Well, technically prom starts in two hours, but it’s all the same to him.
He’s not going. It’s not that he couldn’t find a date or anything; his girlfriend was very willing to take him. But it’s just that he’s very against the whole idea of prom. All the dresses and the decorations and the flowers. All the corsages and limos and tuxedos. It’s all so materialistic and so quintessentially high school that he can’t help but hate it.
He very much believes that his hatred is justified. His reasons are terribly valid. But his girlfriend just doesn’t think so.
And that’s why he’s curled up on his couch, in an old hoodie and pyjama pants, watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S because there’s no reason not to, all alone, two hours till prom.
He doesn’t know much about relationships but he was sure there was something wrong when your very committed girlfriend’s going to prom with her neighbour’s son who has a huge crush on her and glares at him whenever he goes to her house. Honestly, get over the girl, she’s not into you.
And no, he’s not jealous, he’s not imagining him whispering to her, them laughing together, his hand creeping towards her, him kissing her, no, no, no. But then he could see her responding to him, kissing him back, dancing with him, wanting more and more and his heart kind of ached a little. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her. It was just that he thought the fight had ruined all chances for them.
It was a stupid fight and they both knew it. She wanted to go to prom with him, but he didn’t want to, not because of her obviously but because of his ethics and then it just spiralled out of control. They were doubting each other’s love, the other should have been able to ignore their ideals but none of them were backing down and he stormed out of the empty classroom, his eyes stinging, shining with unshed tears.
That had been last week, and they hadn’t talked since then. Passing in the hallway, they’d look the other side and when his friends asked him if they were okay, he snapped at them and stormed out of the cafeteria.
He looks at the time. It’s 7:46. Prom’s starting in a little less than an hour and he thinks she’s probably putting makeup on right now, but according to him, she looks more beautiful without it. And whenever he tells her that, she rolls her eyes, saying,”You’re my boyfriend. You’re supposed to say that.”
And he swears that’s not the reason he says so and she calls him a liar and kisses him everytime.
(He feels incomplete.)
On screen, Monica’s proposing to Chandler and they’re both crying and it’s so perfect he can’t watch it. That’s supposed to be him and her. Not now at least, but he likes to think of that as his future. He reaches for the remote and switches the TV off.
A defeaning silence prevails over the house. His parents are at work and they come around 10 every night. It’s 8:00. Half an hour till prom. Half an hour till that guy takes his girlfriend to prom and gives her a corsage and goes to dinner with her and dances with her.
It’s too quiet, all he can hear is the ticking of the wall clock. The ticking of the clock to the time she goes off with someone else. Okay, the silence was letting too many thoughts invade his mind and he knew she wouldn’t cheat on him. Her mother’d cheated on her father and they’d been going through such a messy divorce for so so long. She hadn’t talked to her mother since then and she hated cheaters with a burning passion. She’d never cheat.
He picks up his phone, scrolling through his Instagram feed, dominated by pictures of people in his school with their dates, friends in their beautiful dresses and stylish suits. They’re all smiling, their faces glowing with happiness but he knows it’s all a sham. Nothing’s real. That guy with his arm around his girlfriend has been seeing a cheerleader on the side. That girl standing with her date is terribly lesbian and everyone knows it. It’s all fake and it’s another reason for him to hate prom.
He puts his phone on the table next to the couch and he sinks into the big blue cushions that his mother chose. He looks up at the clock and it’s 9:00. Prom’s started and he thinks he doesn’t have a girlfriend anymore. He wants to cry a little and he turns to bury his face in the cushion. He can’t really breathe but he doesn’t really care. He imagines how she’s gonna do it. Is she gonna walk up to him in school on Monday, take him by the arm and tell him? Or is she gonna walk by him with that guy, laughing at his sorry face?
He can’t do this and he turns around again, staring at the ceiling. It’s a golden shade, like the rest of the living room. He remembers how she thought his house looked so regal and elegant. She’s the only thing on his mind but he just wants it to stop. He’d play video games but then he used to play with her and he’d always beat her, kissing her nose as a consolation prize. Everything everywhere’s a reminder of her and he needs it to stop.
He stretches out for his phone, picking it up. He turns it on and it’s 9:14. Prom started fourteen minutes ago and he’s sitting alone on his couch. He goes to YouTube and he’s scrolling through his subscriptions. There’s a feeble knock and he stops, his finger hovering over his iPhone. He thinks it’s just wind but he’s not sure and he waits for another knock to sound out. As expected, it does and he gets up to open the door. He crosses the living room, passing the many sofas and cushions. He reaches the front door and swings it open.
It’s 9:15, prom started fifteen minutes ago and she’s standing at his doorstep, a flower in hand, no fancy gown in sight, and he has to bite his lip to stop a gasp from coming out. He’s feeling too much right now and he’s not okay.”W-what?”
“Well, I would have got you a manlier apology gift but then apparently this flower means ‘sorry’, and I was like it’s not like you’re all that macho anyway-Oof!”
And he’s reached out, his arms are around her, his face is buried in her hair and her arms are around his waist and he’s very much okay now.
It’s 9:37. Prom started thirty-seven minutes ago and he’s curled up in his couch with her by his side, they’re watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S and he’s oh, so happy.
(He’s feeling complete now.)
(He’s so in love.)
(She is too.)