“Why can’t I wear this top? Everyone else does.”
“Bridge, Stefanie. You are not going out dressed like that.”
“Stupid bridge. Allison, let’s go to my room.”
In my room, Allison said, “How can you talk to your mom like that? And what’s that about a bridge?”
I rolled my eyes. “My mom doesn’t know anything about being fourteen. She used to say ‘if everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?’ Now it’s just ‘bridge.’”
“Well, would you?”
“Would I what?”
“Jump off a bridge.”
“Of course not. What’s that have to do with anything?”
“Your mom loves you.”
“If she loved me, she would let me do anything I want.”
“No. Our parents discipline us because they love us.”
I stared at Allison. “We’re so different. I wonder why we’re friends.”
“It’s because we are different that we are friends. Pick out a different blouse so we can go to the movie.”
I found a mom-suitable shirt and hid my tank top in my purse.
“Does this meet your approval, Mom?”
“Yes. That other shirt isn’t underneath, is it?”
“Okay. I’ll see you soon.”
We walked to the theater. Once inside, I said, “there’s Dan, that cute tenth grader.”
Allison said, “He has a bad reputation.”
“You sound like my mom. Sit here. Be right back.” In the restroom, I put on the skimpy tank top. It might make Dan notice me.
Allison gasped when I returned. “Put your other shirt on. That one is distasteful.”
“Hey, good looking. What brings you here?” Dan’s smooth voice made me turn my head.
“I was hoping you would be here.”
“I am. Come sit with me.”
Allison shook her head no, but I said, “see you later.” Turning, I said, “I’ll go anywhere with you.”
We sat near the wall with no one around. Dan said, “aren’t you cold in that tiny shirt?” I shivered as he put his arm around me.
The movie began, but I barely remember anything. I felt Dan’s fingers rubbing my shoulder.
About halfway through the movie, things changed. Dan said, “want to play a game?”
“It’s called Daring Dan. You let me touch you anywhere, but you can’t say anything. Okay?”
I nodded and he touched my knee. He said, “if you want me to like you, you can’t stop me.”
Before I could figure out what he meant, he pulled at my shirt. “When girls wear clothes like this, they only want one thing and I’m the one to give it to you.”
His fingers began to inch down the front of my shirt and suddenly I had a vision of a bridge with people jumping off. For the first time, I felt like I understood what mom meant. I jumped out of the seat and said, “don’t touch me.” I ran out of the theatre with Allison close behind.
“Are you okay? Let’s go in McDonald’s so you can put your other shirt on.”
Stunned, I did as she suggested. “Allison, he tried to touch me.”
“I know. But you did the right thing by leaving.”
“Don’t tell mom, okay?”
“Okay, but you will have to tell her soon.”
I got through the rest of the weekend. I figured I would just ignore Dan at school. Susan approached and said, “welcome to Dan’s Girls. You are invited to the party Friday.”
“Dan told us all the details. He did much more than touch you. Wasn’t it fun?”
“I didn’t do anything.”
All day, kids pointed at me. “Allison, why don’t they believe me?”
“People believe the worst. You have to tell your parents.”
“Will you come with me?”
“No, you must do this alone. But I will pray.”
“Pray? Maybe I should try that, but I’m not religious like you.”
“Religion has nothing to do with it. It’s all about a personal relationship with Jesus.”
That evening, I said, “Mom and Dad, I have something to tell you.” As I told them about Dan, I could tell they were angry. I said that Allison would pray and she again invited us to church.
“Stefanie, we’re glad you told us. I will call the school tomorrow and speak with the principal.”
My mom said, “perhaps we should go to church. I think we need some good preaching. What do you think?”
“I think that a bridge to God would be a wonderful thing.” I smiled, knowing that my parents loved me just as I am.
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