Prom Night

February 20, 2017
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The music pounds in my eardrums. Lights flash everywhere. People singing at the top of their lungs, bouncing up and down, pumping their fists through the hot air that encompasses us all as we swing our hips and brush shoulders. Our foreheads pressed against each other. I wince as another girl adorned with sequins scrapes against my papery skin. Riley materializes next to me.
"Trevor and I are gonna bounce. You coming?" She shouts into my ear but all I can hear is a barely audible whisper. I hike up my flowing skirt, grab Elliot's wrist and follow Riley as she winds through the crowd. Finally at the exit, I spot Trevor with Riley's coat draped over his arm. His once cleanly gelled hair now ruffled. He reaches out a hand and Riley laces her fingers between his. And we push open the double doors into the crisp night air.
We agree to meet Riley and Trevor at In-N-Out to grab a bite to eat. As we're driving, the clouds clear to reveal a starry night sky and a perfectly imperfect crescent moon. I try to concentrate on the road but Elliot keeps making me laugh. I can feel his soft brown eyes caressing my exposed neck. We finally arrive at the all night burger joint and it's packed. Thankfully Riley and Trevor already snagged us a booth. They sit casually on one side as he drapes his arm across her shoulders. She's laughing at something he said. I sit down, milkshake in hand and Riley pitches forward, leaning across the table, her hair almost touching her ketchup. "Can you believe this is our last high school dance?" She asks excitedly. We're seniors now, we got our acceptance letters and we're ready to leave this small town that's held our freedom for far too long. "I know. Too bad the DJ wasn't better," Elliot adds. Riley's excitement subdues and she leans back into Trevor's arm.
Her phone blinks to life and her eyes brighten as she reads the text, a smile slyly creeping onto her face. "You guys wanna do something crazy?" She asks without looking up. But I can tell by the look in her eyes that this is something we couldn't possibly refuse.
We all pile into Trevor's black jeep. We're speeding down the freeway, feeling the night air and the craziness of our decision. We scream the radio songs loud enough to wake up the entire city. Our arms reaching into the sky, cutting through the wind. Our hair flying out behind us. We feel reckless and crazy and alive.
We knew we had arrived because we could smell the smoke. I see its snake like body rising and curling against the dark sky until it just dissipates into the nothingness of the universe. Everybody is laughing and talking around the fire. I kick my shoes into the heap with everyone else’s and both boys loosen their ties. The sand is cool and refreshing between my toes. A light breeze rolls off the water and sends small embers dancing across the darkness, twirling around the stars.
Here I am, sitting with 35 other seniors, huddled around a fire, on a closed Malibu beach, in my prom dress, and it is the happiest moment of my life. One of the Jocks stands up, “I’m king of the world!” He shouts and violently rips off his shirt and pulls off his shoes as everyone howls, applauds, cheers and whistles. Then he is running, fast and uncaring towards the sea. He dives in. And then we are all swept into his frenzy. Necklaces, bracelets, dresses, pants, socks flying off as we tear across the uneven beach towards the waves. And I swear they were calling our names.
We run as fast as we can toward them. One after another, unceasingly nipping at the sand. And then I am standing at the shoreline, ankle deep in icy water and I turn around. The fire is raging on, and adrenaline begins coursing through my veins. I extend my arms and let go. I plunge beneath the roaring water as a wave rolls over me. I can barely hear the splashing sounds of my friends muffled by the ocean's current but I can still see the stars and the perfectly imperfect crescent moon above me. This is our youth. We're going to make the best of it, even if only for just one night.

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