Chapter 10: Answers, Answers Everywhere
As the movie in front of them ended, Erika found herself speechless. Her whole world had been turned upside-down once more, only more so this time. Her parents had been famous celebrities!
A few things had begun clicking into place for her. Her mother probably hadn’t wanted her to see any flicks because she didn’t want Erika to know. Granted, she HAD managed to see a few movies without her mother knowing- but besides ‘Superman’ during a slow English class, the only films she’d been able to see were a few Disney flicks and some anime that Mary was holding for her.
“You know,” Tara commented with Julia’s head resting on her shoulder, “that movie just gets better every time I watch it.”
Erika nodded as she yelped in surprise at the sight of Kat and Mary making out, one of Mary’s hands up her ‘wife’s’ shirt. “Mary, why’d you have to st- oh.” Mary’s hands went straight to her sides as Kat laughed awkwardly. “Sorry... that’s, you know... ‘our movie’.” Erika turned away, blushing.
Georgie stared at the scene before them. “I’m gonna go take a cold shower.”
Shaking his head as his brother went up the stairs, Morty said, “I’ve got a bit more self-control than that.”
Julia sighed. “Anyway, it’s still a great flick. You should be proud, Erika.”
“You should be.” All eyes turned to see Buck entering the room. “Alright, I think you’ve got some more questions now.”
Erika thought for a moment. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”
“Well,” Buck admitted, “Allison wouldn’t let ya’ have the upper hand against her if she could help it. And there was a gag order.”
“Yeah, but against talking too much about Mom! Where do I fit in?”
Uncle Buck took a deep breath, and began. “That order went in about talking about you and your mother. So when your father died, God bless him, they couldn’t touch any part of you. All they could really talk about was what was going to happen to all of the money, which would legally become yours today.”
“No, no, NO!” Erika seemed frustrated. “Why couldn’t you tell me? Why couldn’t Mr. Kingsley tell me? Why?””
Her uncle took another deep breath. “It’s hard to explain. Once you were born, your father wanted you to live a relatively normal life; he trusted your stepmother to help take care of you. His trust was usually very hard to gain, you must understand. So even though I didn’t like Allison at all, I trusted your father’s judgement.”
“That’s not an explanation,” Julia pointed out.
“I’m getting there,” Buck explained. “When yer father died, his will was read to a small group of people- myself, Allison, her lawyer, and Kyle. A lil’ fight broke out over how it could be done, if at all, and I had to fight tooth and nail to make sure that the will would be carried out in some shape, way, or form. But I had to make some concessions.”
“That’s right,” Morty said. “For one thing, Allison demanded Erika had to be raised in ignorance of just who her parents were. But Jackie’d been out of Hollywood for so long that by that point it wasn’t much of a problem.”
“Right,” Georgie added, “Jackie Daniels more or less retired after his wife died.” Erika remembered that her father had never gone to work, and focused all his spare time on loving her.
“The part that I had to actually concede was what would happen if ya found out before today.” Buck pulled at the collar of his turtleneck sweater. “If you found out, several things would happen. First, I would be prosecuted and/or sued by the state for breach of contract. It wouldn’t matter if I’d been the one to tell you or not, I would’ve been charged along with whoever told you.”
“There was another concession,” Georgie claimed as he reentered the room. “Which I still think was a horrible thing to agree to.”
“It was that or she’d go public. And while that would be violating the gag order, it would still be going against Jackie’s wishes and I’d rather die than let that happen.”
“What are you talking about,” Kat asked. “This is really getting me confused.”
Buck opened his mouth, but didn’t speak for a second- he seemed to have lost his voice. “Ally wanted it so that if the contract was breached, that she would get all the money.”
The reaction was immediate. Morty was shaking his head, Georgie grit his teeth, Mary stared at Buck, Kat began cursing profusely, Julia took Tara’s hand (who was busy nervously cleaning her glasses), and Erika screamed, “WHAT?!?”
“The press got an abridged version of his will, so they never knew; they were just obsessed with covering that Allison was getting the money at that point.”
“But you actually AGREED to her terms?”
