because she had been outshined by Aubrey already.

“What!” Her two friends yelled in unison as they jumped on her bed.

“Honey do you think that’s necessary?” Her mother asked, concern all over her face. Although she was concerned about her daughter’s rash decision and obvious discomfort, a bit of it was probably due to not wanting all the money they had spent on all things prom, especially her dress, go to waste.

“I don’t want to be totally humiliated,” she said, throwing her head back on her pillow in defeat. “She probably has some Academy Award winning speech waiting, and I can’t just sit there and listen to it knowing everyone is waiting for me to totally flop when it’s my turn.”

“I don’t know about you,” Elle said, gesturing to Freya, “but I think we did an incredible job on your speech. Now, if you don’t agree with us in thinking-- no wait, knowing-- that your speech will blow Aubrey’s out of the water, I’m going to be mildly offended, but I’ll still love you.”

That got a small smile from Lara.

Knowing she was starting to get through to her friend, Elle continued. “But I’m serious Lara. You poured your heart and soul into that speech. Anything Aubrey says up there is going to be her just trying to say all the right things. It’s going to come off completely fake. And you know people are tired of Aubrey’s bullshit-- oh, sorry Auntie Carol--” Elle said, quickly turning to Lara’s mom to excuse the bad language.

“But, you know people are tired of Aubrey’s, umm, act,” she looked back at Lara’s mom who nodded in approval, “and that’s why you won. And rightfully so.”

“And along with a phony speech, everyone is going to be so weirded out that she is even presenting it at prom. It just proves that she is still the same, self-absorbed Aubrey,” Freya added.

Everything they were saying was making sense, but Lara’s brain was still convinced that the worst case scenarios would still happen.

She felt as if she was split into two parts.

One part was logical and understood that her friends were stating facts, and the other part was ignoring anything they had to say.

Her friends and her mom could all see the uncertainty written all over her face.

“Honey,” her mom said, grabbing her hand. “It’s your decision, but Elle and Freya are right. And I think you will regret missing your prom. You can’t let this Aubrey girl ruin your day. No matter what other people think of her, you have people who are going to be so proud of you. We are going to be your number one fans always. Even if you don’t want to go to prom. But I don’t know where else you are going to wear your beautiful dress,” she said, ending off with a little wink.

Despite the joke her mom threw in, her words warmed Lara’s stomach. While the fear for the speech still remained, as she looked at her two best friends and her mother, she knew that what her mom said was true. No matter what happened, these women and her father would always be there for her. All she wanted to do was to make them proud, and backing out would not do that.

“Okay,” Lara said, letting out a deep breath as she moved to get out of her bed. “Let’s do this.”

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