The next morning, I woke up and started getting ready for school- just as always. I threw on a pair of dark denim jeans and a burgundy lacey shirt, with a cream tank-top underneath. I brushed through my hair, and walked downstairs. My mom still hadn’t been to the store to get more Cheerios, so I had a bagel again for breakfast. I sat down at the table, and realized that Ethan wasn’t down here. I quickly ate my breakfast, and went upstairs to his room. He was laying on his bed, with his eyes half closed.
“I’m not going to school today,” he mumbled.
“What’s wrong, buddy?”
“My throat hurts, I have a fever, and my nose is really runny.”
I knelt by his bed and rubbed his back. Then I handed him a tissue so that he wouldn’t get snot all over his pillow.
“Sounds like a cold to me. All this wet weather we’ve had lately could probably cause one.”
Ethan nodded, and then blew his nose into the tissue. Just then, my mom walked in with a thermometer, and put it under his tongue. She took it out when it beeped.
“One hundred and two. That’s a pretty high fever for a cold.”
Ethan just replied with a half-hearted shrug.
“Why don’t you go get your stuff and go downstairs,” my mom said to me. “Ethan needs to go back to sleep.”
Not wanting to catch whatever he had, I just blew Ethan a kiss, and then left his room. I grabbed my backpack from by my desk on my way downstairs. I glanced at the clock, and saw that I had five minutes before I had to leave for the bus stop. But, I left early, in hopes that Ryan would be there early, too.
I walked off the porch, and saw the clouds in the sky that threatened to pour at any minute. I reached for the umbrella, and I remembered that Ryan had it. I just walked quickly up the sidewalk, praying it wouldn’t rain until I was safely on the bus. When the bus stop came into view, I saw Ryan standing there. My heart started beating faster as I got closer to him. He smiled when he saw me coming, and I smiled back.
“Hi, Ella,” he said.
“Hi,” I said back.
I slid my thumbs in my pockets, and bit my lip. I watched as he fumbled for words, and I could tell he was nervous about something. His face got a little red when he finally managed to speak.
“So, uh, I was wondering if you would like to go out with me tonight. We could go see a movie or something.”
He stared at his feet. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered around, and I could hardly contain my excitement. Ryan had just asked me out. The guy I had known all of three
days had just asked me out on a date with him.
“I would love to,” I said, keeping my tone as steady as possible.
I saw Grace walking towards the bus stop, and seeing her reminded me that today was Wednesday- the day of our first dance class. I couldn’t go to that, come home and get ready for a date, and be back home at a reasonable time. My parents were a little strict, and my dad would have a stroke if I were out later than nine with a boy on a school night.
“Actually, I can’t,” I said, forgetting to give an explanation why.
He looked at me, disappointment creeping into his dark green eyes.
“I have stuff to do after school today. But, I’m free tomorrow. Is that okay?”
He smiled, and his eyes lit up.
“Okay. I’m not really sure what movies are out right now, so I’ll call you tonight to let you know when I can pick you up. Hopefully my mom will let me borrow the car.”
I smiled right as Grace walked up next to me.
“What?” she said, watching me smile at Ryan.
He cleared his throat and turned around, pretending to be looking for the bus. I scratched my neck and looked at my feet.
“What?” she said again.
“I’ll tell you on the bus,” I whispered.
Just then, the yellow vehicle came into view, and I got on after Grace. Ryan sat in the back like always. As I was walking towards where Grace was sitting, we made eye contact, and I smiled at him. But, I tripped over a backpack in the aisle, and nearly fell on my face. I blushed a deep red, and he started laughing. I quickly took my seat.
“So what was happening at that bus stop?” Grace asked.
“Ryan asked me out on a date tomorrow night,” I explained.
“Oh my goodness!” she shouted.
I looked around, and a few people shot us some strange looks.
“A little quieter?” I said.
Grace just gave me an apologetic face.
“That’s so sweet! You have to tell me everything!”
“I will, but there’s actually more to it than just him asking me out. He came to my house for dinner the other night. Actually, I invited him. But, that was because it was raining…”
My voice trailed off, and Grace stared at me with a look of bewilderment.
“You didn’t tell me! When did all that happen?”
I wanted to tell her everything, but I knew that trying to talk to her on the bus would not give enough time.
“Why don’t you come sleep over on Friday?”
“Perfect! Then we can talk all we want!”
I rolled my eyes at her enthusiasm. The bus pulled up at the school, and before I got off, I reminded Grace about our dance class that night.
“Oh yeah! Aren’t you excited? I have to stay after school again, but I’ll pick you up around six-fifteen. I’m just going to wear a tank top and some Soffee shorts.”
