Kristen bounded down the stairs. She failed to show any resemblance to the graceful descent she expected to display the following week when she planned to head off to the senior prom with Jay. Kristen looked forward to the prom more than any other event during her final year of high school.
Kristen thought back to the times she had sat on the floor at her mother’s feet. She had her mother tell her all about her own prom — the dress, the corsage and where they went for dinner. Kristen had them all memorized, but she loved to hear her mother recall the memories of her senior year. Hearing her mother’s memories seemed to strengthen their relationship, and looking ahead to her prom the following week made Kristen feel grown up.
Only the Saturday before, Kristen and her mom had gone shopping for the right prom dress. She tried on nine dresses before she made her selection, a strapless emerald green gown to go with her auburn hair.
“What’s the matter, Kristen?” her mom asked as she turned in the car to see her daughter’s glowing smile turn into tears.
“I’m just so happy, Mom. I know you and Dad aren’t rich. I still have the dress I wore to the junior prom in my closet, and yet you and Dad were willing to buy me a new dress.”
“That old thing. Hey, girl, you only get to be a senior once, and your Dad and I know how much having a new dress for the prom means to you.”
“Am I spoiled, Mom?”
“Probably, but a good spoiled.”
“Well, I just want you and Dad to know how grateful I am,” Kristen said as she unbuckled her seat beat and slid over to give her mom a hug.
“Hey, buckle up! I’m not going to take off until you do. Besides we have to hurry home so we can show off your dress to your dad and Tommy.”
“Why Tommy? What do little brothers know? Remember last year, “Look, tomboy has a dress on_”
“Well, it might have been the first time Tommy saw you in a dress.”
“No, it wasn’t. Remember I wore one to granddaddy’s funeral.”
“Okay, the second time.”
“Besides, Jay doesn’t mind that I wear jeans all the time.”
“You’ve got a point there, girl. If Jay and your dad approve, who cares what Tommy thinks?”
Kristen rounded the corner to the living room and saw her mom talking on the phone. She looked as if she had heard some bad news. Kristen’s focus quickly changed from the weekend before when she and her mom picked out a prom dress together to wondering what had upset her mom.
As soon as her mother hung up the phone, Kristen pumped her.
“What’s wrong, Mom? Is everybody okay?”
“It’s the Thompson’s, dear. They had a fire. No one was hurt, but they lost everything.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“What are they going to do?”
“I don’t know. They’re staying with Mrs. Thompson’s parents over on Claymoore Avenue for a few days until they get everything sorted out.”
“How’s Keri doing?”
“I’d say she’s happy to be alive, but she’s devastated from the loss.”
“We were planning to double for the prom, Keri and Jason, and Jay and I. Now, I wonder if she’ll even go. I sure hope she does. I think it would be good for her.”
“Me, too,” her mom agreed. “Everyone needs a positive diversion at a time like this. I sure hope she still goes, too.”
“Mom, if you don’t mind I’m going to my room. I’ve got some thinking to do.”
“That’s fine, dear. Remember I’m here if you need to talk.”
“You and Dad are always here for us, Mom, and I’m forever grateful.”
“As grateful as you were to get the dress?” her mom asked.
With that Kristen turned and headed up the stairs, not in her normal three steps at a time gate, but slowly, using the banister to pull herself up.
After several minutes of lying across the bed in deep thought, Kristen once again emerged from her room and bounded down the stairs.
“In here, dear.”
“Mom, I’ve got a question.”
“Well, Mom, I’ve been thinking. You know, about Keri and the Thompsons.”
“I hope you’re not upset. I don’t think you will be.”
Upset about the Thompsons?”
“You know I don’t mean upset about the Thompsons. I mean upset about what I want to do.”
“I’m never upset about anything you want to do. You know that.”
“I know. Well, I’ve been thinking. Since Keri lost everything in that fire, what would you think if I gave her some of my clothes? I’ve really got more than I need.”
“I think that would be great! Carolyn said the Thompson’s could use practically anything.”
“I wasn’t thinking of practically anything. I was even thinking of giving her my prom dress if she’s still going.”
“That’s sweet of you, dear. I doubt if anyone would recognize it as the dress you wore last year.”
“You know what I mean, Mom. I’ll be the one wearing the one I wore last year. I plan to give Keri my new one.”
“Why I think that’s wonderful! Whatever possessed you to think of something like that?”
“I’m not sure. It could be heredity and it could be environment.”