“So, what was Michael saying to you after Sunday School today?”
I sighed. Carrie was my best friend, but I had really hoped she wasn’t going to ask about that. I stirred extra sugar into my mocha latte. “I don’t want to talk about it,” I finally said, hoping that she wouldn’t say—
“Truth or dare!”
I cringed. Carrie had many good qualities, but she did not know how to leave something alone, especially when it had to do with guys. Invoking “truth or dare” was her annoying way of prying information out of people. She knew I usually chose “truth.” But not today.
Michael had asked me to go with him to the singles’ Valentine Dance coming up on Friday. Normally, I would have loved to share this information with Carrie. But my insane shyness had taken over when he had asked me, and I had responded with, “Um, I think I’ve got something else to do then.” Which was completely untrue. I mentally kicked myself fifty-three times after I said that, because I had been crushing on Michael for months, but I couldn’t very well take it back. Michael had looked disappointed, and I had skedaddled.
Carrie could be lots of fun, but she wasn’t exactly comforting in a social crisis. I knew that if I told her the truth, she would go off on how insane I was. Since I had already been doing that myself for two hours, I wasn’t looking for more.
Carrie gasped. “Fine, then.” She sipped her espresso while thinking up my punishment. A wicked gleam appeared in her eye. “Ask Michael to the dance on Friday.”
“I can’t do that!”
“Sure you can. Just go up to him and say, ‘Hey, Michael, wanna go to the dance with me?'”
I shook my head slowly. Of all the things she could have dreamed up….
“Do you want to do it right now? I’ve got his number in my cell phone.”
I stared in horror at the phone in her hand. “No! Not on the phone, and especially not in front of a café full of people!”
“Oh, like they’re gonna care. Fine, do it Wednesday, then.”
I was an emotional wreck over the next three days. My mother had always told me never to ask boys out. “It makes you look easy,” she said. Taking Carrie’s dare would stomp this advice in the dirt. And I knew that if I failed, she would come up with something even worse. On the other hand, Michael had asked me first, and I really wanted to spend time with him.
Wednesday night I got to church early and prayed for courage. But I didn’t see Michael in the sanctuary. I took my usual seat and looked over the program for the evening. Every few minutes, I looked for him again. I began to hope—and worry—that he wasn’t coming. Surely Carrie couldn’t hold it against me if I was unable to complete the dare.
Just before the pastor took the podium to welcome us, Michael slid into the other end of my pew, next to his friend Scott. “Sheryl wasn’t available, either,” I heard him mutter. My courage grew, and I breathed a “thank you” to God. It sounded like Michael was still looking for a date. I wondered how many girls he had asked, and which number I had been.
I tried to concentrate on the worship songs, but it wasn’t happening, despite my prayers for help. I didn’t think I could last through the entire service. When the offering started, without really thinking about it, I tore a blank sheet from my notebook and scribbled a note. “Michael, the thing I had Friday night isn’t happening. If you’re free, do you want to go to the dance with me? Melinda.”
I folded the note and wrote his name on the outside, feeling foolishly like a sixth-grader as I passed it down the row. My stomach clenched down to walnut size as he read it. After a terribly long wait, he looked over and gave me a thumbs-up, grinning. I sighed in relief, and grinned back as my stomach returned to normal.
He wrote something on the paper, folded it, and passed it back. I opened it and read, “Yes! That’s great. You were my first choice.” I smiled until I realized that Carrie would be gloating over this for a long time.
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