I swing around the dance floor laughing at Elena.
“What the heck is that?” I laugh. She shrugs.
“I told you I can’t dance!” she laughs, as my friends and I jump to the music.
“Yeah, Layla you can dance,” Maddie comments. I roll my eyes.
“Guys, I cannot dance,” I reply.
“Layla!! You can DANCE!!” my friends snap in reply. The song ends, and out of breath, I head to the refreshments table. I pour myself some soda, and watch the dancing continue.
“Hey,” an all too familiar voice said. My muscles tightened, and I turned around to see one boy I just couldn’t stand.
“Jack, what do you want?” I groan. He bites his cheek.
“Want to dance?” he asks.
“No thank you!”
Don’t get me started.
He was pushy, and liked me.
I had rejected him four times.
And he had the nerve to ask me to dance!!
“Come on, ONE dance!” he begs. I was about to punch him.
“Dude, I said NO!” I snap, starting to walk away.
“Whhy!!” he whines. Before I can make a snarky remark, a voice cuts in.
“Cause, she promised to dance with me.” I turned and my breath caught. No… way.
There stood my crush of a year, Noah, defending me.
“Um… you… I did?” I stutter. Noah makes a face.
“Yeah. Come one,” he laughs. Jack makes a sad face.
“PLEEEASE!” he begs. I roll my eyes.
“No,” I reply, and Noah gestures for me to follow him back to the group.
“Heeey Nooah,” Elena laughs, knowing all about my crush. I shoot a glare at her, and she just laughs.
“Um… thank you for saving me back there,” I laugh, keeping to the beat. Noah shrugs.
“No problem,” he smiles. My blush is so deep, I can feel my face heating
up. Here I was dancing with my crush, and I didn’t even have to trick him into it, or plan meticulously for five hours!! We dance to the beat, when the song is cut off by our DJ’s voice.
“Heey dancers!! I hope you are all enjoying your night! So, to kick it up a
why don’t we have some… KARAOKE!!!” he announces. The room goes up in applause.
“Omg Lisa you have to sing!!” I gush. She shakes her head. My friends and I keep pushing her to do it. Her voice is one of the best in the choir!!
“Argh! Fine, but you’re all coming with me!” she agrees. She looks in Jack’s direction, and a smile creeps on her face.
“But… a special song for a… special guy?” Lisa giggles. We all look in Jack’s direction thinking the same thing. I gave a little wave. He smiles, his dorky smile. Elena whispers the song to the DJ. We walk onto the small stage, with the four mics.
“Um… so this is a song… for um… an interesting guy in my life,” I announce. The beat starts, and I open the song.
“Why am I always hit on by the boys I never like? I can always see ‘em coming from the left and the right!” I sing, with a few hand motions. Lisa takes my place.
“I don’t wanna be a priss I’m just trying to be polite, but it always seems to bite me in the-” Elena goes on to the next line, and Maddie closes the first verse. All at once, we move into the chorus, and I feel more comfortable with every word.
“Get your hands off my hips, ‘fore I punch you in the lips, stop your staring at my HEY!” we sing, with our actions, that we rehearsed at all our sleepovers. We move to verse two.
“And if I had a dime for every name that you just dropped,” Maddie sings. They all surround me, and we belt out the next line.
“You’d be hearing I’d be on a yacht, oh!” We dance across the stage, the clapping to the beat, and dancing around, finishing off the second chorus. I came to the bottom of the stage, right where Jack was standing.
“What about no don’t you get? So go and tell your friends, I’m not really interested!” I sing, letting my friends take my spot.
“It’s about time that you’re leavin’!” Maddie sings.
“I’m gonna count to three and-” Elena sings.
“Open my eyes and you’ll be gone!” we all belt out. My friends start the counting, and I do the lyrics.
“Get your hands off my,”
“Fore I punch in the,”
“Stop you’re staring at my,”
“HEY!” we all yell. We end the song in our best pose. The crowd goes wild, jumping and screaming. We thank them, and get off stage. Noah bee lines for me.
“That was… really awesome,” he smiles. I blush.
“Thanks,” I reply.
“Okay, so let’s slow it down. Pair up guys!” the DJ announces. I immediately head to the bathroom. I mean, I needed to touch my makeup anyways. A hand stops me. I follow it to a face.
Noah’s. I gulp.
“Um… wanna dance?” he asks. I blush, so red, I think the tomatoes in my garden would be jealous.
