“Don’t wear a dress,” my step sister told me. “No one wears a dress to those dances.”
I didn’t believe her. I secretly knew she was lying to me. I never trusted anything she said and I think she could sense it.
“No one wears a dress,” She repeated.
“But it’s my first dance. Girls wear dresses. On TV, all the girls wear dresses to dances.”
“Yeah, but in real life, it’s a casual dance,” She stated flatly.
. . .
That night I called my best friend, Heather and told her what Kelsey, my step sister, had said.
Heather said, “She’s lying! You know Kelsey. She’s crazy. She also tried to teach you how to dance by grinding on your leg.”
“Ew. Don’t remind me. But she is older. She’s been to these dances.”
“Yeah, but it just doesn’t make sense because all the girls on TV wear dresses.”
“That’s what I told her! She just doesn’t understand. Let’s wear dresses.”
“Yeah, and today I went shopping and already found the perfect dresses for us!” Heather declared.
After much discussion, Heather and I agreed that Kelsey was lying to try to get us to look stupid. It was a dance. What else would you do? We were going to wear dresses just like the girls on TV and Heather had found us matching dresses. They were in the same print but cut differently. We were so excited, and Heather said she could get her cousin to give us a ride. He was sixteen. This way when we were dropped off outside the school, people wouldn’t know that we had parents.
And it happened! We got ready together and helped zip each other up into our pink floral dresses. We applied lipstick and all the finishing touches. I took off my glasses and put them into my purse. I was blind without them but didn’t care because I wanted to look great. Heather and I smiled at each other just as her cousin pulled up and honked the horn of his truck. We squealed, hugged each other for a moment and looked into each other’s eyes. At least I think we did. It was kind of hard to see exactly what was going on, but I followed Heather’s blurry shape all the way downstairs, to her cousin’s truck. We squeezed up close together in the cab with him. I sat in the middle. I never liked sitting in the middle, but no one ever asked me. I just always ended up sitting there.
Once we arrived at the dance, we jumped out, thanked her cousin, but and within seconds he screeched out of the parking lot driving faster than all the other parents. We looked around and didn’t see any other girls. Just boys so far. They were dressed pretty normal. But I still knew we had done the right thing, by wearing dresses.
We walked together to the gym and Heather held the door open for me. It was darker inside than it was outside but I walked right in and Heather came in behind me, and suddenly we saw it. No one was wearing a dress. Not a single other girl was wearing a dress. We looked at each other with fear. Then she grabbed my arm and said, “Come on. Let’s go to the bathroom.”
Of course, there was a line, which we waited in uncomfortably and eventually when it was our turn, went into the same stall, locked the door and started to discuss the situation.
“Well, we’re already here.” She said.
“I know. I wish we weren’t. Is there any way we can alter our dresses into non-dresses?” I asked.
She took a good look at us and we knew it was impossible. We didn’t have scissors or tape or anything, and just the thought of leaving the bathroom looking differently then how we had gone in was not okay.
“Well, maybe we could leave?” She suggested.
“Do you really want to leave?! We are finally at our first dance. Look at all the getting ready we went through!”
“Okay, you’re right. Let’s just go out there and act like we’re great.”
“Or let’s at least just try to have a good time.”
Then we took turns peeing, washed our hands and applied more lipstick. I had to get really close to the mirror since I couldn’t see otherwise. Once finished, we joined the rest of the kids in the gym and Heather and I started to dance. Neither of us really knew how to dance, so we kind of stood there moving from side to side. It was miserable. I told Heather I needed to sit down for a minute, so I went over to the bleachers and sat down next to the one other girl wearing a dress. I wanted to die.
Then June, other girl, I sort of knew from homeroom, looked up and said, “Hey, Skye, don’t you normally wear glasses?”
Oh great, I thought. Now everyone knows I’m blind. “Yeah, you know.. I Just... forgot. Wait. Don’t you normally wear glasses too, June?”
“Oh yeah, I just… forgot too.”
“I like your dress.” I told her back.
“I like yours too. Too bad there aren’t any other people wearing dresses.”
Just then I looked up and saw Heather slow dancing with a Jared Dawson and wanted to die. She was slow dancing before I was? What was going to happen to us?
“Is that Heather?” I asked June just to verify since I didn’t want to rely 100% on my vision.
“I think so,” She said as she squinted.
“Oh.” I said and looked down. My face felt hot and I was starting to get a headache from not seeing. I just wanted to go home. I wanted to take off the stupid dress and the stupid makeup and take a shower and crawl into bed and turn off the lights.
Instead I sat on the bleachers with blind June squinting onto the dim dance floor. Then I got this idea, so I said, “June, if you could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?”
“Probably go to bed.”
“Okay, other than that, what would you like to do?”
“Maybe travel to another city.”
“Okay, well, say you could do anything in this city at this moment, other than going to bed, what would it be?”
“Maybe watch a movie?”
“Okay, if you could do anything in this city, in this room, in this moment, what would it be?”
“I don’t know. What?”
“Well, I’m thinking we should just get up and dance.”
“Even if we look like this?”
“Yeah, especially because we look like this. I think we should dance crazier than ever before.”
“But what if people—“
“June, the thing is, it’s not like we’ll know how people are looking at us. We can’t see and I think it’s probably better this way. Come on.”
So, I took June by the arm and as the next fast song began, I started to dance as crazy as I possibly could. I had no idea why I was doing this, but I couldn’t stop. I was swinging June around on the dance floor, and I closed my eyes and everyone went away. I only saw the inside of my bedroom walls. I danced like how I dance when my door is closed and I turn on my favourite music on full blast, and no one can see.
I grabbed the hands of strangers and danced with them, without knowing who they were. Fast songs, slow songs, it didn’t really matter; I was going to dance through the entire dance like it was a marathon that I was going to win. At first I heard people whispering and that just made me dance harder.
A few more songs went by and my arms and legs were tired and I was thirsty for some of that red punch I’d seen on my way in. I opened my eyes and saw June dancing like crazy with her eyes shut tight. I tapped her shoulder and pointed to the punch bowl. She opened her eyes and started laughing. She followed me to the punch bowl and as we stood there, out of breath, drinking the colour red from plastic cups, saw through our blindness that no one else was really looking at anyone else. They just seemed to be dancing together, or at least, that’s how we saw it.