She Sits Alone

I watch her during the night. Sitting there in a dress that is very much her, yet somehow, strangely wrong. A little too short. A little too tight in the wrong places. A little too much.  It must be hard, sitting there alone on the bleachers while most of those around her dance as if their lives depended on it. She tries to look like she is having a good time, but knowing her, she has put a happy face on her anger and despondency.

For half the night, I thought she came by herself.  Some do. But she wouldn't--not without her posse. So she must have a date somewhere.  Ahhh, there he is. Sitting at a table in the cafeteria with his buddies. He's a quiet kid. Very unlike her. How did they become prom dates? He,  a fringe of the popular crowd. She, one of the wild ones.  His friends are all here, hanging out together while their girlfriends dance.  She isn't friends with the girls. Doesn't think much of them, I know.

So she sits alone on the bleachers....

Later I see her in the senior hallway, phone plugged in to the lone outlet. She stands, texting the friends that stayed away. Those who make fun of the prom goers, even as they realize, they would be out of place in this secret garden of high school drama.

A cynical laugh as we talk, "It's awkward, you know."  An old boyfriend is there with his new girl.
"He keeps trying to talk to me, but..."  She lets the sentence hang there, much like she has been left to hang.

"Well, at least you found a plug in."

That laugh again.

She finds me later, in the gym.

"I feel sorry for him," and she points to a young man I don't know, sitting alone on the bleachers.

"Who is he?"

"E's ex. They broke up like a couple of weeks ago. But they had his prom last weekend and hers this weekend, so they decided to still go together.  But she just left him sitting there. I feel sorry for him.  I think I'll go talk to him."

She skips over to the bleachers, trying, I know, to look like the giddy high school girl she is not.

I see her as the dance is ending. "I think I'm going home. A is tired and so am I. Think I'll just go home and crash."

"Good plan," I say.

And put an end to this night of sitting alone on the bleachers, I think.


  1. This kept me riveted. Such an intriguing character sketch. Love the little snippets of dialogue woven with description of small action--this gives it a very impressionistic feeling... :)

  2. Oh the awkwardness of middle school dances. This brought me right back to those times... something I don't miss.

  3. I wonder what will her memory be of this prom? Did she feel alone? I found it interesting she felt sorry for the boy on the bleachers, when she occupied that seat too. You've put her in my mind and I can't stop thinking of this scene.

  4. Oooh, I have a horrid memory of a my middle school prom. Oh, dear. I hope I don't feel the need to write it.
    This one is going to be a terrible memory for her, unless she was able to make the other left out one feel better for a bit. Those dances should be put to rest.

  5. And it seems that she wants it to be so right. Sadness reign here, Deb, that some of our students can't find a place to call home in our schools. Your descriptive words, most especially your use of dialogue is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this poignant piece.

  6. When I first started reading, I thought it was a continuation of your fictional character - your writing was so crisp and clear, like you were right there! Oh wait - you were! You wonder what kids think and do what they do. I'm glad she went over to the boy alone on the bleachers. Thanks for this snippet of life in high school . . . that we all want to forget, but we never will. It's amazing the stories in our lives that leave an impact.

  7. What a vivid picture you have painted. I wonder what was going thru her mind when she was sitting alone on the bleachers and I'm so glad she had the courage to approach the young man. Do you suppose that it is difficult for this age group to relate to each other - face to face - because of the texting and social sites? This story brings memories back to us all.

  8. What a wonderful start to this story Deb:
    I watch her during the night. Sitting there in a dress that is very much her, yet somehow, strangely wrong. A little too short. A little too tight in the wrong places. A little too much.
    It's so hard for most kids to get to the dance and enjoy it,

  9. What an intriguing character. I see her and I hope the end of her story is a happy one. Such good writing to sink my teeth into, Deb!
    Is she a real person or did you make her up? Which is easier for you, or which do you enjoy more?

    1. She's real. A great kid. Just doesn't quite know where she belongs

  10. Wow, great writing, I want to read all around it (an expression I just made up for wanting to know the beginning and the end of this girl's story).

  11. Wow, a riveting description! Like Bonnie, I think the description of the dress set the tone perfectly for the rest of her story. I wonder, how many kids really feel at ease at such events?

  12. The way you write about your students is unbeatable. You have such a firm grasp on who they are as people and the depth of your concern for them is admirable. I can tell this girl was lucky for your noticing and conversing with her, but I can also tell you feel equally as lucky to have beared witness to her night alone. That is what makes you, and your writing, so special.

  13. She haunts me. There is so much more to her than a prom dress and empty bleachers. Why did she go to prom? Why did she talk to the loner on the bleachers? She haunts me. I might have to write about her in my YA notebook.

  14. She haunts me. There is so much more than a prom dress and empty bleachers. So many questions. She haunts me. I think she'll keep haunting me until I write about her.

    1. I like Michelle's idea that she seems to go with my fictional character I shared in March. I may have to combine them! You write about her too--can't wait to see how she turns out in your notebook!


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