Melissa had no idea how awesome Dylan was until she had asked him to go to the school dance with her. Dylan immediately said yes nodding his head excessively like a puppy all too excited to go for a walk around the block.
“You’re taking Dylan?” Melissa’s friends had asked in disgust.
“I can’t believe you would do that to yourself.”
“There’s a reason no one asked him to go. No one wants him there.”
Melissa stood in her bedroom looking at herself in her full-length mirror that hung on the inside of her closet door. She had decided to wear a turquoise dress that flowed just below her knees. The straps hugged the curve of her shoulders to be considered tank-top like, but like a t-shirt at the same time. Either way, she had a pale orange shawl to drape around herself in case a teacher called her out on it.
Melissa looked over her shoulder before turning her attention back to herself in the mirror. “Hey, Mom.”
“Oh, Melissa, you look beautiful! As soon as you’re ready I want to get your picture, okay?” her mother cooed right behind her.
Melissa smiled. “Yeah, I figured Mom.
“Dylan is going to absolutely love this on you!”
“You don’t even know Dylan.” Melissa turned her body away from the mirror and looked at her mother skeptically.
Her mother shrugged. “Yes, I know. But how could anyone not like the way you look right now?”
Melissa couldn’t help but smirk. Then she looked down at the ground sheepishly.
Her mother pursed her lips together deep in thought. Then she pointed to Melissa’s bed and gave her daughter a gentle push towards it.
Melissa obeyed, even though she had no idea what her mother was doing. Once she made it over to her bed, her mother pushed her shoulders down to make her sit.
“What’s wrong?” Melissa asked.
“I was about to ask you the same thing.” Her mother said, sitting down beside her. She put a hand on Melissa’s back and rubbed it in small circles. “You were so excited for this dance and then, over time, you seemed to lose interest in it.”
Melissa sighed turning the other way. She didn’t mean to have her mother notice.
“I didn’t want to say anything because I thought maybe you were nervous. I also thought that by putting on this gorgeous dress, all your worries would disappear because… Well, look at you!” she exclaimed.
“And I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother.”
“You are because you have to.”
“Am not,” her mother scoffed. “Dylan is going to think the exact same thing.”
Melissa remained silent.
“Did something happen between the two of you? Is he not taking you to the dance anymore for some reason?” her mother then gasped interrupting herself. “Oh, no, did another girl ask him out and decided to go with her instead leaving you dateless?”
Melissa looked up at her mother and cracked a small smile. Her mother’s mind sure did love to wander. “No,” she chuckled. “It doesn’t have anything to do with Dylan.” She paused to think about it. “Well, actually, I guess it does have to do with Dylan.”
Melissa stood up and paced in circles around the middle of her bedroom. Her feet were already aching from her silver three-inch heels and the dance didn’t even start for another 45 minutes.
“My friends aren’t going to be hanging out with us at the dance tonight. It’s just going to be me and Dylan.” Melissa began. “And don’t get me wrong, I want to hang out with Dylan. Otherwise I wouldn’t have invited him,” Melissa drew in a deep breath and turned to face her mother. “I asked Dylan because he doesn’t have any friends. When our homeroom teacher mentioned the dance, everyone signed up to contribute except for him because he said he wasn’t going. None of the girls asked him.”
Melissa’s mother rolled her eyes. “See, this is why I hate these kinds of dances. It doesn’t matter whether you have a date or not, or who asks you or doesn’t ask you. As long as you’re there with your friends, happy, and have a good time, then that’s all that matters.”
“I know,” Melissa agreed nodding her head, “and I think Dylan should be able to go and have a good time as well. That’s why I asked him to go with me. I figured he could hang out with my friends.”
“That was very nice of you, Melissa.” Her mother smiled and then slowly nodded with her lips pursed again. “But, if I’m going to take a wild guess, I’d assume that you didn’t ask your friends about this first and now they’re mad because they don’t want to hang out with Dylan?”
“They’re not mad I invited him. They thought it was nice of me to include him because he’s such a loser.”
“Melissa, that’s not a nice thing to say at all!”
“Those are Laura’s words, not mine.” Melissa defended herself with her hands up in the air. She then relaxed her body and continued. “Even though they thought it was nice of me, they don’t feel the same way about including him.”
“So they think he should go to the dance as long as they don’t have to hang out with him?” her mother asked.
The doorbell rang from downstairs and Melissa’s father called up to them announcing Dylan’s presence. Melissa sighed as her mother called back down saying they’ll be there in a minute.
“Rule number one, girls take a long time to get ready. Don’t be surprised if Melissa goes into the girls’ bathroom a lot at the dance.”
Melissa’s mouth gaped open as she overheard her father talking to Dylan downstairs. Her mother rolled her eyes.
“I’ll get him for that later,” she said casually, “Anyway, you asked Dylan to the dance and that was a very nice thing of you to do. I’m sure he’s super excited that a girl asked him and he’s able to go.”
