At the eighth grade dance, Patty Ann Lawson kicked Tricia Smiley in the shin. Tricia caught Patty’s vest in her fist. “Anthony Gray’s bombed or he wouldn’t have tried kissing me.” She held Patty at arm’s length. “I try not to punch deserving assholes in public.”

“Is something the matter?” Mrs. Haverty descended.

“We’re dancing.” Tricia suddenly pulled the much smaller Patty in close.

Patty seized Tricia’s arms. “Dancing!” she echoed, and tried a couple of steps to Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”.

“ I’d suggest you dance a little less roughly. I could year you ‘singing along’ over there.”

“Yes ma’am.”

The chaperone left, and the girls jumped apart. Patty dusted her vest where Tricia had been clutching it. “We broke up.”

“Then why are you coming after me? Seems like you already did yourself a favor.” Katy Perry changed to Justin Bieber. “God. I’m going to the bathroom. I can’t stand the shit they play at these things.” Tricia stalked away.

“Wait up.”

“What the hell?”

“ I don’t want you to think I’m following you when I go to the same place for the same reason.”

In the bathroom, Tricia climbed up on a sink and forced open a window. She lit a cigarette and blew smoke out into the night.

“That’s so gross.”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion.”

Patty swept Tricia’s pack off the counter and into the trash. She plucked the freshly lit butt out of Tricia’s fingers and rammed it down the uncovered sink drain all in a piece.

She hissed, “Wash your hands,” as Mrs. Haverty appeared in the doorway.

When the teacher left, Tricia said, “Thanks. I think.” She dug her smokes out of the garbage.

Patty shrugged. “I guess I figured out I owed you a favor.”

“Tricia said, “No you don’t. You don’t owe me anything.” But she held the door for Patty on the way back to the gym, and they sat together on the bleachers, mocking Justin Bieber and Anthony Gray.


The final Trifecta week 33 challenge asked us to respond to Smashing Pumpkins “Thirty-Three”. It’s a dark song that sounds to me like it’s about a guy whose marriage proposal has just been rejected, or maybe his girlfriend just killed herself. Anyway, because I never respond to a musical prompt the way I expect, I wound up at a high school dance with the heavy footfalls and that sense of imminent tragedy.  (Funny aside. When I was a kid, the words “tragedy” and “strategy” threw me. I always said “Stragedy” and “Trategy”.) Smashing Pumpkins are forever associated, for me, with being a pariah. Mellon Collie was released when I was 19. By then, I was 3/4 of the way to finishing my BA, but I was only four years into expunging high school from my system. My sister owned Siamese Dream, and I’m pretty sure Dad owned Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. None of this is very useful, but it may give you a sense of the frame of mind the song put me in.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Priorities — 20 Comments

  1. Wow. This one I get. I didn’t live it (no dances or dating in high school), but I soooo get the feelings. Great slice of life.

    Oh, and just for the record, I haven’t struggled to comment on your posts. Your site seems to remember me every time I stop by. Nice. I wonder if there was trick that I stumbled onto? I don’t remember what your form looked like. I did learn from Blogger blogs not to try to use Open ID anymore. I just fill in my information like I don’t have a blog of my own, then fill in my blog address wherever it asks for a URL. I wish I had figured that out a year ago. 🙂

    • Word press has always been well behaved for its own commenters. I’m a .org user who used to have a .com account, so everything gets muddled around when I try to comment because it wants me to sign into my .com account then either deletes my comment anyway or else sends people to jesterqueen1. Very confusing. And oh yeah, don’t get me started on blogger. (Which has been better behaved than WP for me lately. WTF??) Anyway, I’m glad the story worked. This one didn’t have so much crammed into such a short space.

    • Haha! When I first started, I was going to try to set it in the 90s with the Smashing Pumpkins, but then it wound up being more comfortable in the modern era. So I was looking for behaviors that would be universal to school dances. And oh yeah. They behave in very disturbing ways.

    • Hard to say. I hope so. I’m envisioning Tricia as an outsider with her cigs and bulk and Patty Ann as a little more preppy and popular. Right now, they’re both kind of reeling that they want to spend more time together at this dance, that they have anything in common at all.

  2. I thought this was really good. The two going from at each others throats to friends was written believably.
    And I also liked the addendum explaining your thought process.

  3. “Fuck You” is one of my favorite songs. So that gives Mellon Collie the edge for me. But as you say, not by much. They are both good albums. Evil sib and I swiped each other’s music. Bitch stole my Pink Floyd The Wall, so I took her Mellon Collie. Or I maybe stole that one from Dad, though I did TRY to give his stuff back when I made off with it.

  4. Excellent write. Thank you for making the chaperone savvy with her ‘singing along’ comment. This is a visual piece. I teach 12-15 year olds, and I can see them getting there…oh there are a few who are there already, but not most. Excellent character development, I got wrapped up in the drama.

    • I only ever went to one, and never again. And I knew after that one that I never ever wanted to do the prom thing, which was good, because I’d have been doing the solo-chick-comes-by-herself version of it if I had.

  5. Glad you mentioned that. I have been having trouble. On previous posts I haven’t been able to put up a comment – not always though. It keeps asking for my username and password for wp, but I’m already logged in. Hmm.

    • It’s an endless login death loop. The folks at WP refuse to admit the problem. And if it DOES allow you to login, it still swallows your comments. The only solution is to use a fake e-mail addy or Twitter or facebook.