Bree walked slowly as the breeze lifted up the layers of her chiffon prom dress. She had picked it out with her mother just before her mother had gone into the hospital. Her leukemia had taken a sudden turn for the worse and her frail body had failed to respond to the treatments. That had been a few weeks ago and there had been no improvement since then. The doctors told Bree that it would be touch and go now.
The night had always been Bree’s favorite time of the day, following the sunset. A lot of times after dark she would go to the park at the edge of town. Although it was closed and gated by then, she knew of a back way through the edge of the woods where she could walk in. Animals and sounds in the night didn’t really bother her as they might other people. She welcomed them, they were so much better to listen to than the silence of her now empty home.
The wind, seemingly stronger now, lifted her long dress and whipped it around her ankles. Bree had braided her hair up around the hairline and gathered it at the nape of her neck with a pale gold hair pin that was shaped into curves much like those of a tightly wound river. “It’s perfect for you,” her mother had told her softly when she had given it to her, “I found it and thought of you, you know, how much you like the river and all.” Bree did love the river. It bordered the opposite side of the park from the woods. She spent a lot of time sitting by it, getting lost in it. Sometimes she would even talk to it. Its answers to her were silent but peaceful as the water lapped lightly against the muddy bank of the eddy.
As Bree walked into the thick underbrush of the woods to get to the park, she thought about the disaster that was the prom. Charles had been her date. Charles, football quarterback, tall, charming and the apple of every girl’s eye in her school. They had lockers next to one another and would talk sometimes between classes or just banter with one another. Bree had never really had a boyfriend and Charles had just broken up with Michelle, so he asked Bree to go with him to the prom. All the girls suddenly raved to Bree about how lucky she was. She was suddenly popular. It didn’t matter anymore that Bree was a tad bit studious and not a cheerleader. Charles had asked her to the prom. And it had been exciting. Picking out the dress, going to dinner with Charles, dancing with…. well, it would have been with Charles all night if Michelle hadn’t come along.
Michelle had gone to the prom without a date. And she looked stunning. Her tight brown curls were knotted beautifully on top of her head. She wore a form fitting royal blue dress that came to just above her knees where it was gathered in front at the midpoint of her thighs. Long tendrils of satin fell from here and down to her ankles. It was an unusual dress but deserved a lot of attention, especially since it was on her perfect figure. Michelle and her friends were in one corner with their dates, laughing and looking dazzling.
Bree had felt so good. Other girls were ogling at her as she swayed to the beat of the music in Charles’s arms. She felt lighter than a kite.
Until Michelle had barged in between them, her back to Bree, during a slow melody.
Bree just stopped, looking stunned, then looked at Charles, hoping that he would rescue her. He looked back at her for a second and put out his hand. Bree had put hers out to take it but before she could, Michelle’s hand was already there. Charles gave Bree a look of apology and, taking Michelle by the hand, swooped off with her, leaving Bree stranded there alone in the middle of the dance floor. She had to weave through the twirling couples to get to the seats along the wall and was knocked into several times and even cursed at. Everyone was looking at her. Everyone. And many were laughing. That was when she ran for the door.
Bree didn’t really have any friends, honestly. This was her first semester at this school and even though she would be graduating soon, the groups of friends in the school were long since established and there was no room in any of them for her. So she had gone to school every day with the hope of getting out in the spring that motivated her to keep her chin up.