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Straight to voicemail. What a surprise. This is the third time I’ve called her today. Stalker? More like a boyfriend in need of prom plans. I remember last year’s dance. It was so much simpler. She looked beautiful in her deep blue dress, and I had on my suit to match. We met at her house for the traditional picture taking. I often look at those pictures. I look at our smiles.
Since Dana refused to answer her phone, I decided to call her friend Maddie. There was an answer after the first ring.
“Hey, Carter, what’s up?” she sang.
“Hi, I was just wondering if you knew what color Dana’s dress is; I’m ordering a corsage.”
“Oh how sweet! It’s red, totally stunning. You two will look so cute,” Maddie cheered.
“Yeah,” I sighed, taking a seat on my family’s leather coach and allowing my body to sink in. “Thanks, Maddie. I’ve been trying to get a hold of her all day.”
“That’s strange; I just was talking to her like twenty minutes ago. She’s at home,” Maddie answered. I heard the sound of a car start in the background. “Sorry Carter, but I have to get going to work,” she said sincerely.
“Okay, I’ll call you tonight,” I replied, scanning the living room floor for the remote control.
“Sounds good! Bye!” Maddie ended and I hung up, tossing my phone aside.
Should I screen his call, again? I’m sure whatever he has to say can wait until tomorrow, I decide and pressed the ‘ignore’ button on my flashy new cell. Lying on my bed, my dress, hanging in the corner, catches my eye. It’s perfect. Red, satin and full of attitude. Reaching for my textbooks, I chuckle, remembering Carter’s extreme analysis of color. I guess that’s what I get for dating an artist. He used to determine my mood based on my outfit and always concluded with, “But you always look gorgeous.” There was less of that now. Probably because he’s too busy chatting it up with my best friend. I swear I saw his hand on her thigh yesterday in second lunch.
“Whatever,” I mumble to myself and immerse my mind in studying.
The next morning I wake up with the sound of Maddie’s voice in my mind. We spent a full hour on the phone last night, and this time the conversation drifted away from me complaining about Dana. It probably isn’t the best idea for me to be using my girlfriend’s pal as my personal counselor, but oh well.
At school, I meet Dana at her locker, just like everyday since freshman year. She’s already there, reapplying lip-gloss while looking into a mirror. Since when did she start wearing lip-gloss?
“Hey there, stranger,” I joke and grab her bag for her. She’s never asked me to, but it was part of the routine.
“Hi Hun,” she responded keeping her eyes glued to her reflection.
“So… a red dress?” I asked as she gently closed her locker.
“How’d you know?” Dana whipped around and tossed a blonde curl behind her shoulder.
“Maddie,” I muttered, shuffling by her side.
“Hmmm…” Dana quickened her pace, snatched her bag and zoomed into a classroom, “See you later Carter,” she said not bothering to face me.
All through first period, I listened to Maddie jabber away. I wanted to punch her. Honestly, I didn’t care about her stupid hair clip that complimented her halter gown “oh so well.”
“Has Carter seen this lovely barrette?” I snapped.
“What?” Maddie gasped, scratching her head.
“Never mind,” I answer softly, and cast my glace to the floor. Better not further drag her into this mess.
Prom night rolls along. My suit is mocking me. It’s ready to party. I am not. I reluctantly pull it on and throw some gel in my hair. I got a trim yesterday so not to embarrass Dana. “I know you’re all into a ‘let it be’ attitude, Carter, but really can you refrain from the Beatles’ bowl cut?” Dana’s whine rings in my ears. I don’t bother looking at my final appearance, and head straight outside to see the limo waiting. Inside are some of our “friends.”
“Yo Carter, lookin’ sharp, man!” one yells. Do I even know you? I think and take a seat next to a familiar face.
“Hey, Maddie,” I say shyly.
“Hello, you look nice,” she smiles, locking my eyes.
“You…you do too,” I stutter as the limo pulls away.
Finally! The limo pulls up to my pink brick house and I step out of the door. I wonder how many eyes are behind those tinted windows, analyzing my descent from the porch steps. I wonder if Carter’s watching. Climbing into the sleek black vehicle, I see him next to Maddie. Typical. I sit across from him and don’t even bother to start a conversation. Let’s just make it through the evening.
“Look at you!” I soak in the compliments, sneering at Carter. He returns a blank face. I doubt my contempt is affecting him.
The food is bad, the decorations are bad, the DJ is bad. Yep, your ordinary high school prom. Dana and I have been clustered in our “group” sipping overly sweet punch and bobbing to the music. All of the sudden, my heart drops. This melody, those lyrics. Oh boy.
How cliché is it do have “a song”. We never named this one ours, but it is. I remember our first date. Carter took me to a crummy pizza shop; we were so young, so awkward. This song came on faintly and the nutcase began singing! I do not remember laughing so hard since. He basked in my laugh. Looking over at Carter, I prayed he’d take advantage of the moment. Please ask me to dance. Please.
My mind becomes flooded with memories. Contrary to what people would assume, Dana chased me. I was a timid little kid, fresh out of junior high. One day I was drawing a woman, and couldn’t get the eyes right. Dana saw me grunt at the paper, crumple it and sit back in my chair defeated.
“Here, look at mine,” she demanded and sat across from me, opening those celery green eyes and allowing me in.
I remember the first time I tasted her lips. We had exited the school into a blizzard. Dana hates getting her hair wet, so she ran. She ran and slipped into the slush. I quickly went to help her up. She was a complete mess. I couldn’t help but smirk. Dana obviously disapproved so decided I should join her in the dirty snow, and pulled me down. The cold stung our hands as we splashed each other in filth. Then out of nowhere, I grabbed her face and kissed her. Despite all the grime we were covered in, I had never felt so pure in my life.
Now, standing in a dimly lit auditorium, I asked her to dance.
“Dana?” Thank goodness, my wish granted.
“Yes Carter?” I replied raising an eyebrow playfully.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked reaching out his soft hands. Do guys usually have soft hands?
“More than ever,” I answered. We let this song carry us away. Carry us away from my arrogance, from his unfaithfulness. As the final chorus came to a close, he loosened his grip around my waist.
“Carter, are we over?” I blurted.
“Yes, Dana, I think we are,” he spoke into my hair and kissed my forehead gently.
Dana has always been unpredictable, but this situation did not shock me. Leading her away from the dance floor, I felt my eyes grow damp. For the rest of the night, we chatted happily, reflecting on old times and our plans for next year. Dana had decided to skip out on the limo and get a ride from her parents. She has always had a ridiculously early bedtime. I walked her out to her dad’s BMW. The air smelled sweet, and the moon was blanketed by a single cloud.
“Goodbye Dana,” I whispered and pulled her in for a hug.
“Bye Carter,” she said with a slight whimper in her voice. Climbing into her father’s car, she hesitated and turned her head.
“Maddie’s a great girl,” Dana declared with a grin, took a seat and closed the door. As she drove off, I stood under the night sky and waved.