Monday After the Prom by Thoth
Five senior girls. Friends only to themselves. They stood gazing at their reflections, staring listlessly as they applied their make-up, fixed their hair, and finally straightened the creases of their rented gowns. The strain of exams had now passed, though their self-assurance soon took over and they were sure they received all ‘A’s. It was prom night and now their thoughts were now more focused on the evening ahead, which was a night filled with the promise of being with their dates, enjoying good times, great music and staying out all night. Shallow as these five were they had no trouble finding dates for the prom, their superficial concerns for looks and popularity seemed to be the only care they had. Though they had many physical differences, the general population in Usler High would tell you that Tracy Bolan, Sharon Wycoff, Debbie Maylin, Jessica Borgue and Anne Pinkerton, all had the same middle name… Vanity.
“You wouldn’t guess in three lifetimes who is going to the prom,” Tracy told the others.
“Who?” they asked.
“Bill Waters and Lisa Glenn,” Tracy sneered.
“Oh my God,” Debbie and Sharon exclaimed, bursting into peals of laughter.
“Usler High’s Class Misfits of 2001?” Jessica asked.
“Yup,” Tracy answered.
“Hey, they’re meant for each other, I don’t think either of them know what a shower head looks like,” Anne remarked.
“Hey, we oughta give them a night they’ll never forget,” Tracy suggested.
“Mustard on ole Lisa’s dress maybe?” Sharon asked.
“Nah, mud on the seat of Bill’s pants, we’ll place it on his car seat, wait that won’t do, he always looks like he has shit stains in his jeans anyway,” Debbie said.
They stood in front of the bathroom mirrors, five narcissistic nymphs, from well-to-do families, without a care in the world, with time on their hands. As the prom drew near, they primped and exited, filled with anticipation. The prom was hours away. In the restaurant, where their dates had taken them, they sat staring into the eyes of future sports stars, lawyers and investors. In their last year at Usler, they achieved status as football captains, student representatives, and debaters. Like other high schools throughout the US, the only means of survival was acceptance. Bill Waters and Lisa Glenn regarded acceptance as a valuable commodity. Try as they had, they never fit in, Lisa’s constant drawing and doodling was regarded with ridicule from both teachers and students. The outcome was not reinforced but repressed with either detentions or finding her drawings torn out maliciously by students that managed to steal her sketch pad. Bill too was an aspiring artist in both writing and drawing, this is what drew them closer together. She drew her drawings and Bill would write a short poem to accompany the drawing. It was these sketches and prose they stored in separate portfolios which they kept secure within the confines of each of their closets, Bill with his poems and Lisa with her drawings. It was during one of these artistic sessions in the early Spring that Bill asked Lisa to be his date for the prom.
“I don’t know. I think we should just sit by the waterfall, the two of us. As you probably know, we’re not exactly Mr. and Mrs. Popularity,” Lisa reminded Bill.
“Who cares?” Bill asked, stroking Lisa’s waist-length black hair and staring into her deep brown eyes. “As long as I’m with you, we’ll outdo the others. My feelings for you could bring that crypt full of myopic souls crumbling down, and of course amidst the rubble, together we’ll be standing steadfast. I say we do it.” Finally with reluctance, Lisa agreed and on Friday night Bill picked her up in his 1988 Mustang. To the others at Usler it was known as the “red turd” but for just one magical night, it was to be Bill and Lisa’s stagecoach straight through to the Milky Way and beyond.
In a cheap banquet hall, the prom began. The DJ played the usual dance, hip-hop, electronica and alternative music that was considered the most popular hits of 2001. Amidst the stucco paneling that screamed Floridian suburbia, poorly wired wall sconces that looked more like Bargain Basement Christmas lights, that also flickered more than the real candle placed at each and every table, tacky day-glo streamers and a circa 1977 disco ball, the prom began to liven up after guests at the Caribbean Room, as the banquet hall was named, began taking swigs off their safely stashed vodka bottles that chaperones, who were already drunk, never bothered to check for. The five girls sat at a round table amongst themselves, secretly sharing the Absolut Currant that was carefully smuggled in by Mike Sloan, Tracy’s date and potential Trojan partner for the evening.
