Originally posted on March 20, 2017 by Gordon Savage
I was initially so enraged I couldn’t think of anything but my determination to get to the dance despite being forbidden in no uncertain terms by Father. When I finally cooled down enough to start really thinking, I realized I had a monumental task.
First and foremost I had to get out of the house on a Saturday night without being noticed. As I continued planning, my anger faded to a smoldering resentment. By the time I went to bed I had worked out a plan that both excited me and terrified me.
Starting Monday, I began taking make up, toiletries, and such to school and leaving them in my locker. The hard part was getting my dress there without attracting attention. I finally took it to the cleaners on Thursday and had them deliver it to me at school on Friday. I hoped it wouldn’t get crushed in my locker.
Saturday came, and I pouted all day. That wasn’t lying. I was unhappy with what I was going to do. I picked at my dinner, more because of nerves than because I wasn’t hungry.
After dinner Mom had rented a movie to watch. She and I cleaned up the table and loaded the dishwasher. As soon as we finished, Mom announced the movie would start as soon as everyone had assembled.
I made a show of being grumpy. “I’m not interested. I’m going up to my room.”
“Are you sure, Honey? You don’t seem to be spending much time with the family lately, and you wanted to see this movie when it first came out.”
“Not tonight.” I headed up the stairs.
To give everyone time to settle down in the living room, I took a quick shower. When I had finished, I put on my sweats and pocketed my cell phone. I opened my door a crack to listen. Nothing but a murmur from downstairs. Out on the landing I stopped to listen again. The only thing I heard was the soundtrack from the movie. From the top of the stairs I looked down to ensure no one was in sight. So far so good. I eased down the stairs.
About half way down I heard the sound of the microwave and popcorn popping. Swearing to myself I hurried back up the stairs. Sure enough, before I reached my door, I heard Mom say, “I’m going up to see if Samantha wants to come join us for popcorn.”
I slipped inside and quietly closed the door. I thought for a moment I’d sit down at my desk and turn on my laptop. Then I had a better idea. I climbed in to bed. I pulled the covers up so my sweats didn’t show and lay on my side facing away from the door.
In a few seconds Mom knocked on my door. When I didn’t answer, she opened the door. “Samantha, we’re having popcorn …”
Trying to look sleepy, I turned my head toward Mom and went, “Wh…?”
“Oh, sorry, Honey. Never mind. Go back to sleep. See you in the morning.” She closed the door.
I waited a few minutes and made my way downstairs. This time I got all the way down. I hurried into the kitchen, stopping at the back door. Straining my hearing to make sure no one was coming from the living room, I opened the door and slipped outside. I had made it this far, but it wasn’t time for celebration yet.
There was no fence between our house and Captain French’s. I ran across our backyard and through his backyard. Careful to stay close to the house and below the window sills, I made my way to the street in front.
I pulled out my phone and dialed Dwayne. In a few minutes he pulled up in front of me. As I got into his car, he said, “Hi. I love your dress.”
I punched his arm.
When we got to school, the dance had already started. I carried my dress and things into the girls restroom and hurriedly changed. Then I took the time to make sure I looked as if I had gotten ready at home.
When I came out, Dwayne went wide-eyed and said, “Wow. Now I really do love that dress.”
The dance itself was a dream. Dwayne was a terrific dance partner, and several other boys, including Bill, danced with me. I enjoyed myself more than I had in weeks.
At the intermission Coach Hendricks ran up the stairs to the stage. He made a big deal of congratulating the football team for their victory in the afternoon. He called some of the players up for special recognition, and finished by leading a cheer for the team. Then Mrs. Campbell, one of the English teachers, announced the Homecoming Queen, Lisa Marconi, and the Homecoming King, Daniel Goodman.
Afterwards, Lisa came up to me at the punch bowl. “That should have been you up there, Sam.”
I was genuinely flattered. “I … I don’t know what to say. As far as I’m concerned you deserved the title.”
She looked mildly embarrassed. “You were on the list for consideration and Principal Ashworth vetoed it.”
I suppose I should have been upset, but that statement neither surprised me nor bothered me. “So he was already after me for some reason, and the graffiti gave him ammunition. I may need to have a talk with him. Thanks for the info… and I meant it when I said you deserved the title.”
The rest of the dance passed so quickly I almost passed my deadline. The scoreboard clock said 9:33 when I looked at it. When Dwayne and I finished the dance, I walked him to the seats and said, “I’ll be back in a minute. I have to make a phone call. It’s time to face the consequences.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll tell you when I get back.” I hurried out of the gym and went to my locker. I checked my phone. No missed calls and no messages. Good. At least no one was panicked yet. I speed-dialed Father.
“Admiral Pederson speaking.”
“Father, this is Samantha. I’m at the dance, and …”
“You’re where?” the phone erupted.
“I’m at the dance. I wanted to make sure I called you before anyone found I was missing. I’m ready to face my punishment. I’ll be in the gym.” I hung up.
Dwayne didn’t understand. “You called your father? Are you crazy? We could have sneaked you back in without anyone noticing.”
“Maybe, but I’ll feel better about myself this way. I take responsibility for my actions and I don’t lie. Let’s dance.”
I was dancing with Dwayne when Father came into the gym. I didn’t see him until he walked up to us and tapped Dwayne on the shoulder. “Mind if I cut in?”
Dwayne jumped like he had been jolted with electricity. He stepped back from Father with a horrified expression on his face. “No sir. Go right ahead.”
Father took my arm gently and said, “It’s time to go home.”
He turned and started walking with me toward the door.
I waved goodbye to Dwayne. “See you in school.”
As I walked toward the door, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew it wouldn’t be good.