The tall girl with the blonde ponytail pushed her way through the crowd in front of the notice board, read the notice of interest, then walked briskly to the school office.
“Mary-Kate,” the office manager smiled at her, “What can we do for you?”
“Mrs Pemberly,” the leader of the Prom Committee smiled at the older woman, “I’d like an appointment to see Mr Collins about the Prom exclusion list he’s put up on the board.”
The office manager’s face fell and she came over to the counter before saying quietly, “You know, Mary-Kate, some things are bound to change when we get a new deputy principal.”
“Yes, I know,” Mary-Kate admitted, “but I at least want the chance to talk to him about it.”
Later in the deputy principal’s office the new incumbent calmly told her, “I’m sure you can see Miss Carpenter that we must have benchmarks for receiving privileges or those privileges mean nothing.”
“But when those benchmarks let in people who flout the rules, like Lewis Peters, but exclude four chronically sick kids and someone with hefty carer’s responsibilities then perhaps there is something wrong with the benchmarks?” Mary-Kate’s suggestion was made in a polite tone but she was sure he wasn’t going to change his mind. “Besides, these new rules have come out the day before the tickets go on sale. Everyone’s been complying with the previous rules all year.”
“I’m sorry Miss Carpenter, the answer is no.” Mary-Kate was certain he wasn’t sorry at all.
She brainstormed the problem with the rest of the prom committee that afternoon. “Carol’s in a coma, Jed and Loni are in hospital too and Lois is having treatment out in California,” Mary-Kate counted off the excluded students on her fingers. “What can we do about Lourdes?”
“Get her elected Prom Queen?” suggested Ellie. The others shook their heads because there wasn’t enough time for that. Lourdes was popular but not that popular.
“Get Lewis to take her as his date,” suggested Katherine. “He’s only still allowed to come because his dad donated all that money to the football program. They wouldn’t knock back his date.”
“That wouldn’t work,” objected Miles. “He’s already asked Janet.”
“Would Janet concede the date?” That was Ellie.
“Lewis sort of owes her,” Miles said uncomfortably. “She’s pregnant.”
“What are we going to do?” Mary-Kate rested her head in her hands. “This just isn’t fair.”
It was the night of the prom and Lourdes was at home. She’d been crying but had dried her tears off so her granny wouldn’t see them and be upset. She had a dress in the closet that she couldn’t wear and it was just so unfair. She’d been following the rules and then they’d changed them.
There was a knock at the door, no not a knock, three rapid raps with something hard. From the living room Granny called out, “Can you get that dear, I’ve got my knitting all over me.”
Truth be told, Granny probably couldn’t get to the door on her own, the knitting notwithstanding, so Lourdes made sure her face was dry and went to open the door.
There was a man on the doorstep. Well probably a man but certainly male between the suit of clothes, the top hat and his general air. The skull instead of a head was an indicator that something was going on. He had a walking stick in one hand but he held out his free one to her and she was suddenly wearing the dress that had been hanging up in her closet.
“Lourdes Alvarez,” his voice was the colour of Grandpa’s favourite rum, “you are going to a ball tonight.”