One month later, and two weeks before the Matric Farewell.
Brandon had been nagging me to go to the Matric Farewell since the day I got home. We even had one or two fights about it. I did discuss it with my therapist and he felt the same way as Brandon. He thought that I needed to go to close off that chapter of my life, but he didn’t push the matter. I also knew I had to but I wasn’t ready to face the kids yet, especially not Kimberly.
I kept telling Brandon I was not in the mood and not ready to deal with the people at school, but that I would consider writing my final exams with the rest of the school and not back at the centre. He still wasn’t happy about this, but he finally stopped pushing me and accepted it as a good compromise.
As the day drew near I helped him choose a tux for the evening and made him promise to have a good time. He was still going alone. Well, him and a bunch of the rugby team decided to go alone, and I quote, ‘as there will be enough booty at the dance to take our pick of!’ Their words, not mine.
When we went tux shopping I couldn’t prevent my eyes from wandering over to all the evening gowns. At the beginning of the year I had planned on going to the dance, even if I went alone. But even though everybody kept saying I was back to looking like my old self I wasn’t feeling it just yet, which was another reason why I didn’t want to go.
While Brandon was fitting tuxes I drifted over to have a look at the gowns. One dress in particular caught my eye, and the sales assistant must have seen that, as she approached me. “It’s a lovely colour. It will look beautiful with your eyes and I’m sure it is your size. Why don’t you try it on?”
I started to say no but decided I wanted to see what I looked like all dressed up, even if it was just once. She removed the dress from the rail and showed me to a different dressing room area from where Brandon was changing.
I slipped out of my clothes, pulled the dress over my head and zipped it up on the side. When I stepped out of the dressing room the sales assistant adjusted a few things, ensuring it sat in the right place. When she was finished she turned me towards the mirror and stood back. Too scared to look up at first, I kept looking at my feet. The sales assistant saw that and encouraged me to examine myself.
“Look up, miss. You look amazing. Any guy’s dream!” I could hear the wonder in her voice so I slowly raised my eyes. As I took in my features I couldn’t help my mouth falling open.
It fitted me perfectly, as if it was made for me. I kept staring at myself, not being able to look away. Tears sprang to my eyes as I couldn’t believe it was me staring back at myself in the mirror. I did look like my old self again and in some ways even better. And yeah, every guy’s dream –but I don’t want to be just any guy’s dream, I want to be Brandon’s dream, I kept thinking to myself.
But that would never happen and I needed to move on. After what felt like forever I hurried back into the dressing room and changed back into my street clothes. I handed the dress back to the sales assistant and went looking for Brandon.
“There you are! Where did you disappear to?”
“I was just wandering around while you were trying on. Did you find what you were looking for?”
He nodded and held up a clothing bag. “Ready to go?”
I was just about to say yes when the sales assistant came up to me. “Will you be taking the dress as well, miss?” Totally caught off guard I mumbled a no and practically ran out of the store.
I had been mustering up the courage to tell Brandon how I really felt about him all week. The tension between us was building with every passing day. Well, on my side, anyway. Once or twice I was even sure he was going tokiss me. But then at the last minute he would look away, or say something, or start to tickle me. It was frustrating to get my hopes up every time but I always did, hoping that day would be the day.
The day of the Matric Farewell finally arrived and Brandon left my place early to get ready. He had been sleeping on my couch ever since I came home from the centre, and every night I ended up there with him, only to wake up in the morning with him already gone to school, the coffee made and a note and flower next to me on the cushion. The note said the same thing every day.
He promised me he would stop by to show me how he looked before he went to the dance. He arrived around 5pm. Even though he had a key to my place by then, he knocked on the door and waited for me to open up. Being excited about seeing him all dressed up in a tux, I pulled the door open with a bit more force than necessary. Standing in my doorway was the most handsome, most beautiful boy I have ever laid eyes on, and in his hand was the most beautiful bunch of lilies. I couldn’t contain my approval of his look; I gaped in admiration and all I could do was stare at him.
Giving a nervous laugh he spun around on his heels.“Like what you see?” he asked after he completed his twirl.
“WOW!” was all that I could come up with. He stood in front of me wearing a pitch black tux, with a pitch black dress shirt and pitch black shoes. The only colour in the outfit was his sea green tie and the white lilies in his hands. I found it ironic that his tie exactly matched the dress I had tried on.
He looked breathtaking. And I knew he would be the most attractive guy at the dance that evening. “You look amazing, Brandon. You are going to be a hit tonight among the ladies! Do you want to come in?”
