The other night I was watching an episode of The Good Doctor where a girl was going to miss her prom because she had cancer. Once the doctors were out of earshot, one of them quipped, "Prom sucks," and it made me laugh really hard.
He was right. Prom wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Not for me anyway. That's me with the very short black hair in the black dress with all my girlfriends at my senior prom in 1987. That was one of the very rare moments I actually spent with my friends that evening. My boyfriend at the time was in a different clique than my Drama group, so I spent most of the evening with a bunch of people I didn't know or like very well. (Shockingly, he and I broke up a couple weeks later.)
And yet, I do know how important going to prom feels. I've helped both stepdaughters and my own daughter get gussied up and pictures taken for various proms. So much excitement and anticipation. They were all gorgeous, every time. And, let's face it, the dress, shoes, hair, and makeup really is the point, isn't it?
Oh, in case you're wondering, the doctors didn't remain jerks on the The Good Doctor. They arranged for the girl to have her own private prom at the hospital with her boyfriend the night before her surgery. It was very sweet.
My heart aches for all the high school kids who can't go to prom right now. Whether it was going to be the hopeful dream come true or the disappointing, "I can't believe I spent so much money on this," it's an experience that doesn't come around again. I wish I could help like those doctors on the TV show and give everyone a special moment. Alas, I cannot. All I can do is share a prom night scene from my YA romance novel All the Love You Write for you to enjoy.
This scene is pretty far into the book, so I can't share too much of it without giving away spoilers. I can tell you that Bethany and Mark are high school seniors who have been struggling with a new relationship all semester. There are two ghosts in this story meddling with the relationship. Eileen is the ghost that constantly tries to make Bethany feel that she's not good enough for Mark. It works, which is why Bethany is spending prom night at home with her best friend Kat, having an anti-prom sleepover. Kat has just fallen asleep after a long heart-to-heart chat...
I watched Kat sleep for a bit. She looked so peaceful, and I wondered what she might be dreaming about. I knew I’d never guess correctly because despite knowing her nearly my whole life, I realized I didn’t know her as well as I thought. How could I not have seen it? How could I not have guessed? Why hadn’t she trusted me enough to tell me until now? Here I’d been thinking she was a horrible friend to me over the past few months, but maybe I was being just as horrible to her.
Hopefully we’d broken through a barrier and we could be more face value than we’d ever been before. What an amazing friendship we could have now if we tried a little harder.
Her phone on the table buzzed. A text message. It wasn’t my business, but we did know all the same people so I picked it up. If it was her mom or something, I’d wake her.
All I saw when I turned the phone over in my hand was the image of Mark and Sadie dancing again. I closed out of the picture and opened her text messages. Nope. Nothing new.
The phone vibrated in my hand. The picture popped up again.
This wasn’t funny. Why would Lissy send this picture over and over again? That wasn’t like her. Besides, by now she was probably at a prom after party—hopefully staying out of trouble. I shivered with new worries. I closed the picture.
The phone buzzed and the picture reappeared.
I closed it.
The phone buzzed and the picture reappeared.
Oh no. This wasn’t Lissy’s doing at all.
“Eileen,” I whispered sharply through gritted teeth. This had to be her handiwork. Although I couldn’t imagine how the ghost knew how to manipulate a cell phone. I closed the picture. It reappeared. “Okay, rub it in. He went to the dance with someone else. I get it. Thank you.” I closed the picture.
I breathed slowly through my nose. “I know you’re trying to tell me something. What is it?”
There wasn’t any kind of response, so all I could do was study the picture again. I went past noticing how handsome he was in his uniform and how Sadie had this Cinderella Ball makeover thing happen to her. I enlarged his face to study his smile to see if it was genuine. Seemed to be. It was hard to tell. Did he like being with Sadie? Did he like her more than being with me? Was that what Eileen was getting at?
“Sadie’s an okay girl, I guess,” I admitted. Then I wondered something about Eileen. I looked up at the ceiling. I don’t know why I thought her ghost would be hovering above me like that. For all I knew she was sitting next to me on the sofa or standing on the coffee table. “Did you and Joe ever go to prom? I know you probably couldn’t go your senior year because of the war, but did you go your junior year or anything?”
The photo on the phone began to disintegrate. My heart started beating so fast as I worried Kat’s phone had some horrible virus. The screen went blank.
“Oh no. Oh no,” I moaned.
After a moment, the screen brightened again, and the image had been replaced with a new one. I’d never seen this picture before, but I had no doubts about what it was. Eileen wore a creamy white sundress with strings that tied around her neck. The cotton was thin, and although it hung all the way to the grass they stood in, I could see her legs through it. She held a bouquet of daisies in her hand and wore a crown of them in her golden hair. Beside her, Joe wore a white button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, tucked into a pair of pale blue, bell-bottom slacks. He wore a thin tie, and he had a daisy pinned to his shirt pocket. His brown hair was overgrown. Perhaps he’d been letting it grow as long as possible before he had to report for duty. Otherwise, his face was the spitting image of Mark. Both of them were barefooted. This had to be a wedding picture of Joe and Eileen.
In my ear I heard a soft voice say, “We did better than dance.”
The phone went dead in my hand.
I hope you enjoyed that excerpt. If you're intrigued enough to find out what happens between Mark, Bethany and the ghosts, please get yourself a copy of All the Love You Write. It's free for Kindle Unlimited users. Another novel I know of that has an "anti-prom" scene is The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I highly recommend it, but have some tissues handy. Do you know of any other YA books with grat prom or anti-prom scenes? I'd love to know about them. Please leave a comment below.
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D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
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