Chapter 1 – Melanie

Pre-dance Jitters

"Melly, phone call for you!" My mom yelled from downstairs. "It's Rizka, dear."

"Oh thank you Mommy, I've got it," I told her as I picked up the phone. Rizka is one of my two best friends, and I was pretty sure she needed a little moral support for the dance we were going to that night. "Hey Riz, what's up?"

"Lainie?" asked who could only be my friend Rizka.

"Yup, the one and only," I answered.

"Are you nervous about the dance?"

"No kidding. Why? Are you nervous?"

"Well, um, maybe just a little? Um, maybe."

"Why are you nervous?!" I exclaimed, "Goodness gracious! Is something wrong? Did you realize your dress was too short? Did you find a pimple?" My goodness, I was sounding like Elizabeth, my other best friend, but we all wanted this day to be perfect, so I was very frantic when I heard she was nervous. Besides, Rizka doesn't get nervous unless it's really bad.

"Um, no, why are you nervous?" She asked.

"Well, I'm afraid that no one will ask me to dance with them when we have free dance and I'll stand alone on the wall like a wallflower." I answered back.

"Well, that's like my reason."

"Really? If I were you, I'd be nervous about asking your three special guys out." Last summer, we bet that Rizka couldn't go until the beginning of school without talking to some guy she doesn't know. Of course, Elizabeth and I won, and no offence to Jake, Ruben, and Ron, but they aren't the greatest guys to dance with. "Besides that," I continued, "you have no reason to be nervous. You aren't taller than half the guys! You actually exchange conversation with them. You are confident. You have no reason to be nervous." I was really sounding like Elizabeth, and I didn't help but feel a little jealous of the short, confident Rizka.

"Well, I don't know, maybe just the whole dancing thing is what I'm nervous about."

"Don't worry about that. Everyone is probably nervous for some reason. And you're a fine dancer." Great, now I had something else to be nervous about.

"Okay, thanks Lainie. I think I feel a little better. I knew you could help me. See you soon then. Bye."

"Bye." And we hung up. Well, I thought, now I am really nervous.

On the way to the dance I reminisced about the school year. My friends and I stuck together a lot that year, but by the end of the summer, it was going to be all different. Rizka and I were going to Trinity High School, a private school about thirty miles away, but Liz was going to Sansbury, the local public school. For the first time, we were going to be at different schools, and I knew that no matter how hard we tried, we would drift apart. I really wanted to make sure that this would be the best summer that we would ever have.

It's really funny that we became friends in the first place—we are all so different from each other. Elizabeth and I knew each other since first grade when we fought over a guy. After two weeks, we realized how stupid that was, and we were best friends ever since. Liz can be very shy, and very much of a worrier, especially about her grades, but she always cares about her friends.

We met Riz at the beginning of forth grade, when we thought she was a troublemaker. (We still think that, but now we're part of making up schemes.) Rizka looks a lot like Liz, but they really couldn't have had more different personalities. Riz is very confident and outgoing. She can be very fickle and not afraid to try anything new to the poor anxiety of her parents. Riz was the one always getting Lizzy and I into funny adventures last summer. And when you're around her, you can't help being wacky and confident.

At about that time my parents and I arrived at the dance, and at that moment, I really could have used some of Riz's confidence. This would be the night we would never forget.

I know it's weird to start my story with the Graduation Dance, usually graduation is the ending, the promise of a new beginning, but this dance wasn't like some regular dance, it was worse. First of all, our P.E. teacher taught us these ballroom dances that we would never use again. Second, we had to dance with every single boy in our class, which, in our minuscule private school class, numbered twelve—and there were twenty-one of us girls. But basically, it was an event for the parents to look at us one last time before we became adults in the world of high school. So, truly, the dance wasn't that big a deal, but if it hadn't happen, I think that Rizka, Liz, and I would have had a very different summer.

My parents dropped me off at the front of our school building and wished me good luck.

"Don't worry, sweetheart, have a great time. Remember you might not see some of these people for a while." My mom reassured me.

"Yes, and whoever asks you, don't step on their toes!" My dad joked.

"Da-ad!" I exclaimed, "Did I really step on your toes when I was practicing with you?" I asked in an insecure tone.

"Of course not, sweetie, you just led too much." My dad laughed.

"Oh ok, thanks Dad, I'll remember that." I joked back, although I was really not feeling very well.

"Now, Dear, go before your late!" my mom pushed me.

"Ok, I'll see you guys inside," I yelled.

I went inside to find that our gym had been transformed into a formal dance hall. It seemed quite amusing to see the immature guys of our class dressed up in tuxes and the girls of the popular group in dresses that just barely made Sister Catherine take out her ruler. We all seemed to be like little kids dressed up to go to a grown up tea party. I settled in a few minutes before our principal, Sister Bernadette, made one of her long speeches.

"Good evening students! How does everyone feel?"

A short murmur of "fines" went through the nervous crowd of to-be dancers.

"Ok, well remember, students, that this is a cordial dance. All school rules still apply while you are here."

Even if I wasn't wearing my contacts, I was sure she turned to face just slightly to the guys in our class. They all tried to act as if saying, "Who, me?" They really are immature, and they've all done a lot of crazy things in the past.

"So," she continued, "dance your best. Remember to curtsey or bow, and be polite and courteous to everyone. And say thank you to the room parents for decorating the room."

We had probably heard that a hundred times, but we all nodded and acted very interested.

"Alright everyone, I must be boring all of you." She read our minds. "Ok, come on, get up it's time to dance!" declared the very excited Sister Bernadette.

So I got up and cleaned off my skirt. Well, now is not the time to be nervous, I told myself. Just stay calm and composed, and don't step on the guy's toes, if I get someone bad, look straight ahead, and most of all, don't lead too much—and this time I was serious.