“I would have loved to. But my friends are waiting for me in the car. I just came by to give you these and tell you I wish you were coming with me tonight. But I understand why you are not, and support that. I will come back here after the dance, I promise.”
He handed me the flowers. Nodding my head, I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around him for a hug. “Thank you,” I whispered as I hugged him. Then pulling back I told him to get going and enjoy the evening.
After putting the lilies in some water I just sat on my couch looking at them. I must have sat there for an hour, or for what felt like an hour, before the sound of my phone ringing startled me back to reality. Picking it up off the table, I saw it was Brandon.
A smile came to my face like it always does when I see his name flash on my phone. “Forget something?” I asked as I answered the phone.
“Sam, do me a favour and go have a look on the back seat of your Bug. I can’t stay and chat, but open up the box and I hope you like it.” That was all he said before he dropped the call.
I hurried out to my car. There on the back seat was a box wrapped with a big, purple bow. Picking it up I ran back into the house, sat down on the couch and placed the box in front of me on the table. I didn’t know if I should open it or just call him back to find out what this was all about. The latter won out and I dialled his number again. It went straight to voicemail.
Dropping the phone on the couch next to me I leaned forward and untied the bow on top of the box. Not knowing why I was so nervous, I took a deep breath and opened it. When I caught sight of what was inside, I dropped the lid on the floor from mid-air. Beautifully folded in the box was the dress that I had fitted on at the store.
I read the small card that was in the box:
The sales assistant said you looked like a princess in this dress.
Everybody deserves to feel like a princess, even for just one night.
I hope I get to see you in the dress.
Even if I don’t, you will always be my Sleeping Beauty.
Lots of love,
I looked back down at the dress. I must have re-read the card about a thousand times. Pulling the dress out of the box, I hugged it to my body. I was so taken by it I nearly missed the matching shoes. After seeing the shoes it took me all of three seconds to decide to go to the dance. As I got ready I kept thinking how proud my therapist would be of me being so brave, and that I couldn’t wait to see Brandon and the look on his face when he saw me.
I lightly curled my long hair and pinned up a few strands. The rest was free flowing over my bare back and shoulders. Then I did my makeup. Not too dark but not too light either. I used a pale blue eye shadow that brought out my eyes and complemented my dress, which was a sweetheart-cut ball gown. Sitting on the bed I slipped on the matching shoes and stood up to look at myself in the mirror.
It is remarkable what a little bit of pampering can do for your ego. I remember the first time, in Ireland, when my aunt insisted I have a day full of pampering: she told me it would make me feel better.
In the beginning I didn’t believe her, but as the day went on and I saw the end results I knew she had a point. I felt like a princess heading to the grand ball.
My sea blue ball gown flowed around me like the waves in the ocean; with my red hair falling around my face and the top of my dress, I knew I looked incredible. Checking the time, I saw it had taken me nearly two hours to get dressed and ready. The dance would bewell underway by now and I had to hurry if I wanted to spend some time with Brandon.
I grabbed my keys and raced out of the front door, stopping only to pin one of the lilies in my hair. I locked my front door and set out for the school hall. I was really nervous about all of this. I could be making a fool of myself by reading too much into the note and the dress. All the way to the school I chewed on my lips and I had to reapply my lipstick by the time I turned into the school grounds.
I was standing talking to my friends when the crowd around us grew quiet. I didn’t notice at first, but when my friends started to look past me as I talked, I realised something was up. Not knowing what they were staring at, I turned around to see what had stolen their attention.
My heart nearly stopped when my eyes landed on Sam standing by the door, looking around. She looked amazing in that dress, just like a princess, exactly as the sales assistant had promised me. I was suddenly very glad I had bought it for her. I knew why all my friends were staring. She was mesmerizing.
I also couldn’t stop staring at her and I knew in that instant why I was head over heels for her, why I couldn’t ever live my life without her in it.
From the note I had left her I hoped she understood how I felt about her, but I needed to tell her that in person and hope she didn’t freak out on me. As her eyes locked with mine, a determined look crossed her face and she started moving towards me. I didn’t know if I should meet her halfway or not. But regardless of what I decided, my feet stayed rooted to the spot, not moving one inch in her direction. I didn’t, for one moment, take my eyes off her. I never wanted to take my eyes off her ever again.
She didn’t need to push through the crowd to get to me. Everybody opened a path for her. She kept coming as I just kept staring at her. Her eyes never left mine. When she reached me I could tell she was debating about something, and then she gave me another purpose full look. Wrapping her arms around my neck she pulled me in closer to her. Our lips were millimetres apart and I was sure that what I saw in her eyes was love. I was about to say something when she closed the gap between our lips and then . . .
She kissed me!
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