Jasmine closed the door and sulked over to her bed, where her guest lay reading a book. The girl had been gone for so long that Mellie grew uncomfortable, thinking that maybe she should call her mom to come pick her up. When Jasmine returned with moist, angry eyes, Mellie was surprised she hadn’t been forced to. Clearly Jasmine had just had a big fight, and these things usually ended with one of the girls having to go home.
“What happened?” Mellie asked.
Jasmine shook her head, not yet composed enough to speak. Her crossed arms tensed up in her lap as she tried to calm herself back down.
Mellie had read half a chapter book off Jasmine’s nearby shelf in the time that she was away, and despite had much it held her attention, she folded it now and set it aside without marking her page. Then she sat up and scooted over to her friend’s side, hesitating for a moment before putting an arm around Jasmine and rubbing her arm.
After a while, Jasmine spoke. “I can’t believe I’m related to them.”
Mellie knew who her friend was talking about without needing to ask.
“That woman, we were just -” Jasmine stopped, took a breathe, and tried again. “We were just talking about the class field trip coming up in two weeks, and that woman decided this was the perfect time yet again to slam into my wardrobe.”
“Those shorts are too short, Jasmine. They show way too much.”
“Mom, they’re comfortable. Besides, Grandma bought them for me.”
“Yes, because you knew better than to ask Dad or I for them.”
“You got three pairs, then found some overly tight shirts to match. The way you look in them, hanging out with all the boys that you do, it just doesn’t look right. Just the other day Judy asked me again why we let you leave the house looking that way when you’re such a respectable girl.”
“Who cares what Judy thinks? You’ve never liked her anyway.”
“It’s true, and you know it.”
“That isn’t the point here. Now your father and I have talked about this for a long time and -”
Your father and I, oh no no, “You can’t seriously be banning me from wearing these.”
“Jasmine, don’t interrupt me.”
“Mom, you can’t.”
“You’ve dressed yourself ever since you were a little girl. You just had an eye for things, and we were surprised and how well you matched colors and paired together whatever it was that you wanted. But -”
“I have legs now.”
“Let’s just cut right to it. That’s what this is about, isn’t it?”
I have legs and boobs and you don’t want anyone to see them.”
“And you’ve forgotten who you’re talking to.”
“Mom, I know who I’m talking to.”
“No you don’t. You never take this tone, and you never back talk, I don’t care what’s going on. Do you hear me?”
“Do you hear me?”
“I was going to say -”
“Good. Your father and I know the reason you’re looking forward to this trip is because you’ll be out from under our eyes for most of a week. You and your friends can do what you want, and there will be plenty of boys.”
She paused, giving her daughter a moment to respond. Jasmine, however, knew better by now than to do so. Nothing she would say would help the situation.
“The school dress code hasn’t let you wear these things there, but we all know kids bend the rules on these trips. And it doesn’t matter how many chaperones are there, you guys will also find time to do whatever it is you want to do.”
She paused again.
“We were teens once, and we want you to have this freedom. But you’re not taking those clothes.”
“What do my clothes have to do with anything?” Jasmine asked, looking into her friend’s eyes for the first time since returning to the room.
Mellie only continued to rub her arm.
“She could have chosen to yell at me about my clothes at any time, but she waits until we’re talking about Florida to bring this up? She just doesn’t want me to be happy. She knows how this trip has been making me feel, and she just had to do whatever it took to bring me back to reality.”
“We’re still going to have fun though.”
“We will,” Jasmine said, standing up and walking over to her dresser. She pulled out the shortest pair of shorts she owned and returned to the bed. “Put these in your handbag.”
Mellie took the shorts and held them out, not knowing what to say.
“Mom said I have three pairs of shorts. She doesn’t realize that I have four, this pair that you bought me. My favorite one.”
A wave of relief washed over Mellie. She was happy to know that her friend wasn’t returning her gift.
“Pack these with your clothes,” Jasmine said. “I’ll get them when we get there. I don’t want to risk Mom seeing them between now and then.”
Mellie folded up the shorts and tucked them tightly into her bag. “I may just have to buy you another gift while we’re there,” she said with a smile.
“I’d like that. But what will the boys think?”
Mellie leaned over, placed her hand on Jasmine’s thigh, and kissed her. “Who cares? And right now, I don’t like what you’re wearing anymore than your mom does.”
Jasmine smiled and pulled her down onto the bed.