by Ollie S., 15
Her shining blue eyes crinkle up in the wind.
“What? You find my request laughable?” I ask. “I only want to kiss you when you win prom queen next week.”
“That’s the problem.” Calla closes her eyes, tilting her head up to the sky and looking away from the school bleachers. “Of course, I want to show you off in front of everyone, but, then it’s in front of everyone.”
“We’re leaving this school in a month. Who cares if they’re mad that I’m kissing you?”
She grunts at me, taken away slightly from her trance. “I do. You know, you may already be a bit of an outcast, but I’m prom queen. These people like me for whatever reason, and I intend to keep it that way. I’m not going to kiss some girl just to celebrate when it’ll ruin my reputation completely.”
I can’t even look at her. I stumble down the bleachers.
“Hey, Blau! Four laps!” my P.E. teacher yells at me.
What’s the point of senior year if I have to end it with P.E. and being just “some girl” to my girlfriend? Because I don’t see one.
My prom dress squeezes my spine as I get it fitted for the last time. My parents take this so seriously you’d think it’s my wedding.
“The perfect gold shimmer for the perfect queen,” the seamstress whispers to me.
“Aren’t you excited to be celebrated on your school stage in two days? What a great last hurrah,” my mother cheers.
“Yeah.” I exhale.
It’d be better if I didn’t have to hurt someone to keep it so special.
Lilith and I are better off in secret. She just can’t seem to get that for some reason. I wish she’d stop being so selfish and talk to me again, but you can’t ask much for the maturity of an 18 year old.
“Ooh, and this hair!” my mother shrieks. “This gorgeous golden blonde hair. What should be done with it? An updo? A braid?”
“Whatever makes my shining star shine the brightest,” Dad says.
“I’ll leave it down, Mom. I can’t imagine distracting from the beauty I’m wearing.”
She gives me a smile. I’m planning well.
“Lilith! Lil, calm down! I mean it. If Calla doesn’t want to be with you, don’t be with her!”
My mom and Jade attempt to make me breathe. They’re not doing the best.
“But,” I suggest, “what if—what if I just go up to her when they announce that she’s queen and she can’t ignore me? I mean, it’s definitely a rude thing to do, but I think it gets my point across.”
“You’re assuming that she’ll win,” Jade says.
“Jade.” My mom swats at them. “Don’t make it worse.”
“And you think she won’t?” I scoff. “The only other person running against her is Melody. When she ran for SGA last year, she somehow got negative votes. Which is not possible.”
“Just saying. Open mind. You could do better.”
I take a deep breath in, letting the oxygen course through my nostrils. It’s all going to be alright. It’s all going to be just fine. Calla will come around. I’ll get my little happily ever after.
“This suit looks great on you,” Jade tells me.
I forgot I was even trying on my suit. For prom. I take a glance in the mirror. I do look hot.
Prom night and stars are in the sky and on the ground. I’m one of those on the ground.
My mother always used to tell me, when I was a little kid, that I’m just a fallen star. I lost my shine sometime long, long ago, but one day, I’ll get it back and float right back up to watch over the Earth from afar.
I decided tonight that I should get myself a little closer. I won’t tarnish my entire reputation in front of my kingdom, but I’ll start with a dance with the girl I love.
She’ll talk to me again. She’ll give me a smile when I win. And, when I win, we’ll end. Simple as that.
I pull up to her driveway. I know she’s still home.
Walking up the pavement, I feel a little drizzle fall on me. I hope it doesn’t last.
I ring the doorbell, and I’m a little shaky.
“Calla?” I hear Lilith question. I’m out of place. “Calla? What are you doing here?”
“I… I—” I clear my throat. “I was wondering if you could do me the honour of letting me accompany you to prom?”
“Really?” she scoffs, already dressed up in her suit. Lilith’s black hair drips to her shoulders, and her soft lips make a pillow I want to land on. The way she speaks does not go with that look. “You want to take me? You, who didn’t even want me to be known to any of your friends? Your family? Hell, you got mad that our teacher saw us kiss once. And he’s literally gay.”
Tears gloss up my eyes. I know Lilith’s tough; it still can hurt.
“I want to go with you,” I say, barely above a whisper.
A little smirk creeps up her face. “How could I say no to such beautiful eyes?”
The ballroom of the Lunar Valley Hotel is ablaze.
Not literally, of course. Maybe I’m simply seeing it as so magical because my heart is in the same state.
Jade would tell me I’m being a cheesy ass, but isn’t cheesy kind of cute?
“Well,” Calla breathes onto my shoulder, “don’t you want to dance?”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
As we step onto the dance floor, “Don’t Stop Believin’” begins to blast. Every cheesy night deserves a cheesy song.
“Ugh, we can’t start with this,” Calla whispers.
“Well, of course we can. It’s only one of the best karaoke songs of all time. Can you not turn it into a dance?”
She raises her eyebrows at me.
I start to sing, although it looks like I’m mouthing the words, “‘A singer in a smoky room.’”
Calla starts to sway with me, and, with a giggle, she follows, “‘The smell of wine and cheap perfume.’”
And, it shouldn’t work—us—but it does. In this moment, I’m so utterly in love with the sway of her golden sparkles in the dimmed room and her skeptical smile with every word.
I won’t kid myself, though. Good things always fall apart.
“Now, Winterville High School, it’s time to announce your Class of 2022 prom queen…” The principal initiates a drum roll. “Calla Torres!”
I feel the light shine on me from the stars. I strut up to the front.
“Thank you.” I give a slight bow as Principal Harlin places the crown atop my head.
“Now, Ms. Torres, have you got anyone you’d like to dance with tonight?”
I shake my head no at him. When I hear the door fly open two moments later, I feel my mistake in my gut.
I fly out of the room immediately. The golden crown flies from my head, and my dress rips on somebody’s shoe. I don’t care. The one golden thing I care about is outside.
“Lilith!” I yell, panting. “Don’t go! Please, don’t go.”
“Why shouldn’t I, Calla?” Her voice is lower. “I can’t be with someone who doesn’t want to dance with me.”
Lilith keeps walking.
“Did you ever love me, Lilith?” I ask, but my voice and the possibility of a mutual ‘yes’ fades in the darkness.
I know she won’t come back. I’ve lost her now. I’ve lost my one shining thing that ever made me happy.
I was flying too close to the sun, and, now, my light is dim and I’m crashing back down to Earth.
Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: I chose this piece because I think the writer did a wonderful job of gently switching between the perspectives of Lilith and Calla and portraying how each one felt at various moments. The writer crafted together a distinctive tone for each girl—by providing both of their points of views, I was able to comprehend their choices better. The piece itself was very bittersweet—I think the writer did an amazing job of conveying both the innocence and light in the relationship compared to the harsh reality of the expectations around the characters that unfortunately broke them apart.