El Desastre Del Baile De Graduación
Se secó las lágrimas mientras el director seguía gritándole. El guardia de seguridad ya la estaba sacando a rastras del recinto, rogándole que obedeciera.
Pero, ¿cómo iba a hacerlo si la habían señalado entre 500 estudiantes? Marcó el número de su padre. Si querían guerra, ella les daría una que nunca olvidarían.
Un Mes Difícil
Había sido un mes difícil para Macy, que sentía que nada le salía bien. En su último año de instituto, vivía como muchas chicas de su edad.
Tenía un pequeño círculo de amigas a las que adoraba, un amor de instituto por el que habría dado cualquier cosa por tener el valor de hablar y la necesidad de aprobar todas las asignaturas. Pero esto no significaba que Macy fuera como muchas de sus compañeras.
Su Mayor Preocupación
Mientras que la mayoría de los jóvenes de dieciséis años se preocupan por la universidad a la que irán o con quién irán al baile de graduación, los intereses de Macy se centraban en otra cosa.
Hija de un marino, veía a su padre muy poco. Sólo había estado con él unos pocos meses en los últimos cinco años, repartidos en breves periodos semanales. Con todo lo que llevaba dentro, esperaba que estuviera cerca al menos para verla con su vestido de graduación.
Macy y su padre siempre habían tenido una relación especial. Tras perder a su madre al nacer, se convirtió en la humana favorita de su padre. Según él, su madre tenía grandes planes para ella.
Quería pasar tiempo cotilleando con ella como lo hacían las madres y las hijas, quería llevarla al centro comercial a tomar helados y a que les arreglaran el pelo. Pero tristemente, Macy nunca conoció tal realidad.
Un Corazón Maravilloso
Dada la ocupación de su padre, pasó la mayor parte de su vida con sus abuelos paternos en Tampa, Florida. Se convirtió en una joven brillante, respetuosa y valiente, con la esperanza de que todo el mundo se sintiera orgulloso de ella.
Para ella, el baile de graduación consistía en celebrar quién era. Quería mostrar su amor por la cultura y, al mismo tiempo, hacer un guiño a su difunta madre. No tenía ni idea de que todo se le vendría encima.
El Vestido Rojo
Macy empezó a prepararse semanas antes de su gran noche. Gracias a los interminables conocimientos de su abuela sobre diseño de moda y costura, fue capaz de encontrar el vestido perfecto para el evento.
El vestido era un precioso Cheongsam rojo. Macy y su abuela pasaron horas planeando los detalles, desde el color hasta las sedas y brocados que utilizarían. Pero el vestido no traería más que dolor.
Reglas Y Normas
La noche del baile de graduación estaba a la vuelta de la esquina, y el vestido de Macy’s estaba quedando estupendo. El colegio había instruido un código de vestimenta sencillo pero elegante, pidiendo a los asistentes que se abstuvieran de llevar nada demasiado revelador o inapropiado.
Macy se aseguró de que su vestido se ajustara a los requisitos. No quería que su noche fuera ordinaria. Poco sabía ella que todo acabaría en lágrimas.
En La Puerta
Llegó la gran noche y Macy y sus amigas se subieron a la furgoneta de su abuela, dispuestas a pasarlo como nunca. El trayecto fue corto; antes de que las chicas se dieran cuenta, estaban ante las enormes puertas dobles de su colegio.
Unos cuantos profesores se alineaban en la entrada temática de los 90 junto a algunos padres voluntarios. La abuela de Macy dejó a las niñas y se marchó después de desearles una noche llena de acontecimientos.
Las niñas se pusieron rápidamente manos a la obra y Macy las guió a través de las puertas. Pero no habían dado ni cinco pasos dentro del edificio cuando alguien la llamó por su nombre.
La voz era ronca y cargada de autoridad, y le recorrió la espina dorsal. Se quedó inmóvil. Sus ojos se volvieron hacia sus amigos, que estaban tan quietos como ella. Sólo una persona podía inspirarle tanto miedo.
“Señorita Everett”, volvió a llamar el director, el señor Johnson. Su traje negro brillaba bajo las luces azules y verdes del pasillo, haciéndole parecer tan ominoso y mortífero como la mayoría de los alumnos creían que era. Con sus dos metros y medio de estatura, solía sobresalir por encima de todos cuando caminaba por el pasillo de la escuela.
