Sidney did call. We met for a late lunch after a practice and spent the afternoon wandering aimlessly around the city, no destination in mind. When we parted he asked me to go to the game the next night and then out to a late dinner with a bunch of the other couples afterward. I accepted, more than ready to continue my plan.
I sat through the Penguins win with Harmony and Oliver, who Sidney had also invited, probably to appease what he feared was still an angry me. We actually had a great time at the game. Oliver was a really good guy, and the perfect complement to Harmony. I was also starting to really like the other girls the more I got to know them.
By the time Sidney got to the family room to collect us to head to dinner to meet those that had already left, I was in a great mood. The four of us talked and laughed the entire drive and I just about forgot that I was still supremely pissed about the other night.
We sat at a long table and unlike most meals at tables like that, everyone was involved in the same conversation. There weren't separate conversations between neighbors, but just one topic being discussed by everyone. It was like a family, which was something I'd never before experienced. It's hard to have an experience like that when your entire family is either arguing, competing, or checking out altogether.
Things were going so well. Laughter and wine was abundant. Chirps were being hurled around and the girls were giving as good as the boys. I remained quiet through most of it, just taking it in. Wow, this was actually fun! Until a charity event came up.
“I still have no idea what I'm going to wear,” Heather grumbled. The men at the table groaned as the topic began to shift towards clothes.
“I've had my dress for a month!” Vero exclaimed, and proceeded to describe it.
“What's this for?” I asked, not knowing anything about it. Kelsey jumped right in to explain what it was.
“Basically for us it's an excuse to get dressed up like it was prom night all over again,” she finished. Oh no. Not prom. Please don't start discussing proms.
It was like I was trapped in some horrible nightmare unable to get out. First a painful reminder of high school on the anniversary of McKenzie's death and now a terrible trip down memory lane? The girls all began discussing their proms, telling stories, ignoring the protests from the guys. Harmony gave me a nervous glance that I tried to ignore.
“What was yours like?” Heather asked me. Oh shit.
“I didn't go,” I answered quietly. Stunned silence filled the air.
“What do you mean you didn't go?” Kelsey asked. I shrugged and tried to play it off even as the memories began to race back.
“I didn't have a date.”
“What?! How did you not have a date?! Why didn't you take her Sid?” Vero asked.
I looked over at Sid who was avoiding any and all eye contact with me. I was curious how he was going to respond. How was he going to explain what he'd done to me to everyone? But he didn't. He didn't tell them anything. He lied. He lied and he never even looked at me while he did it. Because he knew what he did was awful. He knew what an asshole he'd been and he didn't have the fucking balls to even look at me.
“I didn't go to school there anymore.”
And the memories flooded my brain.....
I stood in front of the mirror looking at my reflection as McKenzie stood next to me smiling. She put a finishing touch on my hair before proclaiming that her work was done. I was wearing makeup for the first time in my life, and my hair cascaded down my back in loose curls. I could hardly recognize myself.
“He's not going to know what hit him when he looks at you,” she told me with a grin. I smiled back at her, my heart racing. This was actually going to happen. Then the phone rang.
“Hey, Bryce, it's Whitney. Sid's car broke down and he can't pick you up. Since he was over here at Zane's getting ready he'll just ride in with us. Can you find another way? We'd pick you up but it's so far out of the way,” the voice said. It was strange to hear Whitney on the other end of the phone for me, but I'd be spending the night around her and the rest of Sidney's friends so I supposed I should get used to it.
“Yeah, that's fine. I'll figure something out,” I told her before hanging up.
After arguing with McKenzie over whether I was driving myself or she was dropping me off, I got into the car and pulled out of the driveway. I drove to the school and parked before making my way inside. I paused inside the door and looked around for Sidney, but didn't see him.
I stood there awkwardly and alone for a few moments wondering if they were even here yet before deciding to go look for them. I felt like all eyes were on me as I wandered down the hallway and into the gym. Maybe when they saw me dressed up like this it would change things. Maybe my last month of school would actually be enjoyable.
And then I saw Zack, Whitney, Barrett, and Caitlin. I smiled, waved, and made my way towards them knowing Sidney was going to be somewhere nearby. They saw me coming and I could see them all smiling. Wow, they were actually happy to see me?
