It was the most terrifying day of my life. What was I doing here? Who was I fooling? Everybody knew I didn’t belong; including myself. I sat still in my wheelchair, my eyes fixated on the shining gold door handle. The entrance to my personal hell. A little dramatic, I'll admit, but I didn’t have time to think rationally right now. I gently slouched down, the pastel pink frills of my dress swallowing me as I watched the crowds of teenagers my own age enter the room in their gowns and suits. It was prom night. A night a younger, foolish, more naive version of myself used to fawn over, until I learned that nights like these were not suited for people like me. My mind started to race. What if when I arrive, they all know I'm a fraud? What if they all kick me out, like how a swarm of bees can kick out a new queen if they are not fond of her? Sadly, I was no bee. And I was certainly no queen, despite my disgustingly fondant-like frock and glittering tiara.
At the age of 7, I was diagnosed with autism. In my research I discovered that many autistic people had special interests that they obsessed over. Mine was bees. They were all I thought about. I loved the structure in which they lived their lives, their unchanging rules, the way they looked, the things they did for the world. It fascinated me to no end. When I first joined this hell-hole, I made the mistake of sharing my passion for bees with one of my classmates in an attempt to make friends. Clearly, since they rolled their eyes and mocked my voice, it didn’t work. None of my efforts ever did. And, so, I spent my breaks here alone and friendless in a separate building where all the other special needs children went. In fear of looking stupid once again, I did my best to keep my head down, mouth shut, and stay as quiet as I could. Because of this, I had no date to the prom; a sentence 10 year old me would have been absolutely disgusted to hear. Instead, I was accompanied by my assistant, a youngish green eyed woman named Savannah.
I had been unable to walk for as long as I could remember. Constantly having assistants fuss over me, there was never any sense of dignity, privacy or independence in my life. At the beginning of the school year, my assistant had the bright idea of leaving me alone in a classroom in hopes that it would give me a sense of freedom and normalcy. But, without her there, the bullying became much, much worse. I don’t even like thinking about it. Luckily, because of this, she accompanied me to my classes yet again. My classmates were all too chicken to make fun of me when she was there. However, the only taste of freedom that I had ever experienced was snatched away just as quickly as it was given to me.
The drapes glistened black, twinkling in the yellow beam of the hallway light. I could see inside through the glass doors, a black and white modern theme with flashing lights flooding the room, the menacing boom of muffled pop hits filling my ears. I suppose they wanted to go with a more classy feel with the decorations this year, but instead, it felt like a cheap, tacky funeral.
“Are you ready to go in?” My assistant beamed, crouching down to ask me the question, her chilly hand making its way onto my lap. Truth is, I wasn’t, and I didn’t think I ever would be. But we all had to face our fears somehow. Giving her a small smile, I looked in her direction and nodded, my hands quivering. I had waited so long for this moment. I knew it wouldn’t hold up to my childhood dreams. It would be nothing like the prom in High School Musical. It would probably be worse than the prom in Carrie, knowing my luck, but still. Even though I found it hard to admit, somewhere deep down, a small part of me buzzed with excitement, adrenaline filling my body.
I sat there and watched as my assistant struggled to find a way to open the double doors and wheel me through. Well, at least I was making a grand entrance. Sprawled across the whole doorway, one leg holding the right door open and both arms holding the left, slipping around the glossy wooden floor like a baby giraffe trying to walk for the first time, Savannah (finally) realised that she wouldn’t be able to do this alone.
“Hi,” She sighed, stopping a couple as they were about to walk into the room. “You wouldn’t be able to help us, would you?” Savannah asked, signalling towards me as I sat there awkwardly.
“Oh, of course!” the girl replied, making a face to her black tied partner to hold the right door as she got the left. She looked so elegant. Her crystal white dress floated as she made her way to the door, laying against it as she opened it for me.
“Thank you!” Savannah smiled, taking hold of my wheelchairs silver handles and wheeling me towards the hive of teenagers inside the room. I could feel the atmosphere hit me on my way in, the smell of mocktails filling my nostrils. This was going to be a long night.
“Have a great time!” The same girl called with a smile as she swanned in, the lights shimmering on her sequined bodice as her long and graceful hair feathered behind. I wheeled in after her. Yeah, right. I could try. I would try. But I’m not making any promises.