“Haha. I don’t know how to slow dance,” I laugh. I pray he would let me go, but also prayed he would show me. He smiles.
“I’ll show you.” He leads me to the edge of the room, and I’m sweating so hard that my belly button could be a swimming pool for ants.
“Okay, so your hands go here,” he says, placing my hands on his shoulders.
“And…” he hesitates. I freeze. Guys hands go on girl’s…
“And my hands go here.” He places my hands on my waist. I tighten up, trying to breathe. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Elena, Maddie, and Lisa making kissy faces. I laugh. A piano intro starts.
“I love this song,” I laugh, singing the lyrics in my head. Then a second voice quietly adds.
“What’s going on in that beautiful mind? I’m on your magical mystery ride,” Noah’s voice sings softly. I still don’t look up. His voice was so perfect… so… I had never heard him sing before, and if I looked up, I’d melt into a puddle on the floor.
“Cause all of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections,” the two voices continue. And I look up. And I don’t melt. I see the most perfect blue eyes, and smile in the world. And I stop sweating, and I feel perfectly safe. He keeps softly singing, and I see the smile behind his eyes all the way to his soul.
And he’s smiling and singing.
Then his face drops. Completely drops, when he finishes the second chorus.
“Are you okay?” I ask, worried I did something wrong. He bits the inside of his cheek.
And I feel his hands leave, and my hands fall, and watch him go out the door. The song goes into the bridge.
I can't breath.
I can't think.
Noah. He left. I stand there in the middle of the dance floor, my heart racing. I make my way outside into the cold night air and lean against the building. I let the air fill up my lungs trying to sort my thoughts.
Hot tears fall down my face.
And I feel all the feelings I feared the most when I knew he would reject me.
And the tears fall faster and faster now.
And soon… somehow… I’m in my bed, my phone buzzing on my nightstand, and my mascara staining the pillow.
I’m at my locker on Monday when I hear it.
“LISA!!! DON’T DO IT!!” I hear Elena shriek. I whip around to see Lisa stomping down the hall like a woman on a mission. What the heck was she… then I realized she was heading in the direction of Noah’s locker.
“ACK!! Lisa NO!!” I yell and race after her, but I’m too late. There’s Lisa all up in Noah’s face.
“What is wrong with you?!! Do you have a good reason why you LEFT MY BEST FRIEND ON THE DANCE FLOOR??!?!? What? Hmm? Have an explanation?! Layla is the best girl I have ever met!! She is nice and kind, and loving, and is the prettiest girl in this whole school!! I don’t even know how she does it!! Every Monday morning she’s here smiling her brightest smile, laughing with her friends. She is one of the most genuine and best girls I've ever met, and if you have a PROBLEM WITH THAT WELL I” LL SOCK YOU RIGHT IN YOUR-” Lisa yells, but Elena cuts her off before it gets rated R for violence. Elena drags her away leaving Noah dumbstruck.
“Girly, come here.” Lisa and Elena pull me into a hug.
“Thanks, Lisa. You… you didn’t have to do that,” I sniff, trying not to cry.
“Argh! I am so mad. What a jerk!” Lisa snaps. Elena’s face brightens.
“Hey! Why don’t we have a girl’s night tonight!?” Elena suggests. I smile.
“That’d be awesome!!” I exclaim. Elena and Lisa waved goodbye, and I headed to my math class.
“Hey girly!” Laney, my other friend, smiles. I give a small smile back. Before she can say something else, two girls walk up.
“Is it true, Noah, like, totally dumped you at homecoming?” the first girl asks. My face drops. Dumped? That’s what people were calling it?!
“Yeah! We heard that he said, he was dating another girl right after he kissed you!” the second girl continued. My eyebrows shot up.
“WHAT!! No! We never kissed, didn’t even come close to kissing! He just walked away in the middle of the song,” I reply. The girls make faces that tell me, they don’t seem to believe me. They both shrug and walk away whispering.
“Don’t worry. They’re dumb. But um…” Laney began. I knew exactly what she was gonna ask.
“I don’t even know. He was just singing and then… his face kinda dropped. And he walked away,” I reply, trying not to seem sad.
“Actually, Lisa and Elena are planning a girl’s night for me at my house! Wanna come?” I offer. Laney smiles.
“Yes!! This’ll be so much fun!!” she laughs. I zoom through all my classes until lunch.
“Aw nuts,” I sigh. Today was my favorite meal. Alfredo and breadsticks. AND ice cream sundaes. Best lunch day of the month!! The problem?
