Everyone wishes and wants to be liked, to be loved, to feel like somebody. In a place like high school there is only one path; popularity. Popularity signifies all that people aspire to, but in reality it is not all that it seems. I know I’ve had insecurities about the way that I look and the way others see me. I feel lost. I feel like I am competing. I’m caught up in this competition against myself, society and the girls that aspire to creating hell. They want to make us small to make themselves bigger. It is the class divide in high school culture. I do believe though that has to be more to this. These kind of actions don’t come out of nowhere. If the so called populars were truly secure about themselves, they too would just be themselves. Being yourself should be enough but society has created this idealist picture of the teenage girl. As much as you feel you have accept who you are, there is always something inside of you that feels like something is missing. It’s like we’re all in a sci-fi movie and we’ve all just been brainwashed, because none of this achievable. Everything you have, however you are, it never feels enough. This becomes dangerous because you’re faced with a struggle with yourself. You are trying to force what cannot be. You are trying to fight nature and it is always pulling you back down. I hate that it has to be this way and it is something that I will never truly understand. Although this year it became pretty clear that this is universal. No matter how much you think you have, that someone has it all, you would be surprised that maybe you’re not so different. As I look in the mirror, I see this young girl. Most of the time I am still surprised by who I am and what I look like at this point in time. I don’t know how or why I ended up this way. I always thought right here and now that I would be a different person. I would be better in some way. I am just me and that should be enough, so why isn’t it?
It wasn’t until a few days later that I was able to go see Harriet. She didn’t want any visitors, and her parents said she needed the time on her own anyway. Apparently she was bombarded with doctors and psychiatrists. She got the works. I just wanted to know that it was going to be enough to get her well again. I was desperate to see her. So I was so glad to get the call to say I could come and see her, at least at first. Then I was overcome with worry and anxiety about it as I thought about the last time I saw her. She was so angry and upset with me.
“Evelyn” Harriet said as she noticed me in the doorway. She slowly sat up in her bed.
“Hi, Harriet” I said.
“Come in” I tried to give her a small smile and I walked into her room, closing the door behind me.
“So, uh…how are you?” I asked.
I wasn’t sure what the right thing to say was anymore, what I was and wasn’t allowed to ask her. It felt so strange. I had known since I was six years old but now suddenly I felt awkward around her.
Harriet sighed heavily “yeah. I’m okay. Fine”
“Matt told me the bleeding was caused by ulcers in your stomach” I said.
“Yep. That’s what they say”
“Are they treating you well?” I asked.
“Can we just talk about something other my illness for a while?” Harriet asked.
“Oh, yes, of course. I’m-I’m sorry” I replied.
“How is the planning for the dance coming along?” Harriet asked.
“Great, really great. We’ve got the flyers made, they are going out on Monday. Actually, you know, I was thinking about costume ideas. I found all these photos and made this scrapbook kind of thing” I explained as I reached into my knapsack and pulled it out, placing it on her tray. “I thought you might like to have a look”
“Thanks, Evie” Harriet replied as she started to flick through it “I can’t wait”.
“Harriet, can I ask you something?” I asked.
She looked up from the scrapbook “Yeah” she replied.
“What happened Harriet? What happened to you, to make you feel like this was your only option? What made you stop liking who you were?” I asked as tears rushed into my eyes.
“I’m fair sure that is more than one question” Harriet said. I just looked at her. “Okay…I guess, I tried being like Jeremy, being like his friends. I changed how I dressed, I changed my interests. To just get noticed, by Jeremy, by anyone. So when that didn’t worked, I realised maybe I should be more like the populars, they were the girls who got everything I wanted. They were all so thin and beautiful, and I was just me. It kind of got out of control”.
I was so relieved to see Clayton. He was always such a good escape from all the other dramas. I felt safe and comfortable with him in a different way to Zadie and Harriet.
“Prom is coming up” Clayton said.
“Yeah, it is…” I said as my mind went to Dean. I quickly tried to stop thinking of him and change it to something else. I knew I made the right decision but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less.
“I was thinking, I don’t know, well, uh…” Clayton said.
“What?” I asked. I knew it must have been something pretty important to get him so nervous about talking to me. Thoughts were racing through my mind. I don’t think this was one of them. “Well, I always imagined senior prom. I imagined it to be a perfect night and being with the person I love. Like in the movies” Clayton said.
I smiled “Same here”
“I know it will never be a love story. Our story isn’t going to be like that. But we both don’t have dates and I think being with you it would be the only way to have a good night. So, Evelyn Mae Fisher, will you go to prom with me?” Clayton asked.
“Clay, I would love to. Of course” I replied and I leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.
“This is great” Clayton said. I guess he was just relieved more than anything that it was over and done with and he got the answer he was hoping for.
“I don’t know how to dance though, you know, like you’re supposed to at those sort of events”
“You never danced like that with Dean?” Clayton asked as his eyes widened.
I shook my head “No, not really. It wasn’t really his scene. Dean was more the time who enjoyed the after party at someone’s house”
“Well, you’re in luck because I actually do know how to partner dance” Clayton said as he stood up and put his hand out.
“What are you doing Clay?” I asked as I clutched his hand and he pulled me to my feet.
“Showing you how to dance” Clayton said as he turned on the music, it was some kind of traditional waltz music. Clayton and I both looked at each other, bright smiles coming across both of our faces. He clutched both my hands, and pulled me in close into position and we actually started to dance. It felt so nice to be so close someone and it felt so comfortable with him. I felt like his Grace Kelly to my Fred Astaire.
“How do you know about this stuff?” I asked, not moving my head that was now rested on his shoulder. We were only slowly rocking together. It was so quiet but also peaceful.
“I used to watch my parents dancing, late at night, you know. They thought I wasn’t watching, but it was my favourite part of Friday night, watching them after all of dad’s friends had gone home and the music was playing softly, just like it is now. They would pull each other close just like this and dance, for I don’t even know how long. I always thought it was so perfect. Like a dream, watching them slowly begin to glide around the living room. I always wanted that in my own way” Clayton said.
“That’s really sweet, Clay” I said.
I had two dreams in my life. The first was to becoming a New York Times Bestseller novelist. I’ve always liked the idea of being able to tell stories, to be able to write something on a page and capture people’s attention. To be able to be express, feeling and emotion and to speak the truth. I’ve loved the idea of our lives being mapped out in the history books. Kids in thirty, forty, even a hundred years’ time reading stories about our lives. My second dream was to get my Sam and Jake moment from the film ‘Sixteen Candles’. I wanted to step out of that church with that dress and then suddenly see my Jake appear and I would just look at him and know that it was going to be forever. He wanted me. I wanted to be whisked away in his car and get everything I ever wished for. I wanted a love like that. I knew that wasn’t going to come on prom night with Clay unfortunately, but in that dress at least I could pretend for one night that I was someone else and that I could believe that maybe I could win in the end.