THE NEXT MORNING IS GRAY
and rainy out and itâs just us three girls, because Daddyâs left a note for us on the refrigerator saying he got called into the hospital, and heâll see us for dinner that night. Margotâs still jet-lagged, so she got up early and fixed scrambled eggs and bacon. Iâm luxuriously spreading eggs on buttered toast and listening to the rain tap on the roof, when I say, âWhat if I didnât go to school today, and we did something fun?â
Kitty brightens. âLike what?â
âNot you. You still have to go to school. Iâm basically done. No one cares if I go anymore.â
âI think Daddy probably cares,â Margot says.
âBut if we could do anything . . . what would we do?â
âAnything?â Margot bites into her bacon. âWeâd take the train to New York City and enter the
lottery, and weâd win.â
âYou guys canât go without me,â Kitty says.
âBe quiet, And Peggy,â I say, giggling.
She glares at me. âDonât call me And Peggy.â
âYou donât even know what weâre talking about, so calm down.â
âI know youâre cackling about it like a witch. Also, I do so know about
, because you play the soundtrack
all day long.â She sings, âTalk less; smile more.â
âFor your information, itâs a cast recording, not a soundtrack,â I say, and she makes a big show of rolling her eyes.
In truth, if Kittyâs anyone, sheâs a Jefferson. Wily, stylish, quick with a comeback. Margotâs an Angelica, no question. Sheâs been sailing her own ship since she was a little girl. Sheâs always known who she was and what she wanted. I suppose Iâm an Eliza, though Iâd much rather be an Angelica. In truth
probably And Peggy. But I donât want to be the And Peggy of my own story. I want to be the Hamilton.
* * *
It rains all day, so as soon as we get home from school, the first thing Kitty and I do is get back into our pajamas. Margot never got out of hers. Sheâs wearing her glasses, her hair in a knot at the top of her head (itâs too short to stay put), Kitty is in a big tee, and Iâm happy itâs cold enough to wear my red flannels. Daddy is the only one still in his day clothes.
We order two large pizzas for dinner that night, plain cheese (for Kitty) and a supreme with the works. Weâre on the living room couch, shoving oozy slices of pizza into our mouths, when Daddy suddenly says, âGirls, thereâs something Iâd like to talk to you about.â He clears his throat like he does when heâs nervous. Kitty and I exchange a curious look, and then he blurts out, âIâd like to ask Trina to marry me.â
I clap my hands to my mouth. âOh my God!â
Kittyâs eyes bulge, her mouth goes slack, and then she flings her pizza aside and lets out a shriek so loud that Jamie Fox-
Pickle jumps. She catapults herself at Daddy, who laughs. I jump up and hug his back.
I canât stop smiling. Until I look at Margot, whose face is completely blank. Daddyâs looking at her too, eyes hopeful and nervous. âMargot? You still there? What do you think, honey?â
âI think itâs fantastic.â
She nods. âAbsolutely. I think Trinaâs great. And Kitty, you adore her, donât you?â Kittyâs too busy squealing and flopping around on the couch with Jamie to answer. Softly, Margot says, âIâm happy for you, Daddy. I really am.â
is what gives her away. Daddyâs too busy being relieved to notice, but I do. Of course itâs weird for her. Sheâs still getting used to seeing Ms. Rothschild in our kitchen. She hasnât gotten to see all the ways Ms. Rothschild and Daddy make sense. To Margot, sheâs still just our neighbor who used to wear terry-cloth booty shorts and a bikini top to mow the lawn.
âIâll need your guysâs help with the proposal,â Daddy says. âLara Jean, Iâm sure youâll have some ideas for me, right?â
Confidently I say, âOh, yeah. People have been doing promposals, so I have lots of inspiration.â
Margot turns to me and laughs, and it almost sounds real. âIâm sure Daddy will want something more dignified than âWill You Marry Meâ written in shaving cream on the hood of somebodyâs car, Lara Jean.â
âPromposals have gotten way more sophisticated than in your day, Gogo,â I say. Iâm playing along, teasing her so she
can feel normal again after the bomb Daddy just dropped.
day? Iâm only two years ahead of you.â She tries to sound light, but I can hear the strain in her voice.