He was right in line, and no one else was going to get lunch. I had two options. I could go get a friend and risk lunch being GONE. Or suck it up and go by him.
“Yeah, I’m getting Lisa!” I decide. I turn to scan the room for her. She’s nowhere to be found.
None of my friends are.
I take a deep breath and get into the line. I look down at my shoes, fiddling with the ends of my dark brown hair and make no noise.
“Um… hey,” I hear his voice say. I don’t move. He’s talking to a friend, talking to a friend, I think.
“Hey um… Layla?” he says again. I look up. He wears a small smirk.
I don’t smirk back.
His smile drops-just like a few nights ago.
“First of all I’m so sorry and I just need … if I could just please explain we could-” he began. I raised an eyebrow.
“We? Hah!! Yeah right. No, we,” I snap, as clipped as I can. I swing around and walk away.
Didn’t have to eat lunch.
The feeling of his eyes staring on my back took away my appetite.
“Aaah!” I laugh, as Lisa smacks me in the face with a pillow.
“Okay I’m too tired now,” Lisa sighs, falling into the pile of pillows. I plop down, eating an Oreo.
Guys suck, I think.
The next day I come to my locker, and open it. A piece of paper flutters to the ground. I gulp, recognizing the handwriting.
Hey meet @ courtyard? Please?
Hmmm. Meet the guy I’d been avoiding since Friday night?
“At least I can yell at him,” I say, closing my locker.
I sit on the stone bench in the courtyard. It’s fifteen minutes into lunch and he’s still not here. My heart and mind both say, ‘yay,’ but with no enthusiasm. Just as I was about to leave, the door to the courtyard opens. I look up, and my whole body tightens.
He has his backpack slung on one shoulder which is not like him. He seems nervous and sad.
I bite my cheek.
He can speak first.
Then I can interrupt him with an outburst of anger.
“Um… hey,” he says. I roll my eyes, and stand up.
“Oh hey! Nothing else?! Do you understand what the heck you even did?! First of all it’s horrible to just leave a girl on the dance floor, makes it worse after you sing her FAVORITE SONG TO HER!! Want to know what else! It makes it so much worse when she’s had a crush on you for OVER A YEAR!!” I yell. His eyebrows shoot up, and my heart drops to my feet.
Oh… my… gosh.
I just told my crush, that I have been crushing on him, and now I was crushed. Oh no.
“Explain,” he says calmly, and sits.
“Explain what?” I snap.
“This crush that you ‘might’ have,” he says. I roll my eyes.
“Might as well, since nothing's ever gonna happen!” I say, a little quieter than before.
It hit me like a train.
Nothing was gonna happen.
He didn’t like me.
He played me.
And we’d never be more than two strangers passing in the hall.
I took a deep breath.
And let out anything I had ever felt about him in the past year.
“September 30th 2019,” I breathe. I had played this conversation in my head over and over. How this would happen. So, I take a deep breath, and continue.
“ELA-5th hour. You were joking around with me and Laney, and she asked what was wrong. And you said your grandpa had died, and just poured your heart out, while I sat there, just listening. And finally you ended it with ‘ but as long as I keep everyone else happy, I can be happy.’ And that’s when it hit me. The kindness, the humor, the compassion, the eyes, the looks. All of it,” I suck in a breath, not meeting his eyes.
“And after that day it just kept growing and growing. You were on my mind non-stop all the time. And like, not the weird way. I knew all about what was going on… or thought I did. You came over telling it to Laney everyday, everything that was going on, and the more you did it, the more I wanted to help. I just wanted to help. I wanted nothing more than to help you. To talk to help. Then all the emailing started, and I thought it was a way in, but just fooled myself,” I finish. I didn’t even notice the small tears forming in my eyes as I revealed everything. The crying that I was worried he wasn’t okay. Late nights I stayed up trying to figure out how to help him.
He’s about to speak, but I cut him off.
“The hours I spent talking to my friends, about how to just get to you. Late nights, trying to figure out a plan so you wouldn’t suspect that I liked you. The crying over if you were okay. All the songs that made me think of you. Gosh, I should shut up, I’m pouring out my whole heart.” I give half a laugh, and he shares it. I sit on the bench across from him, still scared to meet his eyes.
“Wow. I didn’t… I’m sorry,” he murmured. I roll my eyes.
All he could come up with.
“I have one too. A crush,” he whispers. I sigh.
Here we go.
