Links to the previous chapters are HERE
By Sunday afternoon, Akio and I both decided prom was actually a form of torture adults visited on graduating classes as a sort of final revenge. Mom woke us early and started preparations. The first wasn't so bad: A personal massage, pedicure and manicure at a wonderful place in Thousand Oaks. We left there to get our hair done, despite my misgivings. They trimmed a little of Akio's beautiful long black hair, followed by a shampoo. I knew the stylist looked at mine with hidden despair.
"What do you suppose would look best?" mom asked, leafing through the magazines.
"I think we should start with a color. I don't think the blue stripe is going to cut it for prom."
"True," she said, nodding. "I think a stripe or two with a bit of silver and gold, to match the dress would be better."
I love my mom.
They trimmed, dyed and plucked. I wasn't sure I looked like me in the mirror, but I didn't mind for one night. They also provided makeup and showed how I could cover most of the bruises.
We stopped and had salads for a late lunch, and got home with enough time to dress. Mrs. Calabria came over to help Akio. She had no older daughters and she seemed to take delight in everything. She made Akio laugh. I loved her for it.
At six Mr. Avison's limo arrived, having already picked up Gian. He came to the door, looking incredibly nice in a tux. He had corsages for us both and he didn't make Akio feel as though she intruded on our first date. I loved him all the more for the way he treated her.
We held the Deervale prom at a fancy club by the beach, which meant a long ride in the limo. We joked about the people we passed, and the faces turning our way. I knew how lucky we were, on so many different levels that the feeling nearly brought me to tears. I held back my emotions, determined not to let anything spoil this night.
Mr. Avison had rented the place for the prom, arranged for the food and the music -- which turned out to be a group who had their first top ten record on the charts. There were reporters, which I thought odd, until I saw how they turned their attention on Akio, Gian, and me. But they stayed back, taking pictures and not intruding as Akio and I flanked Gian's wheelchair on our way in.
I had a night out of a dream. We laughed and talked with everyone, marveling at how well most of us cleaned up. How adult we looked, though to be honest, we didn't act it much most of the night.
Some of Missy's friends were there, including Mary, but the fight had gone from them. Mary even came and apologized to me. I forgave her. I forgave them all tonight -- at least the ones who attended the prom.
Akio spent time with Gian and me, but sometimes others whisked her away and she even danced with both George and John Forest. She had acted shy and awkward at first. The others drove the shyness out of her and by the end of the night she was our Akio once more.
The party went until 1am and the call for the last dance. I didn't want the night to end. Friday afternoon was graduation and afterwards b we would scatter to the winds. I might not see some of these people for a long, long time.
The band played a slow dance, just a guitar and the drums. I saw Akio dancing with the lead singer. My. She had lost her shyness.
Gian pulled his wheelchair over in front of me. Time to go, I thought and sighed as I stood. I didn't want this night to end.
He leaned forward and took both my hands.
And then he stood.
My breath caught as he wrapped his arms around me and leaned close. "One dance," he whispered. "If you hold me tight, we can do this."
And finally . . .
Finally, I danced with Gian.