Just a Little Bit of Fun – Part 1/2
The air around her was ripe with the caustic stench of the bleach left to dribble into the sink unchecked after she’d realized it had only served to make the problem so much worse. Now the fabric was irrevocably ruined, and she couldn’t help but feel as though the purpose of her life had been eaten away with the vibrant colour. But the stains had refused to come out, and the bleach had been the final act of a desperate girl…
“Who’s gonna buy the whole cow if you’ve gone and given the milk away for free?” She could hear her Auntie Dalia saying in her mind.
“Who’d want that cow to begin with?” Dalia’s twin sister, Anya would snort between puffs from one of the stinky cigarillos the sisters were always smoking. She’d punctuate her words with a sharp cackle, and Dalia would join in.
It just would be more of the same things she’d been hearing for the last twelve years of her life – ever since her parents had died and left her to the care of her aunts – only this time, it would be far more terrible.
She’d always tried so hard to be a good girl. She did her chores and schoolwork without being pressed. She was quiet and respectful – she never talked back, no matter how harsh their words and accusations – and she did her best to stay out of her aunts’ way, so as not to draw too much of their dark humour. Though she didn’t completely ignore the outside world – as her aunts so often preferred to do – she’d always kept her social life to a minimum in an attempt to add less fuel to their cruel intentions. Still, everything that Chelsea did seemed to stoke that flame, and now – she knew – she’d practically gift wrapped herself for their amusement.
It all started when Tyler Brent – one of the hottest guys in school – had asked her to the senior prom. Her first instinct has been to turn him down flat; she’d never risked dating before, and it seemed almost reckless to do so now when she was so close to being free; and she would never understand why her lips had murmured ‘yes’ when she’d painted ‘no’ upon her tongue, but once the word was out, it seemed too complicated to draw it back in, and so she’d just committed herself to the escort.
Besides, Tyler’s best friend Mark had invited her best friend Anna, so it wouldn’t be that bad. In the end – with a little push from Anna – Chelsea decided that she deserved just a little fun; her aunts need never know about it. After all, they’d attend the graduation ceremonies at the end of the month out of duty, but they had no reason to get anywhere near the dance. If Chelsea was smart about it, they’d never know a thing about the boy.
She’d been so busy worrying over how to keep the secret from her aunts that she’d never taken the time to wonder why a guy like Tyler – a boy who’d barely said a dozen words to her in the four years they’d been attending classes together – would ask a socially retarded girl like her to the prom in the first place. Instead, she’d swaddled herself in ignorant bliss and allowed herself to grow more and more excited as the dance drew closer.
A week ago, she’d dipped into her savings – her soon to be financial freedom from her father’s awful sisters – to purchase the turquoise dress.
It had been a ‘love at first sight’ thing, and despite the hefty price tag, Chelsea had known it was the only dress for her the minute she’d slipped it on in the little boutique’s change room. It was made of long, flowing silk that clung to the curves of her body, and had a plunging neckline accentuated with delicate – but elaborate – silver beadwork. There was a slit up the left leg that came nearly to her hip, but though she knew it was far more daring than anything she’d ever worn before – and though she knew that her aunts would certainly never approve – her mind was made up the second that she caught her own reflection, and just then she could barely bring herself to care about what Dalia and Anya might think.
Examining herself in the looking glass, Chelsea saw something she’d never noticed before. Though her chestnut hair was swept back in a sloppy ponytail – without a stitch of makeup on her face – she realized that she was not the ‘cow’ her aunts so often insisted she was, but a near perfect clone of her mother. Her mother had been elegant; beautiful beyond reproach; and had been the center of attention wherever she’d gone. Chelsea may have lacked the woman’s style and grace, but she could see – for the first time – that she had potential. Her heart swelled with optimism. Soon she would be off at college and her aunts would be left alone to choke on their snide remarks. The world would be full of possibilities for Chelsea, and she wouldn’t have to play the shrinking violet any longer.
She told herself that there was no time like the present to start changing her image. She purchased the dress and a pretty pair of silver sling backs to go along with it. Afterwards, she went to the drugstore to buy her first lipstick, blush, shadow and all the other pretty things that were designed to help a woman accentuate her looks. All these treasures, she stored away in the back of her closet until the big day.
As she dressed for the prom, she felt the return of that swelling optimism. As she slipped into the turquoise silk that second time – relishing the way it slid down her body – she felt as though anything was possible. She sat at her desk to twist her hair up in an elegant bun – curling and teasing locks of her bangs to drape down around her face – and carefully did her makeup with the aide of a helpful site she’d Googled earlier in the week. The finished product could have been her mother; there was the polish that Chelsea had always lacked in the past; and looking into her own reflection was both heartbreaking and exhilarating all at once.
It wasn’t until she started upstairs that anxiety began to strangle her happiness. Her aunts had come home early from Bingo – she could hear them up there cackling – and there was no way to sneak past them without a confrontation as she’d hoped.
It doesn’t matter what they say, she told herself. You’ll be out of here in less than a month, and you’ll never look back.
