1 hour before prom, back home.
“Papa, what did you put in this sauce? I can’t stop eating it. I would put this on a wooden plank and devour it,” I mumbled as I stuffed my face with rice and chopped pieces of marinated chicken.
“Salt, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, paprika, rosemary, and basil.”
“I see Mom has taught you well with her seasonings.”
“Nope, this one was all me. I used one of my mom’s recipes. She made this for me all the time when I was a kid back in Puerto Rico.”
“Don’t stuff yourself or you won’t fit into your dress, Mija.” He attempted to take the fork out of my hands, but quickly snatched his hand away when I growled at him. His reaction was priceless. It was as if I was watching a live telenovela.
“No muerdas, bestia! Necesito mis dedos para cirugía!” (Don’t bite me, you beast! I need my fingers for surgery!)
He secured his hands protectively on his chest. This man is the definition of dramatic. I almost spit up my food because of how hard I was laughing. Once I calmed down, I drank the rest of my water and then finished the scraps of my chicken. My now messy face was in desperate need of a napkin, so I grabbed a couple and dabbed away. Dad was right. I was a beast.
“Sienna, I wanted to talk to you about your dance tonight.” My mom spoke for maybe the second time tonight and I grew still at her topic of choice.
“Okay... let’s hear it.”
“I just- I hope you have a wonderful time.” Her words stunned me momentarily speechless. Just a few hours before she was ready to lock me up. Now she was telling me to have fun. What kind of alternate reality was I living in?
“T-thank you... I should probably head upstairs to get ready anyway,” I said, pulling out my chair from the table.
“We’ll see you in a bit, sweetheart,” Papa said as I deposited my dish into the sink and left the kitchen. Walking up the stairs I was feeling a little lightheaded. I couldn’t believe it. Things had finally gone in the direction I wanted. It’d be an understatement to say I was excited.
I hopped in the shower to freshen up. And although delicious, I had to rid myself of the chicken smell. As I was shampooing my hair, I brainstormed how I would style it. Would I wear it up or down? Would I need hairspray? Hair clips? I didn’t know.
I’d never really dressed up or attended any fancy events. Stepping out of the shower, I wrapped my fluffy towel tightly around my body and stood in front of the mirror. Hmm, what to do with the mess on my head?
“Nothing Pinterest can’t fix.”
I typed in ‘prom hairstyles’ and scrolled for maybe ten whole minutes before finally settling on a modern bouffant style. It wasn’t as high but it surely was just as beautiful. With my curling iron, I added more definition to my naturally wavy hair before moving on to my makeup. I decided to go with a look Alex taught me: pink glittery eyeshadow and a neutral lip.
The best part of this whole process was putting on my dress. After slipping on the blue scalloped lace panties Alex surprised me with, I stepped into a black floor-length, thin strapped gown. It had a daring high slit and an open back which was my favorite feature.
Still barefoot, I walked to the corner of my room and pulled out my tall body mirror. My breath hitched when I saw myself for the first time all done up with hair and makeup.
It was in that moment I felt the most beautiful I had ever felt in my life. But I had to force myself to keep my emotions under control. There was no way I was about to ruin the glittery eye I worked so hard to achieve. I crossed my room and grabbed a tissue from the box on my nightstand, carefully dabbing in the corners of my eyes.
To complete my outfit, I slipped on my heels and jewelry, grabbed my silver clutch, and spritzed my neck with a sweet perfume. It was time for the reveal.
“Mom! Pa! I’m ready,” I announced, standing at the top of the staircase. The couple stood at the bottom looking up and I began slowly gliding down the stairs for a dramatic effect — that and because the heels Alex got me were much taller than I was used to.
I saw my dad’s eyes widen and brim with tears. My mom was smiling so hard I thought her teeth would shatter.
“You look beautiful,” she beamed.
“Thanks, Mom,” I replied, stepping down and hugging them both. We stood there together, enjoying the warm atmosphere until my phone went off. I dug into my clutch and saw Alex’s face on my screen.
“Hey Sienna, do you need a ride tonight?”
