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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Ann M. Martin.
Setting: High school, some spoilers for the California Diaries.
Author's Note: Written for lionessvalenti for the Dawn round at short_takes
Prompt: First times, summer jobs, nail polish
Carol gets Dawn a job at Sephora the summer after she turns seventeen. To pay for gas, she says, and they sell Smashbox. It’s nice that she checked. Dawn can think of other places she’d rather work – Trader Joes, or the farmers’ market, even though she’s pretty sure it doesn’t work like that – but a job is a job, and when her dad gets her a car, too, she doesn’t complain about Sephora.

It’s the first summer she spends in California instead of Connecticut. Mom doesn’t like it much, but she can’t keep flying back and forth. California is home, and if she didn’t want her kids tied to the golden beaches, she shouldn’t have run so far from her home after high school.

You can’t give a kid perfection and then try to trade it in for Stoneybrook.

Mary Anne’s probably not too happy either, but she doesn’t say anything about it. They’re not as close as they once were, and even back at thirteen, she would keep things inside and never actually come right out and say when she was pissed. Instead she’d go all passive aggressive shit.

What the fuck ever.


Maggie comes in to visit her a lot in June. School’s just out, and Sunny’s busy at the bookstore with her dad. Dawn thinks it would be more fun to hang out there, where there are soft chairs and entertainment. She didn’t get the appeal of Sephora and its neat rows of shadows and powders, brushes and wands.

Then again, Maggie had been pretty big into it during middle school, the whole crazy colors and punk style. Maybe she was headed back into it.

Dawn eyes her critically. Her shirt is loose, but not overly baggy. She looks like she’s gained a little weight.

That’s good. If spending her days looking at make-up means she’s eating better, Dawn wants her to visit every single day.

Sometimes Maggie comes in before lunch, and when Dawn gets her break, they head to the food court together. There’s actually some good vegetarian options, which must be a California thing, because she can’t remember having so much variety back in the malls in Connecticut.

Maggie doesn’t eat a lot, but she orders big salads and manages most of them. It’s really hard not to say anything, because she doesn’t want to make it awkward or make Maggie any more self-conscious than she must already be since they both know what they’re thinking about at meal time.

“My dad has to work this weekend,” Maggie says. “He’s got a movie opening.”

Of course he does. He’s probably been bugging her about it for weeks.

“Are you going?”

“No.” She sips at her water. “Do you work?”

“Saturday.” Dawn finishes the last bite of her vegetarian taco. It’s really quite good, though not as delicious as the ones she can get at home. “I’m off Sunday.”

“Want to spend the night Saturday night? We can watch a movie, swim, enjoy the summer. We’re seventeen years old, aren’t we supposed to be having fun?”

I am having fun, Dawn thinks, but she just nods. Maggie’s house is awesome, and it’s no hardship to spend part of the weekend there.


She ends up pulling a double because she still has the hours left for the week and the afternoon girl no call no shows. It’s frustrating, and by the time she’s done, her feet hurt despite the super comfy shoes she wears. She’s hot and sweaty from restocking and frustrating by the ten-year-old girls who come in wearing “SLUT” on their t-shirts, their mothers more than willing to paint them up with too much make-up.

She bites her tongue so hard she draws blood.

Dawn’s pretty sure she’s not going to survive at the job very long.

Maggie has dinner ready. It’s just pizza and fresh fruit, but there’s ice cold sparkling water and the fruit is crisp. Dawn gorges herself. She knows she’s gobbling it down, but she can’t help herself. She’s absolutely starving.

Maggie doesn’t seem to mind. She eats too, though not as much. More than she used to, Dawn thinks, and is pleased.

The movie is some cheesy made-for-television thing. Sometimes she thinks Maggie watches them just to piss off her dad. It serves him right, but it doesn’t really hurt him. Most of the time, he never knows about it.

Even when he does, he’s not the one who has to watch them.

Luckily, over the years she’s grown kind of fond of them. It’s best when Maggie will keep up a running commentary, a kill count of monsters versus humans, or nature versus man, or whatever it is they’re supposed to fear but instead cheer on.

She brings out her nail polishes, and maybe she is getting back into make-up because she has boxes of them in all sorts of colors. Dawn paints each of her toe nails a different color and then her fingernails a nice, bright green.

Maggie makes art of hers, swirly designs on her toes and oceans of blues on her fingers. There are actual little waves, white capped, and on her thumbnails there are little black Vs for seagulls.

Their nails are still wet when Maggie scoots closer.

She keeps her fingers carefully peeled back away from any surface. That includes Dawn’s thigh, bared by her shorts and her shoulder wear her tank top doesn’t cover her. Maggie puts one palm in each location.

Her skin is hot, but her touch makes Dawn shiver.

“Hey,” Dawn says inanely. It’s been over two hours since she arrived. They’ve already said their hellos.

“Hi.” Maggie’s eyes are wide and dark. She’s got this inner glow when she’s at her most confident, and Dawn can see it now, in the soft fullness of her lips, the sheen of her hair. Her mouth curls into a smile, and Dawn can’t help but grin back.

It’s nighttime, and she’s exhausted, but it feels like the sun’s come up. She has so much more energy in the daylight. It wakes her up, lifts her spirits.

She feels that way now, buzzed with extra energy. Her breath is just a little too loud, her pulse a little too fast. She catches herself licking her lips as Maggie leans in. She knows what’s coming, even if she won’t actually put it into words.

She’s been waiting.

Maggie doesn’t make her wait long. She presses their mouths together, and it’s soft, hesitant. It’s a little like a song, like she’s whispering lyrics against Dawn’s lips, things only she can hear and taste on her tongue.

The song is sweet like fruit and something she’s never caught before.

Maggie pulls back first, and she’s actually blushing. It’s adorable, and Dawn can feel a silly smile curl her lips.

“Well,” Maggie says, and that’s it, just like that.

“Yeah.” Dawn leans into her a little, presses her shoulder into Maggie’s hand. They both turn to face the screen, pay attention to the movie. They’re both grinning, and casting quick glances at each other.

Maggie keeps her hand on Dawn’s leg, driving her absolutely crazy. It’s a challenge, she thinks, and she’s going to meet it. Someone’s head gets torn off onscreen, but she doesn’t even notice, not when Maggie’s leaning closer again and she knows they’re going to kiss.

So that’s why cheesy horror films get made – perfect make-out fodder.

She approves.


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