Buck sighed. “Erika, I was a mess after your father died. He was like a brother to me. I’d just lost the case over who got custody for you. I had to concede the point.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” Kat was confused again. “You almost had custody over Erika?”
“If I’d done the research for that custody case... if I hadn’t been so torn up over Jackie’s death... then maybe this whole mess could’ve been avoided.” Buck looked at his watch, then said, “Hm... a couple of people I’d like you to meet should be here in a little bit. You ladies should get ready for Homecoming.”
Erika couldn’t get a straight response out of Buck about who was coming, though.
Kelly sighed as walked out of the restaurant, looking classy in her dark blue dress. “Kelly,” Meredith said, “what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry about Jack,” Kelly said out of the blue.
Meredith shrugged her shoulders. “I didn’t know he was a two-timing playboy when I met him. But, you know, you learn things about people. I’m just happy I broke up with him before I had too many plans in place. You’re acting like this happened yesterday, Kelly.”
“I just forgot.”
Meredith looked at Kelly as they got in the Lexus. “I know this isn’t what we had in mind when we started thinking about Homecoming, but we’ll just have to deal. Heck, I’m dealing with it right now! Look at me! I’m wearing the same dress that my mom wore when SHE was going to Homecoming because my dress wasn’t ready!”
Kelly nodded. “I know, I know... I just miss Erika.” She turned on the car. “I miss Erika a lot.”
“I know,” Meredith agreed as she played with her pink hair. “You’ve already mentioned it.”
“I mean, it’s like I barely know her, but in a few weeks she’s... she’s a part of my life that I don’t wanna lose. Someone I wanna fight for, someone I wanna spend more time with-”
“-someone you’ve fallen in love with and wanna sleep with-”
“Oh, hell yes,” Kelly shouted, as she remembered those stolen glances in the girl’s dressing room, Erika helping her shower- naked, the day they met, how she felt happy any time she heard Erika laugh... Her eyes widened as Meredith laughed a little bit at her expense. It was at that moment that Kelly realized just how deeply she cared for Erika.
“Hey look!” Meredith pointed to a spot in the sky. “A shooting star!”
When Kelly looked though, she saw something odd. “There’s two of them!”
“You know what they say about shooting stars,” Meredith grinned. It went quiet in the car as Kelly turned the radio down, the only noise in the car being the running engine.
Meredith stopped wishing first. “I know you’re not supposed to share wishes, but there are two stars... I’m feeling a little lucky.” She turned to face Kelly. “I wished that my book gets published. You?”
Kelly turned to look at her friend. “I wished that Erika’d be at Homecoming.” She looked at the twin stars. “I really, really, really wish she’d be there.”
The car left the parking lot as Meredith kept silent, deciding to turn the radio on. Kelly stayed quiet as well the entire car ride, but Meredith could see that it was written all over her face. Kelly was in love with Erika.
“My goodness,” Erika said. “It’s taking Kat and Mary so long to get ready that I could’ve read a Tom Clancy book by now. Twice.”
Julia and Tara agreed to that, they were already dressed for the evening. “So much for our reservations,” Tara sighed.
“But we can go to a restaurant any day,” Julia replied. “This whole thing with Erika is something that’s really once in a lifetime, you know?”
“There’s something I don’t quite get, though.” Erika looked at her Uncle. “If my stepmom had access to the money, then why didn’t she just withdraw the funds?”
Buck pursed his lips. “Well, she could only withdraw a certain portion per year. That was part of the agreement we made.”
Mary and Kat finally walked down the stairs and joined their friends. “Sorry we took so long,” Kat apologized, “but I was having trouble with Mary’s dress.”
Her ‘husband’ added with a serene smile, “A lot of trouble.”
As the two sat down, Buck finally began speaking again. “Erika, do you believe in magic?”
“Uncle Buck, you already asked me that question. And it’s still ‘no’.”
“Well, I believe,” the lawyer commented. “I believe that there’re some things that science cannot explain or replicate.” He gestured for everyone to follow him. “What I’m about to show you all is the secret behind quite a few of my victories in the courtroom.” Georgie and Morty nodded; remembering when their grandfather explained the red phone to them.
