Gabriella chatted as Zee watched a bunny-shaped cloud be peacefully dismembered outside the car window. She almost wished she was that cloud, except, dismembering sounded particularly painful. Clouds weren’t sentient, though, so it couldn’t be that bad...
“Are you listening to me?” Gabriella poked her shoulder and Zee slapped her hand away. “Zee? Zee!”
“I asked you a question,” she said petulantly.
“Well, repeat the question then.”
“What are you wearing?”
Zee looked down. “Um...jeans, a t-shirt, my leather jacket and some Converse...?”
Gabriella gave her a look. “I mean to the dance, silly.”
“Oh, black.” She smiled sweetly.
“Of course you are,” Gabriella said.
Zee laughed. “What did you expect?”
“I don’t know, color maybe?”
Zee laughed. “Good luck with that.”
Soon, they arrived at the local mall. It was a large, two-story building, taking up about two city blocks. Gabriella bounced out of the backseat of the car, pulling Zee after her by the wrist, even though Zee informed her that she didn’t actually need to be physically forced to follow her.
They walked into the high-ceilinged hall. The air smelled like pretzels and perfume and groups of friends and couples holding hands were scattered around. Music played in the background, and bright lights from storefronts flashed. Zee frowned and hoped their brainwashing techniques wouldn’t work on her.
As she followed Gabriella around she got a little more comfortable with the crowds and the lights and the chaos, but she still had a vague urge to pull her hood up and hide from all the people’s eyes in some corner somewhere.
They spent a good half of an hour perusing many racks of clothes in many shops before Gabriella found something she was willing to try on, which of course, she didn’t like. Eventually, Zee grew tired of this. It seemed Gabriella thought there was something wrong with everything.
“Okay,” Zee said, straightening up from where she was leaning against a wall. “Go in a dressing room,” she ordered.
“But I don’t have anything to try on!” Gabriella protested.
“I know. I’m going to bring you outfits and you have to try on whatever I give you, just to try it.” Zee pushed her towards the empty stalls. Her friend resisted. “Just trust me, okay?”
After a small staring competition, Gabriella relented and trudged off.
Zee flipped through the racks quickly before she found a spring green skirt that caught her eye. She grabbed it, knowing that green was Gabriella’s favorite color and that she was not adverse to skirts. She then flipped through tops until she found a sequined white tank top. She gave these to Gabriella to try on and waited.
A few minutes later, her friend emerged, obviously surprised that Zee had any fashion sense at all beyond black.
“Do you trust me yet?” she asked.
“Yes. I like the skirt,” Gabriella said. “I don’t like the tank top, it’s too cold.”
“Good,” Zee said. “Don’t move.”
She disappeared for a few seconds before returning with a denim jacket. “Put this on.”
Gabriella obeyed and spun in front of the mirror, watching the skirt, falling just above the knee, swirl. “I hate to say it but I actually like this,” she said.
Zee smiled. “That wasn’t so hard. See what happens when you trust your friends?”
“Okay, okay, but now it’s your turn,” Gabriella said, eyes lighting up. Zee tried to protest, but her own arguments worked against her. She went into the dressing room when Gabriella finished getting back into her own clothes and waited, hoping she wasn’t going to be forced into pink or something equally disgusting.
Zee was pleasantly surprised when nothing abhorrent was delivered. She ended up in a black and white striped skirt with nearly invisible pockets and a red t-shirt.
She came out. “I like the pockets,” she said.
Gabriella scrutinized her. “Tuck in the shirt,” she said.
Zee did so.
“Now put on the jacket you wore here.”
Zee did that too.
“Perfect,” Gabriella said, satisfied. “It’ll be great with your black hi-tops.”
Zee looked in the mirror, surprised that she actually agreed. “I like it,” she said.
Gabriella squealed. “Yay! We can go now,” she said.
They were out in record time, shopping bags in hand.
“So, do you like the mall yet?” Gabriella asked as they crossed the parking lot to where her parents’ car was waiting.
“Absolutely not,” Zee replied firmly.
“I’ll get you someday,” Gabriella said confidently.
“Never. Commercialized social hell, remember?”
Gabriella shook her head. “Just wait and see,” she insisted. “Someday you will like this place.”