I posted part of this on my Facebook a couple days ago, got some positive comments, so thought I'd post it here.
Setting it up a bit, this is my book about a journal that travels some miles in a tornado and ends up in the hands of a teenage boy, Jaden Hatch. The journal is written by a girl down on her luck, who at first Jaden thinks of as a loser, but eventually becomes attached to. Jaden is a douchebag, cheats on his beautiful girl friend, Ava, with Payton, a girl he considers white trash, he's a bully, homophobic and takes his mother, who has raised him alone for granted. It's prom night and he and best friend Eli are going to pick up their tuxes.
I realize I never asked Payton if she was going to the dance. I’m curious. I text her. Will I c u 2 nite? I throw on sweats and shoes, grab my keys and take off for Eli’s. Time to pick up the tuxes. When I get to his house, I check my phone to see if Payton has texted back. Nothing.
Eli jogs out, dressed much the same as me, and we head to one of the only two tuxedo rental shops in town, Threads. On the way, I say, “You know, you should officially make Maddy your girl tonight.” Maddy is Eli’s prom date and happens to be Ava’s best friend. It would be perfect.
Eli turns to me, lowers his head, raises his an eyebrow and says, “No thanks.”
“But dude. She’s smokin’ hot. And that ass?”
“She’s not my type.”
I look over at him to see if he’s full of shit. He looks dead serious. “Are you kidding me? Maddy is everyone’s type.”
“Not everyone.” I shake my head, not believing what I’m hearing.
We enter Threads, and though there’s a line, we’re helped immediately because, well, I’m Jaden Hatch. We pick up our tuxes, mine, black, black shirt with a red vest and tie. Eli’s is all white with a pink vest and bow tie. “You know how gay you look in that?”
“Fuck you, Hatch,” is all he has to say to that. I drop him off and go home.
“Let’s see it!” Mama calls right when I walk in the door.
“Can’t you just see it later?”
Brows wrinkled, pouty lip in full action she says, “I just want a sneak peek.”
“Fine,” I say rolling my eyes.
I go to my room and lay the tux on my bed. Before taking it out to Mama I check my phone one more time for messages. Have a couple silly texts from Ava about how excited she was about prom, which I care little about and immediately delete. Then Why aren’t u texting me back? Again, delete. Then there was one from Payton. Not if I c u 1st. Lol.
I unzip the plastic sheath that reminds me of those bags they put dead people in; I pull it off, and when I take the tux out to Mama, she squeals and claps, jumping up and down like a child. When she stops, tears well up in her eyes and she says, “You’re going to look so handsome.” She gawps into my face. “When did you get so old?” She reaches up to brush some hair out of my eyes and I playfully swat her hand away.
“Oh Mama, you’re being silly.”
She wipes her tears away. “Maybe. Now go get your chores done before you run out of time.”
“You’re making me do chores today?”
“Did I stutter? Is it your birthday or some kind of national holiday? No. It’s prom. Now get your ass going.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” I hang the tux up in the kitchen doorway.
“Okay, have fun, now. I’m headed to work.”
“Wait. What? Work?”
As she grabs her purse Mama says, “Yes, boy, how do you think that tux and tonight’s dinner and limo are getting paid for. Mom doesn’t stand for Made Of Money. I’ve had to pull extra shifts at the hospital. Make sure Ava’s parents take lots of pictures. Have them text me some.”
Saying nothing, I stand there, nodding stupidly as she leaves. I’m dumbfounded. Mama’s never missed any of the important events in my life, not a football game, an awards assembly…a formal dance. She works a lot, but her nursing job is flexible and she usually takes time off or switches with someone—she doesn’t grab her purse and walk out the door.
I do my chores, and not the half-assed job I normally do, but I do them meticulously because suddenly I’m realizing what Mama sacrifices for me. Maybe I’m still being a prick because this time I see how it affects me, I don’t know, but at least I’m finally noticing, right?