Exercise #39: The Homecoming Dilemma

Exercise 39 Instructions

Warning: This story is over 1400 words long.

I am a falcon, flying high as I scream the song of my freedom to the earth below
I am a wolf, running beside my family as I search my world for the things we need
I am a thunderstorm, whose forks of lightning brighten the scene with brilliant light
I am a geode, seeming ordinary on the outside but containing a kind of unique beauty inside.
I am a lilac bush, filling the world with my delicious perfume every year that I live.
I am a tall sycamore, providing a quiet place for my loved ones to escape the noisy world.
I am a waterfall, seeming calm until I tumble down with a splash and a roar below.
I am a wooden spoon, useful for every kind of cooking, main dish to dessert to beverages.
I am a princess, the known representative of my family to the world outside.


“What am I gonna do, Mom?” Crystal moaned, throwing her bag on the floor as she came through the front door.

“At a guess, I’d say,” Mom replied, putting a finger to her chin in mock thought, “hang your backpack on its hook so I don’t have to do it myself?”

“Maaahhhm,” Crystal moaned.

“Don’t ‘maaaaahm’ me,” Mom said, turning a page in her book. “Just do it.”

Glaring at her, Crystal reluctantly picked her bag back off the floor and hung it on the hook her father had installed for her.

“Now,” Mom smiled, laying her book aside, “what’s the trouble?”

“I just got elected homecoming queen!” Crystal exclaimed, throwing herself into the sofa.

“That’s excellent news!” Mom responded, “so where’s the problem? You’ve been obsessing about that for a week.”

“What am I going to wear?” Crystal moaned unhappily. “Lisa Garfield and Harmony Jacobsen both brought pictures of their dresses to Home Ec class today. They’re going to look more like queens than I will.”

“Oh?” Mom replied, her eyebrows rising.

“Lisa’s dress is teal silk and it ties behind her neck,” Crystal explained miserably, “Harmony Jacobsen’s dress is green satin and it fits her like a glove with no back or sleeves. They’re both having their hair done at fancy salons, too.”

“Well,” mused her mother, “there’s always your grandmother’s wedding dress.”

“Mom,” Crystal groaned, “I can’t wear that thing! It’s so old fashioned!”

“Well, Crys,” Mom said, picking up her book again, “you’re eighteen now, so I can’t make your decisions for you. However, let me just say this. Whatever you wear as homecoming queen will tell anyone who sees you who you are and what you stand for. Keep that in mind when you choose your outfit.” With that, Mom returned to her book.

Crystal went to her room and flopped onto her bed. Weren’t mothers supposed to help their children in stressful situations? Did she call this help? Then again, there was a bit of a bright side. She didn’t have to find a date. Tad Germaine had been selected as Homecoming King and they were being picked up for the homecoming game in a stretch limousine. Tad Germaine was THE most popular boy at Kennedy High School. Crystal had often admired him from afar, but she’d never so much as entertained the possibility of going to homecoming with him. Now that the student body had more or less sewn that up for her, she really wanted to make an impression on him so that, maybe, he’d ask her out himself.

Sitting up, Crystal went to her desk and pulled out her bank book. In her savings account was money her parents and grandparents had been socking away for college since she was just a little girl. She’d begun adding to the account herself when she was twelve and, looking at the little book, she saw that she had a pretty sizable amount of money in there. She supposed she could probably take it all out and buy an outfit for herself that would knock Tad’s socks clean off and make Lisa Garfield and Harmony Jacobsen look so uninteresting in their expensive couture gowns, but then she’d be more or less sacrificing college for the sake of a single once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She was sure her parents would be disappointed, whatever her mother said.

Then her mother’s parting words returned to her in a rush. Whatever you wear as homecoming queen will tell anyone who sees you who you are and what you stand for. Crystal knew her mother was right. Her church leaders had all been saying something similar since she was six years old. So, who was she then? What did she stand for?

Looking around her room, Crystal’s eyes took everything in. Here and there, she’d tacked up inspirational posters that had pictures of things she liked. On her door was tacked a poster of a peregrine falcon in flight against a forget-me-not blue sky. The message beneath it read, “Imagine.” Next to that, on the wall above the light switch was a poster of a waterfall that descended like a bridal veil from the rocks above it, that said, “Optimism changes dreams of possibilities into images of probabilities.” Above her desk, just to the right of the mirror was a poster of a wolf framed by a series of birch trees. “Seek always,” it said. “For by looking for one thing, you will surely find another. This is the path to wisdom.” Near this was a poster that showed a farm landscape with a jagged lightning bolt striking the ground in the background. This read, “Try to make every place you go just a little brighter.”

Her eyes fell on the paper weight her father had given her last month for a birthday present. On the outside, it seemed like just an ordinary rock, but inside was a hollow filled with sparkling amethyst crystals. “You’re just like this, chickadee,” her father had said as she turned the weight over in her hand. “You might look ordinary on the outside, but inside you’re special. The trick is to find a way to show people who you are inside without losing it.”

Outside her window, Crystal spotted the lilac bush she’d planted there three years ago with her grandmother, just two months before the woman had passed away. “Sweetheart,” she’d said, “You’re just like this bush. You make everything around you seem beautiful.” Beyond that was the sycamore tree that, when she was a girl, her father had flatly forbidden her to climb. Now, she often ascended the ladder there just to find a moment’s peace and quiet.

Looking at the old tree reminded Crystal of the set of wooden spoons her Aunt Claire had sent for her eighteenth birthday. “There’s nothing you can’t do in the kitchen,” she’d declared, “if you have a set of wooden spoons.”

Just then, Crystal’s eyes landed on her Barbie doll. Her Young Women‘s President had once challenged her girls to sew modest clothing for their Barbies and Crystal had enjoyed the activity so much that her doll had wound up with about forty outfits, including the floor-length white bridal gown she was currently wearing. Crystal had even fashioned a veil to go with it, but it was currently put away with the rest of Barbie’s wardrobe. Instead, resting on Barbies golden hair was her pink princess crown.

“Hey, princess,” her dad said from the door.

“I’m not a princess, daddy,” Crystal sighed, picking the doll from its wire stand and straightening the folds of the gown.

“You’re a daughter of God,” said her father, walking over to stroke his daughter’s warm, brown hair. “That makes you princess enough for me, chickadee.” So saying, he bent and kissed Crystal’s cheek, then left.

Crystal suddenly felt very warm, tears coming unexpectedly to her eyes. Brushing them away, she wondered if she could alter her grandmother’s wedding dress just enough to make it more of a formal without losing any of its antique grace and style. If people were going to see her for who she really was, then showing off her heritage in gramma’s wedding dress, artfully updated, would be the perfect way to do it.

Smiling, Crystal began to search her room for her sewing kit.

This submission is based on my picture of myself. So, as such, it has a distinct Mormon flavor that I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world. It’s also a lot longer than it was supposed to be. In this case, I just took the idea I got from the poem I created at the top and ran with it.

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