Slightly More Than Average Prom Angst

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I don’t even shift the car into “Park,” just step on the brake and unlock the door. Normally I would open my door and run around the front of the car, veering in between headlights and get to her door before she even had a chance to unbuckle her seatbelt. Tonight, she can unbuckle herself and open her own door. I won’t waste unnecessary energy on her.

She sits quietly for a second, then clicks the seatbelt and opens the door, careful of her two-inch heels and long purple dress. She leaves the door open for a second, her hands looking white as they clutch her purse. If she doesn’t mind, I’d like to get home, and she’s letting all the cold air in. She closes the door, and I hear a faint clack clack as she totters towards the front door. I’m backing up and out of her driveway when she reaches it. She’s silhouetted by the bright porch light, a tall purple goddess.

That’s where I should be, kissing her goodnight.

I step on the gas a tad harder than necessary, and my tired engine groans as I shoot away from her and her house. As I pass the first stop sign, my cell phone vibrates in the cupholder. It’s probably just Mike or Dylan to tell me dude what happened tonight with Maddie? I looked mad…um, call them. Well, I won’t answer their calls. They can find out what happened from everyone else who saw it and saw the same thing I did.

On my way home, my brights illuminate a poor little squashed squirrel in the middle of the road. Its middle is all caved in and spread across the road, and the little hairs on its tail still wave in the night wind. I know it’s windy because I pulled over and got out. I know that squirrels are soft and limp when they are dead because I moved it. I know that blood probably does not wash off tuxedos, especially rented ones, but darn it, I moved my heart off the middle of the road.

My parents are comatose on the couch. I steal their popcorn and turn off their Bruce Willis movie, then tiptoe down the hall to my room, flicking off lights as I go. I have to be quiet or else it’ll be hey what’s gotten in to me? They were watching that! How’d my night go, sweetie? Where’s Maddie? They thought I was bringing her back here for some ice cream or something.

I don’t even turn my light on or brush my teeth or get out of the rented, bloodstained black suit. I just flop on my bed in the dark and wince as I land on my English book. I throw my keys on the floor next to my door and pull out my phone. Voice mail. I should press “1 1” to review my un-reviewed messages. The first one, of course, is from Mike, received 10 minutes ago. Mike just wants to know if I’m ok and what happened and that Julie said that Maddie was like all over some kid that she didn’t know. Julie, not Maddie, he means. He guesses that Maddie knew the kid but where was I? Question of the hour, Mike. I was watching the whole thing.

The second one, received 7 minutes ago, is from Cara. She wants to know if I’ve kicked Maddie’s butt or dumped her yet. Cara is totally livid. If Peter had done what Maddie did to me, Cara and Peter would have been history. Fortunately for Cara, um, I probably don’t want to hear this, but she and Peter had a great time at prom. Um, call her if I feel like it. Thanks, Cara. She always has a way of taking my side in every dispute Maddie and I have. I think it has something to do with how Maddie went out with a boy two years ago who Cara had been in love with for years.

The third one, received 4 minutes ago, is from Maddie. Please don’t hang up, she says. She has to talk to me and she doesn’t care if I delete this message or still hate her or whatever. I’m totally right, she made a huge mistake, and she’s completely sorry. Tough luck, Maddie, apologies don’t make anything right. She knows that I probably won’t forgive her just because she’s apologizing but she feels like she needs to try. That guy she was hanging out with…okay fine...dancing with...um, yeah, and kissing, she met him on vacation last year, um, yes, that’s the year we started going out, and they had a Florida fling…please don’t get madder at her, she doesn’t know how he got there or why, she was just so happy to see him…if I want to break up with her or anything then she totally understands. I don’t have to call her back or anything but she’s kind of hoping that I’ll forgive her.

I press “7” to delete the message and toss my phone by my keys. Is she even worth forgiving? My friends don’t like her, my parents are okay with her, and right now, I hate her to the ends of the earth.

As I lie on my bed in this tight black suit, I think that even though I tried to move my heart off the road, Maddie still managed to squash it again.





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