“I thought about it for weeks on end, the first impression I gave her. Worried she thought I was some playboy, that swore and was inappropriate all the time. Finally, I got a chance to see here, share a glimpse into my life. So I took every chance, I got even on the bad days. Multiple times, she tried to see more of me, but I was scared. Scared that I wouldn’t be enough. Hah. Like with every other girlfriend. Not good enough. I tried so hard to let her in, but was too worried I was bothering her with my life. And… I don’t know… October I want to say… it hit me. She was wearing the coolest costume that made her look stunning. The laugh, the smile, the eyes, all just hit me, and I think that’s when the feelings really…” his voice trailed off.
My heart hurt.
Whoever he was talking about.
I wanted to hate her, but I just couldn’t.
She was lucky. She was lucky to have such an amazing guy.
“Finally, I got the courage to ask her to dance.” At those words, my head snapped up. He was looking at me. His blue eyes pierced mine, and I couldn’t breath.
“And it was great. But then… I realized I didn’t want to hurt her, or hurt myself. So I left. And I immediately regretted it.” There were tears now.
“Wait so… you like me?” I say ,wiping the small tears. He laughs, and I laugh too.
“Yeah, yeah. I like you… a lot actually,” he smirks. I bite my cheek.
“So… why were you scared, you weren’t good enough?” I ask. His eyes seem to lose their glow.
“Well, let’s see. Past girlfriends,” he replies. I nod.
“Well let’s see. My birthday. I called Lana asking her what we were doing. And she’s like ‘Umm… didn’t you plan all that?” We argued about it for a half hour, when she finally just hung up. So, I never asked girlfriends to hang out with me on my birthday again,” he explains. A sound escapes my mouth that’s between a scoff and a laugh.
“What? That’s so not a girlfriend thing! I mean not in my opinion! What else?!” I cry. Brogan’s eyebrows shoot up.
“Really?! You would have planned my birthday!” he cries. I nod.
“Okay how about this! I was at a… super important… family thing. Couldn’t miss it. I had my phone off, and after, I had one hundred texts from Hannah, flipping out like ‘OMG I NEED YOU NOW!! HELP!!’ So I texted her like ‘I’m so sorry I was with my family and couldn't miss it, what’s wrong!?’ Apparently, she wanted to go to some highschool party but her parents wouldn’t let her go alone and none of her friends would come so she resorted to me. And she was SO mad even after I explained hundreds of times, I couldn’t have missed the family thing,” he says.
“That’s ridiculous!! You had a thing you couldn’t miss!” I exclaim. He laughs. The five minute bell rings.
“So now what?” I ask. Our giddiness slips away, back to the serious conversation.
“Hmmm. You like Jurassic Park?” he asks. I smile.
“Favorite, why?” I’m so confused, and my brain can’t piece together the puzzle. Noah’s smile doubles.
“Cool. They’re showing all the movies this Saturday, at Cinemark theaters. They’ll have one every hour, so people can go shop at the newly built mall,” he continues. Why is he telling me all this?!
“Um… okay?” I reply, having no idea where this is going. He laughs like I just said the funniest thing in the world. Brogan is laughing so hard now he has to lean against the bench.
“What?! What is so funny!?” I jump up from the bench this time.
“Uber will be at your house at 9, I’ll invite Lisa, and all your friends,” he says. He looks at me, shaking his head and laughing. Then, he walks back inside.
“What?!” I cry. What just happened?!
Did he just…
He asked me out.
HE ASKED ME OUT!!
I run into the school, barely able to control my happy screams.
“HE ASKED ME OUT!!!!” I scream at the top of my lungs when I approach Elena, Lisa, and Maddie.
“WHAT!!” Elena and Maddie cry. Lisa smiles.
“Yeah!! Saturday and 9 am, we’re seeing the reruns of Jurassic Park, and the mall, and, and, and-EEEEEK”
“Okay slow down!” Maddie laughs. I take a deep breath.
“Okay, I’m calm. But he said that you, and you, and YOU can all come!” I exclaim, gesturing to my friends. They all smiled.
“Cool, this’ll be fun. Ooo! Elena, you can bring Maatt!” Lisa teased in a sing-song voice. And like a reflex Maddie and I say,
“OoooOOOoo!” Elena rolls her eyes.
“Hey, you can’t even do that anymore, now that you have a guy!” Elena rebukes.
“OoooOOOooo!” Maddie and Lisa giggle. I blush.
I was going on my first date.