“I suppose none of you gals believe in magic either,” Buck said to himself. “No matter. In this room, I keep a red phone that has... special properties. It’s magic.”
“Since when is a phone,” Julia questioned, “magic?”
“When it can talk to the dead.” Erika looked bewildered at his comment, so Buck elaborated.
“Quite a few of my biggest cases involved some form of murder. After I lost to Allison, I was walking through a flea market, when an old woman asked me to look at her wares. I had nothing better to do. Most of her stuff were things like dream catchers, good luck charms, sanctified crosses... I bought a rabbit’s foot out of kindness.”
“She stopped me before I left, telling me that I had a good heart. Then she gave me that phone, said that I needed it more than she, and sent me away. When I looked back to ask why, she was gone.”
“So I installed the phone in this room, out of curiosity. And then... it started to ring.”
“To make a long story short,” Georgie commented, “Gramps started getting calls from dead people, asking him to take cases that had the wrong person accused or cases where the perp wasn’t gonna get the guilty verdict.”
Buck nodded at his stepson’s assessment. “It took me a while to get my life back in a place where I could go back to law. But once I did... people like Jack Stone could finally rest in peace.”
Uncle Buck, Georgie, and Morty had never lied to Erika about something this important before. But this seemed like insanity! And yet somehow it had a kernel of truth in it; why else would those three look so serious?
Once again, Buck’s handy red phone began to ring. “Hello? Alright, thanks for telling me.” He hung up the phone, and turned to Erika. “There’s someone waiting for you at the door.”
Everyone looked confused, but approached the front door regardless with Erika leading the group. Her hand slowly rested on the doorknob, and with a twist the door opened.
“How the freaking HELL IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?” Kat screeched.
Erika stared at the man and woman before her. The woman looked like an older version of her with shorter hair, but the man was-
“Erika, it’s so good to see you again.” Jackie Daniels laughed, as he threw Erika into a bear hug.
Kelly and Meredith finally rested for a brief moment as they took a break from setting up the last of the Homecoming decorations. “I keep forgetting how much high heels hurt,” Meredith groaned.
“And this is why I don’t wear super high heels,” Kelly grinned. “I think the sophomores can take care of the rest. Seniority and all.”
“Amen to that.” Meredith looked around to make sure no one was around before asking, “Did you hear about what happened to Emma?”
“Nope. What happened?”
Meredith checked once more before saying, “I heard through the grapevine that Emma broke her nose.”
Kelly breathed a sigh of relief to that- Emma had always been one of her more fervent suitors. “How’d she do it?”
“She apparently got into a fight with her girlfriend, and-” Meredith stopped talking as she saw Jade and Fiona waltz in. “You guys are late.”
“Does it look like we care, bubblegum head?” Fiona seemed to be surprisingly quick with the insults today.
“Does it look like I care, Miss Fake Boobs?” Meredith was eager to sling insults back. “Why don’t you go off and plan the cruelest way to kill kittens with Madame Slut here?”
Fiona stormed off, Jade not far behind. “Well, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that their dates are gonna show up later,” Kelly commented. “Hate those two so much. And they’re Erika’s freaking sisters!”
“Stepsisters,” Meredith corrected. “So there’s really no blood relation there.” She dug her hand into a box a passing junior was carrying and brought out two masks. “I guess this is what we get for going along with Kerry’s idea. That woman loves ‘Phantom of the Opera’ just a bit too much.”
“Agreed.” Kelly took one of the masks from her friend’s hand, opting to put it on later. “It’s a nice theme and all, but does everyone really need to wear masks?”
Meredith shook her head. “‘Meet the mysterious person of your dreams’... yeah, but that was a REAL nice pitch she made, though.”
Back at the Daniels house, Erika found herself in a strange situation. Granted, the past few weeks had been chock full of oddities, but seeing her long-dead parents trying to make up for lost time took the cake easily.
Jackie Daniels laughed as Kat told him a joke that she’d heard in school. “My goodness,” he said as he slapped his knee, “It’s great to be back.”
Cheryl Long nodded at her husband’s comment. “And it’s so good to finally see you again.”