Bill and Lisa arrived shortly after the dance floor began to fill, and as the sun began to set, diamonds began to illuminate the walls and floor of the room, precious gems, compliments of the mirrored ball circling overhead. Bill was dressed in an oversized tuxedo and Lisa was clad in a wrinkled dress, her shoulders covered with a sweater, only the top button of her sweater was buttoned. Stares soon faded and the couple took their seats at a round table, not even bothering to dance. They sat, talked and made the best of the sneers and giggles that drifted around them. To Bill and Lisa, the night was magic. The candle’s flame bounced along the table.
“Playful spirit, what magic have you in store for a couple shunned by this village of conceited souls?” Bill asked the dancing oracle before staring into Lisa’s eyes. His witty remark elicited a laugh and smile. Bill never realized how pretty her smile was until then, the candle highlighted every contour of her face and her hair shone radiantly atop her head. She had managed to arrange it nicely, allowing soft curls to dangle around her neck. Was the candle really an oracle foretelling their future? Could the flame be telling me something I may possibly know? he thought to himself. Realization finally sank in; Bill had fallen in love with Lisa.
“Ha! Made ya laugh, knew I would.”
They both laughed, and shared a quick kiss, oblivious to the shadow that would drown the playful spirit that danced on the white tablecloth.
“Hey there,” Tracy said, fondling the French braid she had had done at the salon in the shopping mall. A green ribbon was intricately woven within her braid. Standing before the outcast couple a blue aura shimmered off her blue dress that reflected the disco ball’s diamonds, cutting them into smaller karats that also shimmered from her dress.
“You look nice tonight Lisa, and you too Bill,” she told them.
“Yeah, you guys look great,” Sharon added, siding up to Tracy.
Bill and Lisa could not help but be suspicious of this sudden act of friendship. Had they not been fully aware of the snickers behind their backs as they strolled the halls of Usler High, Tracy’s compliments may have been more convincing. Plus it was no secret that Sharon, Debbie or the others were at least involved in some of the desecration done to Lisa’s drawings. After several dances, Jessica and Anne approached their table. Their dates stood by.
“So what do we owe this dubious honor of Usler High’s most popular ladies joining us? Are we not the scapegoats whom your venomous comments manage to spray, usually in the face?” Bill asked, sarcastically.
“Really now, the school year’s almost over, and we thought hey, let’s let the past lie. It will be a few weeks when graduation finally takes place, after the cap and gowns and yearbook signings, I’ll be up North in college, and everyone you see here will all go their separate ways. This is really the last night that the Class of 2001 will be together as a class, so why ruin it with nasty comments?”
Both Bill and Lisa exchanged quizzical looks, then shrugged.
“Whatever,” Lisa said.
Debbie suddenly interjected, “Cool. Tracy’s right, after a few weeks we’ll never see most of these people again.”
“True,” Jessica added, ” besides tonight’s all about fun. By the way, Lisa, your hair looks nice.”
“I was just going to say the same thing,” Sharon added, Debbie and Anne just nodded, smiling.
“Thanks,” Lisa smiled shyly, “did it myself. By the way, I like the green ribbon,” Lisa said, pointing to Tracy’s ribbon.
“I happen to have an extra one right here in my purse. Let’s go to the ladies room and I’ll fix your hair for you. I’ll braid it just like mine and entwine the ribbon within,” Tracy offered, assuring the others that they would be right back. She also assured Bill, who began to look at her suspiciously that they would be only a moment. Despite his gut feelings he relaxed and began talking with the others while Tracy and Lisa adjourned to the ladies’ room. Once they were alone together, Lisa grabbed a chair that was in the corner of the bathroom and placed it near one of the sinks, facing the mirror.
“Here, let’s turn it this way away from the mirror,” Tracy suggested, “for two reasons: one, so I can have access to the sink and two, so that you can see yourself when I’m finally done.”
Though still feeling suspicious, Lisa agreed. Tracy first undid Lisa’s hair then wet it down with some damp cloths. A sticky substance was applied to her hair, which was also sweet tasting when, by accident, some of the thick liquid made its way into her mouth.
“This stuff isn’t toxic is it?” Lisa asked.
“No, don’t worry, my little nephew even got into it once, it’s just sweet that’s all.”
Lisa tried to remember what the taste was like, it was a familiar taste but she couldn’t quite place her finger on what it was. It also seemed to Lisa that Tracy was overdoing her application, as some of whatever she was using was getting on her sweater. Noticing her error, Tracy quickly wiped the goo off Lisa’s shoulder.
