Best friends Hailey and Alex have to come to terms with life and unfamiliar feelings.
|I stayed on as ticket-girl at the Cineplex through junior and senior year. I dated a few guys, mostly because rumors of my being gay had begun to circulate, but no one really interested me enough to even begin to fall in love.
Todd Wheeler asked me to prom and I accepted. Todd and I had been dating for about a year and he had told me many times how much he cared for me,yet all I really felt for Todd was friendship.
Just as Todd went to get us some punch, Alex and Alita walked in. Alex looked great in his black tux with a satin turquoise cumberbund and Alita’s dress was made in the exact same shade and material. Her skirt was short and ruffled, and she wore what I guessed to be stiletto heels; although I couldn’t be sure...I’d never owned a pair in my life. How a person could walk in those things was beyond me. I was a sneaker or loafer kind of girl. Even at prom, I felt so out of place wearing a dress. Jeans and a baggy sweatshirt were my normal attire.
"I'm going to the powder room, baby" I heard Alita say sweetly. "Be right back."
I glanced over my shoulder to catch another glimpse of Alex and was startled to find that he was standing right behind me.
"Hailey," he said with a smile "You look amazing." he said as he gazed at me in awe.
Blushing, I looked down at the floor, muttering a brief "Thanks."
I suppose I did look okay. My dress was a dark russet satin which I had to admit looked great with my scarlet hair and jade green eyes. I chose the floor length style because it reminded me of a dress my mother had worn in one of the pictures.
Not having much experience in the matter, I styled my hair as simplistically as possible, gold-colored combs holding it back away from my face, and the length pulled over to one side, revealing a bare shoulder. I suppose it gave the overall effect of femininity.
The look on Alex's face seemed to give Alita pause as she returned from the ladie's room. She looked from his face to mine as if something peculiar was going on, then took Alex by his arm and without a word, lead him to a table on the other side of the gym. Once again, Alex gave me an apologetic look over his shoulder and allowed Alita to lead him, like a puppy, to their chosen seats.
Just then, Todd returned with our punch and stood smiling at me like a love-sick teenager, which I suppose he was. He chatted away to me about the decorations, about who would be crowned king and queen of the prom, but my mind was elsewhere.
Stealing glances across the floor, I got the impression that Alex wasn't having a very good time either; he seemed distracted as Alita laughed and talked with him and her cheerleader friends who had joined them.
Suddenly he looked directly into my eyes as I stared at him secretly. My heart leapt, beating wildly in my chest; my mouth was dry. Our eyes locked and held for what seemed like an eternity.
"How does that sound to you?" I heard Todd ask, his voice sounding miles away from where we were standing.
Not wanting to break away from whatever it was that was passing between Alex and I at that moment, I only nodded, pretending to hear what Todd was asking me.
"Hailey" Todd said, taking me by the shoulders and turning me to face him, breaking the spell. "Have you heard one word that I've said to you?"
"Um...sure, Todd...what were you asking me again?" I asked. Annoyed, I glanced over and saw that Alita had managed to gain Alex's full attention, whispering in his ear and giggling.
"I was saying we have reservations for Nogastino's at ten."
Nogastino's was a ritzy italian restaurant across town. I had to admit that Todd wasn't like the other guys at school who probably would have wanted to swing by Mickie D's on the way home.
"That sounds very nice, Todd." I said genuinely.
I tried several more times that night to recapture that magical moment that had passed between Alex and I, but in vain. Alita gave me a triumphant smile as she and Alex ducked out of the gym early, heading for who knows where. Much to my dismay, Alex didn't even give me a glance as he hurriedly ushered her through the side door of the gym, an intense look upon his face. Whatever Alita had been whispering into his ear must have worked, for his mind seemed to be anywhere but on me.
I muddled through the rest of what was supposed to be a happy evening for me...something that I should want to remember for the rest of my life, yet all I could think of was Alex's eyes and how time had stood still.
Later at Nogastino's, Todd ordered the veal, while I nibbled absently on a salad. I felt guilty for ruining Todd's night, but my heart was filled with turmoil. What were Alex and Alita doing? Had she been whispering to him what she wanted to do to him and was now fulfilling her promises?
"I'm so sorry, Todd, but I'm not feeling very well. The loud music in the gym gave me a terrible headache and I really need to get home so I can lie down." I only partially lied.
I really did want to go home and lie down, but it was because I felt I needed a good cry.
"I understand, sweet Hailey." Todd said with a smile. "I'm sorry this night wasn't all you dreamed of." he added, wistfully.
Tears welled in my eyes. Not trusting myself to speak, I simply gave him a weak smile as I reached across the table and squeezed his hand.
To be continued...