“Why am I even here?” Mark wondered to himself.
He stared at the door to the school’s multi-purpose room, pacing nervously. Music was blaring from inside. Richmond Middle School always started the year with the 7th grade mixer. Everyone else was inside, having a good time. “All you have to do is open the door and go in,” he told himself. He took one tentative step toward the entrance.
“I can’t do it.” His heart pounded, “asthma” constricted his breath, his palms sweated. Leaning back against the brick wall, he chided himself. “It was a mistake to come to this stupid dance. I don’t want to be here. I can’t dance. They’ll just make fun of me.” He shook his head to prevent a very un-macho tear from bringing total humiliation.
Michelle didn’t need to turn around to recognize Rachel’s high-pitched shriek. Her best friend pulled her roughly away from where she was dancing with Danni and Courtney. The highlight of the dance so far was throwing looks towards the boys at the other end and giggling. There were a few actual boy/girl couples dancing but mostly it was girls dancing together in groups of two and three and boys standing around with cups of punch in their hands.
“Guess who’s here!” Rachel was bouncing up and down, her French braid flying around wildly. “Oh you’ll never guess!” The uncanny look on her face screamed, “I’ve got a secret!”
Michelle’s mind fluttered. This must be big! She grabbed both of Rachel’s arms to ground her for two seconds and screamed over the music, “Okay already… tell me.”
Rachel’s grin exploded as she mouthed the single word “Mark.”
Michelle’s smile wavered momentarily as her eyes frantically looked around, “You liar! Mark’s not here. Besides why would I care about Mark being here?”
“Oh right. Come on Chelle, I sit right next to you in Math remember? I’ve seen how you write his name over and over in your notebook.” Rachel’s face now had that “score-one-for-me” look.
Michelle blushed. She did like Mark, even though she’d never actually spoken to him or anything. “I don’t see him here.”
Rachel gloated, “He’s outside! Why don’t you go out and talk to him?”
Michelle could feel everyone watching as she walked toward the exit. Her legs felt like lead weights; she was almost shaking with anxiety. She took in a deep breath and did the only thing she knew to do.
Lord, this might not be the best thing to pray about, but you said I could pray about anything, so here goes. Please just calm my nerves and help me make a good impression with Mark.”
She gingerly pushed the door open, letting some of the noise escape into the open air. Rachel was probably just making this all up anyway.
Mark quickly turned away as the door opened. Hopefully whoever it was wouldn’t notice him here. A quiet voice hesitantly called his name, causing a jolt of electricity to ripple through him.
His breath caught unexpectedly when he looked and saw Michelle standing by the entrance. She was dressed in a long red dress and her hair was done up in some fancy way. She was stunning. He tried desperately to display a cool demeanor, but the effort was sabotaged when he stuttered out a weak “Hi.”
“Hi.” She said with a shy smile. “I’m Michelle; we have Maxwell for Math together.” Well it was a start at least. Mark could only nod. An awkward silence protracted. Michelle pressed on timidly, “So um, are you going to come inside?” Yeah, this was certainly going well, her big chance to talk to Mark and her mind could think of absolutely nothing.
Mark struggled valiantly to form a coherent sentence. “I don’t know. The music’s pretty loud… and I don’t really dance that well.” Michelle didn’t quite catch that last mumbled part, but smiled encouragingly.
“It is loud,” she agreed. “That’s why I came out too,” she added quickly. “I’m glad you’re here. I’d feel silly out here by myself.”
Mark gave her a smile; he still couldn’t believe he was actually having an authentic conversation with this cute girl. “We can just talk out here if you want.”
Michelle’s heart jumped at the idea but she demurely answered “I’d like that, Mark.”
Watching through the window, Rachel, Danielle, and Courtney all collapsed in blissful giggles and a mirthful chant, “Chelle’s got a boyfriend.”
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