“Wait here, I’ll be back in a few minutes. Just sit and allow the conditioner to sit,” Tracy instructed before leaving.
For what seemed like more than a few minutes, Lisa sat in the ladies’ room. Tracy returned, with Anne, Debbie, Jessica and Sharon. Anne was holding what looked like a cloth sack. All the girls were fighting their giggles but a few did escape, especially from Jessica, who was notorious for giggling in class.
“Well, let’s start your makeover,” Sharon announced.
“Trust us, you’ll love the new look,” Anne insisted, followed by giggles from Tracy and Jessica.
Lisa’s heart sank, for in the last few moments she realized what the substance was, and it was not conditioner but molasses, edible and non-toxic for poor, unfortunate Tracy’s little nephew. Betrayal was not the thought that channeled through Lisa’s mind, the question as to how she could have been so gullible rushed silently through her like a raging river after a massive rainstorm.
“Here goes with your new ‘do, why don’t we feather it for you,” Sharon squealed before dumping the bag’s contents over Lisa’s head. The sack was filled with down feathers that floated in a white flurry over Lisa’s head. The horror of what had happened reflected back at her when the girls left, laughing hysterically. They returned only after a few minutes to haul Lisa out of the ladies’ room. Crying she faced the crowd who roared with laughter until they were finally quieted down by the chaperones. Bill, too, had been subjected to the same treatment. Lisa turned to see Bill hauled out of another room by the guys that had been the five girls’ dates.
“Look, they’ve been tarred and feathered!” a girl exclaimed. After only minutes but probably an endless amount of time for Bill and Lisa, they finally managed to exit the prom with some help from the chaperones. After Bill finally got Lisa home he held her close.
“I love you, and I am so sorry, I should have stopped them,” Bill said holding her close.
“No, no it’s my fault, I should have known.”
“C’mon, let’s go to the waterfall, maybe we can get that molasses out of your hair.”
Though Bill, due to his short hair, had no trouble getting the sticky molasses out of his hair, Lisa had more trouble, though she was sure she got most of it. For the remainder of the night, they sat by the waterfall, under the moonlight, holding each other close and engaging in one of many lip-locks. Elsewhere at many of the strategic make-out points on the outskirts of town, vodka-filled teens armed with latex Trojans were banging their dates until dawn. Bill and Lisa just sat watching the sun pierce the night with its golden swords.
“We should get back, I’ll call you tonight,” Bill promised.
“I’ll be waiting, I’ll try to get this crap out of my hair,” Lisa promised with an awkward laugh.
“Don’t let those guys get to you, school will be out Monday, then it’s off to college or wherever. Off a short pier would be nice for the great five bitches of Usler as far as I’m concerned. By the way are you going on to college this Fall?”
“Yeah, the local community college,” Lisa answered.
“Cool, me too. It would be great if we had classes together, even if we don’t at least we’ll still be going to the same school and living in the same town,” Bill said assuringly.
“I’m glad,” Lisa told him.
“Me too,” he answered, holding Lisa close and feeling her still sticky hair.
Later that day, after a much-needed nap, Bill phoned Lisa. Her mother told him that Lisa had an appointment at the mall and told him he could call back in about an hour. In exactly that time Bill phoned again and spoke to Lisa, who was reluctant to meet with him.
“I’m afraid to see you. I’m scared of what you’ll say when you see me,” Lisa told him between sobs.
“I meant what I said last night, I love you and nothing will change that.”
Finally Lisa agreed and when Bill saw her he could understand her reluctance. She stood in the doorway of her house sobbing uncontrollably. Not all the molasses had been washed from her hair and as a result she had to have all her hair cut off at the salon in the mall. She was now sporting a very short pixie cut. Bill held her close, stroking her shorn nape and still assured her that his feelings for her had not changed, he still cared for her regardless. They spent the rest of the day and evening together, and ended the evening by the waterfall. The water whispered softly. “Whispers of the summer, whispers of the future that lies ahead, whispers of a future I hope to spend with you,” as Bill put it. After a passionate kiss, they made love under the waterfall’s crystal embrace. Unbeknown to them it was the future that the waterfall was whispering, speaking in a language that would be totally indecipherable to the couple embraced within its watery blanket.
