Inspired by Ellis Delaney’s song, “Not Everyone Fits,” prompted by “prom dress” from within a creative circle of songwriters. Prompted music prompted literary art. We break free.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Ess-sense by Doug Jacquier
Not everyone fits a prom dress
Not everyone fits a compress
Not everyone spurns a temptress
Not everyone earns their distress
Not everyone wears a nightdress
Not everyone cares to undress
Not everyone has a headdress
Not everyone has the right address
Not everyone has their wounds dress’d
Not everyone is super-stressed
Not everyone gets some redress
Not everyone feels they’re repressed
Not everyone is a seamstress
Not everyone is a mistress
Not everyone is a waitress
Not everyone is a priestess
Not everyone is a tigress
Not everyone has to digress
But everyone needs a hand to press.
Dress Code: Fancy by E.A. Colquitt
Kara was stuck. The only dresses in the approved shop were a trip hazard. And dinner jackets just felt so restrictive! By day, they barely stood the school blazer, throwing it off as soon as they got in.
Around the house, Kara just wore superhero costumes. They longed to inspire their peers, as their namesake had them. But how?
Mum was unfazed. ‘What’s the problem?’ she asked. ‘It says fancy dress.’
So, masked-up, Kara flew off to prom. Those knee-high boots with hidden jets easily vaulted the venue’s ha-ha.
No flowing cape, though. It’s not exactly à la Mode.
An Unexpected Guest by Joanne Fisher
“My name is Gruu’nuh. I wish to look pretty and go to prom.” Gruu’nuh announced after emerging out of a portal in Samantha’s bedroom floor. Samantha was going to say that prom was for students and guests only, but she looked up at the towering figure with claws and writhing tentacles, and well, who was she to say no?
Nothing in the house would fit Gruu’nuh, so Samantha draped material over her and stapled it together. Satisfied, Gruu’nuh applied lipstick to her many mouths and eyeliner to her clusters of eyes. It was going to be a memorable evening.
Dressed for the Prom by Norah Colvin
She surprised them when she emerged, resplendent in formal gown, announcing, “I’m going to the prom.” With a smile as wide as a rainbow after rain, she twirled for them to admire her from every angle. Gorgeous, they agreed, though it was a little wide in the shoulders and a little long in the hem. The neckline would be revealing without underclothes. Someone suggested the beads were overdone, that one or two strands would suffice, but the decision was made. As soon as Billy arrived in the limo for big sister Maud, she was ready. What was keeping him?
If the Dress Fits by Duane L Herrmann
“Dad! NO! DON’T!!” Tuzulia shouted as her father went into the dressing room.
“You said you would be the ugliest person in this dress,” he replied. “I want to find out.”
“Oh, Dad,” she moaned and slumped in the chair by the door. Why had she opened her big mouth? Though she knew her father would do something incomprehensible; she never anticipated this!
“So,” he announced later, stepping out. “Who’s uglier in this prom dress? You, or me?”
“You,” she moaned.
“Now,” he asked gently. “Which one do you want to try on?”
Not-so-haute Couture by Nancy Brady
Steve surprised Julia by asking her to the winter semi-formal. In high school, this didn’t mean a gown, just a dressy dress. When she asked, he told her the same thing.
Julia never went to prom; nor had a prom dress, but Julia was always worried about dressing inappropriately for events.
Julia wore her best short dress, but she was the only one. The other women wore gowns, but Steve didn’t seem to mind. He stopped and kissed her on the way in. It was her first kiss; he tasted like cherry, and she stopped worrying about her dress.
One Size Does Not Fit All by Joanne Fisher
Max (short for Maxine) had always been a tomboy. Now into her teenage years others assumed she would finally become more feminine, but she continued to defy expectations by always wearing jeans and t-shirts and keeping her hair short, but now it was time to attend prom.
After going around clothes shops and trying on dresses, Max knew it wasn’t her every time she looked in the mirror. Her father remarked: “Not everyone fits a prom dress” when he saw her frustration. So Max went to the prom in a tux instead. No one was the least bit surprised.
Sumita by Saifun Hassam
Dress? Sari? Sumita was adamant. She was not going to the prom dance. She thought of her music class at the temple that same evening.
Growing up in Chicago, Sumita enjoyed many things American and Indian. When it came to music, she loved Indian devotional music.
She went to her music class, playing ragas on her sitar. She came home to find a gorgeous bouquet of star lilies for her. It was from Paul. He wanted to learn to play the guitar to the sounds and rhythms of Indian music. Could he join her next Saturday at the temple?
Haunted Prom Dress by Simon
Group of college students walked into an abandoned hotel for thrill.
One of them opened a room and there was a prom dress, bright and shiny. Amazed with what he saw, he tried to call his mates.
Before he does, he disappeared!
The moment he opened his eyes, he was wearing the dress.
His plea for help, scared his friends away, since then he is missing.
The investigations found a simple note
“Not everyone fits a prom dress, the one that fits will disappear”
The missing guy screamed, nobody heard his plea, all they saw is hung prom dress.