But Erika continued to stare at her parents. She finally spoke up after letting most of the surprise sink in, but not long enough for her to speak rationally. “It’s... I... But... You both are supposed to be dead!”
Jackie twiddled his thumbs, while Buck coughed nervously. “Technically, you’re right,” Cheryl pointed out.
“That’s Cherry for ‘ya,” Buck said. “Never one to beat around the bush.”
“He’s right,” Jackie added. “We are dead, and we’re going to stay dead.”
Erika still was confused, though. “Then how are you guys here? Are you ghosts or something?”
Jackie let out a breath, then licked his lips. “Yes and no. Lemme give you the short version, honey. We’re like ghosts in the sense that we’re dead. But well...” He decided that he could explain it better by reaching for a banana in a nearby fruit bowl. To almost everyone’s surprise, Jackie succeeded; managing not only to grasp the fruit in his hand, but also unpeeled the banana and then proceeded to eat the food. “I’d have gone for an apple, but a certain someone hates the things.” Jackie stared at Buck, then added, “Despite the fact that he will eat applesauce.”
“Hey!” Buck pointed a finger at his old friend. “It tastes different, I swear it!”
Cheryl shook her head as she smiled at her only daughter. “Anyway, we can come by whenever we want to see you. All you have to do is pick up that scarlet phone.”
Erika’s mouth hung open as Cheryl rose from her seat and hugged her daughter. Jackie joined his wife a moment later as Erika’s friends looked on in awe.
“I can’t believe this,” Julia stated. “This all sounds like some really jacked up fairy tale.”
“Maybe,” Mary agreed. “Either way, this is pretty cool, you have to admit that.” Tara agreed with her while Kat scratched her head.
“I still can’t freaking believe it,” Kat said, “our best friend Erika was- is- It just blows my mind.”
Buck sighed as he looked at his watch. “I guess Cherry got to do what she wanted.” Cheryl looked at the girls with a devious smile on her face. “But we need to cut to the chase, ladies. I know that you’re supposed to show up fashionably late to Homecoming and whatnot, but it started over an hour or two ago.”
Mary smacked her head as she looked at Kat’s watch. “Dammit! All my appointments, shot!” She bit her tongue after saying that, remembering why her best laid plans had gone astray. “I mean- Alright, that was a cold thing to say and I know it.”
“It’s alright,” Erika said. “You guys should enjoy Homecoming. Don’t stay here on my behalf.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Jackie butted in. “Don’t tell me that you’re actually planning on missing out on Homecoming!” Erika sighed, nodding her head silently. “...Cheryl, do you wanna say it, or should I?”
“I think I’ll say it.” Cheryl looked at her only child and said, “There’s no way in hell we’re letting you stay here.”
Erika stared incredulously at her mother. “I’m sorry, what?!?”
“You heard your mother,” Jackie replied. “We’re making you go out there and having a good time. Consider your stepmother’s word overruled.”
Kat slapped Erika on the back thoughtfully as Erika tried to make sense of this latest turn of events. “But I-I don’t have a ticket, a date, a dress-”
But she found herself being dragged up the stairs by her mother. “Let your father worry about most of that; we need a dress first.” Cheryl seemed to rush up those stairs as quickly as she had the day she went for her wedding dress. Following right behind the two Andresses were Julia, Tara, and Mary.
Erika now found herself in Uncle Buck’s room, with her mother frantically searching through his closet. “This is so cool,” Tara squealed. “This is even cooler than that one time when I got to cosplay as Yomiko from Read or Die at Otakon!”
Julia smiled as Tara continued to recount her cosplaying misadventures. “Just what is it that you’re looking for, Mrs. Andress?”
“Call me Cheryl, hon,” Cheryl said. “And I’m trying to find a dress in Buck’s closet- he used to keep his wife’s dresses in here.” But her search seemed to be to no avail; the only dress that Cheryl could find was a wedding dress- and there was no way that was coming out. “Well, crud. I was really hoping there’d be something better in there.”