“Hey, guys. Where's Sidney?” I asked, glancing around.
I could hear them start to laugh as I glanced around, and I couldn't understand why. Then it was like the parting of the red sea. A lane was suddenly open and I saw Sidney. He was coming towards us holding the hand of Ivy Barr. My smile faded as I tried to figure out what was going on. And then the laughter grew.
I glanced around to see what felt like the whole school standing and staring at me, laughing. Things began to start to make sense. I looked back towards Sidney hoping this wasn't the case. He hadn't invited me as a joke. Please don't let him be making me the butt of a sick and twisted joke.
Sidney looked up then, a smile on his face. His gaze met mine as his smile grew and he laughed. Tears filled my eyes as I watched him and Ivy stand there in front of me laughing, still holding hands. What had I done? What had I ever done to him to deserve this?
I turned and ran out of the school, leaving a trail of tears and laughter behind me. I got into my car and flew out of the parking lot. I didn't want to go home and face anyone so I just drove. I drove until I reached the lake. I parked the car and ran down to the shore.
I stayed there, sitting next to the lake all night. Half of the night I spent crying, the other half I spent trying to come up with reasons not to kill myself right then and there. I was worthless, unloved, and there was just no point in living anymore. What would I be good for? Who could ever love someone like me?
Someone touching my hand snapped me back out of the memory. For a moment I thought it was Sidney, that he was going to apologize. When I looked over it was Harmony. She was giving me a reassuring smile and jerked her head in the direction of the restroom, silently asking me if I needed to get away for a moment.
I glanced over at Sidney again, to see his reaction. He was still looking down at his plate, not talking, avoiding my gaze, looking ashamed. Even after all the years, he still couldn't say he was sorry or admit that he'd done something wrong. His refusal to acknowledge me at that moment only fueled the fire. It confirmed that I was doing exactly what I needed to.
Sidney stared down at his untouched food wishing he was anywhere else. He couldn't believe that this had come up tonight. Do people even discuss prom more than a month after it happened? How the hell could it come up again years later?! Poor Bryce.
Prom night hadn't been a good one for her, and he still felt like shit about it. It wasn't a memory he ever thought he'd remember, but the subject of prom coming up brought it to the forefront. Now he didn't think he'd ever forget it. All he could see was the look on Bryce's face just before she fled the school and disappeared into the night.
What assholes they all were. He hadn't even remembered that they'd done anything at prom until now. Obviously Bryce had never forgotten. How do you do anything to make up for something like that? He had to figure something out. He wanted her to forget that memory and have something else there instead.
He tuned out of the rest of the meal. He couldn't stop thinking about what he could do for Bryce. And then suddenly, as they were paying the bill it popped into his mind. He spent the entire night staying up trying to figure out how to pull it off.
The next day he went straight to Mario, because he was going to need his help to make this successful. He explained the situation to Mario and waited nervously for the response. Would Mario help him? Mario smiled and shook his head.
“That's an awful lot to go through for just some friend from home,” Mario said, and Sidney felt his cheeks turning red.
“She's a little more than that,” he responded quietly, admitting it to someone, and really to himself, for the first time.
“I couldn't tell,” came Mario's sarcastic response. Sidney rolled his eyes.
“So will you help me?” he asked. Mario nodded.
“I'll do everything I can as long as you promise me she's worth it. And I mean really worth it,” Mario told him. Sid smiled back at him.
“She is. I promise.”
They went over what needed to be done, and what Sidney wanted. After phone calls were made and everything was confirmed Sidney went home. He made phone calls to every teammate, explaining to them what he was doing. He took it pretty hard from most of the guys, but they all agreed to help, most at the prompting of their significant others when they found out.
Then Sidney made the toughest call. He called Harmony. She was surprised to hear from him and was silent for a long time after Sidney told her about his plan. Harmony was the key piece to making this work, and he needed her on his side. He'd grovel at her feet if he had to.
And then she answered him. She told him that she'd help him out. Hearing her agree was like music to his ears at that exact moment. Maybe he could actually do this. It was going to be a lot of work, but he had to do it. Bryce deserved this.