âTwo years is like dog years when it comes to high school. Isnât that right, Kitty?â I pull her toward me and hug her tight to my chest. She squirms away.
âYeah, both of you guys are ancient beings,â Kitty says. âCan I be a part of the proposal too, Daddy?â
âOf course. I canât get married without you guys.â He looks teary. âWeâre a team, arenât we?â
Kitty is hopping up and down like a little kid. âYeah!â she cheers. Sheâs over the moon, and Margot sees it too, how important this is to her.
âWhen are you going to propose?â Margot asks.
âTonight!â Kitty pipes up.
I glare at her. âNo! Thatâs not enough time to think up the perfect way. We need a week at least. Plus you donât even have a ring. Wait a minute, do you?â
Daddy takes off his glasses and wipes his eyes. âOf course not. I wanted to wait and talk to you girls first. I want all three of you to be here for the proposal, so Iâll do it when you come back for the summer, Margot.â
âThatâs too far away,â Kitty objects.
âYes, donât wait that long, Daddy,â Margot says.
âWell, youâll have to help me pick out the ring at least,â Daddy says.
âLara Jean has a better eye for that kind of thing,â Margot says serenely. âBesides, I barely know Ms. Rothschild. I
havenât a clue what kind of ring sheâd like.â
A shadow crosses over Daddyâs face. Itâs the
I barely know Ms. Rothschild
that put it there.
I rush to put on my best Hermione voice. âYou âhavenât a clueâ?â I tease. âP.S., did you know youâre still American, Gogo? We donât talk as classy as that in America.â
She laughs; we all do. Then, because I think she saw that brief shadow too, she says, âMake sure to take tons of pictures so I can see.â
Gratefully Daddy says, âWe will. Weâll videotape it, whatever it is. God, I hope she says yes!â
âSheâll say yes, of course sheâll say yes,â we all chorus.
* * *
Margot and I are wrapping slices of pizza in plastic and then double wrapping in foil. âI told you guys two pizzas would be too much,â she says.
âKitty will eat it for her after-school snack,â I say. âSo will Peter.â I glance toward the living room, where Kitty and Daddy are snuggled up on the couch, watching
. Then I whisper, âSo how do you really feel about Daddy asking Ms. Rothschild to marry him?â
âI think itâs completely bonkers,â she whispers back. âShe lives across the street, for pityâs sake. They can just date like two grown-ups. Whatâs the point of getting
âMaybe they just want it to be official. Or maybe itâs for Kitty.â
âThey havenât even been dating that long! How long has it been, six months?â
âA little longer than that. But Gogo, theyâve known each other for years.â
She stacks up the slices of foiled pizza and says, âCan you imagine how weird itâll be to have her living here?â
Her question gives me pause. Ms. Rothschild
at the house a lot, but thatâs not the same as living here. She has her own ways of doing things, and so do we. Like, she wears shoes at her house, but we donât wear them here, so she takes them off when she comes over. And, now that I think about it, sheâs never slept over here before; she always goes back home at the end of the night. So that might feel a little weird. Also, she stores bread in the refrigerator, which I hate, and to be quite honest, her dog Simone sheds a lot and has been known to pee on the carpet. But the thing is, since Iâm not going to
, I wonât be around much longerâIâll be away at college. âNeither of us will be living here full-time though,â I say at last. âJust Kitty, and Kittyâs thrilled to death.â
Margot doesnât respond right away. âYes, they do seem really close.â She goes to the freezer and makes space for the pizza, and with her back facing me she says, âDonât forget, we have to go prom-dress shopping before I leave.â
âOoh, okay!â It feels like two seconds ago that we were shopping for Margotâs prom dress, and now itâs my turn.
Daddy, who I didnât realize had walked into the kitchen, pipes up with, âHey, maybe Trina could go too?â He casts a hopeful look my way. Iâm not the one he should be looking at. I already love Ms. Rothschild. Itâs Margot she has to win over.
