The No-Show

October 27, 2008
By Catherine Christy, Reston, VA

“Diana, stop fidgeting. I’m going to smudge,” Liz, Diana’s older sister demanded. She grabbed Diana’s chin and centered it directly towards her, clutching a stick of glittery, black eyeliner in the other hand. Diana threw her arms up to her head, smoothing her sleek up-do.

“Careful! This hairstyle needs to stay put till midnight. I want it to look neat,” Diana lectured her sister while she finished her make up. Liz nodded and smiled, adding another drop of pink lip-gloss to Diana’s already gleaming lips.

“That looks cute. Don’t forget to show Mom,” Liz said and began piling the various compacts, tubes, and bottles of cosmetics into her lavender zebra print carrying case.

Diana jumped off the oak kitchen stool and ran to the foyer to gaze at the final product in the mirror. The navy blue dress looked beautiful with her ash blonde hair and Liz had given her a little extra makeup even though their mother had said to ‘keep it age-appropriate.’ Diana twirled around in circles, watching the tulle skirt puff up like a little teacup while her rhinestone strappy heels clicked on the wooden floors. Her heart was doing cartwheels all over her body as she waited for Paul to arrive and pick her up.

Diana was a freshman at Wheeling Street High School and while most of her friends acted ditsy and were flirtatious with every boy they met, Diana had made it her mission to attract the attention of Paul Linelli, an astoundingly cute sophomore in her Spanish class. Paul’s jade green eyes and flawless complexion made Diana jumpy every time he cruised into the classroom. Señora Gomez had paired the two together for a partner presentation about camping vocabulary. Diana had slapped on a mask of tranquility while working with Paul so he would think she was totally cool but on the inside Diana was shaking from every corner of her body.

She began talking with him any chance she got. Sometimes walking in the complete opposite direction of her classes if it would give her the opportunity to skip around with Paul.
Her best friends were angered with her for ditching them over a pointless crush. They ate their words when Paul asked Diana to the Homecoming dance three weeks before. All of a sudden her friends who were previously so annoyed with her, swarmed back, begging for advice and wishing they could be so lucky to have Paul Linelli as a date to the dance.

“Mom!” Diana called up the stairs, tapping the toes of her heels just to hear the sound. “Paul is going to be here soon,” Within moments, Diana’s mother, Rose, scuttled down, armed with three cameras.

“Oh, baby, you look amazing!” Rose cooed as she hugged her youngest daughter. She studied the dress and the make up, frowning when she noticed the amount of eyeliner on Diana’s lids.

“Okay, I’ve got the digital camera, and then Daddy’s expensive camera just in case we want some professional-looking shots. Then, I thought you could take this disposable camera to take pictures of your friends while you’re dancing,” Rose gushed, clearly proud of herself for such a great idea.

“Mom,” Diana groaned, “I really don’t think I have room for a camera in my purse. Plus, I’m going to be too busy to be running around taking pictures,” she scoffed. Rose rolled her eyes, already anticipating her daughter’s rejection of the idea.

Diana galumphed to the main area of her house over towards the front window that had the best view of the driveway.

“I better start making dinner. Daddy will be home soon,” Rose called across the room to her daughter.

“Di, let me know when Paul gets here. I want to see you two together,” Liz smiled as she climbed the stairs. Diana nodded and whipped her head back to the window.

Paul was supposed to arrive at seven and then the two of them would go out to dinner at the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, and then to the dance. It was a few minutes after seven, but Diana wasn’t concerned. Her neighborhood entrance was really easy to miss and Paul had never been over to her house before so he would probably be calling her for directions. She made sure her cell phone was nearby and turned on.

A curtain of gray-blue began to coat the azure sky as night encroached closer. Diana reached for a copy of Seventeen magazine that lay on the coffee table. She perused it briefly; worried that looking away from the window too long would mean missing seeing Paul arrive. He still wasn’t there. Diana tossed the magazine back down. She’d already read it six times anyway. It was now seven-fourteen.

“Boys are always late,” she assured herself silently. Diana watched her mother read a Better Homes and Gardens recipe off the counter for potato soup.

“Are you all right, sweetie,” Rose called to Diana from the kitchen. A hint of worry in her voice “Paul’s a little late, isn’t he?” she asked. Diana crossed her arms hotly.

“Gosh, Mom! Give him like two seconds!” She snapped. Rose frowned and gazed out the window herself.

Diana got up from the window seat for the first time in twenty minutes and scurried to the garage. Once safe from her nosy mother, she punched in Paul’s cell phone number, already feeling her eyes becoming wet with tears. She used the side of her pointer finger to wipe them clean. She didn’t want her mascara to run.

She listened to the menacing rings as she awaited Paul’s handsome voice. Her heart thudded in her chest quickly, especially as she got to the fourth ring.

“Hey, this is Paul. Leave a message,” his voicemail answered instead. Diana slapped the phone shut and paced around the musty garage. She continually wiped her eyes using the same finger technique and leaned against her mother’s mini van.

So many thoughts sprinted through her jumbled mind. Could Paul be hurt? Is he running really behind schedule? Did he lose his phone?

But there was one thought that Diana refused to let through her head. Paul did not stand her up.

Diana pushed her shoulders back and retied the satin bow on the back of her navy outfit trying to create a look of confidence to show her mother, who was keeping such a watchful eye on her. She sauntered into the house, banging loudly on the metal steps beneath her. She gave a half smile to her mother and resumed her position in front of the window.

“Baby? I’m going upstairs for a minute but you let me know if…well, just call if you need me,” Rose said to her daughter. Diana nodded and pretended as if Paul’s tardiness was totally expected and that she wasn’t worried at all.

The clock on the television cable box read seven fifty eight. Diana had called Paul’s house number and cell phone four times each since her mother had left the room. Neither he nor anyone else had picked up. Diana folded herself into a tiny ball, letting her makeup run down her face.

Rose walked slowly downstairs and then stopped on the second step before the ground level. She looked completely shocked to see Diana still sitting on the window seat exactly where she had been for over an hour.

“Baby Doll,” Rose ran over to Diana who allowed herself to flop out of her protective position when she felt her mother’s arms around her neck. Diana sobbed into her mother’s favorite turquoise blouse, dousing it with runny makeup and salty tears. Rose smoothed Diana’s frizzed hair and repeated,

“There, there.”

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