I nodded as we parted to go to our homerooms. I sat in my desk in homeroom, overflowing with excitement for my date with Ryan. For a split second, I wondered if falling for him so quickly was a bad idea, but the thought was out of my head as quick as it had come. The bell rang for first period, and I dreaded sitting through another math class. I survived, though. And, I managed to live through the rest of my school day.
I got on the bus in a happy mood, excited for my first dance class. I looked out my window at the gray clouds that had somehow held in their rain all day. When I got off at my bus stop, I walked slowly down the sidewalk. I laughed as I felt a few raindrops hit the back of my neck. I knew it would be only a matter of time before the clouds let loose their rain. I sped up my walk in hopes that I would not be drenched before I reached my house. Luckily, it only sprinkled as I finished my walk home. As soon as I got inside, the rain sped up into a downpour.
I walked inside and saw my brother lying on the couch, propped up with a few pillows. He had a box of tissues at his side. My mom was sitting at the other side of the sofa reading a book.
“Hey guys,” I said.
Ethan waved. It was only a small wave, though. He still seemed pretty sick. My mom set her book down and came over to talk to me.
“Hi, sweetie. How was your day at school?”
“It was pretty good,” I said. “How’s Ethan?”
“I’m not sure. His temperature is still high, and he says he has an awful sore throat. I called the doctor today, just to find out what they think I should do. He looks pretty miserable. They said that a lot of kids are having colds right now- the best thing to do would just be to wait it out.”
“I don’t like seeing him sick, though,” I said.
My mom wrapped me in a hug and kissed my head.
“It’s just a cold. I’m sure it will be over soon.”
“You don’t need me for anything tomorrow night, do you?” I asked.
“No,” my mom replied. “Why?”
“Well, I kind of have a date.”
“With who?” she said.
“Well, I assumed as much. I would rather hear his name.”
I laughed at her sarcasm.
“It’s Ryan- the boy that was at our house for dinner last night.”
My mom eyed me with suspicion.
“I thought you told your father that he wasn’t your boyfriend.”
“Well, he asked me out this morning, so technically he wasn’t my boyfriend last night.”
She nodded her head and mulled over my words.
“Okay. I thought Ryan was a nice boy, so I’m fine with it. But, you need to tell your dad.”
“Could you do that for me?” I asked in a little-kid voice.
“No,” my mom replied. “If you are old enough to have a date, you are old enough to tell your father you have one.”
I laughed half-heartedly. I honestly was scared of telling my dad. I didn’t know quite how he would react to me going out, and I didn’t have to wait long to wonder. A few minutes later, he walked in the door.
“Surprise!” he yelled. “I’m home early.”
“We can see that,” I said.
He rolled his eyes as he walked towards Ethan to give him a kiss. Then he went upstairs to change. I went upstairs, too, but I started doing my homework.
I had a worksheet to do for math. It was covered in difficult algebraic problems that my teacher was using to try to kill me. I sat at my desk for an hour, attempting to do the only ten problems on the page. I finally gave up when I smelled garlic from the kitchen. I hopped down the stairs to see what my mom was cooking.
I saw a golden brown pork roast in the over, smothered in garlic. Potatoes were boiling on the stove, and some carrots were in a pot next to the potatoes. My mom was adding cinnamon and brown sugar to the carrots.
“Is your homework done?” she asked.
“Not really. The math is really hard.”
“You should ask your dad for help,” she offered.
I shook my head. The last time I asked my dad for math help, he ended up doing the homework for me and using complicated math terms that just confused me more. I just decided that I would stay after school with Grace one day and go to math tutoring.
“When will dinner be ready?”I asked.
“Why? Do you have a date? Oh wait, that’s tomorrow,” my mom joked.
“You have a date?” my dad asked.
“I have my first dance class tonight. Grace is picking me up at six-fifteen.”
It was already five-thirty. I decided to go upstairs and get ready.
“Sorry dad,” I said on my way up. “I have to go get ready. I’ll tell you later.”
When I reached my room, I fished through my dresser, and pulled out a blue racerback tank top and a pair of black Soffee shorts. I went into the bathroom, trying to decide what to do with my hair. It wasn’t quite long enough to put in a ponytail, and I didn’t want it getting knotted as I danced. I finally settled on putting my hair back into two small pigtails. I looked like a little school girl, but I didn’t care.
I walked down the stairs twenty minutes later. My dad was sitting on the couch, and asked me to come talk to him. I sat on the cushion next to him.
“So, what’s this talk about a date?” he asked me.
“Well, I kind of have one tomorrow night.”
“You mean the kid who ate dinner with us last night? I thought you told me he wasn’t your boyfriend.”
“Well, he wasn’t. He asked me out this morning. We are going to a movie, and he is going to call me later to tell me when he will come get me. Are we done?”
I felt uncomfortable talking to my dad about Ryan. I don’t know why. I can usually talk to my dad about anything. My dad didn’t have any more questions, so I took my seat at the dinner table. Ethan wasn’t at the table. He had gone upstairs a few minutes earlier to lie down. He really wasn’t feeling well.