“Un momento”, espetó, señalando hacia el lado donde su despacho aguardaba hambriento. Macy asintió y entregó su bolso a una de sus amigas. Esperaba que todo fuera bien.
Su Relación Con La Administración
Macy rara vez se había metido en líos en el colegio. En sus años como estudiante de tercer año, sólo había estado castigada una vez. Tenía muy buena relación con el profesorado, ya fueran maestros o personal no docente. Por eso, cuando el director la llamó al despacho, no le dio mucha importancia.
Estudiante de sobresaliente en informática, era la persona a la que acudían la mayoría de los profesores que necesitaban ayuda con sus teléfonos y portátiles. Se equivocó al pensar que ese era el caso aquí.
¿De Dónde Has Sacado Esto?
“Siéntese, Srta. Everett”, dijo el señor Johnson con la mirada recorriendo a Macy desde el cuello hasta los pies. Inclinó la cabeza, con los ojos clavados en su vestido.
“¿De dónde has sacado ese vestido?”, preguntó, y Macy contestó alegremente. “Lo hice yo misma. Bueno, mi abuela me ayudó”. No estaba segura de lo que estaba pasando, pero aun así mantuvo una sonrisa mientras le explicaba todo a su abuela y ella iba confeccionando el vestido. Si supiera lo que pasaba por la cabeza de la directora.
Un Complemento Rápido
El Sr. Johnson felicitó a Macy por el vestido y le dijo que había sido muy amable al incluir a su abuela en la confección. Pero hasta ahí llegaron sus cumplidos.
Su rostro se descompuso casi de inmediato, la fascinación de sus ojos se convirtió en pura malicia cuando su sonrisa se desvaneció. Lo que dijo hizo que Macy se pusiera en pie de un salto.
¿Es Una Broma?
“Vi a tu abuela dejándote hace un minuto”, dijo con calma. “Apuesto a que sigue por el barrio. ¿Qué tal si la llamas para que venga a recogerte?”.
Macy se levantó. ¿Estaba bromeando el director? Intentó sonreír, pensando que se trataba de una broma. Pero los labios del señor Johnson no se curvaron. La miró fijamente a los ojos y le ofreció otra opción.
Hablaba En Serio
“Tu abuela puede venir a recogerte o puede ir a casa y traerte una muda”, dijo el señor Johnson. Macy tardó un minuto en darse cuenta de que el hombre hablaba en serio.
El peso de sus palabras empezó a calar en su piel. Se impregnó de una fuerza enfermiza que minó toda la energía de su cuerpo. ¿Por qué el señor Johnson le estaba haciendo esto a ella y precisamente esta noche?
Por Favor, No Hagas Esto
“¿Por qué?” tartamudeó Macy. “¿Por qué haces esto?” Su vestido cumplía todas las normas del código de vestimenta de la escuela. Incluso se había asegurado de que la abertura del muslo, habitual en la mayoría de los vestidos Cheongsam, no sobrepasara la mitad del muslo.
Sus ojos se posaron en el vestido rojo y se giró para ver si algo iba mal. El señor Johnson, que seguía mirándola fijamente, le aclararía sus intenciones.
“Somos una institución educativa inclusiva”, comenzó. “Respetamos a todos los niños que pasan por nuestras manos, independientemente de su raza, sexo, orientación o cualquier antecedente relacionado”.
Se sentó en su silla, girando lentamente con los dedos apretados ante él. “Un vestido Cheongsam es una pieza de cultura atemporal, señorita Everett. Por casualidad, ¿tiene algún pariente de China?”.
Macy tuvo que reprimir un suspiro cuando escuchó la razón del señor Johnson para llamar la atención sobre su vestido. Sus latidos se ralentizaron y se preparó para demostrar que llevar el vestido no era un error por su parte.
“Bueno, señor”, dijo con confianza. “No tengo ningún pariente directo de allí, pero….”. El señor Johnson levantó una de sus manos. “Pero nada, Srta. Everett”, dijo. “Ningún parentesco, ningún vestido”.
“¿Qué?” murmuró Macy. “Me he pasado semanas haciendo este vestido”. “Las reglas son claras, Srta. Everett. La noche aún es joven. Date prisa en volver a casa, cámbiate de vestido y vuelve”.
Macy dio un tembloroso paso atrás. La forma en que el Sr. Johnson hablaba le hizo sentir como si le estuviera dando una opción. Pero después de haber pasado tiempo bajo su liderazgo como directora, sabía que no era así.
