Fastening his bowtie and straightening his jacket, Dylan picked up the comb balanced on the side of the open dresser drawer and began to carefully put his hair into place, staring intently at his reflection in his parents’ huge three-piece mirror as he perfected his look. He had to look perfect. Everything had to go perfectly. This was a pretty huge occasion, and he wasn’t going to let a few stray hairs ruin things for him!
‘Jeez Dylan, you actually sound like a girl… Note to self, don’t tell Rory and Charlie you spent three hours getting ready,’ Dylan muttered as he made the final adjustments to his attire before stepping back to admire his handiwork.
‘Okay Mum! Dad! I’ve finished!’
‘About time, kid! I don’t think I’ve ever been sent out of my own bedroom before!’ Ethan grumbled as he and Ivy walked back into the bedroom they’d been hovering outside of, waiting to see their son all suited and booted for his big day. ‘Looking good, though!’
‘Oh, Dylan! You look simply wonderful!’ Ivy gushed. ‘I knew that suit would be an investment! First your Uncle’s wedding, now your prom! You’ll be getting married in that before I know it!’
‘Mum!’ Dylan felt his face grow hot with embarrassment. ‘I’m not getting married!’
‘Oh, I don’t know, you do have that lovely girlfriend of yours!’ Ethan teased. ‘We might have a grandchild within a year, Ivy!’
‘Don’t take things that far, Ethan! We’re far too young for grandchildren! But seriously love, you look very handsome. When are you going to Melody’s?’
‘Soon, I’m just waiting for Rory to text me. I’m meeting him and Charlie, then we’re going over to pick up the girls. The limo’s going from there.’
‘A limousine! Oh Ethan, our boy in a limousine!’
‘Ivy my sweet, we ride in limousines on many occasions. Gigs, premieres, you have been in one too you know!’ Ethan rolled his eyes, smiling at how his wife was getting carried away, the excitement on her face warming his heart.
Ivy grinned and nodded at her husband and son. ‘I know that, but this is his first time without us! And this is his special day, no-one elses!’
‘Mum! It’s everyone in the top year’s special day! Oh… Yep, that’s Rory,’ Dylan said as he checked his texts. ‘Right, I’m off!’
‘Okay love! Have you got enough money? Have you got some tissues? Remember your curfew’s at eleven, don’t go getting carried away and staying out too late!’
‘I won’t! Stop worrying!’
‘So, come on Charlie! Who did you ask out in the end?’
Charlie tossed his hair back, trying his best to look nonchalant knowing one of the most popular girls in the school would be emerging from the house soon. ‘Well, I decided in the end that the whole “finding a prom-date” thing was an archaic custom, so I haven’t asked anyone.’
Dylan and Rory exchanged looks and smirked. ‘So what you’re saying is, you haven’t found a date?’
‘No!’ Charlie looked up hotly. ‘Didn’t you listen to me?’
‘Oh, sure we did,’ grinned Dylan. ‘It’s just a bit surprising at how long it took you to actually come to that conclusion. I mean, you asked out Georgia, Leanne, Angelica…’
‘Perrie, Jade, Leigh-Ann, Jesy…’ Rory continued. ‘Ellen, Jas, Rosie -‘
‘Oh be quiet you two!’ Charlie folded his arms and scowled at his best friends, who weren’t doing anything to suppress their laughter. ‘You won’t be laughing later when I’ve got the pick of the girls and you two are stuck with your dates!’
‘Mate, are you kidding? You haven’t managed to get a date yet with weeks of preparation, what makes you think you’ll be able to get one tonight?’ Dylan joked.
Reaching out, Rory ruffled Charlie’s long, wavy hair. ‘You know, I blame this barnet of yours! I’ve been saying for ages, you need to get this cut off!’
‘Oh, shut up Rory!’ Charlie fended off Rory’s attack and straightened himself out. ‘Like you can talk! When was the last time your hair saw daylight before today? I’d almost forgotten that you even had any under that stupid hat of yours!’
‘Ah, come on Charlie, we’re only having a laugh. Look, let’s just all agree – we’re going to have the best night ever. Dates or no dates, we’ll make sure we stick together and have a brilliant time. Let’s face it, we’re gonna need it! Exams start next month remember!’ Dylan smiled at his friends who grimaced at the thought of the hard slog that awaited that.
