Tell me When You Hear My Silence

Fluttering hearts, jittery nerves, expectant stares, sweaty palms-

"Prom?"

The neon green poster flaps in the loose breeze and the boy waits nervously, sweat dripping form his temples, and the girl rushes forward, heart pounding, a million dollar smile stretched over her cheeks.

"Of course," she whispers.

It's that time of year again...prom season. April. Everyone is planning. Planning their dress, planning their party buses, planning their dinner, planning their color coordinations, planning, planning...good things. Happy things. Things to look forward to.

Somewhere, amongst the sea of shiny, excited faces is one girl. She is planning too. She is meticulous. Calculating. Her plans are exact and definite. She is grim, yet excited. She plans for her big night too. She orders the dress, and imagines the floaty fabric, cool against her flushed skin. She imagines the sequins sparkling, the train flowing behind her, goddess-like. She books her hair stylist. She wants long, thick, wavy hair, shiny and slick against her bare shoulders. She plans a makeup look. She needs to be careful-she only has one night to make everything come together.

She continues to plan.

Months pass and finally, the day comes. Her day. Her moment to finally make her dreams come true. Prom night.

The student body gets ready at their houses, laughing, excited, quick breaths...one, two, three...exhale. So nervous. The girls pull at their dress, suck in their stomachs, retouch their makeup, gossip with their giddy group of friends.

The girl is in her house. Alone, preparing. She slips on the weightless fabric and it falls to the ground, the material clinging to every smooth curve of her body. Her hair is done, wavy, loose, and thick, spilling like gold over her shoulders and hanging to her waist. Her face is flawless, beautiful. And she is serene. She takes a breath and stares at herself in the mirror. Her big night. Grimly, she puts on her mask. Her mask of laughter and pure joy. She places it over her skin and folds in the edges so it blends in. She looks at the mirror again and sees a different girl. A girl with a beautiful, carefree smile. She is ready.

She meets up with her friends. They are talking, squealing, peals of laughter spilling from their mouths. The girl mirrors them. She laughs when they laugh. She talks when they talk. They can't see what's underneath the mask. They only see the carefree, happy girl. They don't know about her big night.

The girl and her friends pile into the car, singing along to the latest pop song, exchanging flattering complements, fixing strands of flyaway hair and retouching makeup. FInally they reach the event center. Loud music is pumping from inside, lights flashing and students pour from their limos and buses in glittering dresses and slick dates. Everyone is transformed into beauty queens and male models; not a single drop of ugly tonight.

"You guys go, I'll be there in a sec," the girl says. Her friends shrug and head inside.

The girl reaches into her silver clutch and takes out her small handheld mirror. She brings it to her face and with one finger, picks at the edges of her mask. She pries it off. The mask melts from her hands and evaporates, leaving behind the flawless, raw girl. Bare. Naked.

8:38.

She steps out of the car, dress trailing behind her. Inhale...exhale...Inside, people are bobbing to the music, smiles are shared, passed around, exchanged and traded. The girl struggles to find her friends among the sea of glittering faces. She spots them, at a table, smiling and talking, mouths open with unintelligible words pouring forth. She watches them silently. She sees Ariana and her beautiful, golden heart filled with love for the Lord. She sees her successful future and happy marriage, bouncing, golden hair children. Avila is next; beautiful and stunning as always, brown hair glossy and piled on top of her head in an intricate braid. Her date, handsome and glowing, is touching her waist, softly and protectively always lingering close. The girl can see their happiness radiating off and her heart goes out for them. Sherry is there too, that playful grin spread over her face from ear to ear. She is with her date, and they smile together, almost face to face. The other people blend into one; a mass of glittery blackness. The sounds blend together and the beat thumping through the floor becomes the girl's heartbeat. She watches her friends one last time and blinks. The tear struggling to escape blurs her vision and for a moment everything becomes watery nothingness and she sways. One blink, her friends are back, still joking and smiling. The single tear rolls down the girl's face, past the bridge of her nose, off the apples of her cheeks, and between the curve of her ruby red lips only to come to a stop at the entrance of her two front teeth. She opens her cracked lips and gives a weary smile and the saltiness of the tear makes her heart jolt. Her teeth break the skin of her tongue and a small splash of metallic blood stains the snow white palette of ivory. Drip. The drop of blood and tear lock together and she swallows the salty mixture.

9:30.

The girl leaves. She opens the door and a blast of chilly air hits her bare skin and she trembles, goosebumps raised and hairs extended. She slips off her heels and gently places her feet on the cold gravel ground, crunching until she reaches the car. She opens the door and sits inside, carefully, arranging her dress around her. From her bag she takes out the slip of folded printer paper and she can feel those printed black letters of explanation boring holes through her clenched fist. Deep sigh.

She is ready.

She turns on the ignition and closes her eyes. 9:45.

Inside the venue, the song changes. it's a fast paced song with a heart stopping beat. The prom-goers move to each drumbeat and each pitch of sound. They lose themselves in the moment and close their eyes. The bodies mash together, sweaty body upon sweaty body, with no breathing space. Sweat flies, lights flash, blinded moves, senseless grinding euphoria-

The girl shifts. 10:18.

She unclenches and clenches her fist. She taps her foot on the ground. her eyeballs roll under her thin eyelids and she sighs again. She tries to talk herself out of it. She tries to imagine going on. She shifts.

11:22. The engine is still rumbling.

Bodies sway to a slow song. Boy holding girl, they all sway, leaning on each other, feeling the love the girl would never have. The lights glow in hazy oranges in deep reds, the lights hum softly, swirls ad spirals and flowers spin over the dance floor. And they sway. Nobody notices the girl is not there. Nobody cares. 11:27.

The girl sees the day she turned five. Chubby cheeked and giggling, the five year old was stuffing cake into her mouth, begging her mother to let her go play outside. The five year old pouted and pursed her tiny lips, hands perched on hips in mock frustration. The mother bends down to kiss the chubby five year old on the forehead, motherly love shining from her eyes.

11:30.

The girl sees her twelve year old self, in seventh grade, winning her first spelling bee contest. The students around her stare in awe as she is awarded with a mini M&M candy dispenser. The seventh grader holds it to her chest like it's gold.

11:32.

More bodies become one with the dance floor as the music picks up. The beats are thrown and the bass is dropped. They know time is running out. The last songs of the night. They scream out the lyrics, hearts racing, giving it their all-

11:48.

The girl remembers the moments with her mother. The moments with her father. The moments with her friends. She remembers the "I love you's", the heartfelt packed lunches, the kisses goodbye, the warm hugs, the accomplishments and failures, setbacks and disappointments. She remembers the baby teeth her dad collected over the years, the handmade cards she wrote to her friends and aunts. She remembers the pictures she took with her friends, the laughter and secrets she shared. She remembered the people who touched her life in so many ways. She remembers her first crushes, her first heartbreak, her first death, the first tragedy. She remembers the first blade on her wrist, the first visit to the mental hospital. She remembers grilled cheese sandwiches and the finger paintings her mother saved in her drawer. She remembered family movie nights, singing in her chamber choir, praising the Lord's name at church. She remembers her teachers, that one boy she admired, the girl that made her jealous, the size and structure of her school. She remembers the shows she loved, the stores she shopped at, the foods she loved to eat. She remembers the love she gave so willingly to the world. She remembers that the world never returned it to her. Her eyes roll in their sockets, sleep is overcoming her. Stars gather and she closes her mind's eye.

11:59.

Tonight...we are young...and we'll set the world on fire...

Last song. Last breath. Last memory. Last night.

Her very last.

12:00.

So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I'll carry you home,
Tonight.





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