(Part I, Part II)
Once I got my directorial bearings, we started running concurrent rehearsals. I had 45 minutes to work on a short scene with Jake and my friend Melanie. In the scene, the characters were basically making out while exchanging some lines. They wanted a chance to figure out some choreography first, and since I had no idea how to approach the scene, I sat back and watched. They would kiss, then he would kiss down her neck so she could deliver her lines; he would look up to deliver his. Jake rocked back on his heels, and they consulted their scripts. Melanie wasn't into him, but it was still hard to watch detachedly as they orchestrated kissing and line delivery no matter how professionally.
"What do you think, Claire?" they asked.
Shifting my gaze up from the floor in front of them, I said, "Yeah, I think that'll work."
When we showed the scene to the director, she said, "That's a hundred times better than before. I should send all the hard scenes to you first." I smiled weakly not relishing the thought.
Once the play was over, there were only a couple months of school left. I joined the prom committee, not because I cared much where it was held or what it looked like, but because it would be another activity I could put on my college applications the following year that wouldn't take up much time. Jake and I were still hanging out, so I was hoping he'd ask me. Technically, it was my junior prom and he was a senior, but our school was so small that we only held the one prom each year.
Sitting in study hall doing my pre-calc homework one day, I overheard some seniors talking about the prom. "Nah, Jake's going. Justine's coming back for it."
It was a world of slow-mo in that moment. His ninth-grader girlfriend from the fall who'd moved back to Texas was going to travel 2000 miles to go to the prom with him. My prom. Un-fucking-believable.
My backup boy had gotten his balls together and asked his dream girl who said yes, so he wasn't available either. My best friend had a third-party proposition for me.
"Would you consider going with Jason?"
I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily. "You've got to be kidding me."
"We could all go as a group. It wouldn't be like a date," she assured.
It really couldn't get any worse. Jason was the biggest geek in our entire school, and he'd only been there for a year. Farmer Ted would've had a better shot. Jason was in my grade, but he was short, spastic, had eyebrows like Spock, and an unbecoming (and out of date by then) mullet. His locker was close to mine, so I would say hi to him and exchange a few sentences now and then. My niceness had come back to haunt me.
"You won't be stuck with him all night. We'll hang out. It'll be fun," my best friend reiterated.
I told her, "No. I'd rather not go at all." There was no way I was going to go with him just for the sake of going. I would not let that be immortalized in innumerable prom photos.
Unfortunately, I was still on the prom committee and had agreed to help decorate on the day. At least it went quickly because there wasn't much that needed to be done to the banquet hall we'd rented.
I'd decided to go see Pretty Woman by myself that night, but at the last moment my mom insisted on coming. I was livid, but tried to find solace in her buying the tickets and snacks. I'd wanted to escape for a couple hours, to wallow or laugh if I felt like it, to get sucked into a story and forget my life for a while, but that was hard to enjoy with my mom next to me. Instead, I leaned away from her in my seat and scowled through the previews and beginning of the movie. I resented her for imposing; I did not want or need a shoulder to cry on.
The next day, I had no regrets about not going. No one had any great stories, and I never liked dressing up; without the right guy, it wasn't worth the effort.
(and now the sequel, The Prom: Take Two)
(names changed to suit my whims)