I was at my friend’s thirteenth birthday party, wearing a brand new UNITS outfit, complete with stockings, matching flats, and as much makeup as Mom allowed (lip gloss and eye shadow). The room was dark and Phil Collins crooned “Groovy Kind of Love” loudly from the stereo. Plastered against the wall, we girls waited while the boys joked and jeered, acting like idiots. Fervently I prayed for this night to be different from the others before it. Just let a boy notice me. I want to have fun tonight.
With their hands shoved deep inside the pockets of their wrinkled khakis, the boys sauntered across the room one by one. I watched and waited, my heart beating so fast I thought it might jump out of me and onto the tacky carpet. A huge smile spread across my face when C approached me, and I shyly looked at the floor after I realized he was asking the girl next to me to dance.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought. Of course he wasn’t coming for me. But someone else will. It’ll be my turn soon, I consoled myself, standing up a little straighter, smoothing out my hair and my skirt.
Pick me. Pick me. Oh please God just let one of them pick me. I’ll do anything. All I want is one dance. One boy. ONE. Please?
Couples kept pairing off, slowly swaying to the music. A heaviness settled over me, replacing the giddy feeling I’d had just a little while ago. Teenagers’ bodies are wrapped together like the curled ribbons atop the birthday presents stacked on a nearby table.
I started feeling clumsy, awkward and very much alone. Each time a boy crossed to the girls’ side of the room, I held my breath, waiting, my pulse quickening. Each time, someone else was chosen. Fingers first tentatively touching, then hands firmly grasping as they drifted to the dance floor. It felt just like P.E., when I was usually the last one picked for a team; only this time, the sting was worse, deeper. Sharp and sudden.
I was all alone. Again. Even in the middle of a fucking party.
My eyes brimmed with tears but fortunately the darkness hid my sadness. I ran to the restroom because I couldn’t stand it anymore. I cried for what seemed like eternity. Someone came in to console me, but it meant nothing because she’d had a dance partner all evening.
I found a phone and called my mom. When I heard her voice the tears started again, but I managed to choke out, “Mom, can you please come and get me?”
“Sure, sweetheart, I’ll be right there,” she said.
I looked back one last time into the darkened room. I’d left a part of myself there, but I wasn’t going back in. It wasn’t worth it.
Today’s prompt was: Memoir isn’t about what happened, it’s about what those small or large moments illustrate. In other words: This is a piece about (x), illustrated through (y).
So, for this week, we want the (x) to be hope.
This is a piece about hope, illustrated through (y).
What is the (y)? Only you know. You have that truth—those stories in you. Now share it with us.
In 400 words or less. A true story about hope, illustrated through your experiences.
**I wrote about hope from long ago. My constant longing to belong: I was always hoping to be accepted, hoping to be part of the crowd instead of a loner always left on the sidelines.**