fashion metal riot (hi_falootin) wrote in runaway_tales,
fashion metal riot

strawberry custard #22 : "racks"

strawberry custard 22. [image]
story: second chances ; early high school . wordcount: 1521. rating: pg.

Levee thinks that maybe she got lost in a Ross Dress for Less when she was a small child, that maybe that could explain the existential horror she felt when they walked through the sliding glass doors.

notes: I haven't done much of anything with Darcy or Levee's freshman year, but here they are back-to-school shopping as future sophomores. And trying to reconnect (sort of?) after a year apart. Image prompt behind the cut, like you do.

Darcy walks her fingers along the row of plastic hangers, over the colored hodgepodge of short-sleeve shirts. The shirts are jammed in the racks so tight, she has to yank them out with a jerk of her elbow that reminds Levee of starting a lawn mower. Everything that looks plain on first glance seems to have some sort of stupid slogan or graphic, #1 Cutie, Tinkerbell. Everything else looks awful to begin with. And there are racks and racks and racks of this stuff.

Levee thinks that maybe she got lost in a Ross Dress for Less when she was a small child, that maybe that could explain the existential horror she felt when they walked through the sliding glass doors.

"Don't you need clothes too?" Darcy is asking. She frees a red t-shirt from the rack that has Heart Breaker printed across the front in glitter-font. "Or are you gonna wear your St. Francis skirt all next year?"

"I'm going to burn my St. Francis skirt," Levee says. She reaches out to tug on the polo collar of a garishly striped green shirt. "But this store is a pit."

"Your mom's the one that suggested it."

"She just wanted to look at their housewares." And knowing Mom, she'll be over there for a good long while. The only thing that woman likes more than bargains, Levee thinks, is plates.

"Oh," Darcy says. "Well, I didn't have any better ideas."

Levee pulls a handful of hangers back so Darcy can replace the Heart Breaker tee. "Where do you usually shop?"

"The boy's section of Old Navy. But I dunno...this is gonna be my second year of high school. Maybe I want to try something...girly."

"Old Navy has a girl's section too," Levee says.

"Don't use your earth logic on me!" She holds up another shirt. "Is this one cute?"

"No," Levee says.

"You didn't even look!"

"Let's go look at the sweaters," Levee says. "I could use a new sweater." And how offensive could a sweater be, really? It has to be harder to slap a dumb graphic on a knit.

"I'm gonna wear my eighth grade t-shirts til I graduate," Darcy says morosely. But she follows Levee into the aisle. There are coats a few racks down, and Levee hopes that's the right section because wandering around this store for any longer than she has to could very well render her brain-dead.

"Here," Darcy says, pointing Levee to the requisite rack. "Sweaters."

"Wonderful," Levee says. She wants something black—if she never sees navy blue again in her life it'll be too soon.

She's just about to grab an inoffensive looking zip-up when Darcy hisses a quiet, "Oh shit."

"What?" Levee glances over her shoulder. There are a couple of girls—one standing by the hand bags and one by the belts—but no one she recognizes on sight. Unless... "Wait, is that..." Levee points toward hand-bag girl with her chin. "That's girl you're friends with. Judy, right?"

""Jillian. Jill." Darcy looks vaguely ill, clutching a red-orange sweater to her chest. "And not so much with the friend thing anymore."

"What happened? Why haven't you told me about this?"

I..." Darcy pauses. Her fingers curl around the sweater's hanger. "Oh crap, I think she sees me..."

"She just waved," Levee says. And now she's setting down the hand bag, and now she's walking over. Levee's met this girl maybe twice and doesn't think they've exchanged words beyond an introduction. All she had on Jill was the first letter of her name and that she'd gone to school with Darcy. Darcy must have have talked about Jill sometimes, several times over the last school year but Levee can't remember any details. She had too many girls she didn't know to keep straight at St. Francis.

Though now Levee's itching to hear the drama. The Jillian drama. "What did she—" she starts to ask, but Jill comes up through the racks, definitely in earshot, before Levee can even form the question.

"Hey, Darcy," Jill says. She juts out her hip, tucking a thumb into one of her pockets. "Almost didn't see you there."

Jill has her short auburn hair swept across her forehead and tucked behind her ear. In her Blondie t-shirt and Levis, she looks like the kind of girl Darcy would make friends with. And she also thinks Ross is an acceptable place to go shopping.

"Hi," Darcy says. She glances left to right without moving her head, like she's looking for an escape route. "What's up?"

