The Unexpected Everything(8)

By: Morgan Matson

“Of course it’ll be worth it,” I heard Bri say, and a moment later, someone whisked the blanket off of me, and I blinked, trying not to sneeze from all the dust motes that were now floating through the van.

“Air,” I said gratefully, as I took a big gulp of it and sat up, looking around, trying to see where we were parked and if there were any other cars near ours. “Are we far enough from the house?”

“Yes,” Palmer said patiently, turning around to look at me from the driver’s seat. Stanwich was a town of almost no crime but a large police force, which meant that breaking up teenagers’ parties on weekends was what they seemed to spend most of their time doing. And the first sign of a high school party was a ton of cars around a driveway, haphazardly parked. So it was standard party etiquette to park far enough away that you would deflect any suspicion, and walk. But I always parked farther than most people, not wanting to risk it. “Andie. It’s fine. You don’t have to worry about anything tonight but having fun. And you need some fun.”

“It’s true,” Bri said from where she was sitting next to me. “We voted on it.”

“We did,” Toby agreed from the passenger seat, as she lowered the visor and flipped up the mirror lid while simultaneously pulling out her makeup bag. We’d all learned years ago that the best way to get Toby out of the house before midnight was not to make her choose one outfit, but to let her bring options so we could vote in the car, and to let her do hair and makeup en route. But since Palmer refused to let her do her eyes when the car was moving, I had a feeling we might be waiting here for a few more minutes.

“You voted on what, exactly?” I asked as I brushed some lint off my shoulder and fought back the urge to sneeze again.

“That we were going out tonight,” Bri said. “And we weren’t—”

“Letting you out of it,” Toby finished as she started to apply her mascara. “No matter what.”

“Exactly,” Bri said, nodding, and Toby held her hand back for a fist bump without taking her eyes off the mirror. I shook my head, but I could feel myself smile. It was the B&T show, as Palmer and I had dubbed it. Bri and Toby had been best friends since preschool, and were such a unit people routinely mixed them up, even though they couldn’t have looked less alike.

Sabrina Choudhury and Tobyhanna Mlynarczyk had come up to me my first day of third grade at Stanwich Elementary, where I was sitting alone at recess, trying to understand the weird game that was being played with a big rubber ball. They hadn’t played anything like that at Canfield Prep, where I’d transferred from after a poll showed that people—and the teachers’ union  —didn’t like my dad sending his daughter to a private school. I was feeling like I’d landed in a foreign country, when suddenly there were two girls sitting on my bench, one on either side of me. They had been Bri-and-Toby even then, talking over each other, trying to get me to settle an argument about which member of the boy band of the moment was the cutest one. Apparently, I’d picked the right answer—Wade, the one neither of them thought was the cute one—because from that moment on they’d been my friends. Palmer and I became friends when I’d moved down the street from her when I was twelve, and when ninth grade started, she’d talked her parents into letting her switch from Stanwich Country Day to the public high school. When Palmer met Toby and Bri, they all got along right away, and from then on it was like we’d become the unit we were always meant to be.

“I appreciate it,” I said, grabbing Bri’s outstretched hand and pulling myself up from the floor and onto the seat next to her. I brushed some dirt off my jeans, very glad I hadn’t worn anything white tonight. “But I’m telling you, I’m fine.”

“We don’t believe you,” Toby said, looking at me through the mirror as she started doing her lips.

“Can I borrow that?” I asked, and Toby nodded and handed her lipstick to me. “Look,” I said, leaning over Toby to get a sliver of mirror. “It has nothing to do with me. It’s my dad’s thing. He’s going to sort it out.”

“But what if he doesn’t?” Palmer asked, her voice gentle.

“Then he’ll take one of the private-sector jobs he’s always being offered,” I said as I concentrated on getting the line of my lips even. “Or he’ll lecture for a while, or go back to being a lawyer, and then he’ll run again.” My dad not being in politics was nearly impossible to picture—it was intrinsic to who he was. “But nothing’s changed for me. I’m still going to my program, and when I get back, things will be settled.” I capped the lipstick and handed it back to Toby. “We ready to go?”

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