CHAPTER NINE – Miniskirts And Bruises
On Monday morning, Luann set her alarm 15 minutes ahead of the 15 minutes ahead. She wanted plenty of time to try the new outfit just once more.
She’d tried it on Saturday when she got home from the mall because everyone knows that store mirrors come from a completely different planet than home mirrors. She’d been pleasantly surprised at how good she looked with the right shoes.
On Sunday morning and Sunday night, she checked the outfit in every possible lighting situation. She even snuck into the garage and looked at herself in an old mirror under the fluorescent fixtures because classroom lighting was fluorescent.
Now, minutes before school, Luann stood before her mirror wearing the mini and crop top — and lost her courage.
She quickly changed into jeans and a tee shirt. But that just looked too frumpy. She changed back to the mini. But the reality of a day at school dealing with a mini made her change again. She put on a pair of coveralls. Nope. Mini back on. Maybe tights. More modest top? Different shoes. Crop top back on. Longer skirt. Boots. Heels. Mini. White blouse. Scarf? Hair up. Toss scarf. Beads? Yuk. Loop earrings. Hair down. Crop top again. Nylons? No nylons. Different shoes. Hair to one side. Makeup…
Luann glanced at the clock: she had to leave for the bus.
Luann took a long look in the mirror. She saw the new outfit with bare legs, medium heels, small loop earrings, a bit of makeup, hair pulled to one side with a clip. This was as good as it was going to get.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luann barely made it to the bus, hustling along awkwardly in her mini and heels. As she stepped onto the bus, Bernice waved from the back seat. Will she ever stop doing that? thought Luann.
Luann began making her way down the aisle. She remembered Delta’s theory that a fresh new look boosts one’s confidence and attitude. If this was true, then Luann should be strutting her stuff, feeling strong and sure.
She felt totally self-conscious and conspicuous. The bus aisle seemed to go on for miles.
“Well! Look at you!” said Bernice in a tone that clearly said she didn’t approve.
“You are stylin’, girl!” enthused Delta, with her ever positive spin.
Luann sat down and tugged at her short skirt, which seemed a lot shorter now. She also noticed that her bare midsection seemed to roll out more when she sat. “Big mistake,” she mumbled, sucking in. “What’re you talkin’ about?” said Delta. “ You look awesome! Confidence, girl!”
Bernice said, “You have a big bruise on the side of your thigh.”
Luann looked down at a purple/yellow blotch on her leg. “Oh, great.” She slumped in her seat.
This is going to be a VERY bad day, she thought.
Luann noticed two dopey boys leaning into the aisle, gawking at her. She picked up her backpack and put it on her lap.
Well, she was getting attention — drooling stares from a couple of idiots on the school bus. Was this what she wanted? No. What she wanted was for Aaron Hill to notice her, talk to her, have lunch with her, stroll out by the football field, hand in hand. Tiffany, at cheer practice, would see them, pitch a huge jealousy fit and never again go near Aaron, knowing she was outranked. A new Big Value had arrived, smacking her down to a 99 Cent Special.
“A couple of dirtballs are staring at you,” said Bernice, loud enough for the dirtballs to hear.
“Just ignore them, Luann,” said Delta, casually looking out the window. “If you don’t acknowledge them, they’ll stop. You’re in control here. You pick who you want to respond to.”
Luann suddenly felt like she was in over her head, like she’d made a huge leap into an uncharted adult land where she had to quickly learn some very sophisticated techniques.
Bernice said, “Well, I hope you enjoy having bug-eyed adolescents ogling your navel.”
“That’s not what this is about, Bernice,” said Luann, hugging her backpack.
“What IS it about?” asked Bernice.
“Being competitive,” said Luann, trying to sound matter-of-fact. “Looking good enough to be noticed. I want Aaron Hill to think I look nice, that’s all.”
“Oh. Aaron Hill. This is about him, huh?”
Luann looked at Bernice. “Do you have a point, Bernice, or are you just being annoying?”
“I don’t think this is about Aaron Hill at all. I think it’s about Tiffany. She’s the one you bought this outfit for. It’s her you’re competing with.”
Luann could think of nothing to say because Bernice was right. It wasn’t enough for Aaron to think Luann looked nice. He had to think she looked at least as good as Tiffany.
Delta said, “So what? Women dress for other women. We want each other’s approval. We need to feel equal. Men are easy to impress. Women are a lot trickier.”
As the bus pulled up at the school, Delta said, “You walk into that school with your head held high, Luann. You’ll be fine.”
“Just try not to think about that big ugly bruise,” said Bernice.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luann rushed straight to the restroom. It was jammed with girls, all checking their hair and makeup. None of them gave Luann a second look. Luann stood on her tiptoes so she could see more of her outfit in the mirrors over the sinks. The bruise on her thigh was so obvious she wondered why she hadn’t noticed it before. That would’ve cinched the clothing decision. She looked at her face. Her orange/blonde hair, pulled to the right and fastened with a blue clip, cascaded over her shoulder. Her face was lightly made up.
Luann couldn’t decide how she looked. If she was going to a party, she looked good. But school? Lots of girls dressed like this for school, yet Luann felt awkward and unnatural. She thought about going home. She could tell the nurse she had stomach cramps and —
The girls in the restroom quickly gathered purses and backpacks and jostled toward the door. One girl stopped in front of Luann. It was Chayna, the clerk from the GAP store.
“Howya doin’?” she said, looking closely at Luann. “Weren’t you in my store on Saturday?” she said.
“Yeah,” said Luann, as she slung her pack over her shoulder.
Chayna eyed Luann up and down. “Cute outfit,” she said. “Not one of mine. Where’d you get it?” She fingered the top.
“Um, at The Splurge.”
“Really adorable. I’ll have to check them out. Well, see ya.”
Chayna left. Luann was alone in the restroom. She looked at the mirror. “Well,” she said to her reflection, “that confirms it: women DO dress for each other. One compliment from an insignificant stranger and I don’t want to go home anymore. I want to go to class, conquer Aaron Hill and destroy Tiffany.”
Luann took one last look in the mirror, hitched up her skirt a little and headed off to first period.
She walked into the classroom and saw Aaron Hill sitting at a desk just ten feet from her. Next to him was Tiffany, looking summery in a little green slip dress. She brushed her hair while chattering at Aaron.
Luann began walking — slowly, deliberately — towards Aaron. She stood tall, boldly flashing her midriff and legs. Luckily, the bruised thigh was on the away side. She didn’t look directly at Aaron or Tiffany, but she could tell the moment they spotted her. Tiffany stopped yakking, Aaron glanced up, looked away, then quickly turned and fixed his eyes on Luann.
“Luann!” he said. “You look great today.”
Luann turned her head and looked at Aaron. “Oh, thanks, Aaron.” Then she looked at Tiffany, frozen with her brush in her hair. “Hello, Tiff.”
Luann walked on by and took a seat at a desk by the windows. She tossed her hair back over her shoulder and glanced briefly toward Aaron. He was looking right at her and seemed to be admiring her. Tiffany was looking too. But her expression was a dark mask of anger and jealousy.
This is going to be a VERY good day, thought Luann.
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