Having it All
The time on her clock read eight pm and the knock at her door told her it was time, it was time to go and face the spotlight, to face hundreds of teenagers who would all be clamouring to know why the Fat Girl was entering the school with the mysterious disappearing boy.
But she didn’t care, she wouldn’t let herself care.
“Two hundred and five days” she repeated again and again , that was how long she had been away from school, it had taken her this long to piece herself back together again and she wasn’t going to waste a moment more of her life, almost a year was far too long for a person to be broken, she was going to live her life to the full.
“Flo!” her mother called from downstairs “Your escort is here”
She couldn’t help smiling, ‘escort’ made Chase sound so formal, like they didn’t know each other at all when in reality he knew her best.
She lifted her skirts and crossed the threshold on the landing exhaling, she could do this.
The sight of Chase at least helped distract her, in normal work clothes he took her breath away but today she couldn’t help but unabashedly gawp at him.
He was dressed in a black suit, white shirt with a black tie and looked amazing.
“Look after her Mr Roberts” her Mother squeezed his arm.
Now that she was closer Florence could see though his hair was combed immaculately and he wore a winning smile, Chase looked near exhausted, a sudden pain filled her chest, she felt like something bad was happening, like she was running to catch a train but would never come close to boarding.
Chase had a secret and she felt like she’d never know it.
She hardly felt anything as her Mother hugged her goodbye and her Father patted her gently on the shoulder, she felt like the world was moving in slow motion.
“You look stunning” he said, she snapped back into reality, she needed to stay focused, needed to stay in the moment.
“You don’t clean up too bad yourself” she replied.
He gestured to the car and opened the door for her, she climbed in.
“You know Chase, you look exhausted” she said “I’d be fine if you wanted to rest, I don’t want you overworking yourself”
“I’m fine” he gave her a reassuring smile
“Are you sure?” she pushed, she could tell he was lying and couldn’t fathom why, if he was tired, if his health was somehow at risk she would sacrifice this night, she would sacrifice anything.
He pushed a curl away from her forehead and kissed her gently, she tried to savour the moment but she just couldn’t the drums were loud in her head, a signal of foreboding.
“Chase this doesn’t mean that much to me, you mean more reverse the car right now, your’e going to see Dr Levi right now”
He closed his eyes and sighed.
“No, I’m not Florence I don’t want to fight with you, we haven’t got much time, I promised I’d tell you everything tonight and I will, just please stop pushing me”
She still couldn’t relaxed but nodded.
“Okay” she tried to steady her heartbeat.
“Okay we’ll go but we are leaving before midnight, just one or two dances then you tell me everything and you go and see Dr Levi for whatever is wrong with you, don’t feel like you have to come to work because of me”
He held out his hand.
“Deal” he replied
Phillipson High was playing tricks on her eyes tonight in the mellow sunset sky it almost looked like a magical place with fairy lights trailing the trees and tens of cars pulling up, people’s arms interlocked, posing in front of the building with flashes from cameras going off, it could almost fool any onlooker that this was a place where only happy things happened, not the kind of place where next year A List would be published, another life would be ruined.
“We got this” Chase held out a hand and she gratefully intertwined her fingers with his.
“I love you Chase” she said feeling the words tingle on her lips.
“I love you too soppy” he turned away from her and looked outside, his eyes looked slightly red when he turned back.
“Now let’s show Phillipson High what a power couple really looks like”
Giggling she unlatched the Jeep door, giggling was something she never expected do upon her return here, but then again she had never expected to fall in love at Oakwood either.
The fairy lights lit the way into the hall where loud music could be heard blasting through the speakers, she could almost feel the sheer body head of all those teenage bodies packed into one hall from here.
She wasn’t so sure she could do this now, but she placed one foot in front of the other and put on her best game face.
To say the hall was packed would be a severe understatement, people littered every possible standing space, dancing, laughing, shouting, taking pictures and eating.
She had felt like every pair of eyes in the room was on her more than once, but this time they actually were, the entire student body twisted around at the sound of the door shutting eager to welcome the newcomer to the gathering,and every single person went silent.
