Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dark Prom: A Short Story

Katherine Rose does not protest as her sister steps towards her, a tube of lip gloss in hand. She normally would have waved away college-age Julia and her attempts at a makeover, but not tonight.

Julia dabs just a hint of the shimmery pink liquid on the center of Katherine's bottom lip, as Katherine silently admires the velvet burgundy dress she couldn't wait for prom to wear. She finally has it on, along with the choker to match, the antique cameo dangling from the soft ribbon once her mother's, and her grandmother's before that. Now it is hers. Only an event like tonight's would have made her mother even consider passing this particular piece of jewelry on to her.

Katherine sighs at the image of serenity in front of her. If only it could have always been like this... no frown creasing her forehead, and even a hint of a smile around her lips. Her straight, dark hair wasn't just brushed free of the tangles that completed her usual look--tonight, someone had actually helped curl it. The lady had followed Katherine's mother's instructions to recreate the same style Katherine wore on her Sweet Sixteen just months ago. Now Katherine laughs at the memory of Barbara Rose showing the lady the entire photo album of the event.

It is a moment worth remembering, but it is also the kind that Katherine will never have again.

Even though she doesn't turn to look at me, I can feel that she is aware of my presence as I move closer to her.

We have had numerous conversations--she and I--of feeling misunderstood and different from everybody else day in and day out.

And I assured her that everything would be better if she just got out more, and found some like-minded friends, but I guess she never listened.

I made it a point to see her, especially after she turned sixteen and felt especially alone, not caring if my presence at odd hours in her bedroom prompted her to talk to herself again, as her family called it so many times since she was little.

Maybe I shouldn't have done that.

After all, the teasing only escalated at that point, particularly when I started visiting her at school as well.

Tonight, she finally turns to look at me without so much sadness in her eyes. I can only assume that the slight bit I see there is because she is thinking she will miss her family, and the opportunity she once had to travel around the world, accompanied perhaps by the as-yet-faceless love of her life, and maybe eventually a baby or two.

I had told her that any challenges she faced would pass given enough time, so she should just be patient.

Instead, she made the decision I did forty years ago, when I felt the same way about my existence as she did hers, and despised how much of a curse seeing ghosts can be on any social life I could possibly have.

"Shall we, Grandma?" Katherine asks as we get ready to go. She takes one last look at herself--her other self forever lying still, never to move again--as her ethereal form drifts closer to me.

There are more people in the small room now, and I know there won't be enough seats later to accommodate them all.

The slashes on the wrists of Katherine's earthly body are hidden by the way her hands are folded over her belly, but they all know.

Everyone walking through the chapel door to say goodbye to Katherine, wearing the dress she was saving for prom, knows she took her life.

Click HERE for Dark Prom: A Makeup Tutorial

Copyright © 2011 by Lea WhiteFeather

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