Nada Va Como Ella Quiere
¿Pero cómo iba a ir a casa a cambiarse si lo había dado todo por este vestido? No tenía nada en su armario que encajara con los criterios de la noche y sabía que nunca encontraría un vestido adecuado a estas horas de la noche.
Pensó en los mensajes que le había enviado a su padre ese mismo día, prometiéndole fotos del baile. Él había querido ser quien la llevara al evento, pero lamentablemente no había podido. Y ahora estaba pasando esto.
eriodos semanales. Con todo lo que llevaba dentro, esperaba que estuviera cerca al menos para verla con su vestido de graduación.
The Truth Behind Her And Her Dad
Although Macy and her dad rarely saw each other in person, they always talked over video and phone calls. Macy always sent him photos from her daily life, ensuring he was always in the loop. Given the nature of his occupation, she was in constant fear for his life.
She didn’t want him to miss anything happening on her end. At the start of the month, her dad had promised to take some time off work to come. He meant to be there for her prom. Everything was going great until trouble struck.
Macy and her dad had made plans to drive to prom night together. But at the start of the final week, he got called into work, forcing them to cancel their month-long plans.
Macy was beyond crushed, but the good daughter that she was, she promised to send as many pictures as her phone could take. Her dad also assured her he’d make it home as soon as his mission was over. But as with everything else, their plans would not see the light of day.
Macy fidgeted before the Principal, on the verge of tears. She had never shed a tear before anyone other than her grandparents. She wasn’t about to start now.
Knowing that the best way to handle this situation was to at least try and meet the principal halfway, she thought of a way to ensure every concerned party went home happy.
Meeting Him Halfway
“You’re quiet,” the principal said. “I need to know that you understand what I am saying. Cultural appropriation is nothing to scoff at.”
Macy nodded. But instead of turning to leave, she stepped toward the principal’s desk and said, “But is it alright if I take a few photos for my dad? He’s not around, and I promised to send a few.” She hoped the principal would at least hear her out.
A Moot Point
Macy explained how much she’d been anticipating this night. She even told Mr. Johnson about her dad being unable to make it and how her dress was to pay homage to her late mom.
“Was your mom Chinese?” the principal asked mockingly. “No,” Macy answered. “But she was a designer back in the day, and worked with a few Chinese fashion houses in Beijing.” “That changes nothing, Miss. Everett,” the principal answered.
A Few Snaps
Macy turned around and walked away, her heart throbbing and her sight blurred from stemmed tears. There was no way she could disobey her principal.
But she thought about salvaging the situation with a few photos for her dad. One or two snaps on her way out of the building wouldn’t hurt anyone. She should have known that was a bad idea.
Taking The Pictures
Wiping her eyes, so no one in the hallway knew she was upset, Macy fished out her phone and asked one of her friends to take some photos. She’d already told them that she had to rush home, knowing she wouldn’t be coming back.
But she’d barely taken the first five pictures when Principal Johnson strode out of his office. His jaw ticking, he asked Macy why she was still on school property.
“I’m just taking a few photos for my dad, then I’ll leave,” she answered quickly and respectfully. But instead of giving her the minute or so she’d need to see her activity through, the principal waved over the security guard.
“Please escort Miss. Everett here out of school grounds,” he said. “She needs to respect other people’s cultures. We don’t condone any form of appropriation in this institution, and I hope she understands that.”
A Sheet Of Paper
The security guard was kind enough to ask Macy if she had all the photos she needed. But as they slowly walked through the hall, the principal stepped in, handing Macy a warm sheet of freshly printed paper. Her eyes perused it, the words ‘two-week suspension’ catching her eye.
“Your dress is offensive,” he said. “Putting aside the fact that it appropriates another culture, which is disrespectful in itself, that slit right there will cause a stir at the dance. We don’t want the boys to be having impure thoughts.”
And So It Begins
“What?” Macy asked. How was she getting suspended for a simple dress? To make matters worse, she got all this treatment when she obeyed the principal’s order.
The tears she’d been holding off since the start of this entire debacle finally broke through her lashes. She dashed them away, speed-dialing her dad’s number. She should have known that he was already on his way on a surprise visit.
A 15-Hour Flight
John, Macy’s dad, had spent the last fifteen hours on a flight home, eager to surprise her at prom. He hoped to reach the house before she left so he could be the one to drive her.
