Again, the two were sitting in the car. AC letting out a cool breeze that smelt of oil, while the engine churned out smoke in an idle position.
The father and teenager watched as the lights from the gym were changing colors, gargled and loud music played, escaping the confines of the gym with ease.
“You ready to go?” There was a slight hesitation in the fathers question.
“I think so.” Jeremy hesitated on his answer as well. “I know everyone is there already.”
Jeremy’s father just nodded, he shut his mouth as if he was about to say something.
“If I start to feel bad, I’ll call you. I know, Dad. You tell me that everyday.” Jeremy read his father’s mind.
Mr. Heere just let out a low chuckle as he raised a hand and let it fall on the teenagers head. “I’m proud of you, kiddo.” He said as he pat Jeremy’s head. “This has been a crazy year, and we’ve been able to get through it.” As his hand dropped, the father looked at the teenager one last time. “You look really hand--Beau--” The father tried to get the words out, but let out a sigh once he couldn’t find the words. “You look great, Jeremy.”
Jeremy smiled as his hand wrapped around the door handle. He opened it and stepped out. There was a weight in the air, the humid feeling after an April rainstorm.
He bit his lip as if he wanted to say something, feeling the words bubble up, along with hot anxiety and small pains.
He took a breath as he closed the door and waved a good-bye to the father. He started walking to the gym once the car was driving away. As he got closer to it the anxiety and pains came back. As if the music was already getting to him, scratching against his skull and making him see stars.
“Shut up.” Jeremy muttered as he got to the door. As he looked at his reflection in the glass he let out a shaky breath. His brain was a current of static screams. “Come on… Just go in. And be with friends.” He mumbled, shutting his eyes as he tore the door open and took his first steps in.
The room was a bomb of noise; loud music, constant overlapping conversations, swaying bodies that moved to the beat. Bouncing and bobbing around. There were balloons on the ceiling, in the colors of the school. Round tables were to the side for people to sit, but the majority of people were just sitting on the bleachers.
Middleborough high school couldn't afford going to a place for prom, so prom in the gym was a normal thing. Though, it looked really pretty. It didn’t look like the gym. THe balloons that were covering the ceiling made the lights change color, into a hue of purple or blue.
Jeremy’s eyes searched the crowd for the familier heads of his friends. Trying to remember what they were wearing from the pictures they had shared with each other.
His ears caught loud voices, familier loud voices and the teenager looked toward the tables and sighed a small chuckle as his friends.
Brooke was wearing a yellow dress, like honey. Her hair had grown out again and it was draped over her shoulders. She had a hair clip in it that had small clouds. Chloe was sitting next to her, and--
“Woah…” Jeremy couldn’t help himself from being amazed at her sapphire blue tux. Sapphire blue and black. Her hair was up, in one of those braids that covers the whole back of her head. A curled plait . Jeremy recalled. He started to move toward them.
He felt excited to see them all dressed up like this. And nervous because of what the people around them would think.
Jenna was wearing a sleeved dress, a sparkly purple. Her hair was the same as it always was, sitting against her back with a small part of it braided. What’s with the braids… Is that just a normal thing for girls to do for prom?
Christine. God. She looked like a princess. Her dress went to the floor. SHe looked like she was about to accept an award for best actress.
Girls dress up for prom…
“I feel like I’m not properly dressed!” Jeremy said as he made it the the table. “You guys are all wearing really pretty stuff…” Jeremy ran his hand up his bare arm. Feeling awkward at everyone’s sudden silence. They all were staring at him.
“You! Look!! Amazing!!!” Christine was the first to speak. She broke the silence and everyone followed with compliments on Jeremy’s outfit. He was wearing a blue and white dress, it had a floral pattern.
“Jeremy,” Brooke reached and touched his hand when he sat down.“You look spectacular.” Her words were so soothing. He couldn’t help the red that was running across his cheeks.
“You kept your texts so cryptic, Tall-ass. All like, ‘I’m gonna wear something blue’! We thought you and Chloe would come in wearing the same thing.” Rich said. He was wearing an orange tux, the color popped and it kind of hurt Jeremy’s vision. Jake sat next to him, wearing a regular tuxedo with a green tie. Michael wasn’t here at the moment.
“If you did, Jerry, I would have fought you.” Chloe said, breaking Jeremy from his thoughts. “I’m not changing out of this. I look fucking amazing.”
“It really gives off those lesbian vibes, Chloe.” The small burned boy said. She rolled her eyes at the comment.
“Were you inspired by anyone to wear a tux?” Jeremy asked, with a small tilt of his head.
“Ellen Page.” Chloe answered with a smile.
“That’s gay.” Rich joked and was met with a swat from her.
Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. Chloe really had accepted her sexuality in the short time they’ve spent together. It was really admirable. Jeremy glanced at Brooke, who was trying to hold Chloe back from actually throwing a punch at Rich since he kept making jokes. The teenager wondered what that felt like, to like someone and for them to be oblivious, or not have an answer at the moment.
Jeremy felt his chest tighten, a dull pain from memories of a bathroom. He swallowed and faced the anxiety and guilt. “Where’s Michael?” He voiced and glanced at the empty seats next to him.