Red and White Dress by Anne Goodwin
The bodice crushed my bosoms. Which would burst first, the seams of my dress or me? But I refused to wear that ugly smock for my homecoming. They could keep it for some other unfortunate girl.
Through the taxi window, nothing looked familiar. As we stopped at a palatial building, Sister Bernadette began to pray.
“Am I to go into service?”
A man descended the stone steps to meet us, his gaze on my breasts. I hoped he’d mistake the leakage for a white spot in the pattern of my dress.
“Welcome to Ghyllside.”
The asylum? I’d been tricked.
Promenade? by Connor Dickinson
9am, Friday 4th July. I’m Cinderella’s lost slipper.
IT girl Melania indulges a tarty-red-number. Then weighs me up, ‘Who would want that porker?’
I’M LAYERED. Yet humiliated threadbare. Our Queen’s classless jibes. Her King dumbwitted: screwed.
God, am I unworthy? I’m prettier, voluptuous perhaps?
Fantasy. A tuxed-Casanova, spins me. The dance floor explodes purple- organza-Catherin-wheels.
4pm. Door opens. I tremble. Damn, another false alarm.
4.55pm. Hopeless. Mother outlaw’s suitors after 5pm.
Execute me please?
4.59pm. Chubby Clare Rogers trundles in panting, pounding Gallow-boards.
I nearly die. Relief. Gracefully hooked off the rack.
Something Old, Something New by Sue Spitulnik
Becca asked Tessa, “Is there any chance you still have your sparkly white prom dress from high school?”
“It’s probably in a closet at my parents. Why?”
“Michael frequently mentions how you looked in that dress, and he’s carried the picture all these years.”
“Really? You must realize there’s no way it’ll fit.”
“But I’ll bet we could use the skirt fabric layers to make a new bodice, even with sleeves if you want, and add a different skirt. Michael would be thrilled.”
“Won’t it be too formal?”
“Not if I design it right,” she said, sketching her visualization.
Forgetting by D. Avery
A June night. Prom night. ‘A Night to Remember’. “You’re beautiful,” he said.
An August evening. “I’ll do the right thing. I’m working full time… we’ll live with my mom.”
A September morning. She would have been at college. It was a small wedding.
The baby came in March. “He’s perfect,” he said. “He looks just like his father,” his mother said.
Another August evening. He held the sleeping baby while watching baseball with his mother.
“I’m going out for a bit,” she said.
“Home run!” they shouted, waking the baby.
She left her prom dress and son behind.
We Might Have Danced by Bill Engleson
We might have danced in the morning,
We might have breathed the sweet early air.
We might have flown like an eagle soaring.
We might have landed almost anywhere.
Maybe you think that we knew it all,
that there was nothing else left to learn.
But if we listened to our hearts love call,
We might have found a new fire to burn.
We might have danced in the evening light.
We might have breathed the cool night air.
We might have put up more of a fight
If we hadn’t been wearied from all that wear and tear.
The Fitting Challenge by Fiery Females
“It tastes heavenly, but this is not the traditional recipe.” The mix of approval and disapproval in her expression is priceless.
“I tweak recipes everyday, because I don’t like food from graveyards. Those recipes were invented and perfected by people long gone. Food needs to be alive like me – thinking, changing, evolving and just the right fit for today’s moods.”
My aunt looks disgusted with “food from graveyards.”
“We need to respect our heritage.”
“By all means, I do improvise on heritage. Just don’t ask me to fit into old dresses or old lifestyles. You will always be disappointed.”
The Inevitable by Charli Mills
A deputy pounded on Faith’s door. Time to flee. When evacuation orders came, Faith rushed.
Living in the Tahoe basin, she memorized a fire-safety plan she never believed she’d use. Nervous remote workers had fled earlier. For weeks, impenetrable smoke curdled blue sky. Her weather app displayed a gas-mask for air quality. Neighbors passed a rumor that the Nation would deploy the Army. Who would let Tahoe burn?
Climate reality answered with unstoppable flames jumping HWY 50 and the Pacific Crest. Faith double-checked her mental list shoved into a car.
The prom dress from 1985 she hung to burn.
Mother Teaches by Myrna Migala
“Mom, Dad look and see that house you often admired its yard. It’s for sale! You would often say the grass was ever so green.”
“Yes, dear, but the grass always looks greener on the other side.”
“Huh, what does that mean?”
“It means some people are never satisfied with their own lives and wish for what they should not desire. They even believe that God makes mistakes.” Mother continues. “When/if they arrive on the greener grass, they might find out where they were was the best fit after all. Always trying to fit in can be boring.”
Successful Stress by JulesPaige
I didn’t want to fit into a prom dress. Especially the one my mother picked for me. Nor did I really care for the blind date my father had set up. I’d have done just fine if I never attended my High School Senior Prom. In that white eyelet lace halter top, floor length gown. My waist long hair plastered in a ridiculous updo because the hairdresser my mother took me to, said it was all the ‘rage’. Bologna! I don’t think one other gal had such a stupid teased updo.
parent pleasing fail
year end dance
The Pact by Annette Rochelle Eben
Senior prom, the biggest night of high school life, even bigger than homecoming. Cheryl was in tears. She had just been cast as the female lead for a local community theatre production of Butterflies Are Free. Of course, the production would run her senior prom weekend. It meant that she’d be the only one in her senior class who wouldn’t be at the prom.
