A Formal Occasion

25 Nov 2022

The dress was everything Sharon had ever dreamed of wearing for the occasion. A flowing, strapless gown of the deepest burgundy, it fit her perfectly, flattering her curves and accentuating her dark skin and eyes.

"I love it Mum!" she cried with delight as she twirled in front of the mirror.

"Oh now, be careful not to mess up your hair," Carrie smiled, hurrying over to carefully tuck back in a lock of mahogany hair that had escaped from her daughter’s elaborately piled curls.

Sharon had been looking forward to her senior formal all year and now that the night had finally arrived, she could barely contain her excitement. All day, she and her mother had spent their time together. They both had their hair and nails done before getting facials and make-overs. Sharon felt like a princess.

"You look beautiful darling," Dan enthused as he entered the room already dressed in his tuxedo.

"Thank you Daddy!" Sharon rushed over and kissed his cheek, "Doesn’t Mum look amazing too?"

"Yes she does," he agreed, eyeing his wife appreciatively in her simple, elegant white dress, "Time for photos! Come on everyone in the living room!"

The professional photographer Dan had hired took shots of Sharon from every angle and then some family shots. Some with all three of them and some with Sharon and one parent at a time.

Dan and Carrie followed Sharon and the photographer out side and stood and watched as their radiant daughter posed for pictures in the garden.

"Are you alright Carrie?" Dan asked, putting an arm around her shoulders as she stood quietly, lost in thought.

"Of course," she looked up at Dan’s broad, handsome features, so like their daughter’s, and smiled, "I’m just so pleased she got this chance."

Dan squeezed her shoulder in understanding. He remembered Carrie’s senior year when he’d pleaded with her fruitlessly to attend her own class formal. But Carrie had refused, outwardly determined and confident, but secretly embarrassed at being the only teen mother in her small town high school.

That had been a difficult year for Carrie, full of mixed emotions. For the most part the teachers and students had respected her bravery in continuing her education while developing a strong sense of independence and pride in being a good mother as well.

But it was also a time where her responsibilities had slowly driven apart friendships as she could no longer participate in ordinary teenage activities and she began to feel lost between two worlds. Carrie could no longer relate to her friends, but she also could not relate to older mothers, most of whom wanted nothing to do with her anyway.

Dan had almost convinced her to go, not wanting her to miss out on an event he’d had the opportunity to experience only two years before, but then she’d brought home a school newsletter that had made her decision. The principal had included an article about the upcoming dance, stating that only students and their partners would be able to attend. No children would be allowed. As Carrie had been the only mother at the school, and had discussed with a teacher the possibility that she could take Sharon with her to the formal, the words had clearly been directed at her. 

Now as they watched their daughter, happy, safe and secure, preparing for her big night, Dan knew that Carrie must have been wondering about the “what ifs” that plagued her constantly.

"Oh my god! The limo’s here!" Sharon squealed excitedly as the large vehicle pulled into their driveway.

Frowning, Carrie looked down at her watch, "What’s keeping Tyrone?" she asked Sharon worriedly. It was unlike Sharon’s polite, good looking young boyfriend to be late for anything.

"Oh, he’s not coming," Sharon said flippantly, "He’s going in with some of his friends that don’t have dates."

"Well that’s a bit rude," Carrie noted with surprise, "Now you don’t have a date!"

"Of course I do silly! You are my date tonight!"


"I wanted it to be a surprise so that you couldn’t make any excuses."

Carrie looked up at Dan who was standing back grinning, "Did you know about this?"

"Yes, but it was all her idea!"

"Mum, when I saw the photos from Dad’s formal I asked to see yours, and he told me why you didn’t go," Sharon explained, embracing Carrie as her eyes began to well with tears, "You may not have been able to take me to your formal, but I can take you to mine."

The tears began to roll down Carrie’s cheeks freely and she pulled her daughter in close to her, "Sharon, you are the best thing that ever happened to me."

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