“I wish I could’ve had more warning,” Julia lamented, “or I could’ve made something.” She sighed as Cheryl looked at her, intrigued. When pressed, Julia said, “Well, I finished this simple design the other day, but it would’ve looked beautiful if I’d had the materials.” She whispered what it looked like into the ears of the somewhat-dead Cheryl.
After Cheryl was done listening, she smiled and brought out a toy wand from behind her back. “Um, that’s a bit random,” Mary pointed out. “What’s that for?”
“Oh,” Cheryl said as she practiced waving the wand, “I’m just about to fulfill a childhood fantasy of mine.”
Buck and his grandsons looked outside the window as they watched what wonders Jackie was pulling outside. Georgie looked intrigued, asking, “Did he just do to that car what I think he just did?”
Morty nodded his head. “Yes. Yes he did.”
“That’s still pretty frickin’ sweet,” George grinned, “if I do say so myself.”
All three of the men’s attention was grabbed by a yelling upstairs. “BIBBITY- BOPPITY- BOO!” A bright blue flash issued from the upper floor, causing the staircase to take on a blueish tint for a few seconds before fading away. After a few more seconds, everyone sans Erika and Cheryl came down the stairs into the kitchen.
“Now Erika,” Cheryl told her at the top of the stairs. “There’s one thing I want to talk to you about real quick.”
“Yes, Mom?” Erika’s remark seemed to make Cheryl’s face brighten up that much more.
“Well honey,” she said, “I’m going to be very frank. I know all about Kelly.” Erika appeared shocked before her mother continued, “No no, it’s okay, I’m actually telling you that it’s okay for you to be in love.”
“W-wait,” Erika stammered, “I’m in love?!?”
“Are you in love- hon, I could tell a mile away that you two were made for each other!” Cheryl told her daughter. “All you needed was a little push. I mean, do you honestly think that your theatre teacher just happened to be carrying that Superman monologue and just HAPPENED to pull that one out instead of the Tarzan one?”
“Wait, so I had to do that monologue in front of her because-” Cheryl just nodded at that. “Whoa.” Erika couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that her dead mother was giving her romantic tips, let alone the fact that her dead mother was right in front of her and speaking with her. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just a hug will do,” Cheryl said. And just like that, she found herself being hugged like she’d never been hugged before. “Hon, as much as I love holding you in my arms again, your friends are waiting for you.” And as her daughter walked down the stairs, she followed right behind.
The three Daniels men found themselves in awe of Erika’s appearance. Her hair was done up in a bun, and she now wore a dark blue dress with small streaks of light blue and sparkles, as well as an accompanying purse. The dress was simple, yet elegant- but something about it bothered Erika. “Mom, why am I wearing glass shoes?”
“Why not? It’s not you’ll be doing any great amount of running.” Cheryl looked at her daughter, proud of her flesh and blood. Buck joined Cheryl in accompanying Erika outside, where a limo appeared to be waiting in the street, Erika’s friends all excited at this turn of events.
“Madame, your chariot and friends await.” Jackie Daniels appeared in a chauffeur’s outfit. “But before we go... we’ve gotta take some pictures.”
Erika quickly began to learn why some people dreaded having their pictures taken by their parents- the parents always wanted ‘just one more picture’. Regardless, she did enjoy posing with her parents, with her friends, with everyone...
“Now Erika,” Jackie warned her as her friends entered the car, “a word of warning. This spell holding up the limo? Only lasts ‘til midnight. The dress and purse’ll be fine, but everything else goes kaput.” He changed the subject as the car started to move. “So Erika... we need to have a talk about Kelly.”
Erika groaned as Kat began grinning wickedly.
There was still a relatively big crowd waiting in front of the check-in desk at Homecoming, Meredith noticed. The freshmen SGA reps were doing a great job making sure that everyone had a mask, making sure that people received their disguises at the door. She’d have to thank them when she got the chance. “How’s the dance floor?”
“Miserable,” Kelly admitted as she walked next to her friend. “I’ve probably had to dance with half of the school by now- and they’ve all got two left feet.” She grit her teeth, adding, “Why do I have to stay again? I don’t have a date; no one’s relying on me for a ride.”
“Because you’re one of the finalists for Homecoming Queen?” Meredith said. “Look, I already asked. All you have to stay for is the crowning, and then you get out of the gym and go.”