Finally. The last official day of school would soon end. Tracy, Debbie, Sharon, Jessica and Anne received all A’s on their exams so far. Though Jessica was sweating out Algebra, she sighed with relief when she received an A-. Jessica was quite a “talker” in class, it was in Algebra that she also had class with Lisa, who walked in sporting a newly-cropped pixie. The whole class snickered and a few “cluck, clucks” in the back of the room instigated the laughter further until Mr. Johnson told the class to simmer down. He regarded Lisa with sympathy (the only faculty member to do so), and gave her her exam paper, one consolation here was being that she aced the exam It was of little consolation that in fact Lisa had passed all of her exams after the humiliation she had endured. It was in seventh period English that the five girls would receive both a high exam mark and a special bonus that read the following.
You have received a special bonus makeover Courtesy of Budget Cutz in the shopping mall. This makeover session is for possible modeling purposes Please pick up your modeling attire at the Fashion Stop also located in the mall. See you after school and Congratulations on your upcoming Graduation.
Conceit, shallowness and arrogance. All five of these girls carried them well throughout the remainder of the period. The final bell rang and they strutted down the halls, noses high in the air and a sense of aloofness over the entire class of 2001. They took the bus into town and walked into the Fashion Stop. There each girl was given a choice of what color skirt and blouse they wanted, being told that this was the attire the salon picked when the girls remarked that it looked like fashion for Usler High School cheerleaders circa 1959. The clerk just shrugged and told the girls that the clothes were paid for. Soon each of them emerged from the dressing rooms sporting blue, red and plaid skirts and either a white, pink or blue blouse. Their next stop was Budget Cutz where they were greeted by Melissa, the salon’s owner.
“Glad to see you all came,” she said, smiling, and giving her near-waist-length curls a flip. All the other stylists in the salon were very attractive, each with flowing tresses of blonde, red and one with black hair and red streaks.
“Why don’t you come with me,” Melissa offered, smiling at Tracy, “I’ll do your hair and my ladies will take care of your friends.” Tracy walked by as each of the stylists were draping her friends in red capes, (with ‘Budget Cutz’ printed across the front), and began shampooing their hair. Melissa led Tracy to her station, instructed her to lift up her hair so she could wrap a tissue around her and cape her. After being caped Melissa began to shampoo her hair. The water and the smell of the shampoo placed Tracy in a dream-like state, she was in paradise (or so she thought) and didn’t want Melissa to stop massaging her scalp. When she finished, Melissa led Tracy to her chair and began combing off her blonde hair. Tracy closed her eyes and felt tingles of excitement as Melissa’s fingernails and the teeth of her comb caressed every strand of her well-conditioned hair. Wrapped up in her dream world she never expected the shake back into reality she received. She only saw a brief flash of steel amidst the pale fluorescent glow of the salon’s lighting, before hearing a very crunchy shink and a sudden breeze that brushed her neck. Upon looking into the mirror she saw the shocking new Tracy that sat there facing her.
“You stupid bitch! What the fuck are you doing?”
“My job,” Melissa answered, matter-of-factly.
“Well you won’t have it for much longer! I plan on suing this little chop-shop of yours and you can just pick your next meal out of the dumpster behind the local diner, you stupid bitch!” Tracy shouted, on the verge of tears.
Melissa turned to Tracy and slapped her hard across the face.
“Don’t you ever call me that again. I have a job to do and I plan on doing it,” she said.
“OK, you’re a stupid cunt then and just you wait unt-”
The fast, clicking sound of high-heels filled the salon, as did the gasps, profanities and sobs from the other girls, who were receiving the same hack-job treatment. Tracy turned to face her mother who stood directly in front of her, with one hand under her chin and the other holding her once shiny and well cared-for mane of blonde hair in the other.
“After what you and the others did to Lisa at the prom this is what we, meaning the parents, school staff and owners of Budget Cutz, call poetic justice. You went out of your way to be cruel to Lisa and Bill, and it was here Lisa was sobbing uncontrollably as Melissa had to cut off all her luxuriant hair. Had I not had an appointment here that day I would have surely found out from the chaperones the night of the prom. You should be ashamed of yourself, and now you all are going to get nice pixie haircuts just like Lisa.”
