One droplet of water hit the rusted tile floor with a quiet splat. It was not left alone for long. Soon more tears followed, like a mini-rainstorm inside my bathroom. I was being drowned, suffocating in my own sadness. The mirror reflected an image now so familiar to me that I could almost ignore it. Almost, but not quite.
Pain shot up through my legs from my feet. They were scrunched into the black strappy heels that my Papa had splurged on four years previous. We had bought them at a thrift store, but they had been expensive, taking out the majority of our income. I knew that we wouldn't be able to buy me any new ones, not after Papa had lost his job. My dress was beautiful, the only truly stunning thing that I owned. True, it was far from in style, but I loved it none the less. The bodice was lace with tiny pearl beads and sequins adorning the fabric. A silk skirt flared out, ending at me knees. I had sewn on peach colored bows at the edge of the fabric, with a wide peach ribbon at my waist. The dress I had seen many times before, previous to alterations. As a child I cherished the wedding album of my parents, frequently leafing through the pages browned with age. My breath was taken away whenever I glimpsed a picture of my mother in her wedding gown. I had never known her, these pictures were the only time I had seen her. When she left my father the dress was the only reminder we had of her. "For Scarlet" she had scripted in a swirly cursive I had read thousands of times. I read those words like they were the last writing left on earth, my only proof that my mother had loved and cared for me. Shaking my head, I tried to think of something else, I couldn't think about my mother now, I had more pressing matters at hand.
I shuddered as my eyes moved past my bony shoulders, meeting their reflection. This was what I had seen so many times, what I was scared of. Cheap mascara and eyeliner streaked down my face in black tears. This was the girl that I saw, the eyes that I met before every dance. I glanced at the clock with the broken second hand, forever ticking yet moving backwards. Oh how I wished I could go back in time with that second hand, change my mistakes. I had wasted the first fifteen years of my life and I'd had enough.
The time (correct if you disregard the second hand) was 8:23. People would begin arriving soon. Eery time a dance is announced at my school I find myself here, in my bathroom, ready to go. Yet something always stops me. I wait. I don't know what I am waiting for. A fairy godmother? A prince charming? Every time I think: It will be different this time. Something will happen. I laugh at myself, the haunting sound echoing around my small bathroom. The sound is so feeble, so void of happiness that it only scares me. Who am I kidding? There is no prince charming, no one to come and save me. Isn't that what I learned from day one? I had to take care of myself.
After all, as soon as i could get a job I had one, taking care of Papa and me.Barely keeeping up the rent for this brokendown flat. How was it that I could walk into any shop with a "Now Hiring" sign and talk to the manager without the slightest butterfly, yet I couldn't walk into my high school dance?
Now I thought the same words I think every night like this: I will do it, for the first time I will go to the dance. I almost hold my breath as I grab a towl and clean up my makeup. I try not to think as I race down the steps. I lived only a few blocks from the school, which was good because it gave me less opportunities to change my mind. My heels clicked against the pavement and my breath evened out to a steady beat. When I ran I didn't have time to think. I saw the lights of the city swirl by, the McDonalds sign blurred into red and yellow streaks.
Far too quickly for my nervous heart, I arrived at the school. My breathing was ragged but thankfully my dress and makeup remained intact. Crossing my fingers I wished. I wished for something to happen. More specifically I wished for someone. My thoughts were jumbled, full of conflicting emotions. Parts of me wanted someone there, someone to take this massive burden off of my shoulders. The other half wanted to stand up for myself, to change my own destiny, and not to rely on anyone else. That was the half that had been speaking throughout my life. Maybe tonight things will change. Maybe, or maybe not.
Sweat dripped down my forehead. I was swimming against a wave, bodies pressing against me, fighting towards the dance floor I was leaving. Why was I leaving? I wasn't sure. No one was staring at me, insulting me, treating me like I shouldn't be here. No, it wasn't at all like what I had imagined. It was much much worse. I was invisible to them, just like at school. Keeping to myself throughout my life had formed me a bubble of solitude. A bubble I had wanted to pop. I wished I could go back in time and never form that bubble, but for now I was stuck with its thick skin surrounding me.
The longer I stayed inside the bubble, the thicker it became. Now I could no longer pop it with a poke, like showing up at this party. I thought that would be enough to shatter my bubble into pieces. Wrong I was. This barrier was thick as stone, when I would be strong enough to break it, I did not know.
As the gym door finally shut behind me I was surrounded by the cool refreshing air of a spring night. The booming noise that had deafened me inside now was only a faint melody. I slumped to the ground, the cool brick wall pressing against my back
"Dances not your thing?"
I jumped, surprised, and took my head out of my hands to meet blue eyes staring into my green ones. "Umm yah...I guess they're just a little..."
"Intense?" he offered with the raise of an eyebrow. I nodded, smiling for the first time tonight as he sat down beside me. "Hey, I'm Josh. It's nice to see you around here." I racked my mind for when we had met. "We have Chemistry together."
"Oh right, I remember. Sorry. I'm Scarlet."
"I know It's a beautiful name."
"You remembered my name?" it had never crossed my mind that someone might remember my name, let alone notice me.
"Of course. Why wouldn't I remember the name of the cutest girl in the school?"
My emerald eyes were glued to the pavement, a blush creeping into my cheeks. "You don't mean that. You're joking."
"Naw, I'm not. Seriously." I shivered as he ran his hand through my hair. Then I stood up, brushing off my skirt. My hand, seemingly of its own accord, offered itself to Josh. The music from inside penetrated the walls so I heard as the opening chords of a song began to play. It was a slow song, one I hadn't heard before. It felt like a fairy tale, the perfect song at the perfect moment. That was the magic of it. It felt like a fairy tale, but it wasn't. It was real. I thought back to where I was two hours ago, in my bathroom, scared of the future. I smiled to myself, knowing that this fairy tale was just beginning.
As Josh's hand pressed against my back I rested my head against his chest, listening to his steady heart beat. My gaze drifted up past his sapphire eyes to rest on the navy sky of velvet, sprinkled with diamonds. As his lips neared mine I thought not of our future, or my past. I was done waiting, i was done thinking. I was ready to live my life.