He & She

January 12, 2008
By Nicola Goldberg, Portola Valley, CA

She blinked.

This will bother her later. She wants her perfect prom picture. She has the dress, the shoes, heck, she even has the guy. He is not very interesting but he is photogenic. When she is fifty and looking through old pictures, she wants to think how great prom was, not Oh My God, why did I have to close my eyes for the picture?

But she looks pretty anyways. She has symmetrical, almost aristocratic features, and straight red hair with bangs that hangs loose over her shoulders. She and her mom tried to do an up-do but it just didn’t work. She has a nice dress, it's a kind of a gold color, that pops on her pale, freckly skin.

She looks really pretty, he thinks. Beautiful, even. He has been in love with her since day one. Pathetic, but understandable. Almost every girl in their school is blonde and skinny and boring, so she sort of stands out. He, on the other hand, blends in. His teachers say he is good kid. His freidns say he is OK, maybe. She thinks he is cute. That is all. He is the kind of guy you want standing next to you in your prom photo. Just not the one you want to date in high school, go to college with, and then marry and have two kids. She is not that kind of girl, and he is not that kind of guy.

When they get to the dance floor the air becomes sort of electric with awkardness.

She tells him she will be right back and goes to talk to her friends, who all look great. They gossip briefly about who will be named prom king and queen, and she feels a pang of envy that it will not be her. She is not a cheerleader, or a blonde. She is just… actually, she doesn't know what she is.

The dinner is inedible, of course, but he and she talk about how good it is. He feels as if he is acting in a play, saying things that aren't real, aren't true. But he doesn't care because they are sitting there, and she is laughing at something he said, her perfect mouth open slightly. He really wants to kiss her then, but decides not to because this might embarrass her, and it will certainly make him look like an idiot.

They run out of things to say quickly. This sends her into a panic. She wants to remember this night as the best of her life, not the most uncomfortable. It sends him into a panic, too, because he has seen enough movies to know that when the talking stops, the dancing starts. Actually, he realizes he has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. He is clueless. They come to this conclusion at about the same time.

So finally she leaves. She finds her friends and a guy from her Bio class asks her to dance, and she accepts.

He doesn't love her, he realizes, watching her dance with some guy he doesn’t recognize. If he did, it would bother him that she was dancing with another guy. But he isn’t annoyed, only kind of relieved. But he is glad that she looks happy. So maybe he does actually love her a little bit. But he isn’t as crazy about her as he thought.

As for her, she is happy. Her idea of a perfect, fairy-tale prom has evaporated, and in it’s place in reality. Which isn’t so bad after all. She is feeling so delighted that when a song she likes comes on, he ask him to dance, and he says yes. His hands are around her waist and her thin arms around his neck. They dance, immersed in their own little universes.

So maybe they are meant to be. Or maybe their two people who just happened to go to prom together. There is no real way to ell, but maybe that's OK. As they dance there, holding each other, it's enough.

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