April 16, 2017

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A Day Late 

Oops. There she goes again. Forgetting everything. Her homework. Her keys. Her meetings. Nothing sticks for long inside that silly little head of hers and it frustrates her (and everyone around her) to no end. All she wants is for a little peace and quiet for once in her life, but she has no luck in that area. Or any area at all, frankly. Luck, also, isn’t really her thing. Things very rarely go the way she hopes or plans or dreams. Grace’s life sucks.

Her sister on the other hand has it all. The smarts. The beauty. The memory. The luck. Charming and graceful, she can make the grumpiest old man like her in an instant. Hope is her parents’ pride and joy, the one they place all their hopes and ambitions on, leaving Grace to sit alone on the sidelines. 

The girls would rather change places. 

One day, Hope turns to Grace and says, “Gracie, I think we should switch places for the week. You be Hope Wilkins and I’ll be Grace. It’ll be perfect.”

Grace sighs, shaking her head. She stands before her sister and turns around, one slow step after the next, to demonstrate to her why her plan would ultimately faol. “I look nothing like you, Hope. You with your gorgeous blonde hair, me with my stringy brown. You with your kind and sparkling blue eyes, me with my flat brown. You with your tiny size two waist, me with my size twelve. Hope, no one will ever believe that I’m you. Most people will probably not even believe we’re sisters.”

Hope takes Grace by the hand. “Please, Grace? Just for a few days. I don’t want to be mom and dad’s little pet. Do you know how much that sucks?”

Grace’s eyes dig into Hope’s flesh. “Oh, yeah, Little Miss Pet has it so hard. Everyone falls at her feet and life sucks! Poor, poor, Miss Pet. It must be so hard to have literally everyone love you.”

“Okay, so maybe I was a little insensitive–” Grace snorts. “–but don’t you want to know what being loved by everyone is like?”

“Hope, there’s no way I will. Everyone loves you because of everything that makes you different. I don’t have those factors.”

Hope nods, her hope slipping away from her. “I just thought… maybe it would benefit us both. I don’t want to do everything that mom and dad want for me. I don’t want to go to some big ivy league school. I don’t want to become a lawyer or anything else super ambitious. I don’t want to marry rich. I don’t want to be rich. But mom and dad have this view of what my life will be like simply because of who I am. I wish they would look at you and see your potential.”

Grace snickers. “What potential?”

“You’re smart–”

“Not like you.”

“You do good work–”

“But it’s always late.”

“People like you–”

“Are you trying to make a joke?”

Hope stops and faces her sister, hands on her hips. “This is why no one sees your potential, Gracie, because you yourself don’t believe you have any. Don’t you see how smart you are? You’re a pretty girl. You know that guy you like who has a crush on me?”

“That… that was a- a quick- a really quick change.”

Hope continues, “If you won’t switch places with me in every way, at least switch places with me for the dance. Tell him I got sick and I wanted you to go. Maybe you can charm the pants off him.”

“I thought that was your job, Hope.”

“Just do it.”

Grace pauses to think over the situation, a very tempting one indeed. She knows how much the dance means to Hope, but Hope knows how much this guy means to her sister. “Fine. But you’ll need to teach me some things before I go.”

“Deal.”

The night of the dance arrives and Grace waits nervously. Her stringy brown hair lies atop her head, piled in elegant curls. Her flat brown eyes pop with the eyeshadow ringing them. Her size twelve body looks as beautiful as any size two, wrapped in the folds of her shimmering gown. For once in her life time, Grace feels beautiful. 

But her date never shows. 

She waits for hours. She makes up excuses for him. She checks her phone every other second. And still nothing. 

“Hope, he must’ve heard your plan and chosen to go with someone else.”

“Gracie, he would never do that. He isn’t a jerk, unlike some of the guys who like me. I wouldn’t have agreed to go to the dance if he was. He’ll show.”

When the clock on her phone changes form 11:59 to 12:00, Grace stands up from the bottom of stair and heads up to her bedroom to undress, not a soul having seen her in all her elegance. 

The next evening, while Grace and Hope watch a movie, stuffing themselves with ice cream and sweets to forget the occurrences of the night before, the doorbell sounds. Their mother shouts from her room upstairs, “Hopey, darling, can you get that?” 

Hope hops up and answers the door. “Grace, it’s for you.”

Confused, Grace shuffles to the front door. Her jaw drops when she sees– “Emerson!” Her face turns red and warm. Oh, if only he had shown last night, when she looked like a goddess come to earth, rather than now, looking more like a hobo than a young woman that any man could fall for. “What are you doing here?”

Clearly confused, Emerson asks, “Why aren’t you dressed?”

“I think the proper question is why are you?”

Emerson looks down at his tuxedo, fresh and clean, then back up at Grace in her sweatpants and t-shirt. He frowns. “I thought… the dance…”

Grace erupts into laughter. “Emerson, the dance was last night! Did you really forget that?”

Emerson’s face now matches that of his would-have-been date in its redness and warmth. “Was it really? How did I forget that? Crappie, this is embarrassing. I’m so sorry.”

“No, no, it’s… it’s fine. I probably would have done the same if Hope here hadn’t kept perfect track of the days. I’m always late for everything.” 

“Seriously? Me, too.”

A grin crosses Grace’s face. “Wanna come in? We’re just watching movies. We have ice cream and candy if you want any.”

“Sounds great. Let me just take off most of my tux,” he laughs, entering their house as he loosens his bow tie. 

***

Prompt: See title. Also, because I am a day late. I’m terrible at this . 

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