Authors: Arabella Quinn
by Arabella Quinn
2014 by Arabella Quinn
Are Reserved. No part of this book can be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from
the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles
This book is
a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or
organizations is entirely coincidental.
I hadn’t been out
of the house for anything remotely resembling fun in at least a month. Still,
as I stepped onto the porch, carefully closing the rusty screen door instead of
letting it slam shut, I could feel my mother’s eyes boring holes into the back
of my head. I shrugged off her disapproval and walked over to my junker of a
Sliding behind the
wheel, I stopped for a moment and said a silent prayer.
smiled when the engine turned over on the first try. It was a good sign. The
smile slowly disappeared from my face as I nervously watched the gas gauge. It
barely moved above ‘E’. I could make it into town and back, but I would need to
deal with filling the tank soon. As it was, I barely had enough money for one beer
at the local bar.
Pushing away the
nagging worries that seemed to perpetually follow me around, I rolled down the
window and headed towards town. My life consisted of one boring day after
another. Not spoiled-brat kind of boring, but deep down bone-weary kind of
boring. And I was going to milk this one little ray of sunshine that poked its
way into my life for everything it was worth. I was banking on this rare night out
to sustain me for a very long time.
I hadn’t seen Johnnie
Morano in over four years, ever since our high school graduation. We had been
good friends since sophomore year and he had taken me to Senior Prom. He
couldn’t wait to escape this town. After graduation, he headed to college
somewhere in California and that’s the last I had heard of him until his phone
call last night.
I had been washing
dishes in the kitchen when the phone rang, startling us all. My mother glanced
at my father nervously as he approached the phone, as if it would suddenly jump
up and attack him. No one ever called our house except for my best friend, Millie.
And she never called after 8 PM.
When my father
handed the phone to me mouthing, ‘it’s a boy asking for you’, I couldn’t
imagine who it could possibly be. The conversation was brief. Johnnie told me
that he was in town visiting his parents and asked if I wanted to meet him out
the following night. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I accepted his
offer. I also couldn’t help but notice the flash of suspicion cross over my
mother’s face as she listened to my side of the conversation.
After the phone
call, I answered my mother’s prying questions (yes, the boy who took me to prom)
and left her to stew in her crazy suspicions or whatever was going on inside
her head, and headed to my bedroom to call Millie in private. When something
this momentous happened -in my boring life, this was considered momentous- you
had to share and dissect it to pieces with your best friend.
Because the phone
call with Johnnie was only about two minutes long, there wasn’t much to
dissect, so naturally, we started reminiscing about our prom. That night had
been like a Cinderella fairytale come true for me. I was a complete wallflower
in high school. I had only two friends, Millie and Johnnie, and a few other
kids who occasionally talked to me, but mostly, I was as unnoticeable as the faded
wall murals. I was one of the insignificant people in high school that no one
paid any attention to and everyone quickly forgot.
I didn’t even
expect to go to the prom, but Johnnie asked me and then he got some guy that he
was friends with to ask Millie. My mother was beside herself, but luckily my
aunt, my father’s sister, convinced her that it was ridiculous to not allow me to
attend my own prom.
Aunt Bettie took me under her wing. She lent me my cousin’s prom dress from
five years earlier. My mother considered my cousin, Sabrina, a wild child. She
dressed obscenely (i.e. like a normal teenager), she acted like a hussy (dated
guys) and showed no respect to her elders (rolled her eyes at my mom’s constant
insanity). Suffice it to say, the dress did not go over well with my mother.
dress was slightly out of fashion, but a hundred times better than anything my
mother would have chosen. I knew most of the girls from school would be wearing
full-length strapless dresses, but this dress had spaghetti straps and fell to
the knees with a cute flared skirt. The dress was a beautiful navy-blue satiny
fabric with silver sparkles all over it. The only problem was that my feet
would be very visible, and I had no shoes that would work, and cousin Sabrina, unfortunately,
had giant feet.
Mom had taken it
upon herself to go out and buy me a pair of shoes as a graduation present. I
almost cried with misery when I saw them: black closed-toe sandals with a one-inch
heel and an ankle strap. They looked like shoes that even a ten year old would
turn her nose up at.
Aunt Bettie came
to the rescue again, helping me return the shoes at the local shop in town.
Unfortunately, they weren’t even $29.99 as marked on the box. Mom had gotten
them on sale for $16.99. It seemed my budget for shoes was going to be pitifully
low. Aunt Bettie took me to the mall. I hadn’t been there in years, so I had to
work hard to keep my jaw from hanging open at all the nice stuff I saw there.
My dress code was strictly sales rack rags from low-end stores. And the only
style my mother bought for me was baggy: shirts that were a far cry from form
fitting and formless droopy pants.
My aunt forced me
to try on a pair of silver sparkly three-inch strappy sandals, even as I
protested that Mom would kill me if I bought them. I fell in love with them and
only half-heartedly complained when Aunt Bettie insisted on paying the
difference in price from the $16.99 that I had in my budget. She also bought me
a bottle of glittery silver nail polish. Did I mention that my aunt is a
beautician? So of course, she did my hair for the day of the prom in a gorgeous
up-do of soft flowing curls.
And while I may
have felt like Cinderella going to the ball, my mother hated every minute of
it, especially that I returned the shoes she had picked out. I don’t think she
talked to me that entire summer.
