“Madam, you’ve arrived.” I opened the door and gathered the folds of my dress around my legs, being careful where I stepped with the magical shoes. I turned to Harry, unsure of myself for a moment, and he gave me a cool look, sucked in his cheeks and purred, “Knock ‘em dead, kid.”
I walked carefully, finding my stride, through the group of smokers, which had fallen silent, then through an archway made of pink and yellow and white balloons. The gymnasium had been transformed by the prom committee, and I turned all around to stare and appreciate their vision and hard work. Round tables draped with gold lamé were scattered with balloons, curling ribbons, and candy. Golden stars moved across the high ceiling, projected rays of light cut through wisps of fog. Giant painted windows hung from the ceiling, showing painted scenes of some faraway land in the sunset; gauzy curtains wafted around them, stirred by secret breezes from hidden fans. Clusters of students gathered around clusters of giant potted palms, talking and laughing, sipping peach-tinted soda from sparkling plastic cups, their faces sparkling pink and gold thrown from disco balls hung at various levels around the room. A huge banner, not the printed vinyl kind, but hand-sewn decades ago on yards and yards of draped satin, hung from wall to wall across the bandstand, proclaiming again its profound wish for each new generation in scrolling velvet letters: “Happily Ever After.”
I wandered through the room with my mouth open, drinking in all the detail and trying to reconcile the well-groomed boys and stylized girls with the kids I saw every day at school in their jeans and t-shirts. Everyone looked radiant, happy, flushed from dancing or laughing, and a little dazed—just like me—as if no one knew what might happen in the next few minutes. Who would they see, transformed into someone else? Would they feel a touch on their shoulder? Would their favorite song come on, and would the one they wanted be by their side when it did? So this was prom; I’d made it.
I stood in the middle of the room under the star-sprinkled ceiling taking it all in, savoring the moment and feeling lit up by my success in getting there.
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