Since he’d disappointed her once, he didn’t share the news about his visit. But due to bad weather, he found himself stranded at the airport, waiting for a flight he wasn’t sure was leaving anymore.
It’s A Parental Thing
But a few hours into the wait and the weather cleared. John could feel something calling to him, urging him to get home as fast as he could. He missed his daughter dearly and thought this was because of it.
But as he would soon find out, this was about something more sinister. All hell would break loose when he uncovered the truth behind Macy’s school.
The fifteen hours of flight time couldn’t end fast enough, and John practically bolted off the plane once it touched down in Tampa. It was nightfall, so Macy must’ve already left for her big night.
John hopped into the first cab in sight, hunkering down for another thirty minutes on the road. So close, yet so far, he thought.
Home At Last
The cab pulled before his mom’s house an hour past nine. But his mom’s wagon was nowhere to be seen. Knowing she’d probably driven Macy to school, John took his bags inside and jumped into a quick shower.
He’d left his phone in the living room, and the shower water and his chaotic bathroom singing masked the device’s insistent wails as Macy’s calls and texts came in.
Text Messages And Missed Calls
John was having a change of clothes when the phone rang again. He hurried to it, his brows knitting as he registered the caller.
“Macy,” he whispered as he scooped up the phone. But the call cut. He unlocked the device, and it presented seven text messages and five missed calls from his daughter. A clear indication that something was terribly wrong.
John and Macy always had a simple rule regarding phone calls. If one or the other called once and the call went to voicemail, they could try again.
If the second call didn’t go through, whoever was calling would know the other person was away from their phone, and they should try again in an hour or two. But there was an exception to this rule.
The exception to the rule was also very simple. The caller was allowed a third try if their issue was dire. This third call was only for emergencies that demanded immediate attention.
But today, Macy had left five calls accompanied by seven text messages. John didn’t even need to read the messages to spring into action. He already knew that he needed to get to his girl.
Macy sent her dad one last text as she started her long walk home. The road was empty, save for a few cars that zoomed by. She walked in tears, wondering why the principal had ruined her night.
She was glad her dad wasn’t around to see her in such a mess. She was supposed to be strong-willed like him, not breaking down at such inconveniences. That was when the black car screeched before her.
As the door swung open, Macy froze in place. A large military boot stepped out of the passenger seat, and Macy had to choke back a cry.
Her dad stood before her, taller than Mr. Johnson could dream of being. The age lines on his face were more pronounced due to his worry. But one thing was clear. He’d received her messages.
Skin Of Steel
John and Macy had shared some heartfelt moments, like every time they talked about Macy’s late mom. But in each of those moments, Macy had never shed a tear.
She always seemed hopeful no matter how bad things were. So John couldn’t understand what was so bad that his daughter was drenched in tears and walking alone in the dead of night.
He sat her in the car and held her as she cried. He could barely stay in control, seeing how hurt she was. When she’d cooled somewhat, he listened to her story. The idea behind her dress more than touched John. He found it more sentimental than even she did.
Something that reminded him of his late Annie, Macy’s mom, always moved his heart. How could the principal insist that a dress meant to celebrate life was a form of cultural appropriation?
Going Back To School
John had hitchhiked the car when he couldn’t find a taxi to Macy’s school. He requested the driver to drop them back at the high school, and the man happily obliged.
It wasn’t long before John marched down the hallway with Macy by his side. The man who made his daughter cry would know his wrath.
He didn’t knock on Principal Johnson’s door, only pushed it open and stepped in. He found the principal standing on the other side of his desk, his attention drawn out the window where a few students were running around.
Startled, the man whirled around to find John, burly arms crossed above his chest, staring at it. The terrible end was here.
Crossing The Line
“Mr. Everett,” the principal hurried to great John. But the glare he received from the navy seal had him inching back. John took a deep calming breath, the same way he did whenever control was leaving his body on the battlefield.
He could handle a hail of bullets falling on him or mortars pelting the ground he was running on. But someone bringing his daughter to tears was where he drew the line.
Walking Home Alone
For the sake of civility, he motioned Principal Johnson to sit down. He was a gentleman that way, Mr. John Everett, and wanted the principal to know that. But he was also a dangerous man, a fact that was clear judging from the sweat sheening on the principal’s forehead.
“I found her walking home alone, in tears and shaking,” John said calmly, sitting down as well. “Please, explain, principal. And do it fast while I still have the will to listen.”
