I had pretty much resigned myself to not writing a story for any challenge this week. Work seems to be sucking the life out of me and I haven’t felt entirely well all week. Add to that the particular season we’re currently dealing with and I found myself struggling.
I was interested in the random title challenge Chuck threw upon Friday, but after rolling my title, I couldn’t think of a thing. It wasn’t until I was driving home on the train Tuesday night reading Ryan Lanz’s Ten Quote Tuesday post where he includes some writing prompts at the bottom that it finally happened. After reading his prompt, Include these elements into a scene: a remote control, an elevator, a disco ball, and loneliness, the idea was born and I ran with it. I still had some trouble fitting it with my title, but I think I managed okay. So, using two different challenges and coming it at 1216 words, I hope you enjoy:
Walking into the gym, I rolled my eyes at the clichéd set-up. Not only was there a disco ball spinning in circles in the center of the echo-filled room, there were chairs lining the walls and a huge table off to one side with a punch bowl in the middle of it.
Why am I here? Why am I here?
The litany that had started at the door played over and over in my head, but so far it hadn’t done anything besides annoy the hell out of me and make me want to reach into my brain and turn off the switch. Knowing myself the way I did, I could only imagine it kept going because it somehow thought it could turn me around and send me back out the door and home, where I should have been.
I still couldn’t believe I had let Lisa talk me into this. I never came to the dances. I was lonely enough walking the hallways at school. I so didn’t need to sit in a chair on the edge of the gym watching everyone dance, wishing I could join in but not having the stomach for the looks I knew I’d get if I dared to step into their world. I’m not sure if I was the only one who saw the invisible lines that existed between social groups, but I knew they just weren’t crossed. At least, not by someone like me. Maybe someone braver than I was would someday cross that line, magically erasing it and every high school student everywhere would benefit from that one person’s bravado.
It so wasn’t me.
I couldn’t even seem to dress right for these things. I looked at all the glitter and brightly colored dresses and then looked down at my own. I’d gone out of my comfort zone and picked a white, high-low dress with an empire waist and a black sash that I thought looked pretty decent. I guess I could have done better than my black converse high-tops, but who would I be without a little flair? I definitely couldn’t see myself wearing four-inch heels like some of the females I was rolling my eyes at.
Lisa and I walked over to the side of the gym and just as expected, spent the next hour sitting in chairs, staring at the other students happily dancing, laughing and joking. I was pretty sure I had stepped into hell.
High school was rough, especially when it felt like I was on the outside looking in. I did well enough with grades, but the social scene felt like a huge fortress towering in front of me with armored walls and locks and no way for me to get in. After three years of being on the outside of it all, I was jaded as hell and even grew my own walls as a defense and buried myself behind an air of nonchalance and sarcasm. Lisa, on the other hand, still had the same optimism and bright-eyed hope she’d always had.
“Do you think they’re going to play the songs we picked?” Lisa’s voice interrupted the angst in my head.
“I don’t know, but I don’t think I want to wait. This is pretty terrible, don’t you think?”
Her bright red lips screwed up in a pout that went well with the Hollywood starlet look she was going for with her long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders in soft curls and the strapless black number that I couldn’t even imagine myself in.
“I at least want to hear my song. It was such a cool idea for them to let us pick the playlist, don’t you think?”
“Well, I thought so until I had to sit through the last hour of shit songs they’ve played. I can’t even believe I share a grade with these people.”
Lisa’s bright green eyes sparkled with laughter.
“It hasn’t been that bad…”
I gave her a look that said just how bad I thought it was.
“Please, Jane! Just a little bit longer.” The pout was back and she even went so far as to grab my hand.
I sighed. “Okay. I’ll give this another half hour, just for you. But after that, I’m out!”
“It’s a deal”
A few minutes later, I heard the beginning riffs of the song I had picked for the playlist. I was content to sit in my chair and just bob to the beat, but apparently, Lisa had other plans.
She turned to me with a huge grin on her face and said, “We’ve so gotta do this!”
“Oh my God, Lisa, NO!”
“We are so doing this! Come on!” Before I could protest further, she grabbed my hand and dragged me behind her to the middle of the dance floor. We normally did this crazy concert thing in the privacy of my bedroom or hers where we danced insanely and sang the song at the top of our lungs. I stared, dumbstruck, when she actually started to do just that.
“Tommy used to work on the dock,” she sang along with the track and pushed the invisible microphone in front of my face to sing the next line. I shook my head, mortified at the heads that were starting to turn in our direction.
She pulled her hand back and kept singing, “Union’s been on strike, he’s down on his luck…”
She was smiling and having so much fun it was like something inside me sort of snapped. Who really gave a shit anyway? Was I really going to hand the remote control to my happiness over to these people? I might have to share a grade with them and walk the halls with them every day, but I so didn’t need to let them dictate when and how I found happiness. If Lisa wanted to let loose and sing my favorite song, then damned if I wasn’t going to join her.
I held up my own invisible microphone and sang, “It’s tough, so tough,” as we circled around each other, laughing. When the chorus started, we were jumping up and down and singing at the top of our lungs not really caring what anyone else thought, just enjoying the moment and some Bon Jovi. By the time the chorus ended, we had a circle of kids around us and others were actually starting to join in.
I was in shock. Somehow, Lisa and I had crossed over into the fortress and found an amazing treasure; we were actually mingling with these people and having fun. It was like my heart stepped into an elevator, only this elevator had no ending so it lifted up and up, soaring into the atmosphere and out into the stars. I was worried it wouldn’t stop, but in that moment, I didn’t want it to. I wanted to float in the stars and wallow in this feeling forever.
I was still jaded enough to wonder how long it could possibly last after the dance and what the layout of the land would be come Monday morning, but I turned that voice off for the night and spent the next two hours with new friends, my best friend and, excluding the songs Lisa and I picked, some pretty horrid music.