The cluster of tiny white flowers were now brittle and desiccated. The clear plastic box it originally came in served as a protective shrine of sorts. Picking it up out of my cedar chest I could see the cream colored ribbon, two faux pearl tipped straight pins, and the tiny rhinestone heart were still intact.
I had no date.
Each day that crept by I had waited and waited, ticking off each eligible male until it was clear no one would ask me.
Finally I had resigned and purchased the ticket to my senior prom with babysitting money. The dress I picked up for $35 at the Dilliard’s clearance store downtown while my shoes were $25 satin pumps from PayLess. I could not afford to get my hair or make-up or nails done or the shoes dyed to match my dress. In fact, I was not allowed to wear make-up or nail polish, anyway.
Nor was I allowed to drive, for that matter. I was eighteen and still did not even have a learner’s permit. So my parents dropped me off at the venue, a worn out old country club, and picked me up again promptly at 8:30PM because all of my friends had dates and limo rides and there was no way I was going to ask if I could tag along.
I thought prom was an important rite of passage, that I would regret missing it if I did not attend. In truth, it was a miserable experience.
The corsage was a surprise.
My brothers pooled their meager resources and purchased it. Remarkably, it matched my dress. Granted, it had been intended for someone else, an unknown relationship that had crumbled right before prom, so the florist sold it for cheap, but still they thought of me and that by itself was remarkable. It helped keep my head held high as I circled the room, looking for someone, anyone to talk to.
I still rate a corsage, you bastards.
Unexpected kindness is often the best sort. That is why I still keep the reminder of that awful night hidden away deep in my cedar chest. My brothers and I really don’t talk to each other. We keep our distance now as adults, it is more peaceful that way. We are different people with different lives and vastly different values. But once…. once we cared, once we loved each other.
The kindness you show now will be kindness remembered later and may someday form the foundation for a bridge back to each other.