You actually came, despite your previous lack of enthusiasm. You
showed up, looking fresh-scrubbed and pulled together in your green T-shirt
and jeans. The tacky snowflakes and tables of Styrofoam cups of red punch
are beside you. Your hair is sort of in your eyes, like always, and you've
worn your black wrist cuff. Out of your gray-and-khaki uniform, I hardly
Our whole group stands around, sipping punch and tugging on our
shirts, nervously waiting for 7:30 come so the lights will dim and we can
The DJ starts with some classics to get the party going. You mumble
and twist your way through the Electric Slide and the Macarena, keeping a
wary eye on me when you're not sure of the steps. I flash you a grin,
hoping you don't notice my braces.
I spent three hours getting ready. I took a bubble bath and shaved my
legs and straightened my hair, just for you. I flossed my teeth and pulled
on my denim skirt and a yellow sweater, just for you. I put mascara, lip
gloss, perfume, and earrings on, just for you. I hope you notice.
Some hip-hop starts to play, my favorite. I shake and shimmy and
laugh like there's no tomorrow. I'm trying hard not to look at you out of
the corner of my eye, to see if you're watching me. When I look up, I
briefly catch your eye.
The music slows down as a radio-popular slow song comes on. Girls are
breaking out of their tight gyrating clicks, opening themselves up. The
chat and toss their hair, trying to look approachable but not like they
want to be approached or anything.I attempt to follow suit, laughing at
someone's joke and facing half-outward. My ears are burning red but I am
determined not to look for you.
Disappointment creeps in as the song nears its end. I finally look
up. You are talking to, but not dancing with, some other girl who has short
brown hair. The rap comes back on and you wander back over, dancing with
our mutual group of friends.
My best friend, Kella, elbows me and pulls me aside. Did he ask you
to dance? she asks, her round, innocent eyes looking up at me hopefully. I
say no, not this time. She smiles and says Don't worry, the night's not
over yet. Then she flounces away, grabbing my hand and pulling me back into
our little circle.
Another slow song comes on. This time I don't remember to look
"approachable"; I am too busy listening to something Kella is telling me. I
almost jump out of my skin when you tap me softly on the shoulder. Before I
even turn around, I know it's you. Your touch is electric, sending
goosebumps down my spine. I slowly spin around and you're right there,
doing that sexy half-grin thing, asking me, Wanna dance? I don't even
remember what I said, but it must have been something along the lines of
Yes, because soon you are holding my hand, leading me out to a spot on the
dance floor. All I can think is, You're holding my hand!
You pull me in and we begin to rock back and forth to the rhythmic
beat. We're dancing close, not sixth grade hands-far-apart style. So close
that I can feel your breath near my ear and smell your cologne. Your shirt
feels soft beneath my fingers, and as I rest my head on your shoulder, I
can faintly hear your heartbeat. It is pulsing a lot slower than mine,
which is beating like butterfly wings.
Sadly, the music ends. We both walk back over to the group, where
they are stifling giggles and avoiding eye contact with us, forcing
strained conversation. They know I've liked you forever, but don't want to
ruin the moment.
A few songs slip by, fast rap ones that I bounce my hips to. Then a
slightly slower one comes on, a grinding song. Suddenly, you are right
behind me again. I relax against you and let the music wash over me. Your
pelvis is up against mine and hands gingerly slip around my hips. I close
my eyes for just a second and try to memorize the moment.
The dance flies by much too quickly in a flurry of slow dances and
fast ones, grinders and shakers. The night air is cold as I step outside
and wait- ten minutes until Kella's mom arrives. I'm standing there while
Kella jabbers on, and I'm in too much of a fog to remember to be chilly.
But when you grasp my hand, I realize how freezing it is.
Can I borrow her? you ask Kella. She giggles childishly and says
Sure, but have her back here soon. We walk quickly, quietly, towards the
football field behind the school. You've let go of my hand so I'm surprised
when you turn suddenly and kiss me, square on the lips. Your mouth tastes
faintly of cinnamon and your kiss is gentle, not startling. I'm not sure if
I remember to kiss back or not. You're holding my hanf again, my right one
with the small white scar on the thumb.
You tell me how you like me, as more than just a friend. You explain
how scared you are right now, because I'm being so quiet. Instead of
talking, I lean forward and kiss you on the cheek. When I lean back you
ask, Would you like to go out with me? Your eyes are glazed with happiness
and anxiety. I nod my head and reply Yes, yes definitely. Forget shy half-
smile; you're grinning wildly now. Your cool, smooth persona has given in
to this emotion-feeling being, finally.
We walk back, more slowly this time. You pull your wrist cuff off and
slip it on me, and we hug goodbye. Mrs. O'Reilly, Kella's mom, toots for me
to get in the minivan. Kella's already buckled in, her feet on the
I don't say a word the whole way back to Kella's house. I'm kind of
glad to have the whole backseat to myself- my thoughts take up that much
room. When I get back to Kella's, we lay our sleeping bags in the den and
she demands every detail, start to finish. I keep some things to myself,
because they're too mushy to say, but the rest comes gushing out. Kella
gasps and laughs and sighs in all the right parts. I fall asleep very late,
tugging at my new wristband, smoothing it into perfection.
It's a cold midwinter's night during the early hours of the morning
when I drift off. I can hear a faucet dripping and Kella's steady, deep
breathing in the background, but my head is replaying the night over and
over. I fall asleep contentedly and dreams sweet dreams of you.