Jake spoke up, one hand was on the collar of Rich’s blazer, as if to stop the burned boy from actually getting up to annoy Chloe. “He got up before you got here, he wanted to request a song.” He struggled to say.
“Ah…” Jeremy could only get out before the song changed.
“Jeremy, come sit.” Christine pointed to a vacant seat as the music became something old and poppy.
As he sat down, he couldn’t help but notice Brooke and how she lit up, nearly bouncing out of her seat.
“Did Michael actually get the DJ to play it!!” She was radiating. “Come on, Chlo!! Let’s dance!” Jeremy noticed the awkward smile that was appearing on Chloe’s lips as she got pulled out of her seat and to the dance floor.
Christine leaned over into the table as she spoke. Her brown eyes meeting Jeremy’s. “We did rock paper scissors for our song picks. Who ever lost first had to be the person to go up and request our songs.”
“W-what was your pick?” Jeremy felt the room spin for a brief moment. The noise was a bit too loud for him.
Christine giggled, and winked. “Something I feel like you’d like. I think you’ll find it very calming and relatable.”
“How can someone like me be relatable, I’m--I’m not great…” Jeremy started then shut his mouth as his body felt like it was on fire for a brief moment. “So-sorry,” He apologized as the drug scrapped against his skull “Uh, duh… Squip. Stuff…”
Jeremy put his head in his hands and waited for the headache to disappear.
I’m good. I’m good. I’m good.
“Jeremy? Hey, do you need to step out?” The teen felt Jake put his hand on his shoulder. Jeremy shook his head. “Sorry…” He choked back tears.
“Don’t apologize,” Christine had a small and kind smile, it nearly brought the teenager to tears. “If you need a break, you can take one.”
Jeremy shook their head. “No. I--I want to be here with you all.”
And suddenly the song changed; from an old 80s song, to an acoustic guitar, a piano… Telling a story.
Christine’s warm smile changed, releasing a chuckle and her smile almost looked evil. Or at least, of bad intent. She whispered a small ‘yesssss’ and clenched her fist in triumph as the song. The girl’s sudden change caused Jeremy and Jake to share a glance.
The crowd that was dancing starts to dissipate, as if one by one they realize that the song is from a musical. Even Brooke and Chloe come back as Christine started to mutter the lyrics as the song continued.
Jeremy concentrated on the lyrics, focusing on the instruments. He closed his eyes to close out the crowd and side conversations.
It was two people. A duet…
It was a love song. Or, a song about two people confessing their love?
Perfect for you, I could be perfect for you.
I might be lazy, a loner, a bit of a stoner…
But I might be perfect--
The teenager couldn’t help but smile at the line.
“Jeremy!” Jeremy jolted at recognizing his name, opening his eyes.
Michael had this shy smile on, he was talking with Christine about her song choices. She reached her bag that was around her shoulder and brought out some money. Something about a bet, something about having to bribe the DJ. Jeremy couldn't concentrate on the words they were tossing around--Still too focused on the song, and the words and Michael. He was wearing this deep red suit. His hair still looked like perfect bed head. He stood across from Jeremy as the song continued.
--You square all the corners, I’ll straighten the curbs.
Everyone was staring at the two of them, and they were just staring at each other.
You got some nerve, Henry--And I’m just all nerve!--
“Do...Do wanna dance, Jeremy?” Michael extended his hand to his date.
Jeremy took it.
We’ll be the one thing in this world that won’t hurt…
Jeremy felt his heart drum in his ears as they went to the dance floor, the people that were still on it pooled together, as if waiting for the song to change. Some students were slow dancing.
“Are you nervous?” Michael spoke up. Jeremy could feel his hands trembling.
“I don’t know how to slow dance.” Jeremy reassured him.
“Cool, neither do I!” Michael produced a laugh. “My-my Dad showed me.. Uh, ho-how to lead.” He stammered.
“Great...” Jeremy breathed. There was a burning pain in the back of his head, but he ignored it as Michael placed his hand around Jeremy’s waist. He lifted Jeremy’s other hand, gently holding it. Jeremy rested his arm around Michael’s shoulder.
The song ended right as the two started to move, stepping quietly, eyes darting from each other to their own feet. Carefully moving to avoid stepping on each others shoes.
And the violins and pianos melted into another slow song. An acoustic guitar, met with other string instruments.
Drove out of town,
Took a right
Onto a northbound highway.
Some couple came back on the dance floor and started to slow dance.
Jeremy glanced at the table his friends were sitting at, and saw how they all had their phones out and take pictures of the two. Rich was making kissy faces. Christine was mouthing the words and radiating at her song choices.
“Are they getting blackmail material?” Michael asked, he moved slightly so his back was to the table everyone was sitting at.
“No!! go-Go back!!” Chloe softly shouted.
“Let us bask in this moment, Michael!!” Brooke joined in.
Michael let go of Jeremy’s hand, and stuck his middle finger up in their direction.