Principal Johnson was stuttering over his own words as he tried to explain that Macy’s dress was culturally inappropriate. But John wasn’t buying it.
He asked the Principal how he could determine what was culturally appropriate and what wasn’t. That was when the Principal knew he had met his match. Even he didn’t sound convincing as he tried to bring his point across.
Not A Valid Point
But John allowed him to try to explain himself. He even kept quiet when the man talked himself into a trap. And when his time came, he wiped the floor with the principal.
“My daughter has a valid reason for choosing this type of dress,” John said, and his tone matched his frighting demeanor. “I’m sure she told you that her mother used to work as a fashion designer.”
Also Not Valid
When Principal Johnson saw he wasn’t going to get away with that trick, he tried another tactic. He stated that the slit on Macy’s dress violated the dress code.
“I know for a fact that my daughter covered more than she was supposed to. She did everything in her power to ensure this situation wouldn’t happen,” John said.
Months Of Hard Work
During the months she spent working on her dress, Macy kept John in the loop. She told him about every alteration and about the dress code stipulations that had been put in place for this night.
Macy tried her best to make everything perfect, and from what John could see, she succeeded. However, Principal Johnson didn’t seem to agree.
He Would Not Destroy It
But there was no way John was going to let the Principal destroy his daughter’s big day. It was what every girl her age dreamed of, and it shouldn’t be ruined because someone was targeting her.
As those thoughts crossed John’s mind, something else accompanied them. Was this a regular thing? Was Macy being singled out for other things as well?
With fury burning through his veins, John accused Principal Johnson of doing just that. He asked the man if it was the first time his daughter was being singled out or if it was a habit to pick on her when her father was out of town.
Principal Johnson was speechless. And John didn’t know if it was because the accusations were real or false.
Were They Based On Facts?
Even he was starting to question his way of thinking. Was he just overreacting because he was so angry? Or did he actually have a valid reason for thinking the way he did?
John looked over at Macy, who seemed to be incredibly uncomfortable, and his rage shot through the roof. If he were right, he would send the school crumbling to the ground.
Was He Bulling Macy?
“Answer me!” John snapped. “Are you targeting my daughter?!” Principal Johnson shifted in his chair as he swallowed the lump in his throat.
“It wasn’t like that,” the Principal said. “I just felt the dress was inappropriate, and I did give her two choices. She could either go home, or she could change. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
“What’s wrong with it is that you don’t have a valid reason for forcing her to change,” John said. “What’s wrong with it is that you made inappropriate comments about the way my daughter looked. And on top of that, you suspended her.”
The Principal had no way out, and he knew it. He was acting like John didn’t exist when he wasn’t in town. And that would turn out to be his downfall.
A Terrifying Reminder
But now John was there, and what he saw was a terrifying reminder of what his daughter was going through while he was deployed.
It was also a harsh reminder to Principal Johnson that no one should mess with the daughter of a career soldier. Especially not on a night that she would remember for the rest of her life.
Principal Johnson started apologizing on the spot. But that just infuriated John even more. His behavior was proving that there wasn’t anything wrong with Macy’s dress. She just fell victim to his bad mood.
And that was something John wasn’t going to stand for. He didn’t fly for 15 hours just to find his daughter walking home with tears streaming down her face.
“Your words mean nothing to me,” John said as he got up from his chair. “I’m taking my daughter into that hall, and she will enjoy her prom, whether you like her dress or not.”
He extended a hand to Macy, and the two of them approached the door. But before they left, John had some last words for the Principal. “This isn’t over, Mr. Johnson.”
Best Prom Ever
John stayed with Macy that night. And because of that, the prom was even more special than she ever thought it would be.
She got to dance with her father and enjoy the night with her friends. But even though John put his best foot forward, what happened in the office was still eating at him.
Not The End
His daughter had the prom of her dreams, and he was there to celebrate it with her. But the facts remained. If he didn’t come home to surprise her, she would still be walking home.
And that didn’t sit well with her father. If his request for leave didn’t go through, Macy’s prom and graduation could’ve been ruined.
He Wasn’t Happy
John swore to make Principal Johnson pay for what he had done. And it wasn’t just because of the dress. It was because of all the humiliation he had put her through while doing so.
Macy was clearly distraught by the whole situation. And in her eyes, the worst part was that she was escorted off the property even though Principal Johnson knew no one had been called to pick her up. He endangered her life, and he would suffer the consequences of his actions.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.