Playing that same tune over and over in her mind, she slowly ascended the steps. As her fingers closed around the door handle, she drew in a deep breath and reminded herself once more that it didn’t matter what they said; nothing her aunts could say would hurt her again… if she didn’t let it.
“You look like a streetwalker,” Anya snorted as she stepped into the kitchen.
“Someone is always willing to pay a streetwalker,” Dalia kindly pointed out. “She just looks like a run of the mill slut to me.” The twins sniggered in unison. They both drew from their reeking cigarillos and exhaled a noxious cloud of smoke as they looked her up and down.
Chelsea blushed slightly, and held her tongue.
Perturbed by her silence, Anya prodded, “Just where do you think you’re going looking like that?”
“The senior prom,” Chelsea mumbled timidly. “We talked about it more than a month ago.”
Dalia chortled, “Couldn’t even find a date for prom, huh? Or were you just hoping to latch onto some other girl’s reject as the end of the night?”
“She is her mother’s daughter,” Anya grunted.
That one stung a little, but Chelsea did her best not to let it show. “I’m going with Anna,” she said. “I won’t be home too late, I promise.”
Hmph!” Dalia grumbled. “Are you sure about that? A pair of desperate little sluts like you two could find yourselves pretty busy, come last call.” The twins chuckled in unison again.
Anya said, “You sure that’s such a wise plan, cow? Anna looks like she could just about suck a plum through a straw… might not be good for your own odds to go with a girl like that.”
Another round of raucous laughter, and then Dalia said, “Maybe they’re just gonna tag team. A scrawny cow like her and a fat little pig like Anna… something to be said for diversity, I figure.”
The twins burst into a full-fledged fit of snorting laughter.
Mortified, but still refusing to let it show – and knowing that she was getting off easy – Chelsea apologized for not meeting their approval, offered a wan smile and excused herself for the evening, even as they continued to call out quips behind her. By the time her feet hit the front steps, the rented limo was pulling up at the curb. She hurried down the driveway, hoping to be off before her aunts’ faces appeared at the window, and climbed quickly inside before her date could exit. A final glimpse towards the house revealed Dalia and Anya glowering at her from behind the curtains, and her stomach flipped.
Just a few more weeks, she reminded herself yet again.
“You look beautiful!” Anna squealed as Chelsea slid across the seat and the limo pulled away from the curb.
“You really do,” Tyler assured her a moment later.
She smiled shyly in response, and found her nerves slowly beginning to settle.
The senior class had been raising funds for the prom all year, and the results of their efforts were obvious. The prom was being held at ‘Eden on the Green’ – the most prestigious golf club in town – and the club house was theirs for the night. As the long black limousine turned up the lane – decorated with thousands of twinkling lights – Chelsea couldn’t help feeling just a little like a fairytale princess. She was Cinderella, she decided, and her Prince Charming had finally come to rescue her from her evil aunts so that they could ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
The thought made her smile.
When the four emerged from the limo, Tyler pulled her gently aside and whispered, “You look so amazing,” as he slipped a white rose corsage on her wrist.
“You look amazing too,” She told him blushing. He looked better than amazing in the well tailored black tux, and the hint of a grin playing across his lips. She couldn’t believe her luck.
Going with the Eden theme, the club house had been elaborately decorated; strings of climbing ivy, hundreds of sparkly, crepe paper flowers and more of those twinkling lights everywhere an eye might stray; and Chelsea couldn’t help but be infected by the magic of it all. Though she’d spent most of her life being as timid as a mouse, that night she really did feel like a princess rescued from her dark tower.
When Tyler asked her to dance, she accepted. When he wrapped his arms around her, she leaned in close and rested her cheek against his broad shoulder. She laughed often and without restraint. She smiled near constantly, and demurely accepted the compliments she was paid – and she was paid many that evening – and after awhile, she even became comfortable with the praise.
When they weren’t dancing, they sat with Tyler and Mark’s friends – the most popular kids in school – and everyone was so nice that Chelsea couldn’t understand why she’d always been a little afraid of them. As her and Anna were listening to Matt Lawson’s date – a somewhat nerdy but sweet girl they both had Biology with – relate the story of how Matt asked her to the prom, Tyler leaned close to whisper in her ear, “You’re by far the prettiest girl here… the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” And the heat rose in her cheeks again as she lowered her eyes.
On the dance floor when Tyler stole his first kiss, Chelsea forgot her nervousness. She stood on tiptoe to meet his lips and felt her heart ache with promise. The last thing on her mind was her aunts and every cruel word the two had ever uttered. When he suggested a private walk in the moonlight, it seemed to Chelsea as though the rest of the world had all but disappeared. She happily accepted his invitation; delighted by the idea of a stolen moment alone with him.
As they moved away from the club house, he took her hand in his and she barely stifled a giggle.
The ripe moon cast its silvery luminescence across the golf course, creating an almost magical illusion as they moved across the perfectly landscaped grounds. On the air was the heavy aroma of lilacs and freshly mowed grass. Thousands of crickets sung their chirping serenade to the starry sky above, and the gurgling of slow moving water could just faintly be heard in the distance.
To be continued…