Hearing her crying, her friend Annette promised to work backstage on the production so Cheryl wouldn’t be the only one not at the prom. There’d be at least one friend there for Cheryl’s big night!
Not Everyone Fits by FloridaBorne
I didn’t want to go to my high school prom; I’m a terrible dancer and didn’t have a boyfriend.
My mother would have made a dress for me had I wanted to go, but who wants “mom” driving them to the prom?
When my boyfriend in college invited to the ROTC dance, she made an empire-style prom dress out of black velvet on the bottom with orange satin top. Mom had sewn it using a dollar’s worth of remnants and it was an inch too short.
My dress received lots of compliments from girls wearing expensive Scarlett O’hara dresses.
Cigarette Smoke and Bad Memories by Ellen Best
On the anniversary, she hung her dress at the window. From her mattress, she watched the morning sun catch the turquoise fabric making it shimmer. She studied it through a haze of thick Cigarette Smoke.
The dress was the cleanest thing in there. The dress still bore the stain of his urine. Time had turned the intricate chiffon bodice a dirty shade of chartreuse.
Such a glorious name ruined as she had been ruined. It wasn’t only the prom he spoiled, but herself, her innocence, and the only connection to family that she had left, her Grandmother’s beautiful dress.
Why I Didn’t Make It to the Party by Anne Goodwin
“Sorry, can’t let you in.” The bouncer thrust the invitation at her.
Anne checked it over: right date; right nightclub. “You’re joking!”
The bouncer flexed his muscles. “Your outfit contravenes the dress code.”
“What?” Anne knew she looked good tonight, even if she didn’t always, in her faux-silk trousers and high-collared blouse.
“What’s wrong with them?” What was wrong with him? If only the embroidered dragons on her pink satin shoes could breathe real fire.
“Let’s go!” Hari took her hand.
Anne’s cheeks roasted. It wasn’t her footwear that caused offence. It was her boyfriend’s brown skin.
Timeless by Rebecca Glaessner
Despite countless weeks spent on coding and design, she’d almost forgotten the outfit.
School notification; dance-hall activated.
Eyes closed, chest tight, time to upload.
Other students uploaded too, filling the dark virtual dance-hall with a chaos of colour. The guests contrasting with timber decor meant for long-lost tuxedos and ballgowns.
She took a moment to escape above the excitement, drifting in a sleek, flight-encoded, wavelength-shifting jumpsuit.
Someone announced her name, startling her as she landed.
Everyone cheered. Friends embraced her.
She’d won best-dressed.
Breathing deep, she ascended again in a shimmer, and soared, feeling free and utterly glorious.
The Night Owl by Donna Matthews
5 am, and my alarm is blaring.
Last night, frustrated by my less than stellar morning routine, I decided to start waking up earlier. But now that the moment arrived, what the hell was I thinking?? I didn’t even bother with snooze, just shutting the damn thing off.
Noon, I’m berating myself with a pile of unpaid bills, errands unrun, no workout. What’s wrong with me???
Later, after dinner, I break out the watercolors, inspired by a book I’m reading. Around midnight, I step back to admire the piece. The night owl stares back…two kindred spirits sharing the night.
A Stitch in Time by D. Avery
“Kid! Thet ol’ Singer’s singin’! Didn’t figger ya fer a sewer.”
“Cuz ya make assumptions Pal, which limit yersef as well as me.”
“Hmmf. What’re ya makin’? Thet looks like a pile a old prom dresses thet yer takin apart at the seams.”
“Yep. Then I’m sewin’ ‘em all t’gether inta a parachute. Curly wants ta keep at flyin’.”
“S’pose thet pig told ya thet hersef.”
“Don’t assume she didn’t. If pigs can fly,…”
“Kid, thet was last week’s prompt. This’s pretty lame.”
“Tough prompt. What else I got?”
“Yer fergettin’ the Lemmon twins.”
“Shift! Mebbe I’ll be back.”
Bespoke an’ Be Speakin’ by D. Avery
“Here they are! Tip an’ Top Lemmon!”
“Hey Kid. Heard ya was strugglin’ with the prompt.”
“It ain’t a good fit, fellas. Um… Yer wearin’ cowboyin’ duds.”
“We been cowboyin’, Kid. Was ya hopin’ we’d be wearin’ prom dresses?”
“Anyway, growth is good, but it sure makes it hard ta squeeze inta them old dresses.”
“Why d’ya do it? Hasn’t puttin’ on women’s clothin’ made it hard fer ya ta fit in?”
“Women’s clothin’? Clothes is clothes.”
“We’re comf’terble enough in our own skins ta cover our skins with whatever’s comf’terble.”
“So if it feels good—”