Hello everyone! Thanks for checking back for the penultimate day. This is one of the ones i’m really pleased with. It came to me while I was busing to the Prom being held for the Explore-Quebec students I was leading. It’s in first person, utilizing the voice of someone I certainly have no personal connection to. So that made me worried at first, but I got the approval from a good friend of mine, that, “yes, don’t worry, it’s believable”. I’m not sure how much I will end up using first person structures for storytelling– there’s so much less you can do with it than omniscient– but I do find you can do some really interesting stuff with the voice of someone else. Like this piece: I found it really fun to really get inside another person’s head, and found my writing style change as I became more involved with the character, giving the tone a kind of breathless, breakneck speed. At the same time, it combines a mother’s fears with my own fears of growing older; that as you travel more and meet more people, there’s always gonna be a part of you left behind in all those places. So enjoy, and check back for the last piece tomorrow!
The Magic of Prom
It’s gonna be the greatest night of her life. She’s sure of it. She’s got everything planned out: we picked up her dress in New York, picked up her date in Toronto, hand-grew our own corsages in the backyard. Now she’s upstairs, probably adjusting the line of her bra and eyeing the pink sleeveless that must stare at her from her bedpost. She’ll wear it and wear it out all in the course of a booze fest that’ll last well until morning, will make her regret the existence of appletini coolers, and will probably force her and Dan have one of those fights that might finally kill them.
I know it, and so do you. Hell, we’ve all been there, in a similar dress with a similar bald-before-thirty kind-of boyfriend. We all wanted it to be perfect and magical and all that other kind of barf Cosmo can’t get enough of. We all know it’s BS– even then we did. But Hell if I’m not gonna try my hardest not to make it something like all her wildest expectations.
Because when will this ever happen again? When will she ever want something so badly like this?
Nothing’s ever so full or so easy again. After that life gets messy and confusing– you move away, leave Old Hicksville,move to bigger better things. Not realizing there’s that parts of you are breaking off. Then every bit of laughter or every night of fun is never fully full– you left a part of you back in Gainsborough, you feel it whenever your mother coughs. It’s not that you don’t squeeze for it all again– but let’s face it Pretty, nothing you’ll ever have you’ll ever want for, yearn for, like you did in the hell of high school.
Then books/books/books, terms of papers and words you don’t know how to use, and–then– till you know it you’re at another graduation. But this one’s not the same. The first one– the one she’ll have in two days– is like the opening of a wordless book; you wanna dive in there and swim between the lines, you wanna write it in your own damn way. The next one’s more like the Western Frontier– you’ve travelled to the last beaten path, now’s the tumbleweed and cacti as you get ready to wander. You know enough about the world then– four years later– to catch a glimpse of what it’s really like.
Then everything and the rest of it. All the friends and your drunken nights; all the connections and bonds you swear you’ll struggle through, cry over, move under, for the rest of your life. And every time they disappear with the next year and the next batch of photographs and mix tapes. Every time it’s another shard of you in a place you’re not, stretching you out and holding you back. The drunken nights don’t mean much anymore, and only one more day will ever shock you out of yourself again.
‘Cause nothing’s so scary and so terrible as that day I had her. I didn’t know what love was when I said it to Jim two years before; I didn’t know how much love hurt every second, how much it tore out something you didn’t realize was a part of you, only to be given to someone else. For the longest bloody minutes of my goddamn life, all the shards I’d left in all those different places– all the jobs, the towns, the friends– came together for that final push. And I held her: there’s nothing so full and so empty as those minutes in the white room, the angel balloons and the faint sunny breeze.
And now it’s time to let her go– let her go and be a bitch to the girls who weren’t given the looks by God; let her go and give it all to the boy she thinks she knows everything about. Maybe she’ll fall in all the same places, taste the regret at the back of her mouth, shake her head and keep going. Maybe she’ll only understand at the next prom, standing where I am now (the door with the ready flower, the eager boy, and the camera).
For now it’s for her. My prom was, by any “objective” standard, the worst mess Kentucky has ever seen. The torrential downpour wouldn’t have been so bad if the limo hadn’t been so late, and the girls’ hairs wouldn’t have ruined the night if Kenny hadn’t compared the lot of us to drowned dogs. Then Brad could have been a little nicer at the start at least– could have said a few flattering words and not just grab at my ass like it had nothing to do with the rest of me. It probably would’ve stopped me from downing my flask right in the limo and begging Alice to have the rest of hers. That way I wouldn’t have tripped over three tables and screamed at Jane for all the bitchy things she’d done– all before that beautiful strike towards the toilet.
And then, around all that disaster, Brad had to go and do that. Break me down when I was at my most broken. There’s a reason we never wear those dresses again: they’re the only witness, the sole reminder of the night we saw what life was like. When I found myself in it– ripped and laceless, barf on the sleeve– the next morning, the pain swelled inside (like she would later) and turned the whole world purple. It was the first time I realized there was shards of me at all– all together, all digging in.
And that girl– that poor baby girl– has to go through it all. And why would I try to change anything about it, fail, and make her hate me in the process? She deserves it, doesn’t she? Prom will come and prom will go. But that feeling– that feeling only comes once. You’ll never want something so bad again; you’ll never hurt like that first time.
So perk up, Pretty. Get the hell on down here so you can spin and twirl and I can make a big scene with the camera. Go out and shine for that magical night– the first night of the rest of your life.