Maguire and Jade go shopping for a party dress
Paula: I am one of those writers who revises frequently and heavily. Girl Against the Universe had over 100 pages of text cut and/or rewritten during the revision process. Often, scenes are deleted because they’re not working or they’re not advancing the narrative. But sometimes scenes go away because other scenes weren’t working.
In the first draft of GATU, one of Maguire’s challenges is to go to a party with several other tennis team members and classmates from her school. The scene below was written to develop her friendship with Jade, another tennis player, while the two of them got ready for the party. My editor felt like the end result of the party scene was that it too closely resembled the pool party scene in The Art of Lainey. I ultimately agreed and redid the party to a smaller get-together celebration after the tennis team wins an important match. Because of that revision choice, the scene below no longer fit the finished book. But I do think it’s an adorable look at the developing friendship between Maguire and Jade, the first girl she meets at her new school. Check it out:
I’m standing just inside the doors to the Pacific Point Mall, pacing back and forth across the tile floor while I wait for Jade. There are at least ten different stores we could hit, but my favorite is called Blue Sky. Their motto is “Understated beauty” and you don’t have to be a waifish supermodel to look good in their clothes.
Jade strolls in a few minutes later wearing shiny bronze skinny jeans and a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, her black hair pinned up in a tiny bun. “Let’s do this,” she says eagerly.
“I was thinking Blue Sky,” I tell her.
She makes a face. “My grandmother shops there.” Seeing my face droop she adds quickly, “But hey, I’m sure they have some good teen stuff too. That’s on the other side of the mall, though. It’s only seven o’clock. We have plenty of time to work our way over.”
“Trust me,” she says.
It reminds me of Jordy saying the same thing, and again, I do trust Jade. And it feels kind of good. I always thought the secret to happiness was staying in control, but there’s something to be said for relinquishing little pieces of it to other people.
We pass the food court and the movie theater and Jade drags me into a shop called Rage. It’s tiny, filled with mostly color-block separates. She flips half-heartedly through the racks. “There’s some cute stuff, but you should totally wear a dress.”
“I don’t know.” Before I started playing competitive tennis, dresses and skirts were reserved for weddings and the occasional church service.
“I know.” Jade looks me up and down. “Your curves are amazing. You should absolutely show them off. There will be all kinds of hot guys there.” She ticks a few names off on her fingers. A couple of them are in my classes, but most of them I’ve never heard of. “Of course you don’t care about any of that, because you only have interest in one guy…” She gives me a sideways glance.
“Stop that,” I say. But I can’t keep from blushing.
We leave the first store and cross the corridor to one of those punk rock clothing stores where everything is made of leather and metal. Jade holds up a dress made out of overlapping black and red straps that looks like something you might see on late-late night cable.
I imagine my mom’s face reading her credit card bill and seeing a bill from a store called Dressed to Destroy. “I don’t think so.”
Jade sticks out her tongue. “Hey. You’d turn heads.”
“I kind of like not turning heads.”
“You’re so weird,” she says. “I’m trying it on just for fun.” She prances out of the dressing room a few minutes later looking like a vampire dominatrix.
“I dare you to buy that,” I say.
“I wish! I spent like four hundred dollars on clothes last month and my mom threatened to disown me. I’m not allowed to buy anything. I’m just here for you.”
“Lucky me,” I grumble.
But three shops and eight dresses later , I find exactly what I’m looking for—an emerald green dress with an empire waistline. It hugs my chest without looking obscene and flares out around my hips in a flattering way. The hem and neckline are trimmed with black lace.
“Jordy is going to die when he sees you in that,” Jade declares.
“No he’s not,” I say. “No one is going to die.”