Prom Night

by Merkin

“I don’t know what the big deal is,” complained Kaitlen. She hadn’t let up since her brother Blake had started getting ready. “Why won’t you tell us who you’re taking to the Prom? In fact, why didn’t you even tell us you were going? Jeez, you sure picked a big night to go on a first date!”

“So tell me, sis, when you were in high school just how many of the guys you dated did you tell Mom and Dad about?”

“Well, that was different. They were all worried about my virtue. Until I found Gordon they didn't need to know anything." Gordon was her fiancé. Kaitlen walked over and brushed her brother’s hands aside, then neatly tied the black formal bow tie he’d been struggling over. “There. That’s how you do it, dummy.”

“Er, thanks, Kaitlen.”

“Now you owe me. So who is she?”

“You’ll find out if we get engaged. I’m late.” Blake pulled on his rented dinner jacket and fled down the stairs, hoping to avoid his parents.

“Blake!” thundered his father. “Come in here!”
“I’m awfully late, Dad,” muttered Blake as he turned away from the front door and stepped toward the living room. His mother and father were seated on the sofa.

“Oh, don’t you look handsome!” his mother exclaimed. “Blake, honey, why didn’t you tell us you were going to the Prom?”

“Um, it was a last minute thing,” Blake said weakly.

“But who is the lucky lady? Why haven’t we heard about her before this?” His mother was putting on her best ‘shame on you’ expression.

“I’m sorry, Mom, but we have a reservation for dinner, and already I’m late. Can we talk about this later?”

“But we must meet your date! You must bring her here so we can meet her! And we have to take a picture of you two, all dressed up!” His mother was in full family management mode.

“You heard your mother, young man.”

Blake swallowed hard. It was clear that there was no way out of it. “Um, look, we’ll stop by after dinner, before we go to the dance. O.K.?”

“Well, that will have to do. At least tell us her name, so we can be prepared.” His mother waited, her arms crossed.

“It’s Terry. Terry Saunders.”

“I don’t believe I’ve heard of that family. Are they from here in town?”

“They moved here in the fall, right at the beginning of school. Mom, I really have to go, or we’ll lose the table...” Blake backed nervously toward the door.

“All right, son,” his father said. “But we expect to see the two of you before the evening is over.”

“Yes, sir.” Blake rushed out of the door and the parents heard the car start up, the engine roar, and tires squeal out of the driveway.

“Be careful...” shouted Mr. Grainger, rising halfway out of his chair.

* * *

Mrs. Grainger had finished vacuuming and now was going around the living room patting pillows and rearranging the family photographs. Kaitlen was still hard at work, angrily mopping the kitchen floor after putting away all signs of the family supper. Mr. Grainger had been displaced from his chair by the fireplace and was sitting in the study impatiently reading the newspaper for the third time. His wife had made him put his tie back on and he was quite uncomfortable.

They all heard the squeal of automobile tires turning from the street into the driveway. Mr Grainger winced and threw his newspaper onto the floor.

“Places, everyone!” Mrs Grainger called. She tucked a strand of hair in place and straightened her dress, then carefully sat down in the large chair.

As the rest of the family assembled in the living room they heard footsteps coming up the sidewalk, then pausing outside the front door. They waited.

The silence grew and Mr. Grainger shifted impatiently. Mrs. Grainger checked again to be sure the camera was ready, then placed it back on the table beside her. Finally Kaitlen sprang to her feet and started toward the front door, but it opened before she could reach it.

Blake stepped inside and looked around at all of them waiting. His face was pale and he took a deep breath. He turned and motioned to someone outside the door. A young man, also dressed formally, stepped into the house and walked with Blake into the living room.

Kaitlen looked at the two of them uncertainly. “You’re double dating? But where are the girls?”

Blake cleared his throat. “Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my date, Terry Saunders.”