I look over at Margot, who is giving me wide panic eyes. âUm . . . ,â I say. âI think it should just be a Song girls thing this time.â
Daddy nods like he understands. âAh. Got it.â Then he says to Margot, âCan the two of us spend a little daughter-dad time together before you leave? Maybe take our bikes on a trail?â
âSounds good,â she says.
When his back is turned, Margot mouths,
I feel disloyal to Ms. Rothschild, but Margot is my sister. I have to be on her side.
* * *
I think maybe Margotâs feeling guilty about cutting Ms. Rothschild out of the dress shopping expedition, because she keeps trying to make it more of a thing. When we go to the mall the next day after school, she announces that weâll each pick two dresses, and I have to try all of them on no matter what, and then weâll rate them. She even printed out thumbs-up and thumbs-down emojis and made paddles for us to use.
Itâs cramped in the dressing room, and there are dresses everywhere. Margot gives Kitty the job of rehanging and organizing, but Kittyâs already given it up in favor of playing Candy Crush on Margotâs phone.
Margot hands me one of her picks firstâitâs a flowy black dress with fluttery cap sleeves. âYou could do your hair up for this one.â
Without looking up, Kitty says, âI would go with beachy waves.â
Margot makes a face at her in the mirror.
âIs black really me, though?â I wonder.
âYou should try wearing black more often,â Margot says. âIt really suits you.â
Kitty picks at a scab on her leg. âWhen I go to prom, Iâm going to wear a tight leather dress,â she says.
âIt can get hot in Virginia in May,â I say, as Margot zips me up. âYou could wear a leather dress to homecoming though, since itâs in October.â
We study my reflection in the mirror. The dress is too big in the bodice, and the black makes me look like a witch, but a witch in an ill-fitting dress.
âI think you need bigger boobs for that dress,â Kitty says. She holds up the thumbs-down paddle.
I frown at her in the mirror. Sheâs right, though. âYeah, I think youâre right.â
âDid Mommy have big boobs?â Kitty asks suddenly.
âHmm. I think they were on the small side,â Margot says. âLike an A?â
âWhat size do you wear?â she asks.
Eyeing me, Kitty says, âAnd Lara Jeanâs small like Mommy.â
âHey, Iâm practically a B!â I protest. âIâm a large A. An almost B. Somebody unzip me.â
âTree has big boobs,â Kitty says.
âAre they real?â Margot asks as she pulls down my zipper.
I step out of the dress and hand it over to Kitty to hang. âI think so.â
âTheyâre real. Iâve seen her in a bikini, and hers spread when sheâs lying down, and thatâs how you know. The fake
ones stay in place like scoops of ice cream.â Kitty picks up Margotâs phone again. âAlso, I asked her.â
âIf they were fake, I doubt sheâd tell you that,â Margot says.
Kitty frowns at her. âTree doesnât lie to me.â
âIâm not saying sheâd lie; Iâm saying she might be private about plastic surgery! Which is her right!â Kitty just shrugs coolly.
I quickly put on the next dress to get off the subject of Ms. Rothschildâs boobs. âWhat do you guys think of this one?â
They both shake their heads and reach for the thumbs-down paddle at the same time. At least they are united in their dislike of my dress.
âWhereâs my pick? Try mine on next.â Kittyâs pick is a skin-tight, white, off-the-shoulder bandage dress I would never in a million years wear, and she knows it. âI just want to see it on you.â
I try it on to appease her, and Kitty insists itâs the best dress of all the dresses, because she wants to have the winning pick. In the end, none of the dresses are my style, but Iâm not bothered by it. Prom is still more than a month away, and I want to scour vintage shops before I commit to anything from a regular store. I like the idea of a lived-in dress, a dress that has gone places, seen things, a dress that a girl like Stormy mightâve worn to a dance.
When Margot leaves for Scotland the next morning, she makes me promise to send pictures of potential dresses so she can weigh in. She doesnât say another word about Ms. Rothschild, but then, she wouldnât, because thatâs not her style.