Senior year in high school, I actually got to go to prom. I didn't think anyone would ask me, for I was weird, shy, and quite unpopular, but I was asked... by the cutest guy in school, James. He was definitely a heart throb, and I often watched him, hoping some day he'd talk to me. There was no way though, he could get any girl he wanted, why would he want me? So you can imagine how shocked I was when he came up to me while at my locker.
"Sally," he said, and I nearly jumped a foot in the air as I turned to face him.
"Y-yes?" I squeaked, and I knew I was cherry red.
"I was wondering if you had a date for the prom." This wasn't happening, surely I was dreaming. I discreetly put my hands behind my back, pinching my wrist. It hurt. This wasn't a dream.
"Um, no," I replied shakily, "I didn't plan on going..."
"Cool, would you like to go with me?" said James with his charming smile.
"W-with you?" I glanced around quickly. Some students were looking at us in shock, pointing and whispering to their friends.
"Yeah," said James. I suddenly thought of something, and my heart broke.
"Is this a trick?" I asked firmly, and I was surprised at my own confident tone. James looked a bit offended.
"No," he replied. "I truly want to go with you."
"What about your girlfriend, Heather?" James gave a single laugh of spite.
"That bitch?" he sneered coldly, though it wasn't directed straight at me. "She cheated on me. Go figure. I thought maybe... I'd get to know an honest girl for once..." My heart soared again, and I stood a little straighter, smiling brightly.
"Sure," I said, "as long as you're really not playing some horrible prank on me."
"I think I've had enough dishonesty for the year..." I saw him glare at his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, who was making out with our football team's quarter back. Turning toward me again, he smiled. "I'll pick you up at seven then, shall I? That'll make us on time in case we hit traffic."
"O-okay!" With that, he turned around and walked away. I could've sworn I saw a little spring in his step. However, I was suddenly cornered by the three most popular girls in school. They were sneering at me in disgust.
"How on earth did Sad Sally get a date with James?" said the lead girl, Tanya, calling me by one of my nasty nicknames. I lost the confidence I felt earlier and bowed my head, quickly grabbing my books from my locker and hurrying away.
"OH MY BABY!!" my mother shouted that afternoon when I told her what happened. She enthusiastically hugged me so tight, I though my head would pop off.
"M-mom!" I croaked, and she let me go sheepishly, yet still smiling.
"My baby is going to prom!" she squealed, making me feel a little abashed. "Oh, I knew things would turn around for you! We have to go get you a pretty dress-- NO! I have the perfect dress! I wore it to my own prom, come see!" As she led me to her room, I couldn't help but be relieved that she was supporting me; she knew very well of how I was treated at school, and was always trying to offer advice to get me through it. "You're stronger than them," she'd say, "and the strong always win in the end..."
Saturday night came, and I waited anxiously for James to arrive. The dress my mother had lent me was a deep royal blue with black lace for trim. The sleeves fell off my shoulders, while still keeping a bit of modesty.
"You look so pretty!" mom exclaimed, and I looked at the floor with a shy smile.
"Mom, what if something bad happens?" I asked softly, and she raised my chin to look back at her.
"Just hold your head up high, and know you're a better person than them." The doorbell rang, and I took a deep breath before opening the door...
James stood in front of me in the nicest black tuxedo I had ever seen. I heard my mom squeak behind me, and I knew she thought he was hot. He held a single red rose to me.
"For you," he said in an exaggerated, formal tone. "May I say that my lady looks lovely tonight?" I felt warmth rise into my cheeks, and then he glanced at my mom. "Is this your sister?"
"My goodness!" squealed mom, and I put my face into my palm. "No, I'm Sally's mother!"
"Oh!" said James with a laugh. "Well I can see where she gets her good looks."
"L-let's go..." I murmured, as my mother continued her ludicrous giddiness.
"Righty," said James, and he offered me his arm, leading me outside. I was shocked by the white limo parked outside my house. I felt my confidence return; he wouldn't have spent so much money if this was a joke. James opened the door for me before walking to the other side and taking his own seat. The engine started...
"I'm nervous," I admitted to him in a weak tone.
"I understand," James replied, and I heard a hint of remorse in his voice. "You haven't exactly been treated well, have you?"
"It's because I'm different, isn't it?"
"Well, as long as I'm on this honesty pact, I say, yes, it is because you're different." He touched my hand gently, and my stomach flipped. "But it's not always a bad thing. Sure, you dress a little unorthodox, and they think you're weak because you're quiet, but they're just afraid of what they don't understand."
"So why are you suddenly so fascinated by me?" Now the remorse hit his expression.
"I sort of went with the crowd," he sighed. "Peer pressure, and I really regret it. I've been meaning to talk to you for awhile now, but I always had a girlfriend, so I was distracted."
"Do you like me?" I asked, surprised that I had the gall to bring it up. His smile returned.
"Who knows, maybe I do..." He was so hard to figure out...
As we entered the school gymnasium, I saw people glance at us in disbelief.
"Is that... Sad Sally?" I heard one boy whisper.
"God, she looks beautiful..." said a girl.
"Is she with James?! Holy shit!" This muttering continued, and I held my head up high as we stopped on the dance floor. Heather and her boyfriend approached us, arms crossed and chewing on her lip.
"So who's your new whore, James?" she jeered, but when her eyes fell on me, her jaw dropped. "Sally?!"
"Nice to see you, Heather," I said kindly. "How have you been?" She stared at the two of us for a brief moment, and then held her nose up, dragging her date away. James snorted.
