Amelia had planned to wear the dress to Homecoming, a dance no one had asked me to.
Her boyfriend Tommy made a big production of inviting her. He set up candles in our back field in the shape of a heart. He called Amelia to tell her to look outside. The two of us stood in our parent’s bedroom window and watched the candles, some flickering out to make a lopsided heart.
“Hey, look, “I had said. “Now your heart is broken.”
Tommy couldn’t just have invited her to the dance like the rest of the kids at school, pushing out an awkward invite in the halls, texting the question or deciding during lunch to go as just friends. Tommy had to light up his love, even if the flames started to blow out when the winds blew too fast.
I started to try on the dress a few weeks after Amelia disappeared.
I put it on when Dad was at work and Mom was in the shower, running the water to cover up her wails that I could still hear.
I would slip into it and jam my feet into Amelia’s shoes that were two sizes too small and stare at myself in the mirror. I allowed myself for a moment, just a moment, to smile because I was here. I was strong and alive.
I would then take the dress off and hang it back up in the closet among Amelia’s other shirts, sweaters and tennis shoes that sat waiting for her.
Tonight I got dressed in the downstairs bathroom.
I watched for the headlights to Tessa’s ancient old Buick and slid out the door. I ran barefoot to the car, out of my house before anyone could ask where I was going. Amelia’s dress skimmed the ground, stirring up a fog of dust around the bottom.
I was shorter than Amelia and the dress wasn’t the same on me. Nothing was quite the same.