Going Solo to Senior Prom



“You’re going solo to prom? That’s pathetic.”

  A chill in the April evening air caused me to momentarily stop brushing the horse beside me. It had been so warm and pleasant just an hour ago. Now, with the oncoming twilight sparkling through the forest beyond, the night-winds had brought with them a stark change.

  “It’s not,” I replied, resuming to groom my neighbor’s horse. “At the very least I’m going, you know? I’ve never gone to a school dance before.”

  My neighbor chuckled. Despite only being in middle school, he towered over both his black-and-white equine and myself. Unseen to the eye, he also stood high over me in relationship experiences, both platonic or otherwise.

  “Pathetic,” he repeated.


  “I’ll buy you a corsage,” Mom said, speaking over both K-Love radio station’s talkshow and the hum of her minivan.  

  “Is that okay? Isn’t that against etiquette?” I replied, weakly swinging one of my earbuds by its fraying wire. “‘Cause, like, I thought the boy buys his date a corsage.”

  The side of my mother’s lips dipped into a frown. We came to a red light, so she took the opportunity to face me.

  “Look it up,” she said. There was a sense of hopeful urgency in her voice.

   I sighed, paused my music, and sluggishly typed into Google’s search bar. I read about three articles before I found a somewhat clear answer to my question. Traditionally, yes, dates buy each other fancy, overpriced flowers exalted with formal French names. In the modern age, it was acceptable to buy your own corsage if you were a party of one.

  “I can live without one, Mom. Don’t bother. You’ve already done so much already.” I glanced back at the dress I’d picked, sitting in the backseat like a real person, hidden in two oversized bags.

  “But it’s prom!” My mother continued to protest. “You should have flowers.”

  “It’s fine,” I said, a bit of an edge in my voice as I went back to listening to music.

  Flowers would look much better in the ground than around my wrist.


  “Oh, right! Are you going in the limo?”

  I hurriedly swallowed a bite of my sandwich to give my reply. I had meant to bring the subject up to Denise in Programming the period earlier, but our individual struggles with the last exercise had distracted me.

  “I don’t think so,” I told her, trying to be as polite as I could. “It’s too much money for a ride. I’m spending enough money on Prom as it is.”

  Denise nodded in agreement. “I’ll still probably go though,” she said as she rested her elbow beside her laptop. “We’re taking the pictures at my house, so it would be rude of me not to.”

  “Makes sense.”

  As I continued eating, I tried to summarize just how much money my parents and I had coughed up for a few hours of loud music and ecstatic peers. The shoes, the dress, the alterations, the ticket…even though the coupons we’d threw at the cashiers like desperate housewives on a budget had brought down the overall costs, they were still quite high.

  The guilt festered within me as well as I sat there, eating my Pringles. My mother was paying for so much. It was her treat, she’d say. Don’t worry about it, she’d say.


  Everyone in the limo waved goodbye to their parents. Among them, sitting in a leather seat, was me. Apparently, someone paid for the limo but decided to bail last second.

  The music was horrendously loud, but at least the entire vehicle wasn’t vibrating as aggressively as it had been. The blue lights, dotted over our heads like glowing freckles, dyed my mostly-white dress in an entirely new shade.

  I didn’t talk much during the ride. I was too busy staring out the tinted window, thinking about the rest of the night.


  It had been fine. I had been happily dancing with my friends.

  But now I was alone.

  I would’ve been fine if it hadn’t been a slow dance. The announcement for a slow song, the immediate reaching for dates, the low light, and the separation of my friends and I as we attempted to leave the floor spiked my heart rate.

  Now I was stuck. A stagnant lighthouse against clashing waves. I physically couldn’t leave the spot I’d sandwiched myself into. There were too many couples swaying at different speeds for me to find an opening to scurry away without disrupting anyone. My large dress kept people from getting too close, but even so, I was getting claustrophobic and anxiety-ridden; the waves were taking a toll on the lighthouse.

  The lighthouse sent out an emergency signal, and thankfully, a ship appeared. Denise was too far away from me to sail safely, but our mutual isolation gave the lighthouse keepers hope. The rhythmic rage of Hurricane Slow Dance came to a close with hugs and kisses. The lighthouse was free, able to reunite with the other ships within the ocean.


  “So, did you have fun?”

  The minivan was quiet. But, at nearly one in the morning, such a considerable change was welcome.

  “Yeah. Didn’t really like the music, but everything else was fine. Oh, and Detective Pikachu was cliched, but it was entertaining,” I said as we pulled out of the Regal Cinemas, despite my weariness and the noticeable husk in my voice.

  Both my parents seemed content with my answer.

  I waved, once again, to my friends that had joined me in our late night theatre escapade. They couldn’t have seen me, but I still felt the need to wave them goodbye.

  It’s a funny feeling, buying only one ticket to senior prom. But even though you’re technically going solo, you’re really not. You can always count on your friends to make it worth the while.