Dad gave Johnnie
the obligatory pre-prom lecture, but Johnnie didn’t look too intimidated. I was
busy peeking through the staircase spindles at Johnnie looking so handsome in a
tuxedo and listening with mortification to my father’s instructions, “Bring her
after the prom. Don’t stop off anywhere, son.”
I was extremely
nervous about the whole thing, but I was determined to lose my virginity that
night. I was looking prettier than I had ever looked in my entire life. You
could actually tell that I was a girl. When I had first come downstairs after
getting ready, I saw my mother’s face grow red and mottled and could see her sputtering
and roiling with anxiety, while my father hastily glanced away when he saw me. There
was nothing indecent about the dress. But it was me, Jane. And yes, I had boobs.
And dammit, they looked good. For once, I wouldn’t let my mother’s extreme
prudishness ruin my night.
That night was a
lot of firsts for me. It was my first date with a boy and my first school
dance. But it wasn’t my first kiss and Johnnie wasn’t my first lover. My first
kiss had happened about two weeks earlier and losing my virginity never did
happen that night.
My first kiss had
probably been the biggest and craziest thing that had ever happened to me up to
that point in my life. Before I had been asked to the prom, my mother must have
been feeling pretty generous, because she allowed me to sleep over Millie’s
house one night. It was the third time ever that I had slept away from my home.
In a flash of genius, Millie asked her parents if she could stay over my house.
. In a matter of moments, my boring life had sparked some
excitement. And luckily, my mother was too timid to pick up the phone to check
with Millie’s parents. We had the whole night to do whatever we wanted.
The problem was
that neither of us had any clue as to what we could possibly do. Go to the
mall? Neither of us had money and it was too far to drive for either of us. (Did
I mention how sheltered we were?) Movies? Bowling? No money. I sat dejectedly,
knowing that we would probably squander this golden opportunity.
sat up straight. “I heard a bunch of kids talking in class. There’s a party at
Jordan’s house tonight.”
My mouth fell open
in shock. “Are you crazy? We can’t go to a party! That’s for the cool kids
only. They would probably laugh us right out the door.”
I saw a stubborn
glint in Millie’s eyes. “Well, I don’t want to sit around doing nothing all
night. Let’s just go. Who cares if they kick us out anyway? We’ll be graduating
in a few weeks and we’ll never see them again.”
I felt a nauseous
churning in my stomach. “I wouldn’t be able to show my face in school again. It
would be so humiliating! No way, Millie.”
our whole lives bitching that nothing exciting ever happens to us.” Millie
twisted her long dark hair around her fingers. “If we’re too chicken-shit to
try, we deserve it. I’m just sick of it all.”
I pretended not to
notice as Millie surreptitiously wiped at the tears welling up in her eyes. Her
words hung heavy in the air.
before, I had been thinking scornfully about my mother. I would never get busted
for the fake sleep-over, because my mother was scared of the phone. She only
made phone calls if she absolutely had to. My mother lived her life terrified
of her own shadow. Timid and worrying. Wringing her hands and waiting for the
worst to come.
Was I becoming
just like her?
I cringed. But, this was so different.
Millie was chewing
on her nails. “Yeah. It was a dumb idea.”
“Not dumb. Just
scary.” Could I possibly do something so insane?
It turns out that
I could, and I did. And it led to being kissed by the hottest boy at school, Dustin
Hamilton. Dusty was the captain of the lacrosse team and was a football and basketball
star, too. On top of his athletic ability, he was impossibly gorgeous- dark
wavy hair, sapphire blue eyes, a friendly smile with adorable dimples and straight
white teeth, and a well-toned physique. A man’s body, not the scrawny builds
that so many of the boys our age still had. Not that I noticed or anything.
Dusty was so
impossibly out of my reach that I never even bothered fantasizing about him. I
stuck to dreaming about guys like Johnnie, cute in a skinny, boyish way.
So when the
alcohol finally wore off the morning after the party and I finally pieced
together what my drunken antics the past night had resulted in, a mistaken kiss
from Dusty, I about died of embarrassment. And it didn’t help that rumors were
flying around the school that I had sex with him. It was more than my sheltered
little mind could cope with.
But I had survived
the disaster and went to the prom a week later with Johnnie. We all had the
night of our lives. Millie’s date had swiped a bottle of whiskey from his
parents. The four of us arrived tipsy. I drank just enough to take the edge off
my nerves and allow myself to have a good time. We danced and laughed all
I was having a
great time with Johnnie. We even made-out during a slow dance. Even with all
the excitement going on around me, I still remember I kept one eye on Dusty and
his date. And as preposterous as it sounds, I could have sworn at times that
Dusty was watching me, which only caused my heart to skip a beat and my skin to
overheat, as I threw caution to the wind and partied like it was my last night on
But, too quickly, the
prom was over and Johnnie and I were parked at a hook-up spot awkwardly hanging
out while we waited for Millie and her date to rejoin us. Millie lost her
virginity that night. Despite my bumbling attempts to signal to Johnnie that I
was willing, nothing happened between us, even after I practically mauled him
in my desperation. It was a huge letdown on that memorable night.
that chapter in my life. Now as I approached the local bar where I was to meet
with Johnnie again, four years later, I was no longer a virgin, but I was still
saddled with most of the same problems I had always desperately hoped to have escaped
long ago by now.