“Charlie Wadsworth is coming over,” Diana hissed in Sherry’s ear.
“Ugh. Quick, I need an excuse,” Sherry demanded of her friends.
Charlie zeroed in on Sherry in her pale pink dress. Her friends retreated towards the chairs against the wall. There they could see and hear without winding up as a substitute.
“Can I ask you something?” Charlie said quietly.
“What?” Sherry said loudly to indicate she hadn’t heard him over the noise of the music and dancing.
“Can I ask you something?” Charlie said a little louder.
Sherry knew exactly what he wanted to ask but didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
“Can it wait? I really need to use the bathroom.”
Before he could respond, she turned, grabbed the nearest hand, and dragged one of the girls out of the sparkling gymnasium toward the bathroom at the end of the hallway. Emily didn’t object. After hiding for a few minutes adjusting dresses and reapplying glittery Lip Smackers, they figured it was safe.
When they got back to the gym a popular song was playing its fast beat. The girls smiled and began dancing together. They tried swing moves that didn’t really fit the rock pumping out of the speakers. They showed off steps from their ballet, jazz, tap, and even Irish step-dancing classes. They sang along at varying volumes depending on how well they knew the lyrics.
Sherry was having fun but she made sure she knew where Charlie was at all times. Each time there was a pause between songs, she tried to put as many people as possible between her and Charlie or to be conveniently hidden behind one of the large cardboard decorations. She panicked if the new music started out quiet and she didn’t recognize it.
Each time it proved to be a sappy slow song, she tried to be holding a plate of cookies from the refreshment table with one in her mouth or dealing with an issue only someone on the student council could handle (she reminded herself to thank her mother for making her run).
Hiding in the shadows next to the makeshift stage, she looked over at Pete, Ray, and Danny. Why couldn’t one of them ask her? She had had crushes on each of them and even though they’d passed, she still liked them better than Charlie.
She made it through one hour and forty-eight minutes of the school dance. The final slow song of the evening was announced and Sherry sighed with relief. She moved cautiously along the wall of chairs headed for the door. Her eyes scanned the dance floor but she’d lost track of Charlie. Then he was right in front of her.
“Would you dance with me?” he blurted out before he lost the nerve.
Sherry scrambled. “I… It… I… don’t… think so. The song’s already almost over. It wouldn’t be worth it to start now.” She ducked her red face and hurried off to wait out front where parents had begun to gather.