Darling Daughters

Chapter Seventeen

 

When the sun rose on the day of the debutante ball Elizabeth and Summer were feeling hopeful. Summer and Elizabeth had been stealing moments to do paperwork to access the accounts attached the buildings.

It was a rush, a chaotic rush for both girls that day, when they picked Zach and Simon up they were trying to calm their nerves enough. Even when they arrived at the building for the ball they felt the intensity of their anxiety. When they split from one another to different areas of the building Summer and Elizabeth had to wait in the debutante girls waiting area. Summer and Elizabeth helped one another with their dresses and their hair. They quietly observed the other girls amidst the cloud of hairspray and debates over lipsticks, lip glosses and nail varnishes.

In a darker corner a few of the girls were grimacing as they drank shots in an attempt to calm their nerves. Something Elizabeth wouldn’t have minded doing herself. Elizabeth pointed out a girl to Summer, the girl was having a meltdown due to her lipstick being a bit too pink.

It took a while for the girls to be ushered into the hallway with their appropriate gather or in Elizabeth and Summer’s case, grandfather. One by one they were called down the staircase. Elizabeth lead the way as she emerged on the staircase, Summer peered after her. Elizabeth seemed to glide down the staircase, Summer couldn’t help but register the smile on Simon’s face as he waited to receive her. He seemed to beam, it couldn’t have been more of a perfect smile for him, even if he had that furrow in his brow, perhaps he was more nervous than he let on.

Soon it was Summer’s turn, her mind raced but she kept her face in that structured smile. She avoided locking eyes with anyone. Her heart raced, what would she do with the way she felt now Zach was in her eye line. He was smiling and beaming at her, and the smile she wore felt false. She was nervous, her hand was shaking when he took it.

***

Finally, after the cattle market dance was over as Elizabeth had named it, the girls sat to eat at their table, enjoying the odd prod of playing with the floating candles in the fishbowl with ivy and white rose petals strewn on the table. Everything in the room just seemed so bright, so white, so sparkling.

A little while after the meal Zach stood up, as if pulled by a string, and asked Summer to dance. She tensed for a second before agreeing and taking his hand. She didn’t like eyes on her, she had been stripped of things to hide behind, her hair, her shyness. Summer’s dress seemed to increase the awkwardness of the dance.

Rather awkwardly, almost clumsily, Simon stood and offered his hand to Elizabeth asking her to dance. Accommodating the dress Elizabeth allowed herself to follow Simon’s lead, relaxing in his arms he laughed and talked with her.

But Summer and Elizabeth were unaware of the eyes watching them. Matthew and Stuart were engaged in whispered conversations.

At the end of the ball, Zach was the first to be dropped off at home, Summer smiled with a brief kiss goodbye still in her poufy dress. When the girls dropped Simon off there was a little awkward moment where they sort of hugged before he disappeared off into the dark Diner.

When the girls walked through the manner, they praised the house for not having a smog cloud of hairspray and drunk girls in white dresses. No overwhelming clouds of perfume. They fell asleep on the sofa giggling at the evening and the exhaustion in every inch of their bodies.

 

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