I looked at my parents who were smiling back at me. “No, I’m all set here.”
“Okay cool, I’m gonna hitch a ride with a friend. Meet you there?”
“Yeah, see you.” Maybe I’d finally meet the reason Alex had been MIA.
“You ready to go, mi amor?” my dad asked. I nodded eagerly.
⋅. ✯ .⋅
I sat in the back seat of the car, an absolute ball of excitement. When we finally arrived outside of the school, I imploded. Papa came around and opened my door, extending his hand for me to take.
“Look at my little girl... I...”
He and I both knew that if he uttered another word, he’d be in tears. I closed my eyes living in this moment as he placed a kiss on my forehead and hugged me tightly. We stayed in our positions for a few moments until he collected himself.
“Your mother and I might not be home when you get back. We have a date of our own with Marlene and David, but have fun, okay?” he whispered.
“I will, Pa,” I answered, smiling at him. After another kiss on my cheek, he climbed back into the car. Both he and my mom watched as I entered the building before pulling off.
The gym was exactly how I remembered it, only this time the night was officially here and the atmosphere was set perfectly. Tons of people showed up, and it was a sight that made me ridiculously happy. Alex spotted me first and peeled herself away from a guy who I assumed was the friend she spoke of over the phone.
“Alex, you look hot!” She fell in love with this Neptune blue two-piece dress combo at the boutique we visited. Taking me into her arms, she squeezed me tightly.
“And you look like a goddess. That dress was made for you. I thought I loved it when you tried it on at the store, but with the full look... you just look unreal, Sienna.”
“Thank you so much. But, uh, quick question. The friend who drove you here tonight, is that him?”
I tipped my chin discreetly at the tall, broad-shouldered brunette with porcelain skin. He was dressed in an all black tux. She instantly blushed, but answered nevertheless.
“Hmm, and is this the same friend you studied with a couple weeks ago?”
“Okay, I’ll save you some embarrassment. We’ll talk later. For now, go get your guy.”
She didn’t have to be told twice. For a while I was by myself admiring everyone in the room, dancing, talking, and laughing. It warmed my soul. I couldn’t spot Joseph and I began to wonder where he was. Then again, prom started not too long ago. I noticed Jasmine mingling by the drinks table, so I decided to join her.
“Hey! You look incredible tonight,” I told her.
She wore a pearl pink off-the-shoulder mini dress that made her warm almond skin glow. I wiped away faux tears as she twirled for me.
“Thank you!” she replied, excitedly. “You’re looking quite delicious yourself.”
I let out a surprised laugh. “Oh? That’s the first time I heard that tonight- or ever.”
“I’m surprised Joseph hasn’t taken a bite out of you yet. I certainly would,” she said with a wink. Thank god the lights were dimmed low, or my cheeks would have revealed how much her words affected me.
“You are such a flirt,” I told her, grabbing an eco-friendly solo cup and filling it with sprite from one of the awesome glass drink dispensers Khai donated. “And Joseph isn’t here yet.”
“Well he is missing out, and I’m not just talking about you, the eye candy. You’ve done an amazing job with this thing. I think this is the first time in a while that I’ve been so satisfied with a school event.”
I scoffed. “As if you didn’t do anything. You gave 75% of the ideas and handmade half of the decorations for tonight! Don’t you dare give me all the credit.”
“But it’s your leadership that brought everyone together. It was also your kindness and approachability that encouraged me to speak out and voice my opinions. Last year’s rep was a snooty little B, and had our winter formal looking like a friendly gathering in a prison cafeteria.”
“Oh, Jas I’m sorry about that, but I’m also really glad to have been able to make this senior event a good one. We have to leave a good impression before we graduate, right?” I said, raising my cup to hers.
“You’re damn right!” she cheered, clinking her cup on the side of mine.
“I’ll see you later though. I promised Mindy and Khai I’d be the cream to their Oreo cookies,” she said.
“No problem! Go ahead and do your creamy -er- duties.”
I had no idea what she meant, but I waved her off with a huge grin on my face. With my sprite in hand, I made another round about the gym. That’s when I spotted Joseph.