“Good, because quite frankly I-” Kelly stopped speaking as she saw the doors open to let some more people in. While doors opening were far and away nothing special, the person who opened the door for the incoming group looked quite odd. He appeared to have been ripped out of a movie; his attire reminding her of a clichéd driver for the rich and famous. But as the group he accompanied filed into the building, Kelly felt something akin to a lump in her throat as she looked at the redhead in the blue dress. “Meredith, who is that?”
Meredith looked at the masked gal and twitched. “You mean you can’t-” She looked at the confused face Kelly was making, before saying, “You know what? I don’t know either.”
“But,” Kelly said, “the way you just said that-”
“If you’re so interested,” Meredith replied, “then why don’t you talk to her?” She walked off towards the gym with a grin on her face before Kelly could respond.
Deciding to take her friend’s odd advice, Kelly walked down the stairs to the check-in desk, where it seemed that the mysterious redhead and her chauffeur were in a bit of a panic, the rest of the group already having gone to the gym. “-couldn’t just conjure up a pass or something?” Erika dug through her purse, asking the person at the desk, “I guess I left my ticket in the limo. Can’t you just let me through?”
The teacher looked at the woman and stated, “I’m sorry Miss, but the rules are there for a reason.”
Kelly approached the teacher and said, “Mrs. Cosby, can’t you just bend the rules just this once?” She looked at her teacher, adding, “She’s not gonna try to spike the punch, I promise you.”
Mrs. Cosby appeared to relent after a moment. “I suppose this time.” Erika and Kelly both were ecstatic at the news.
Kelly took off her mask for a moment and grabbed Erika’s arm as she tried to walk to the gymnasium. “Hey. You alright there, Red?”
Erika gulped as she looked at her friend’s face. “F-fine. Thank you.” Her mother’s words about love still rang in her head, along with her father’s advice on how to woo the gal of her dreams (he seemed very adamant on using Kelly as an example).
“Don’t sweat it,” Kelly smiled. “You wanna share a table with me?” She backed off a little bit as Erika looked at the floor. “Sorry if I seem pushy... you just remind me a lot of a close friend of mine.”
Now Erika felt guilty for wearing her mask. But her stepsisters were both here; she couldn’t risk them finding out, let alone letting them see her here! “Sure.”
Kelly was taken aback. “Sure?”
Erika decided to take the offer. “Let’s get a table. It’s the least I could do to repay you.”
Erika couldn’t help but feel... happy when hanging out with Kelly as she talked about herself. Yes, Kelly was going over things that Erika had heard her talk about before, but Erika didn’t care. Kelly was talking so enthusiastically that she didn’t mind listening a second time. But one topic that Kelly always seemed to return to was Erika.
“I’m sorry I keep talking about her,” Kelly said, “but she just, I mean... she just IS.”
Erika felt a warm fuzzy feeling whenever Kelly spoke highly of her. “It’s alright, you managed to make it interesting.”
Kelly breathed a sigh of relief as Erika told her that little fact. “Thanks. You know, I gotta know. Do I know you from somewhere?”
Thankfully, Erika was saved by the DJ. “Hey, hey, hey ladies! This is MC Wright talkin’ to you now, and I gots a special message for ‘ya from the women in charge, so give ‘em a moment of ‘ya time.”
The DJ handed a microphone to the Principal, who held an envelope in her hands. “Thank you. It’s time to announce the Homecoming Queen!” The gym began being filled with women’s cheers, with a couple of men whooping. “The votes have been tallied, and I am pleased to announce that your Homecoming Queen is...” She opened the envelope, easier said than done whilst holding a microphone. “Kelly Kingsley!”
The gymnasium seemed to explode with applause and yells as Kelly got up from her table and went to the dance floor to be crowned. In the corner of her eye, Erika could see her stepsisters cursing up a storm. She quietly decided to hide herself amongst the throng of fellow students.
Once she weaseled her way into the front of the mob, she could see Kelly waving to the collective masses, unmasked once again. As if on cue, the women surrounding her seemed to call out to Kelly, as if trying to communicate an obvious demand.