“The fuck I am! I’ll get you too, you fuckin-”
Tracy’s mom threw her hair back into her lap and slapped Tracy across the face repeatedly. Then she picked up her hair and instructed Melissa to undrape her and hold her chin. Once the cape was cast aside, Mrs. Bolan buttoned Tracy’s pink blouse up to her neck, then slapped her once more.
“There that should do it. This will be your apparel for the entire summer, I have taken the liberty of giving away your entire wardrobe, and if you behave I may allow you to wear a short-sleeved blouse when it gets hot. But this is what you will wear and your collar will always be buttoned. Once you start college, you will only get the money needed to pay for school-related items. No allowances. If you wish to replenish your old wardrobe then you can try working to replace what I’ve given away. Once you go off to school I don’t care what you do, but for the summer this will be the way you dress. Got it? Good!”
“I have a special style for Tracy, if it’s OK with you Mrs. Bolan.”
“Why, certainly Melissa, you’re the expert.”
Tracy heard a loud pop, then a whirr… electric clippers. She watched as the purple beast inched closer to her nape before her head was forcibly pushed forward. Soon all the rest of her hair joined the hair now placed in her lap atop her plaid skirt. Within moments Tracy was sporting a burr, where two nights ago, her prized tresses had held a green ribbon entwined within a French braid and shimmering scoop neck prom dress.
“Oh, here’s a little souvenir from the prom… Miss Prom Queen,” her mother said mockingly. She then placed the green ribbon atop her hair, then she crowned the entire pile with a silver tiara. In fact, each of the girls, Sharon, Jessica, Debbie and Anne also received tiaras that were capped on the piles of hair that now sat in their laps. The remaining four were all sporting pixies, their shorn napes now clearly showing the snaps that sealed them within their red cocoons. Each one sobbed miserably and, like Tracy, were informed by their mothers of their new summer dress code. When they were all escorted out of the salon, Tracy spotted Lisa, who was wearing a new bikini. Upon a closer look, Tracy realized it was hers. Lisa told the shorn quintet she got it for free, the beautiful tie-dye pattern vibrated off her curvaceous body. She was soon joined by Bill, who kept caressing her waist and pressing his lips against her nape.
“Enjoy it while you can, it will never be this short again,” she giggled, happily feeling his kisses, before leaving the girls with their mothers who escorted them through a gauntlet of stares, whispers and snickers from some of the few friends that Bill and Lisa had between each other. Each of the girls turned to watch the shrinking couple, walking hand in hand to their perfect sanctuary and into the horizon of a promising future.
2026: 25th Class Reunion
“Good to see ya…”
“You look great!”
“You haven’t changed a bit…”
Just a typical exchange of compliments within the same banquet hall that had hosted their prom so long ago. Jessica was the first to arrive, still as talkative as ever, especially after a few Martinis. She had gone on to become a lawyer and had made a name for herself in prosecuting many well-read-about serial killers that never escaped the death penalty when she acted as prosecuting attorney. Sharon and Anne had both become RNs at the local hospital. Tracy, with her blonde hair grown back to her original length, became a successful entrepreneur in establishing the first interstellar hotel chain. Success, it seemed, came to everyone in the class of 2001, but fame and recognition in both worldwide and a universal sense was bestowed upon the well-renowned artist/poet couple Lisa and Bill Waters, who married after receiving their Masters degrees in Art. Along with Tracy’s interstellar motel, for which Bill and Lisa paid their compliments to Tracy and her husband, who shook hands, Lisa and Bill were the first to have an art exhibit and poetry reading on Merope-18, a new colony on Mars that was established in 2011. It was no wonder that everyone in the class, including Tracy, Jessica, Sharon, Debbie and Anne, wanted to shake hands with the galactic artists. Bearing no grudges the couple had to announce their departure. Their next stop was Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, from there they would take a shuttle to one of Tracy’s hotels.
Feeling a sense of remorse, and a need for restitution, Tracy reached for her Astroscreen.
“Lisa and Bill Waters, that’s right, artists, big exhibit in the Minerva Art Gallery, see to it they get billed for nothing. All accommodations are on the house.”
A few days later the ship, carrying Bill and Lisa Waters departed Earth for Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, from there a shuttle would take them to Mars, and on to their real their destination…interstellar recognition.