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Topic: The Prom (08/02/04)
TITLE: Billy + Sandy
By Clay Drysdale
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They sit alone. Their table is decorated with blue and white crepe streamers and adorned with silver candles. Their eyes glance around nervously at the other couples. Whenever she makes eye contact with another girl, Sandy smiles a faint, sweet smile, as is her nature to do, concealing the hurt that hides inside her. Billy tugs uncomfortably at his neck, not having worn a tie since his mother's funeral when he was six.
They both wonder if they should have come. Neither one owned the accepted attire for a prom. At the last minute Billy borrowed an ill-fitting suit from his cousin. It hung from his slender frame like a wet beach towel draped over the back of a chair. Sandy went to the back of her closet to get her one and only dress. Pink and frilly, to her it epitomized the femininity for which she strove.
The dress had always held a special place in her heart, as it had been a birthday present from her father almost three years ago. After coming in late one night from one of his many road trips, he had tiptoed quietly into her bedroom and carefully hung it next to her bed. It was the first thing she saw on her birthday morning.
Now here they were, sitting, watching, not sure what to do. The closest Billy had ever come to dancing was when he was a baby. His mother would hold him close to her and dance around the living room with him while the radio played softly in the background. Sandy longs to learn ballroom dancing, but for tonight these are only dreams, and won't help her in her quest to blend in.
The other couples seem so at ease in this setting, young and carefree, like teenagers should be. They smile, laugh, and talk of pool parties after the prom. Neither Billy nor Sandy knew anyone who was having a party. They would return to their houses on the other side of town, referred to by most as the wrong side of the tracks.
Maybe if he got home and his father wasn't drunk in his recliner, Billy would watch TV for awhile before drifting off to sleep. Sandy would most likely re-enter her home life to find her mother sitting catatonic on the living room sofa, staring off into a world only she was a part of.
They needed to go to this prom, didn't they? After all, it was their senior year, the last chance they'd ever have for one. Besides, their lives would be totally different this time next year. Whatever slim chance either one of them had ever had to live as carefree teenagers would soon disappear forever. This fall they would welcome a new life into the world, one now growing slowly but surely, day by day, inside Sandy. After two years of responsible dating, a lapse of judgment three months ago has forever altered their lives.
Scary as their situation is, the couple are optimistic. Sandy longs to be the mother to her child that she never had. Thankfully, her father has been wonderfully supportive of them. Billy's burning desire to own his own business fuels his hope that together the three of them will have better lives than he and Sandy have experienced up to now.
After a few more minutes of people-watching, Billy leans over and whispers, "What do you say we head out of here and go for a walk?"
"Sounds great," Sandy whispers back, relieved to be leaving.
As the couple walk through the gym door, Sandy pauses. She looks over her shoulder back at her senior prom, as if saying a final goodbye to adolescence. As she locks her arm in Billy's and the two step into the night, a solitary tear rolls down her cheek.