Lucy Ives

Grover is usually a full foot shorter than males her age. She is standing under his arm, and he has shown her the suit. It was hanging in the shower from the showerhead, a black garbage bag over it, a wire hanger shoved through the bag. They squeeze into the bathroom together, and Grover leans over the tub and swings the hanger free. Arthur watches the narrow muscles in her back below her shoulders thicken and rise against the skin. In the bathroom there is also a roll of gray carpet. It is tied with a wire with a paper tag on it and leans against the edge of the sink, extending all the way from behind the door and obscuring the mirror on the front of the medicine cabinet. On the floor below there are some cans of house paint, each with a photo of a meadow in flower.

Grover asks, “Are we ready?” She turns to him and bunches her lips and raises her eyebrows. The gown she has on is navy blue with a single strap originating along the bust and passing behind her neck on the diagonal. There are a few rhinestones pressed into the strap, which, Arthur wonders now, did Grover apply them herself? On her wrist is a digital watch. In this dress, you can see how incredibly thin Grover is, her skin very bright, almost translucent. “Arthur!”

“What?” he says.

“Back out now,” and they shuffle, him going backward.

When they are on the landing again, Grover asks, “Is your dad home?”

Grover has been to the prom twice already so she has some ideas about how leaving for it should happen. Arthur doesn’t say anything, so she asks him, “Did you tell him it was today?”

Arthur is actually not sure if his father is in the house. It’s probably been a couple of days since last he talked to him. They have an arrangement, which is Arthur’s father calls him on the phone.

“Shit,” says Arthur. Then, “He knows.”

“What?” They are on the stairs, teal carpet, and Grover turns and does this kind of stompy thing, “Arthur, is he in this house now?”

Arthur is staring down into the dining room where the table has a pair of unpainted doors lying across it. In the fireplace there are more paint cans and rolls of plastic sheeting. Under the window there is a cardboard box with an illustration of a carpeted palace for cats. CATPALACE it says in bubble letters that look like they would bounce if you dropped them.

He hears Grover say, “Mr. Karr! We’re leaving! See you, Mr. Karr!”

Arthur’s dad comes out of the kitchen.