‘You’re right, Dyl. Friends first,’ Charlie beamed. About to agree with Dylan also, Rory was interrupted by the sound of the door opening. The three boys turned to look as Melody strutted out onto the patio.
‘Sorry to keep you waiting, boys! You know what us girlies are like. Lou’ll be down in a minute, Rory, she’s just finishing off her hair. Hi, Dylan!’ Melody simpered at Dylan, who was staring at her agape.
‘That’s… That’s fine, Melody…’ Rory blinked several times furiously, trying to tear his eyes away from his friend’s date. Charlie was simply lost for words. Dylan, realising that he should probably talk to his potentially official girlfriend, shook himself.
‘Hi Melody! You look… You look amazing,’ he gulped, not entirely sure where to look. ‘Wow.’
‘Oh, thank you Dylan! You’re too sweet!’ Melody skipped forward happily, tottering a little in her heels, and planted a kiss on Dylan’s lips.
‘Um… What time’s the car getting here?’ Charlie found his voice, finding that he was only speechless when he looked directly at the overly exposed Melody. Melody looked at the bashful teen for a few seconds, her mind ticking.
‘Not for another five minutes, so we’re alright. By the way, Charlie… You never did find a date, did you?’
Charlie shook his head, trying to look at Melody and not look at her at the same time.
‘Well! You know my friend Sarah?’
‘Sarah? Cheerleader Sarah?!’ Melody had Charlie’s full attention.
‘Yes! Well, she broke up with her boyfriend yesterday. She thinks you’re cute, you know. I said you didn’t have a date, so she’s going to be waiting for you when we get there.’ Melody tried to hold back a sneer as Charlie’s face lit up.
‘Really? Are you serious? Cheerleader Sarah?!’
‘No!’ Melody let out a harsh laugh. ‘Of course not! You should’ve seen your face, Charlie boy!’
Dylan and Rory exchanged looks. ‘Are you kidding?!’ Rory mouthed as Charlie’s face flushed red.
‘Ah well. Maybe I’ll get a chance another time,’ Charlie tried to smooth over his shame, adjusting his tie. ‘No biggie.’
Frowning, Dylan was about to say something to Melody when the door opened for a second time.
Rory’s face lit up like a Christmas tree as Louise strolled out casually, a shy smile on her face. She looked beautiful. ‘Wow Rory, I’d almost forgotten you had hair under that hat of yours!’ she joked tentatively as she walked past everyone else and up to her date.
‘Hah, my hair only comes for special occasions,’ Rory grinned as he took Louise’s hands. ‘You look amazing…’
‘Thanks!’ Louise smiled back, trying to meet Rory’s eyes. She could feel everyone else’s on her, and it was making her feel uncomfortable. Removing her hands from Rory’s, she began playing with the end of her side ponytail.
‘You missed a properly good joke, Lou!’ Melody exclaimed, trying to regain her lost attention. ‘I almost convinced Charlie that Sarah was his surprise date for the night!’
‘That doesn’t sound very funny,’ Louise said blankly, staring at Melody. ‘Oh by the way, Charlie, a couple of my friends from the debate team don’t have dates tonight either. I can introduce you later, if you like.’
‘Really? Wow, thanks Louise!’ Charlie beamed at Rory’s date, who smiled kindly back. Dylan concealed a grin as Melody’s face creased in anger.
The limousine pulled up outside Melody’s house, and Melody tottered off to get the best seat. ‘At last, it’s here! Come on, Dylan!’ she called over her shoulder. Hardly hearing his date, Dylan hung back a little and watched as everyone else climbed in.
‘Louise is lots nicer than Melody,’ a voice piped up from over Dylan’s shoulder.
‘I know. Wait, what?’ Dylan whipped around before he could stop himself.
‘Dylan? What are you doing? You don’t need your dancing shoes until we hit the dancefloor!’ Rory crowed from the open door of the car. ‘Come on!’
‘One sec!’ Dylan pretended to be adjusting his tie as he turned to face Puzzle’s sly smile. ‘I didn’t mean that.’
‘Puzzle no say you did.’
‘Melody’s much nicer.’
‘Puzzle no agree. Neither does Dylan.’
‘Oh, sod off! You’d best not turn up at the prom!’