It felt as if someone had turned off the air conditioner. It was hot, sticky and I could feel the back of my shirt sticking to my skin. I glanced at my shoes – those damn patent leather shoes my mother insisted I wear. ‘It’s your first prom dear, everyone will be expecting you to dress properly’ she said as she handed me dads shoes. Never mind they were 3 sizes too big and it felt as if I were wearing canoes on my feet. I felt awkward, and sweaty with each step. Where was Robbie? We were going to survive this dance together. Keeping each other company, making fun of the fools on the dance floor. We were going to survive the Prom as we had survived freshman year. Trusting in no one other than ourselves. The two musketeers. All for one and….

I spied Robbie at the far end of the dance floor. He was actually dancing. Alison Hall was standing as far away as her arms would reach. The look of horror on her face and Robbie lead the box step. As if you could waltz to Nirvana. They both looked like they would rather be dead than dancing with each other. It wasn’t until I remembered that Alison was Robbie’s cousin that things made a little sense. It was a promise between parents. Robbie’s aunt Laura and his mom had conspired to humiliate Robbie, all in the name of family unity. In exchange for dancing with Alison, Robbie’s aunt must have promised to co-sign a loan or agree to have a body buried in her back yard. Whatever it was the debt was great, and everlasting.

Someone tapped my shoulder. It was Mrs. Rickard, my English teacher. One of the all too few chaperones tonight. Keeping the senior kids from finding dark recesses of the gym for gods knows what. ‘Alan, would you do me the honor?’ she said in a voice loud enough to drown our Kurt Kobain. I looked at her quizzically, and she extended her right hand, waiting for me to take it. ‘Will you dance with me Alan.’ Not so much a request as it was an instruction. Like reciting the Gettysburg address or diagraming a sentence. Noun – Me, as in Mrs. Rickard, verb – to dance. Oh god I thought! I’m trapped. Without thinking I took her hand and stepped back onto the floor. Nirvana had given way to Coldplay and I had my left hand on her sleeve, probably sweating through the fabric of her jacket. We were still holding right hands when I began to shuffle back and forth in my my dads shoes. Someone shoot me I thought. Not only am I dancing, I’m dancing with a teacher. There’s only one solution to this humiliating experience. A time machine. I had to go back in time and break my leg the day before the Prom.

I now knew my life’s direction. All thanks to dancing.

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