Excerpt from Alix & Valerie
I told her not to choose pink. No, I begged her. I got down on my hands and knees and pleaded with my best friend to have mercy on my soul.
“But this dress is so nice,” Jessica argued, holding it up and smiling mischievously at the torture she was putting me through. “You’ll look adorable.”
The lady who was helping us at the bridal shop nodded in agreement, and I resigned myself to the inevitable fate that was the dreaded dress. I grabbed it and went into the dressing room to change out of the torn black jeans and black Aerosmith tee shirt I sported that day, an ensemble that matched my gloomy mood quite perfectly. The mirror reflected a shattered heart trying desperately to hide its true state. I felt like crying, but didn’t. I didn’t want Jessica to see how much this was hurting me. She didn’t deserve my pain being thrown in her face.
I dumped my clothes on the floor and threw the dress over my head. The material felt cool against my skin, a contrast to the cotton and denim I was so used to wearing. I had no idea what material the dress was made of, but already I hated it. I loathed what it represented: the bitter taste of hope’s dying embers. And here I was . . . putting it on, like a second place winner settling for her loss.
The reflection in the mirror changed, and I was startled momentarily to see myself in a puffy pink dress. It clashed severely with the blue hue of my hair, and I felt utterly ridiculous.
I stepped out into the shop, where Jessica and the woman, whose name I think was Crystal were talking intently. They stopped when they heard me walk in and stared at me. I bit my lip, a habit I’d developed my senior year of high school unbeknownst to myself until Jessica had pointed it out. “I feel like a walking advertisement for Pepto Bismol,” I muttered, glancing down at myself.
Jessica smiled and walked all around me, taking in my ridiculous attire with an amused expression. “Really, Alix, like I could pass up the opportunity to stick you in a dress?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “You shall pay, Mrs. Collins,” I told her, my tone masking the pain behind the words.
At that moment, the door to the bridal shop burst open, announcing an anxious costumer. Roxanne Perez in all of her Latina glory stopped in mid-stride and stared straight at me, her mouth hanging open in surprise. Then she started laughing hysterically, pointing at me as she did so.
I would have beaten her up, but I decided to be mature and ladylike. After all, I was in a pink dress. You can’t get more ladylike than that. So, instead, I looked at Jessica for help and received a pat on the head for my efforts.
When Roxanne finally calmed down enough to speak, the first words out of her mouth were, “Alix, you look like an Easter egg!”
I didn’t find this amusing, but I felt vulnerable in my pink-clad state and had no intention of encouraging any further comments on my dress. Instead, I smiled and replied, “Wait until you see your dress.”
Roxanne glanced worriedly at Jessica, who smiled broadly. “What are you making me wear?”
I crossed my arms, waiting for the shoe to drop.
As if on cue, Crystal brought out Roxanne’s bridesmaid dress. It was orange. It was hideous. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever laid eyes on, and Roxanne stared at it in horror for over a minute.
“I am not wearing that!”
Jessica waved away the comment. “If I got Alix to wear a pink dress, I can get you to wear an orange one.” She took the dress from Crystal and handed it to a stunned Roxanne. “Into the dressing room you go.” She pushed Roxanne inside and closed the door. She turned around and smiled at me. “I love weddings. They’re the perfect excuse to torture my friends.”
Torture. Funny she should choose that word.
Roxanne walked out of the dressing room a few minutes later, and I started laughing. Now we both looked ridiculous. “Orange is not my color!” she stated, holding the dress up for emphasis.
“Oh, ’cause pink is mine?” I retorted.
She looked at me impatiently. “No, you look completely ridiculous, but that’s normal for you.”
Jessica was enjoying this, I could tell. Her blue eyes were sparkling with held back laughter, and a smile played on her lips. It was almost enough to make me forget the hideous thing I was wearing.
For once in my life, I had to side with Roxanne. “Jess, you know I love you, but if you don’t pick a different dress for me, I shall be attending your wedding in the nude.”
“Oh God, no,” Roxanne muttered. “You know she’ll do it.”
I smiled to myself. They both knew I wouldn’t.
Jessica started laughing; a hearty sound that will forever be music to my ears. “You guys really think I’d make you wear those things to my wedding?” She shook her head and motioned to Crystal who appeared with two identical dresses: one black, the other violet. Jessica smiled. “These are the real ones.”
Black. I looked at Jessica at that moment, and she caught my gaze and winked. I would’ve worn the dreadful pink dress for her. And she knew it.
"Alix & Valerie is a wonderful novel about falling in love that should be in every queer girl’s bookcase. Maybe even in everyone’s bookcase." –eurOut