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It Will Be
It will be spring by the time you awake.
The soft breeze will flow through the open window, stirring the lacy curtains gently, and carrying on it the smell of light rain and concrete. The white walled, square room will bounce about the sunlight emitting from the same source, eliminating any need for the tall stainless steel lamp beside your bed. The bed itself will be set perpendicularly to the wall; a simple, off white plastic frame, supported by black wheels. On the left hand side of the bed will be a petite pine table, displaying a ceramic mug of cold coffee and a squat glass vase filled with drooping carnations.
It will be the muffled sound that first filters through your consciousness. The dull tup-tup of plastic soled shoes on the linoleum floor will add rhythm to the general low murmur of multiple voices from outside your room. Louder, there will be a soft, monotonous beep coming from a strange machine supported on a tall metal pole on your right. Next will be sensation. Or lack of it, as the case will be. As you lie still, you will become half aware of a strange numbness in your limbs; a disembodied nothingness. You will vaguely wonder the reason why, but for the moment, you’ll be content to simply drift.
Your mind will be pleasantly uncluttered; a gentle fog that robs you of all but the most basic thought. It feels, you will think, like cotton wool. But as peaceful as it seems, something will bother you. As much as your clouded mind attempts to block it out, you will be quietly but incessantly troubled by a niggling probe in the back of your head. It is an intangible thought; something just out of your reach. You will realize, you cannot remember. The thought is there, you just cannot think it. Unable to relax, unable to ignore it, you will finally let go. You will remember.
You stand in your bedroom. The light outside is growing dim and you know it is almost time to leave. You strike a final pose before the oval mirror propped carefully on your desk (borrowed from your mother for the occasion), quadruple-checking your appearance. When you went shopping together two weeks ago, the enthusiastic Ester had thoroughly insisted that you buy the sandy-grey suit with the white piped edge (“we have to match!”). But whatever the store clerk may have told you, the collar of your white linen shirt still feels uncomfortably tight. Especially when you are much more used to loose-necked tees emblazoned with the Paul Frank monkey hanging over three-quarter-length khaki cargo shorts. At least you had been able to sneak your red laced leather boots beneath the rolled-up hem of your trousers. It’s only for one night, you reason – The Prom.
You hear your mother call you from the living room.
“Hurry up – your friends are here!”
Your already fluttering stomach leaps.
The night of your life is about to begin.
Your blonde friend Jacob in the front seat leans on the dented silver Corolla’s horn tunelessly as you pull up outside Ester’s three-story Midlevels house. You wind down the curbside window to watch your date trot down the drive towards you. Jacob, and the smirking Marco beside him, give raucous wolf whistles. Cherry, sitting on your left in a dusty pink evening gown, rolls her green-shadowed eyes high. Ester wears a short, royal blue dress that you figure must be fashionable, with its single, elaborately embellished sleeve and bunched waist. Ester places her feet carefully. More used to converse and flip flops, her sky-high stilettos are as unusual to her to wear as it is for you to see her in them. But you are more interested in her face. Your usually conservative classmate has gone all out for tonight’s event. Her dark eyes are smoky with makeup and her rosebud lips carefully outlined in a pink gloss. Her black hair has been curled dramatically and falls down her shoulders, bouncing slightly as she walks.
She looks beautiful, you decide.
With two weeks to go, you took the train home. “Hey Ester, have you got a date for the prom yet?” You adjusted your sweaty palm on the MTR pole as you gazed over at your friend sitting nearby.
Ester, her face grimy and hair frizzed in the summer heat, looked up from the biology textbook in her lap. She shook her head at you. “No. How ‘bout your end?”
You gave a self-depreciating shrug. “Pretty hopeless.”
Ester returned the gesture apologetically, and returned to her book.
You were silent, staring at your feet and rocking with the movement of the train as it turned a corner.
“Next station, Mong Kok,” called the generic female announcer from a speaker overhead.
Ester stood, tipping the book into her school bag, which she proceeded to throw over her left shoulder. “See ya tomorrow.”
You waved a hand at her, still not raising your head.
Then just as the doors began to beep, you found your voice
She turned to you, one foot on the platform.
“Wanna go to the prom with me?”
She smiled widely, and nodded.
When you arrive at the venue, Ester holds her hand out for you to escort her inside. You notice her rounded, manicured fingernails are carefully painted the same color as her dress.
