There were exceptions, of course. Strangely, this year Anna Blackwell was one of them. She was considered one of the popular girls; bubbly, pretty, clever without being geeky, active without being a jock. She never lacked for friends among the girls and she was considered one of the top ten datable girls in her class by the boys, but as the formal approached, she seemed... distracted.
"It's weird. Usually she's so excited about parties!" confided one of her friends to another over lunch. "But this year she hardly seems to care."
"I asked if she was coming with anyone and she said yes, but when I asked if we knew who they were, she just kind of shrugged and said they were from out of town," revealed the other. "I wonder if that means no-one asked?"
"Maybe. Maybe no-one did and she's too embarrassed to say."
The night of the formal arrived. Boys, awkward in their formal clothes, redolent of gel and too much cologne; girls, giggling and over-excited in high heels and fancy dresses, hair curled and coiffed. The ballroom echoed with shrieks of laughter and girlish squeals of greeting as each arrival was welcomed and examined and critiqued as soon as they'd moved on.
Then Anna arrived, and a hush fell over the crowd.
Anna had gone for simple, a little black dress with lace mesh in the back spotted with rhinestones, her blonde hair caught up in a loose bun. She held her date's hand and held her chin high, as if daring them all to say something. When no-one did, Anna led the way over to her friends, her smile both worried and defiant.
"Hi!" she said brightly. "I'd like to introduce my date. This is Sofia." She paused and then added. "My girlfriend."
TweetsofOld: Wanted: To know why Anna Blackwell did not mask at the ball.