Lenore ran home from school that Spring day. She was excited. Andrew Cresswell had asked her to the prom. He said he asked her early because he didn’t want someone else to ask her first. She figured that wasn’t true, but it made her feel good that he said it anyway.
“Mama, Mama,” she yelled breathlessly as she burst through the front door. “Mama, I’m going to the prom, I’m going to the prom.”
“Honey, that’s wonderful.” Her mother opened her arms wide for a hug but Lenore held back.
Mom pretended she didn’t notice the slight. Pretended she didn’t care. Pretended her heart didn’t break. “What are you going to do about a prom dress, Lenore?”
“I don’t know. I need your help, Mama.”
“Well, when’s the prom?”
“That’s plenty of time. Would you like to make one? Or buy one?”
“Do you think we could make one?”
“Of course we can. How special is this boy?”
Lenore pursed her lips and pushed her glasses up on her nose while she thought about how she should answer that, “It’s Andrew Cresswell, Mama. He’s like, captain of the chess team.”
“Is he cute?”
“Yeah a little bit.”
“OK, you’ll be really beautiful. We’ll start tonight after dinner, we’ll measure you. Then we can plan and sketch. We should be able to buy material by the weekend.”
Lenore and her mother worked together on the dress. They hand stitched the entire thing. They worked in the evenings after dinner, sitting together on the couch talking and watching tv. Mama noticed, and was amazed by, the fact that they liked a lot of the same shows. They had read a lot of the same books and they cared about a lot of the same things. On the weekends they worked outside on the patio. They would crank the stereo up and have the music blasting through the back windows into the yard. They alternated between Mama’s music and Lenore’s music. It was obvious that they didn’t like the same music but they could appreciate each others tastes.
The prom was on Saturday night and on the Friday before, they had the final fitting. The dress looked just like the sketches that Mama had made and it was beautiful. Mama had used Lenore’s favorite colors. It was frilly. It was full. There was lace on the bodice. It bared her shoulders and dipped in the back.
“I still need to take a few tucks,” Mama said, “but I think we got it. What do you think, honey?”
“It’s beautiful, Mama. Thank you.” Lenore said and she gave her mom a hug.
The next day they went shopping. They bought shoes and a boutonnière. Mama helped her with her hair. When Andrew came to pick her up at 7:00 Lenore was all smiles; and her mother took the obligatory photos of the happy couple.
It all went sour after they got to the dance.
Lenore had checked her shawl and was waiting for the claim ticket when Andrew spotted some friends at the far side of the gym.
“I’m just gonna go say hi to Jonesy and Robert,” he told her. I’ll be right back.
She nodded, “I’ll get some punch. Do you want some?”
“Sure,” he said, “that’d be great.”
Lenore got two glasses of punch and wandered around looking at the decorations. The theme was “Under The Sea” and there were mermaids and fish, along with kelp beds and sea shells decorating the walls of the gymnasium. She looked for Andrew but couldn’t see him in the crowd so; she went to sit down in a folding chair at one of the tables around the perimeter of the room.
She drank her punch, talked to some friends who admired her dress and were genuinely amazed that she and her mom had made it themselves.
Andrew was still not back. She drank his punch too.
Mikey came over and sat next to her. She and Mikey had been in the same class since kindergarten. Mikey was one of her best friends.
“Jeeze Lenore, you look awesome.” He said.
“Thanks Mikey,” she smiled.
“Who ya here with?”
“Andrew,” she said proudly, “Andrew Cresswell.”
“Ahh, Fuck,” Mikey shook his head.
“I just saw Andy Cresswell heading to the parking lot with Cindy Jacobsen. She was kinda nibbling on his ear.”
Lenore just stared at him.
“And, he kinda had his hand on her ass… I’m sorry Lenore.” Mikey said.
Lenore stood and without speaking, went to the coat room to collect her wrap. She borrowed Mikey’s cell phone to call her mom. “Yeah Mama, I’ll wait at the stairs.”
Mikey walked with her and they sat together, in silence, on the steps. Finally Lenore spoke up, “Mikey, why don’t you go back inside,” she said, “I think I just want to wait here by myself.”
“Are you sure?”
She nodded her head and blinked back some tears.
“I don’t mind waiting with you Lenore.” he said, “You know, till your mom gets here.”
“Go,” she said and wiped her eyes.
“OK, if you’re alright.”
She nodded again and he stood and began walking slowly back towards the gym.
Lenore thought about what an ass Andrew was. She thought about how she had lost a boyfriend before he was even a boyfriend. She sat on the step for awhile feeling sorry for herself.
Then she had an epiphany.
You can’t really lose what you never had.
She hadn’t lost a boyfriend.
She had gained a friend.
She had never realized that you could be friends with your mother.
She and Mama had grown close over the last few weeks.
They had a lot in common.
They had a lot to talk about.
When her Mom pulled the minivan up to the curb Lenore smiled, waved, and ran over to the car. Pulling the door open she said, “Thanks Mama. I appreciate the ride.”
“Are you OK Lenore?” Mom asked, clearly concerned.
“Never better,” she answered and she put her arms around her mother’s neck, gave her a big hug. “Can we get some ice cream on the way home Mama?”