"My step-mom dragged me along shopping," Jill says. "She's trying to find a pair slacks she can squeeze her ass into. Probably a lost cause."

Darcy laughs a little, but it sounds fake. Levee doesn't find that merits even a fake laugh; she folds her arms again.

"So who's your friend?" Jill asks. "I don't think I've seen her before." She continues to look at Darcy, like Levee's not there or doesn't speak English.

"Oh, um," Darcy says. "This is Levee. She goes to—went to—St. Francis's."

"Oh yeah," Jill says. She nods to Levee finally. "I think she's mentioned you."

"Pleasure," Levee says.

"Right," says Jill, "Well. I have a date later with you-know-who, so I'm go look for some new underwear before Stepmother finds her way out of the dressing room."

Darcy doesn't respond, but she looks like she's trying to strangle the sweater she's holding. Levee glances back to Jill, expecting her to make good on her promise and walk off—but she's looking at Darcy again.

"Oh, and you weren't going to try that on, were you?" Jill asks, pointing to the sweater.

"Um," Darcy says.

"That style's not going to work for you," Jill says. She points to the line of the collar. "You're too flat for a scoop neck like that. And you should really go with a bulkier knit."

Darcy's not responding, so Levee supplies a sarcastic, "Thank you," for her.

"No problem," Jill says. She offers a little close-mouthed smile. "Nice meeting you, Lee-vee."

Darcy's still strangling the sweater, but Levee's arms are conveniently free to salute Jill's back with her best "up yours" gesture.

"Wow," Levee says. "She's awful. Why were you friends with her?"

Darcy looks down at the sweater then shoves it back onto the rack with disgust. "I don't know. Why did you abandon me for Catholic school?"

Levee chooses to treat that as rhetorical. And ignore it. "What's the deal with her mystery date?"

Darcy presses her lips together, looking maybe a little flushed. "Can we...not talk about this right now? I'll tell you later. I swear."

"Is it someone I—"

"Levee! I don't wan't to talk about it." Darcy's pretending to pick through the rack again; she looks like studying each sweater closely, but Levee can tell she's not looking at any of them.

Levee sighs. "Fine. But"—she pulls out the original red-orange sweater again—"you should try this on if you want to. Don't let Miss Bitchface tell you what to do."


"Let me tell you what to do," Levee tries. "I give much better advice."

Darcy shakes her head. "I just like the color. She's right, I couldn't wear something like this."

"Darcy, have you seen yourself?" Levee rattles the hanger at her. "You look like a model. Girls starve themselves to look like you. You can wear whatever you want." She hopes the Cliff Notes version of her you're pretty, shut up speech will be enough.

Darcy just looks at her. "And have everyone stare at my lack of boobs? Yeah, no thanks."

So it wasn't enough. Levee sighs. "Did you get a complex or something since we last hung out?"

For a second it seems like Darcy's going to ignore her and pretend to look at the rest of the sweaters, all the way down to the end of the rack. But her fingers stop on a nubby brown pull-over and her eyes flick back at Levee. "There was a list."

"A list?"

"A list of girls at Viewpoint," Darcy says. "That the boys wrote. With...rankings. And notes."

Levee opens her mouth then closes it again. "Oh," she finally comes up with. She has a million questions to follow-up on that, but somehow this doesn't seem like the time or place for it. She wonders if she's going to spend all of next year asking what?, catching up.

She reaches for the black zip-up sweater again and tries to breathe away the weird feeling in her stomach. "Well, this'll be a new year," she says, for both of them. "It's not like we're freshman anymore. New year, fresh start."

Darcy half-nods, but she's staring out across the store, maybe not paying attention. When Levee follows her gaze she can see the top of Jill's head between the racks of bras and nightgowns.

"Fresh start," Darcy says. "Right."

So my original ~concept~ for the high school story was to start it at the beginning of Darcy, Mike and Levee's sophomore year when a lot of things have changed/are changing, but I've very much neglected the early beginnings. And somehow I've managed not to write anything with Jill, even though she was Darcy's closest female friend their freshman year (I've called her Darcy's "replacement Levee"). Or how they had a falling out over a boy (well, kind of over a boy and kind of over Jill being awful).

But anyway, I'd just been thinking of going back to that a bit and that's where this piece came from. HUMBLE ORIGINS. ...IDK, I'm tired.

Tags: [author] falootin, [challenge] strawberry custard
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