"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


April Fools

Dahlia was a wallflower.  Not because she was homely; quite the contrary, on the rare occasion that she lifted her eyes to meet your gaze and smiled, she looked surprisingly beautiful.  Dahlia simply got lost in the crowd of well-painted, lightly clad attention-seekers vying for boys' attention.

Dahlia sat at her usual location next to the table with the punch bowl.  She had a cup of pink sugar water in her hands.  She tapped her foot to the beat of the music, and from beneath veiled eyes, she surveyed the lively room around her.  Boys with sweat stains under the arms of their t-shirts, girls with wet tendrils on their brow, both with glittering eyes as they gyrated within acceptable limits, yelling to talk above the thumping music, and laughing, lots of smiles and laughing.  Watching was next best to being one of the participants.

Along the perimeter huddled groups of pre- and post-dancers, those waiting, working up their courage to approach someone who may or may not welcome their advances.  They arranged themselves in order of likelihood; rarely did a guy of questionable popularity approach the group of pretty girls.  That would be social suicide.

Dahlia watched as Kevin, the star quarterback and ASB president, broke from the group and made his way towards her.  She assumed he was thirsty and waited for him to reach for a cup.  He surprised her when he stopped in front of her.

"Would you like to dance?"

She looked around automatically, although she knew there was no one else behind her or by her side.  She set her cup beneath her chair with shaking hands.

"Um, sure."

She stood and followed him to the dance floor, where he cleared a path through writhing couples.  He stopped and turned to her, leaned in, and she had to strain to hear what he said next.

"Well, I wouldn't."

He turned on his heel and left, walked back to his friends who greeted him with high fives and heads thrown back in laughter.  Burning seeped into Dahlia's face and down her neck as she felt eyes turn on her.  She ducked her head and pushed her way off the dance floor.

She didn't see Aaron break away from Kevin's group, and she didn't hear his footsteps as he ran towards her.  She felt someone grab her hand, and she looked up with desperate, pleading eyes.  Please, just let me go.

"Hey," he said.  "Dance with me."

He slipped an arm around her waist and kept her hand firmly in his, not letting her pull away.  He guided her back to the place of humiliation and began to dance close to her.  He talked, keeping up a stream of idle chatter that she couldn't hear, but it didn't matter.  When the song ended, he whispered in her ear.

"You look beautiful tonight."

She scanned his face to see if he was lying.  He smiled and lifted her hand, still in his, to his lips and kissed it.  He walked her back to her place next to the refreshment table.

"Thank you for dancing with me," he said.

Dahlia waited, watched him walk away, and then slipped out the door of the gym, unnoticed.


As always, my flash fiction is unedited.  I didn't work off a prompt today but wrote from a true story from my teen years.

Welcome, A to Z-ers!  I'll be visiting your blogs soon.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

First guy was a jerk! Crappy thing for someone to do to you.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Wait, let me rephrase. First I was like AH! And then came the Ahhhhh. Great story to share today! Kind of sad you had it to share though, you know? Or did Dahlia get to dance with Aaron again. Yes? Yes? I don't have anything nice to say about Kevin. :)

Shelli said...

Thanks, Alex. I don't know why some people think it's OK to be like that.

Thank you, Carrie! I don't know what happened between Aaron and Dahlia. My mom told me this story when I was a teenager. She was chaperoning the dance and saw it happen. It always stuck with me.

Whitney Boyd said...

Love it! :) Dahlia is a beautiful name too. And... it somehow reminds me of awkward dances as a teenager. Haha! Thanks!

Stephanie Abney said...

You did a great job on this bittersweet little teenage tale. Nice!

Renee said...

Good story of just how terrible it can be to be a teenager...the smallest thing can hurt so big. Beautiful, Shelli.

Valerie Ipson said...

Perfect story for a YA novel. Sad, but real life.

K.C. Woolf said...

Quite an unexpected turn there, nice! :-)

Shelli said...

Whitney, thank you -- I chose the name because it conveyed the same feelings to me.

Thank you, Stephanie!

Renee -- Thank you. I would not go back to my teen years for anything in the world.

Thanks, Valerie and K.C.

ali said...

Ahhh. I don't know if I should be glad she had a happy, unexpected moment, or if I should be sad she just left without seeking another. This was a beautiful piece!

India Drummond said...

A beautiful, complicated story. So much going on, with many subtle undertones. I'd read on if this were the opening to a book. I'd like to know who the girl is and why she left, where she was going...

Thanks for sharing it!

Shelli said...

ali -- Thank you, and welcome! I'm glad you liked the story.

India -- Thanks so much. It's those questions that don't leave us alone that makes us writers, isn't it?

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

Beautiful story. Kids can be so mean.

I often felt like an ugly duckling in my middle - high school years.

I had this one older boy on the bus that would always talk to me. It was nice of him, but I just wanted to disappear...I felt so ugly.

Shelli said...

Dawn, those teenage years are cruel, aren't they? And we can be just as cruel to ourselves as others around us. I'm glad there was a nice guy out there for you. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, beautiful. This was amazing!