"Did you see her face?!" he laughed. "She's pissed!"
"You didn't bring me here just to get at her, did you?"
"Nope," he replied simply. "Will you trust me already? You're bumming me out." He was joking, and I could tell.
"Sorry," I laughed.
"Let's go sit down, I wanna pick your brain." I excitedly followed him to one of the round tables that were decorated with cheesy, fake flowers. However, we were immediately joined by Jane and Mary, twins that, funnily enough, were part of Tanya's inner circle. Their dates, Will and Francis, were also pretty high on the food chain.
"Sally!" said Mary excitedly, and I cowered slightly. "You look so pretty, I had no idea!"
"Why do you always hide behind all that dark makeup at school?" asked Jane. "You look so nice right now."
"Um... thank you..." I murmured. I suddenly glimpsed Tanya and her two cronies standing huddled together not too far away. They were looking at us and laughing together. I returned my attention to Mary and Jane.
"Why aren't you with your friends?" I shot, again, surprised by my own tone.
"Tanya's been really bitchy ever since James asked you to prom," Jane replied, smiling at James.
"Yeah, we're not exactly talking to her right now," added Mary.
"Oh," I said, my suspicions subsiding. It was a strange feeling sitting with a bunch of popular kids, laughing, joking, gossiping. None of us felt like dancing, James actually saying, "these songs suck."
Eventually, ballots were handed out by one of Tanya's friends to vote for king and queen. I was shocked to see that mine and James' names were on there.
"I don't remember getting nominated..." he muttered, and I saw the other four looking puzzled as well.
"No offense, Sally," said Will, "but I didn't expect people to nominate you because... well..."
"No offense taken, I know." I laughed. "Trust me, I know."
"Well, we may's well vote for you then!" Mary said excitedly, making a check on the box with our names.
"Let's vote for ourselves, Sally," said James. "Vanity isn't always a bad thing, is it?" I was a bit unsettled by voting for myself, but I agreed anyway, and James checked our box. Tanya's friend circled back around to collect them, and she sneered at me.
"What's got up her ass?" muttered Francis, narrowing his eyes as she walked away.
I couldn't tell if it was a dream or a nightmare when we were announced prom king and queen. I was so stunned, James had to literally drag me by my hand up to the stage. I stared at the crowd, and most of them were clapping, but a good chunk of them looked as shocked as I was.
James and I were crowned, congratulated, and then were given the signal to open the dance...
Before I knew it, something sticky splashed from above all over me. My eyes instinctively shut tight, and I couldn't help but think of "Carrie," and hoped to god it wasn't pig's blood.
When I opened my eyes, I looked at the crowd again. They were dead silent. Looking above me, I was suddenly showered with an enormous amount of feathers, slowly falling and sticking to the substance that had been poured on me. Holding buckets were Tanya and her friends, laughing as they stood in the balcony.
I looked at my hand. It was covered in a cream colored glue substance, ensuring the feathers stuck nice and firm to my skin. Just then, I heard someone in the crowd shout, "CHICKEN!" and the laughter of students surrounded me. There was clucking and crowing, and I knew I was blushing from humiliation. I quickly looked at James, expecting him to be laughing, but he was staring at me with an expression that clearly told me he wasn't part of the prank.
My mother's dress ruined, glue and feathers stuck to every part of me, I felt so betrayed...
"Mom, what if something bad happens?"
"Just hold your head up high, and know you're a better person than them."
My urge to cry slowly faded as I remember my mom's words. As the crowd still laughed, I noticed James slowly approach me. I met his gaze as he gently plucked a feather out of my hair and stuck it to his own nose.
"Bock bock," he said with a small laugh, and I smiled, looking back out at the crowd, who were slowly going quiet, obviously confused that I wasn't reacting negatively. I carefully walked to the microphone, not wanting to slip on the glue that fell to the floor, and put my mouth up to it.
"Joke's on you," I said calmly. "I'm prom queen. Quite an honor, don't you think?" Through the stunned silence, I heard Jane and Mary shout, "YEAH! You go girl!" The students who hadn't been laughing started clapping and cheering, and after a few seconds, the ones who made fun of me had a change of heart, joining in. James now spoke into the microphone.
"I'd like to thank my loyal subjects for bestowing us this wonderful privilege," he called in a dignified way. I heard Tanya's yell of frustration from above, and started laughing. Still covered head to toe in glue and feathers, the two of us proceeded to open the dance.
Perhaps Tanya and her friends had been too squeamish to kill a bunch of pigs.
"If it had been pig's blood, what would you have done?" asked James when I told him this. He was walking me home instead of taking the limo because he didn't want to leave glue on the seat.
"I don't know," I said with a smile. "But I don't have telekinesis, so I probably wouldn't have gone crazy."
"I would've still been by your side," he said sweetly as we arrived at my house. I pulled the feather from his nose and flicked it away.
"I think things will be better now, even if it is the end of the year," I said happily.
"Will you go steady with me?" James suddenly asked in a rush. I was so taken aback, I couldn't answer for a moment.
"R-really?" I finally squeaked.
"Sally, this rooster needs a hen, don't you agree?" Feeling happier than I ever had, I hugged him, and he respectively gave me a brief kiss. "Goodnight," he said, and I waved until he made it to the end of my driveway. When I went inside the house, mom was on the couch waiting for me. Her happy expression turned to horror when she saw my condition.
"Sally!" she exclaimed, running to me. "What... what happened?!" I grinned wide at her, overwhelmed with my newly found confidence.
"I was elected prom queen."