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  • Writer's pictureDavid James Parr

The Thing with Annie / Episode 18: Homecoming

The dress I end up wearing to Homecoming is scratchy against my body; also, it makes me look as if I have no chest at all. It is strapless, narrow at its center and then ruffles at the bottom, fanning out just above my knees. The only thing I like about it is the color, a blue the color of sea water that changes with the light. There is a glitter sewn into the fabric.

I have shaved my legs for this night. I have slicked my hair back from my face, taming the curls, sculpted by gel and hair spray. “Show off those pretty eyes and freckles,” Mom says, as if they are comparable features. As if everything about me is all the same size. The way she is acting, you would think she was going to this dance instead of me.

“You look pretty,” Jims says, presenting me with a corsage. There is that word again, as scratchy as the dress.

The corsage is the kind you hold rather than wear, which is good, because the thought of him sticking it to the front of my dress is an eye-roller. Jims has dressed up in a crisp navy blue suit with thin stripes a slightly darker color. His hair is also slicked back, the blond darkened by the hair dressing. The suit is awkward on him; he keeps tugging at the cuffs of his shirt and checking his watch. Our conversation is stilted, as if we've just met, and with him in the suit and me in my dress, it does feel as if we have become different people. Mom rushes into the room with a camera, and we have to pose for several pictures.

“Jims,” she says teasingly. “C'mon. Put your arm around her at least. And Ronnie, honey, you have a beautiful smile. Why don't you use it?”

“Just take the picture,” I say. “We’re late,” even though we’re not.

In his truck, I play with the petals of the corsage while Jims fiddles with the radio. When we get to the school, it is easier because there are others like us around, dressed up, showing off. There is ceremony and glamour in the school's parking lot, though we are all just pretending. No one more so than me.

Ronnie's story continues in

The Thing with Annie / Episode 18: Homecoming

Available now on Amazon - read full episodes for free

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