“He is. You should have seen the way he agreed to go with me.” Melissa laughed.
“Then he’s the kind of person you want to be hanging out with at this dance. Someone who will have fun, someone who will be with you through the whole event,” Her mother explained. “You don’t want to be hanging out with your friends anyway if they’re going to complain the entire time. Don’t let them bring you down you’re all there to have fun. Besides, I’m sure your friends will notice the wonderful time you’re having with Dylan, they’ll feel left out, and come over and join you. Then they’ll see how great Dylan is too.”
Melissa stood straighter taking in her mother’s advice. She nodded in agreement.
“Ready?” her mother asked.
Melissa smiled. “Ready.”
She and mother walked down the stairs, her mother a few steps in front of her. She introduced herself to Dylan giving him a hug. Melissa giggled noticing Dylan stiffen awkwardly. That was the thing about her parents, they were extremely welcoming, but it was always to the point that it was smothering the new guests. Then again, Melissa would rather that than them being too skeptical about the people she brought home.
“Wow,” Dylan’s jaw dropped, “you look pretty. I mean, beautiful. Well, gorgeous. I mean… You look good.”
Melissa was flattered and embarrassed at the same time. She pressed her lips together to hold in her laughter at his nervousness. She then nodded her head and managed to mutter a, “thank you.”
She then cleared her throat and pointed to him. “You look very handsome yourself.”
Dylan rubbed the back of his neck turning the other way. “Not really, it’s my older brother’s suit…” he looked down at his other hand which held a bouquet of tulips. He held it out to her.
“Oh, yeah, I got you these. I couldn’t find a corsage that matched your dress, so I… Well, I matched your dress with my tie!” Dylan interrupted himself and pointed to his tie. Then he lifted up the ankle of his suit pants. “And my socks, too,”
Melissa giggled at the bright turquoise socks.
“I think the socks are more aqua than turquoise, but… Oh, the flowers!” Dylan dropped his pant leg down again and held out the bouquet. Melissa took them gratefully.
“Tulips?” she asked.
“I noticed you have a couple of notebooks covered with pictures of tulips. I thought they might be your favorite?” he asked.
“They are,” Melissa nodded.
“Great!” Dylan grinned ecstatic.
Melissa picked out a rose in the middle of the tulips. “Where did this one come from?” she held it up only to realize that it was fake.
“Oh, I couldn’t find any fake tulips, so I had to get a rose.” Dylan explained.
Melissa titled her head to the side still confused.
Dylan drew in a breath and pointed to the rose. “The tulips, as beautiful as they are, are going to die within a week or so. The rose will stay forever and you can always remember the night. Well, hopefully you’ll want to remember the night.” He chuckled and turned the other way nervously again.
Melissa couldn’t help but keep a goofy grin on her face. She couldn’t believe Dylan would do something like this for her, especially since they barely knew each other at all.
“This is the least I could do for you taking me under your wing. I’ve never been to a school dance before.” Dylan admitted. “I want to make the night really special for you in return. Also because I, well, I know that your friends may not be hanging out with us tonight.”
Melissa stiffened. “What makes you say that?”
“They told me so.”
“Don’t worry I’m not here to start any drama.” Dylan put up his hands defensively. “They came up to me the other day and told me that it was either me or them. I told them that it was up to you, but you had asked me so I wasn’t going to back out on you.”
Melissa felt her face grow hot. She wasn’t sure if it was due to being embarrassed or angry. She figured it was probably a mixture of both.
“They told me that I was going to ruin your night and I told them that I was going to give you the best night.” Dylan paused for a moment. “I mean, that’s not why I gave you the flowers and stuff… I was planning on doing that anyway.”
Melissa shook her head a little trying to take in everything. She couldn’t believe that her friends would be so cruel to actually try to tell Dylan off like that. Sure, he was a loner, but he was a great guy. They was no reason no one should not like him.
“Well,” Melissa glanced back at her mother real quick before looking back at Dylan, “we’re going to the dance to have fun and get to know each other better. If my friends see what an awesome time we’re having and want to join, they can. Otherwise, I’m all yours for the night.”
Dylan frowned. “You should hang out with your friends, too.”
“I will be.” Melissa replied.
Dylan hesitated, but then smiled as soon as he realized what Melissa had just said. He held out his arm for Melissa to take. “Shall we?”
Melissa smiled and linked her arm in his. “Let’s get this party started.”
After giving her parents a quick wave, Melissa and Dylan walked through the front door and down the walkway to Dylan’s old car.
“Wow,” Melissa heard her dad say to her mother, “that guy is good!”
“Shush,” her mother hissed, “how many times do I have to tell you to start talking after we close the door or they’re out of sight?”
Melissa looked at Dylan as he opened her car door for her. “Did you hear that?”
“Nothing,” she smiled and sat down in the passenger seat.