This was what Kelly had wanted to avoid all along- having to spend her night with one of her fangirls. A quick skim over the crowd didn’t show much promise... but then she managed to find someone. Erika could see Kelly approaching, but was still surprised when her friend held out her hand. “Sorry if I seem forward,” Kelly asked bashfully, “but would you dance with me?”
Erika looked at the Homecoming Queen, and knew that there was no way she could refuse her. Erika nodded her head as she took Kelly’s hand and stepped forward. “I have a confession to make,” Erika said. But when Kelly looked at her, she chickened out. “I’ve never been dancing before.” She mentally chastised herself for that; getting dancing tips from her father just before arriving did not count as dancing.
“It’s alright,” Kelly smiled meekly. “We’ll just have to have our first dance with each other.” Erika blushed as the music began, and the Queen had her dance with the person of her choice.
The song was slow as the two singers began their tune, but it was one that Kelly knew all too well. “Oh my god,” she laughed softly, “this is from my favorite movie!” Erika looked at the DJ for a moment, who looked perplexed- he appeared at first to be confused that that song had come on. But then, right next to him, Erika could see her mother and father for a moment. Jackie saluted her while Cheryl gave her a thumbs up.
Erika found herself leaning into Kelly as the song continued. Kelly unconsciously noted how much Erika’s hair smelt like strawberries before jumping just a little bit. “Your hands-” Kelly looked at Erika for a moment before saying, “Your hands are on my butt, Erika.” Erika froze for a moment before Kelly apologized. “Sorry. I mixed you up with that friend I kept talking about.” The dance continued, but Erika’s heart was still beating at a mile a minute- Kelly didn’t allow Erika to move her hands up. Erika could practically hear Kat squealing with glee.
Her heart began beating even faster as she recognized that the song was ending. Erika could see that Kelly’s eyes were closed. She could also see that the clock on the gym wall was reading 11:56 and fifty-two seconds. “Mmm...” Kelly was whispering to herself. “Can you read my mind?”
Erika couldn’t believe that Kelly had quoted the monologue that had started this whole affair, nor could she stop herself from replying, “If you need to be loved... here I am.”
The song ended the second those last words escaped Erika’s lips. A million things began to happen all at once. The crowd went into thunderous applause; her stepsisters were barging their way through the crowd, likely having finally figured out that something didn’t add up; Kat and Mary were both pointing at the gym clock; but Kelly kept staring at Erika.
“Please, tell me it’s you-” But Kelly didn’t bother trying to finish her own sentence as she slowly moved her hand to remove Erika’s mask.
Erika began to panic. Her time was almost up. Her stepsisters were about to beat her within an inch of her life. She had pretty much made the equivalent of another confession of love to Kelly. And she was standing alone with Kelly. To put the icing on the cake, Erika finally understood how hard she’d fallen for the girl.
She reacted the way that she’d been conditioned to react when her sisters were angry- she ran. She ran as fast as she could with those glass high heels and that nice dress through the crowd of confused on-lookers. Erika couldn’t bear to look back; she couldn’t bear to see the look on Kelly’s face.
Erika finally managed to break free of the gym’s confines and continued to run until she fell down the little set of stairs just before the main doors. As she made impact with the ground, she could feel one of those glass shoes shatter. Erika was careful as she got back up, being sure not to step in the glass. Nonetheless, a shard had cut her ankle.
“Wait! Don’t go!” Erika could see that Kelly was trying to chase after her. Trying to think fast, Erika took off the other glass shoe and set it aside before running once more. She was faster now that she was barefoot, and managed to outrun the woman that she loved to the waiting limo.
Kelly found herself alone in the dark as the limo sped away, staring after the vehicle.
Meredith joined her after a moment, holding something in her hands and wincing in pain from trying to come so quickly in heels. “Damn,” she said, “she was in a hurry.” She looked at her friend before saying, “You know, I managed to pick up that other glass shoe. Dunno what good it’ll do you though- won’t help you figure out who it is.”
Kelly took the fragile footwear before commenting, “I know, Meredith. But I think I knew who it was from the start.”