Violetta knew the prom at an all-girls school was bound to be disaster. Especially in 1945. Neither she nor Agnes had boyfriends- the war made that difficult. It seemed as if every boy over the age of fourteen had vanished from their neighbor after “the day of infamy” as President Roosevelt called it, even those who weren’t strictly of fighting age yet. The patriotism had been tangible. Now, so was death.
Just as her mother poured the wine, the phone rang. Agnes and Violetta were helping her serve. Prom? Not for them. Her father answered it, and his booming laugh echoed from the living room a moment later.
“Violetta! Come here,” he said, grinning. The phone held in his hand like a Christmas present, he grinned. “Go get Agnes and get dressed. You’re going to the prom.”
“No buts. Go!”
Agnes and Violetta were dressed within a half-hour, hair curled, dresses fresh from Uncle Tony’s wedding. In the car on the way to the school their father was gleeful but surprisingly taciturn.
Sister Agatha met them at the car, practically shining. Violetta didn’t know when she’d ever seen a happier nun.
“Girls, girls, girls! I’m so glad you could come. Mary went down to Times Square to the USO office and picked up a few nice sailors, fresh from the front to be your dates!” Violetta grinned despite herself. Her schoolmate was boy-crazy, but she did have a good idea now and again. Her father grinned and drove off as Sister Agatha dragged them inside to meet the officers.
They smiled and flirted, rather too loudly for Violetta’s taste, but they were handsome American heroes and she let a little bubble of hope form in her chest. Maybe, maybe…
Maybe not. An hour later, she sat along the wall beside Agnes, as always, as their “dates” flirted with other girls. Anger kept her back straight, pride kept the tears at bay.
The voice almost jerked her ramrod out of her seat, but its identification relaxed her posture- their friend Alexandra’s brother Michael. He was here with his girl, but was looking at them.
“Would you and Agnes like a ride home? Me, Caroline and Alexandra are leaving now.”
Agnes glanced once at Violetta. She could see the silent plea in her sister’s eyes: Get us out of here!
“Thank you, Michael. That would be lovely,” she admitted, standing.
As the door of her house closed behind her, Violetta wondered how they would have gotten home without Michael’s intervention. That thought was finally the one to make her cry.