Droves of your classmates swarm about the room, everyone excited. The unfortunate dateless lean nonchalantly against the far wall, their eyes belying their discomfort as they constantly scan the room for a quick pick-up. The occasional casual-dressed teacher braves the crowd, shouting to make way, and directing the school’s five-piece rock band to the stage. Cherry squeals as they jump into the first song, and she and Marco rush to become the pioneers of the dance floor. Jacob laughs at them, winks at you, and slips away to find his own date. You and Ester stand awkwardly, neither of you quite sure of the next step. As the floor fills up, you slowly float over to stand near the speakers, despite the protest of your poor eardrums.
After watching for a while, Ester snorts through her nose with frustration, and simply drags you off your feet and into the writhing throng of dancers.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” you gasp as you are surrounded on all sides by wriggling bodies.
“C’mon,” Ester screams to be heard. “Dance with me, doofus!”
She easily starts moving herself, swaying her hips and shoulders to the thump and crash of the drum kit. You watch her, fascinated. Her hair flicks about her face, and she closes her eyes, mouthing the words to the song. Eventually, a grin spreads across your own face, and you find yourself jumping too.
The night passes in a blur of pounding music and throbbing beats, punctuated by paper cups of spiked punch and a few attempted formal speeches that are quickly booed off the podium. After over a year of stressful studying, exams, and worrying about the future, this is your chance to let go. Not caring about how stupid you look; about how your feet are going to hurt tomorrow; how you would never usually do this; you forget all about your tight collar and just forget yourself in the music. The wooden floor of your school auditorium vibrates to the bass and dancing feet. Fast rock songs and blinding light displays leave you out of breath, while the occasional slow dance sets a blush to Ester’s rouged cheeks as you pull her close and sway together.
At last, it is one in the morning and finally time to leave. The tired-out band has long since packed up shop and gone home, and the worn chaperones are ushering out the last of the staggering stragglers. You and your friends are among them. The world spins around you; the lights seem brighter and psychedelic, the darks deeper and more mysterious. You feel on an incredible high; the culmination of hours of adrenalin and alcohol. You wobble on unsteady feet back to the parking lot at the back of the school.
“Hey,” you slur. “Can I drive?”
Ester looks sidelong at you, and bites her lip. “I dunno, dude. You’re drunk.”
“So are you, Est.”
“Seriously. Maybe we should just call a cab and pick up the car tomorrow.”
“Pthffffft,” you blow a loud, wet raspberry, completely disregarding the suggestion.
Marco and Jacob laugh boisterously, and one of them hands you the keys.
At your first driving lesson, you gripped the faux leather steering with clammy hands, and carefully nudged a black plastic peddle with you left foot. “This is the brake, right?”
Your father nodded solemnly from the passenger seat.
“Correct. And the accelerator is here,” he explained, leaning over to point at the smaller peddle on the left of the brake.
You watched him carefully. “I think I remember now.”
He glanced sidelong at you. “Are you sure?”
“Just make sure you don’t get the two confused.”
“I won’t, Dad.”
You grin as you slide into the driver’s seat, and whoop as the engine growls when you turn the key. Ester gingerly moves into the seat beside you and clicks her seat belt into place. Her sweaty brow furrows, and she softly punches you on the side of the arm.
“Do up your belt!”
But you are much too excited to listen such irrelevant comments, and you shrug her off. Your friends all pile into the back seat, and roll down the windows. They begin to chant –
“Go, go, go go, go!”
Baring your teeth, you stomp down on the accelerator. The battered car leaps forward like a bull ready to charge and onto the deserted, late night road.
Standing in the doorway of your house, moments before you left, your mother squeezed you tightly to her chest. She looked up into the face of the young man who would always be her little baby and blinked back tears.
“We’re so proud of you.”
You swerve recklessly around the bend of the road. The headlights are on high beam, and you lean on the horn. You can see the lit-up harbor through the spaces in the line of trees growing on the mountainside.
And it’s never seemed as magical as it does tonight.
And you’re laughing, and almost crying, and everything is perfect, and you feel like you can fly.
And the blinding light comes round the corner.
And you can’t find the brake
And Ester screams
Weeks will pass.
Until the day comes when you will open your eyes.
And you will cry and look at me, begging me to understand.
And I will be there to hold your hand.
And I will tell you,