She spotted Cooper straight away in a white gown perfectly accentuating her slender body, to her surprise she had no date and didn’t seem to be surrounded by her usual throng of adoring admirers, she located Lauren and Madison quickly enough, both together as usual wearing identical looks of utter shock.
To her complete surprise Cooper began to run towards her, not an easy feat in silver stilettos, she thew herself round Florence’s neck causing Chase to take a step back, everyone else was silent as Cooper made quite the spectacle practically sobbing her heart out and a substantial amount of mascara onto Florence’s dress.
Florence herself was frozen, she didn’t know how to react, the stares she had been expecting, the judgements, whispers, rumours, pictures and all the other pathetic things these people did with their time, but never had she expected her ex-best friend to greet her quite like this.
Cooper wasn’t finished yet.
“Flo! I’m so glad you came” she finally lifted her head up, sure enough silver eyeshadow and mascara streaked her cheeks.
A mean voice inside Florence’s head told her to push Cooper away, to shout something mean and degrading in her face but then she remembered the distraught girl who had begged her to go and get help and instead took Cooper’s hand in hers.
She wouldn’t use words as a weapon to tear down other people, never.
“It’s great to see you too Coops”
Her old nickname seemed to set Cooper off again, she waved her hands and then bolted for the bathroom clutching her tissue to her chest.
Florence looked back at Chase who raised is eyebrows at her as if to say
‘What can you do?’
“Oh my god, thats Florence, Florence Clarke!” Patricia Smith tapped her friends, Sabine, Florence remembered her name was
“That’s Florence Clarke the FBPG!”
“Can I punch her please?” Chase whispered in Florence’s ear, but she just smiled. She wouldn’t condone violence not even towards empty headed cheerleaders who thought they could define her.
Seeing as she had the entire attention of her Year Group, she thought now was as good a time as any.
She raised her voice
“Yes, as Patricia so delicately pointed out my name is Florence Clarke, I used to come to this school up until a year ago, the worst year of my life actually, the year of despair is what I nicknamed it”
There were a few gasps and some chuckles but her audience were still rapt.
“I was named the Fat Girl by a degrading and sexist List and everyone here thought it was the only thing that defined me so I decided to try to achieve the exact opposite, I began to starve myself, I pushed the people who loved me away and even had suicidal thoughts, eventually I was sent to a clinic, some of you might have heard from The List’s Facebook page already, I was diagnosed with acute depression and anorexia nervosa, now this was all because of a List, a List that categorises your fellow students and victimises them in the worst way possible, I was killing myself because I would have died to be accepted here”
The tears were coming but she blinked them furiously away, Chase took her hand.
“But lets just for a second imagine this List didn’t hold any power, just think about it for a second, your brothers, sisters and friends still stay at this school even when we leave, would you have their name be on the List next year? Would you have them lose all their friends because of a stupid and outdated tradition? How many people have to lose their sanity over a problem that can be so easily fixed? So this is what I propose, you go home after your Prom ends, you tell everyone you know the List ends now, I don’t care how many people you have to message or call or even email, I propose a ban of this disgusting, disgusting tradition, never again shall words like the FBPG define a person”
She looked at the sea of shocked faces.
“Never again” she repeated.
The silence was so intense you could have heard a pin drop, and then the clapping started, the kind of clapping that rang in your ears, that you couldn’t help but hear.
And the beaming boy next to her clapped the loudest, and spun her around to hug her.
“I am so proud of you Florence” he said “So, so proud, if I could choose one moment in my life that I would like to have seen, it would be this one”
She smiled back, tearily.
The rest of the night passed like a whirlwind, a whirlwind of dancing and drinking punch and laughing.
People approached her all night, some apologetic, some teary and some even sneering, she forgave those who apologised and those who didn’t.
She was so elated, on such a high and so tired when they finally returned to Oakwood that it was all she could do to unzip her dress, take off her high heels, put on her pyjamas and climb into bed.
It was only once she was drifting off to sleep that she realised, she had kissed Chase goodnight, but still didn’t know his secret.
She had tomorrow she reasoned.
Of course she had tomorrow...
That night she had dreams of crashing waves and cheering crowds, little did she know that the nightmares would only truly begin, when she woke up.