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Monday, August 18, 2014

THE DANCE

I wrote this short story about rejection and entered it into a young adult fiction contest. Let the mean people weed themselves out of our lives. Search within your heart for the gift of the lesson they brought to you and use it to enhance your character.

THE DANCE

     Noah looked up at the glossy black banner hanging high above the metal lockers.  Painted in white letters outlined in purple were the words Halloween Dance.  Those words sent his thoughts tumbling like wet clothes in a dryer until they finally landed on Amanda Taylor.  Pretty, popular Amanda.
     “Maybe I’ll ask her to the dance,” Noah thought.  Immediately, his heart started pounding and a lump rose in his throat making it hard to breathe.  “What if she says no?”  Then he thought about the day he had talked to her when they were on a field trip.  Noah had smuggled potato chips onboard the bus and shared them with Amanda and her friends.  He remembered her smile when he passed her the bag.  “Why wouldn’t she go with me?  He decided.
     Noah sashayed down the school hallway his short pant legs revealing the bright red socks his grandmother had knitted.   A catcall whistle caused Noah to swing around, almost tripping on his own feet.
     “Dude, what are you doing?” said Josh giving Noah a lopsided grin.  He looked down at Noah’s feet.  “Pants that short will destroy your love life!” he joked.
     Love life. Girls. Last summer they didn’t exist.  Now, they were everywhere.  It was all he and Josh could talk about, and all of a sudden, longer pants seemed like a big deal.  Being “cool” was apparently a top priority.
     Josh was natural at being cool.  He was on the varsity baseball team, and his collection of vintage records caused a jealousy riot.
     Noah, caught up in his daydream of a date with Amanda, clowned around and showed off his dance moves.  To an amused Josh, he said, “I’m going to ask Amanda to the dance.  You in for riding out to her house with me?”
     After a beat Josh said, “Wow.  Amanda Taylor.  Are you kidding me?  I wouldn’t miss it.  I’m in.”
     “You think she’ll say no?” Noah asked.
     Josh smiled.  “She’d be crazy to say no.”  Then he pumped his fist in the air.  “I say ask her.”
     The boys mounted their bikes and raced one another to Amanda’s house.  The sun had started its early descent, and a warm orange glow with shades of pink and purple light blended into the pumpkin-colored sky.
     Walking slowly toward Amanda’s door, Noah felt a sting on the back of his leg.  “Ouch!” He cried.  He turned to see Josh, holding a handful of pebbles.
     Josh let a few more tiny rocks sail through the air towards Noah’s direction.  “Don’t even consider chickening out, Socks,” he said, using a childhood nickname inspired by Noah’s unlimited red socks and the boys’ mutual love for the Boston Red Sox.  Using an invisible broom, Josh used a swooshing motion to usher Noah along.
     Laughing, Noah walked up to the door tugging at his cargo pants, as if trying to make them appear longer.  He looked over his shoulder at Josh before pressing the doorbell.  Watching his friend hit an imaginary home run with an invisible baseball seemed to give Noah a boost of confidence.
     When Amanda opened the door, Noah felt like four packs of pink bubblegum were stuck in his mouth.  He took a deep breath, and the shaky words rushed out.  “Do you want to go to the dance with me?” he asked.
     Amanda giggled.  “Oh, I know who you are.  You’re the guy with the red socks.”  And with a bounce of blonde curls, she slammed the door.
     Noah quietly stood on the front porch staring at the small doorknocker shaped like a lion.  His cheeks blushed a deep crimson, and tears filled his eyes.  Josh approached, but Noah wouldn’t look at him.  With hands shoved in his pockets, Noah mumbled, “I guess she doesn’t like me.”
     “Wow!” Josh said in an awed voice.  “I wish I had the nerve to ask a girl out.”
     Noah turned slowly around.  “She made fun of me,” he whispered.  “She rejected me.”
     “She didn’t make fun of you,” Josh said firmly.  “And she didn’t reject you.  She made it clear she’s not someone you’d want to go to the dance with.”
     Noah nodded, and together they walked back to the street and remounted their bikes.  “You’re the coolest person I know,” Josh said, “and I think your socks are awesome.”

     Noah stared at the paved road watching Josh cycle ahead.  Then he pumped his fist into the air and rode on, his socks becoming a blur as he peddled into the sunset light.