“Fuck off, Phones!! We’ve trying to capture a beautiful moment, and you’re ruining it!” Rich shouted.
All of the friends had laughter dripping from their voices.
“Thanks…” Jeremy said to Michael as their hands slipped back together.
“You know, they planned this.” Michael voiced, chuckling as Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “The songs. Everyone picked songs that we could dance to… I had to bribe the DJ, because musicals aren't normally played.” Michael chuckled.
A storm blew in, overwhelmed me sometime late this morning.
Think I ignored the warnings...
“That’s nice of them. If all the songs are as calm as these two then I’ll definitely be able to… not get overstimulated.” Jeremy watched as Michael pursed his lips. “Please tell me that the songs are all calm.” Jeremy was already getting ready for the disappoint. Michael shook his head, his shoulders shook as he was trying to hold in laughter. Jeremy exhaled. “Did Rich put something stupid in?”
“The general aesthetic for the playlist is, Songs that have to do with love.” Michael giggled. “Rich… He-he chose ‘Friday, I’m in Love, by The Cure.”
Jeremy sighed, but he couldn’t not laugh at the idea. Rich was very much like a loose cannon, doing things that are unexpected yet completely making sense for him to do.
“Brooke chose Somebody to Love, by Queen. So. We can look forward to that.” Michael said.
“In all honesty I like how they stuck to 70s and 80s music.” Jeremy bounced on his toes and recovered his smile. There was a pain around his feet. But there was no voice telling him that he was disgusting.
It was just normal foot pain from wearing flats.
“They know I like retro stuff, so they wanted to keep it like that.” Michael shrugged and hesitated a bit. Opening his mouth to speak, and no words coming. “And,” his voice was quiet, as if he didn’t know if it would be alright to say. “They know I like you… S-so it all works out.”
Jeremy felt his whole body become hot. He wondered if Michael could see how red his face was right now.
He wondered if anyone would care if---
Jeremy stood on his tips of his flats and leaned into Michael.
Previously, they wouldn't do this in front of others. Save it for when they were alone together, or just with their friends. But there was something different about this, something that made the two feel disconnected with everyone there. But it wasn’t a bad disconnection this time. It was good; quiet.
It made Jeremy feel brave, It made Miah feel brave. She pressed her lips onto Michaels, feeling his hands leave hers and cupping her face instead. He melted into the kiss, kissing Jeremy back; kissing her back.
And then it was over. The two broke apart, and Jeremy stopped standing on the tips of his flats. Both of them were a dark crimson. Jeremy tried to form words, but his brain was just a fuzzy mess of static. “I’ve been meaning to as--AAH!” The static became a searing pain, hot enough to make the teenager grip Michael’s shoulders as he fell to the ground.
“Jer--Are you okay?!” Michael whispered, he looked over at their friends, they all stood up with worried expressions.
“Stop messing everything up!” The teenager hissed and held his head, shutting his eyes from the bright lights.
“Do you need some air?” Michael didn’t even stop to ask why Jeremy shouted that, he knew the answer and was already moving with Jeremy to the doors. Holding her hand the whole time. The explosion of noise and sights disappeared, filtering away as the two got further and further from the gym.
The outside air was sticky from a quick April rainstorm.
The attack subsided, the burning sensation fizzled out. Jeremy was left trying to calm down. He didn’t realize the drop in temperature till he felt something wrap around his shoulders.
“Sorry… The Squip.” Was all Jeremy could say as he opened his eyes to see the school grounds. The sidewalk was dark from rain, the grass was gleaming in the moonlight.
“You don’t have to apologize, I know what it is.” Michael said, he stood in front of Jeremy, a warm smile on his lips.
Jeremy crossed his arms, fingers tugging the blazer that was around his shoulders. “Thanks.” Jeremy choked out, returning the smile. Michael went to his side and placed an arm around him.
In the distance, muffled by the walls of the school, Friday I’m in Love was playing.
“Really glad I’m not in there right now.” Jeremy mumbled.
“Do you have something against The Cure?” Michael said it with a tinge of humor in his voice.
“No, but I do have something against panic attacks caused by computers. Right when--” Jeremy hesitated. “Well, right when I’m about to…” He couldn’t say the words he wanted to.
Michael could sense the teenagers uneasiness. He held him close, planting a kiss on his head. “You look beautiful, by the way.” He said as he rested his head there for a moment. “So beautiful.”
There was something about the way Michael said it that hurt; And the teenager knew why it hurt.
“I’ve been, meaning to ask you something…” Michael lifted his head up and dropped his arm. Immediately finding his hand laced into the beautiful teenagers hand as Jeremy hesitated. The words were on the tip of his tongue, and he kept choking on them. She swallowed and spoke, “Could you… call me Miah from now on?”
There was something about hearing her say it, say her name that made her heart flutter.
MIchael blinked, he bit his bottom lip. The teenager noticed that he was blinking back tears.
“ Miah.” Michael cut her off. “ Miah. Miah. Miah Miah.” He repeated, through different dialects, over and over again. “Can I kiss you, Miah?”
She loved how he said her name. She nodded and he kissed her. Saying her name with each break.