My mom handed me a plate filled with garlic pork and sweet carrots. I took my fork and stuffed a mound of food into my mouth. My dad was staring at me as I ate.
“What?” I said, with a mouth full of carrots.
“I just hope you don’t eat like that on your date,” he said with a laugh.
“Dad! Would you just stop talking about my date?”
“Ella Marie Kayson! Don’t you dare talk to your father like that. What has gotten in to you?” my mom said in a stern voice.
My insides shook and I sat completely still. My mom hardly ever uses her stern voice.
“I’m sorry mom,” I mumbled as I stared at my plate. I looked up and glanced at the clock after looking at my mom. It was six-fifteen.
“I have to go to my dance class now, but I’m sorry for getting annoyed with you, daddy.”
He nodded at me and I silently walked my plate to the sink. The silverware clinked as it hit the plate in the water. I gave my parents a hug and a kiss before I grabbed my phone and walked out the front door. Grace was waiting in the driveway for me, and I hopped in the passenger seat.
“What’s wrong Ella?”
“Just stuff,” I said with a sigh.
We drove to the dance studio in silence. When we arrived, we signed it to our dance class, and the receptionist led us to our dance room. Grace walked in first, and I followed. A few girls were already on the floor, stretching. We followed suit, sitting down and reaching for our toes. After a few minutes, a college age girl walked in and stood at the front.
“Good evening girls. My name is Cassie and I’m going to be the beginning teen lyrical instructor. Why don’t we all do some stretches together?”
And so the dance class began. We did some flowing stretches to some classical music. The sounds of the piano and violin were interrupted when a loud clap of thunder sounded. A few girls jumped, but I didn’t move an inch. Thunder didn’t bother me- I knew it was just God’s way of letting us know He is still there.
After our stretching, Cassie taught us the basics to lyrical dancing, and told us how it was a combination of ballet and jazz dancing. She told us that when we dance, we have to express the feeling of the song, because that’s what lyrical is all about. Before our first class ended, she gave us some homework. We had to go home and look up the song ‘So She Dances’ by Josh Groban and ‘Dare You to Move’ by Switchfoot. We had to write down the different emotions surrounding the song, and report in next week which one we should do for our recital. Grace looked incredibly excited. I was entirely happy about having more homework, but I liked that our instructor wanted our input.
Grace and I walked out of the studio, and then quickly got in her car. We got inside without getting drenched, so I felt accomplished.
“I’ve heard both of those songs before,” Grace told me as she pulled out of the parking lot. “They are both beautiful! I don’t know which one I like better.”
“I don’t think I’ve heard either of them,” I said.
“Oh, well, I think the CD that’s in the player has ‘Dare You to Move’ on it. Turn it on so you can listen.”
I pressed the power button, and clicked to the next song until Grace told me to stop. I sat back in my seat and stared at the falling rain as the sounds of a guitar filled the car. My heart was filled with emotions as the chorus was sung:
“I dare you to move, I dare you to move. I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor. I dare you to move, I dare you to move. Like today never happened, today never happened before.”
The last chords were played as we pulled into the driveway of my house.
“Wow,” I said. “That song was pretty amazing.”
Grace nodded and smiled at me. She gave me a hug, and I ran into the house before I would get terribly wet. I ran upstairs to my room, pulled out my pigtails, and quickly took a warm shower. I would have liked to relax more in the hot water, but I know that it is not terribly safe taking a shower during a thunderstorm. I pulled on a pair of capri sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt as my pajamas before I went downstairs.
I walked to the back room and went to YouTube on the computer. I typed in ‘So She Dances’, and listened to the song. I scribbled on a post-it that the song was dainty and sweet. But, other than that, it did not have near the amount of emotion as the other song did. I was listening to ‘Dare You to Move’ when Ethan walked in. He listened with me until the end of the song.
“What song was that?” he asked me earnestly.
“That song was called Dare You to Move, by Switchfoot. I think it might be the song we dance to at our recital in a few months.”
“That song was so pretty. I wanted to listen to the lyrics, and move, but I’m sick and I don’t feel like moving too much.”
I laughed and I gave my little brother a hug.
“You’re so sweet,” I told him. “I don’t understand why you still have that cold, though. It should be getting better…” My voice trailed off.
“I’ll be alright, Ella. Don’t you be worrying about me. God will make sure I’m okay.”
He gave me a hug and then left the room to go to bed. My eyes welled up with tears at his mature statement. I blinked away the moisture in my eyes, and I turned back to the computer. I wrote a few words about ‘Dare You to Move’ on my post-it, and then I turned off the monitor. I kissed my dad as I passed him sitting on the couch. He wished my goodnight, and I dashed upstairs. After I stuck my post-it on the wall above my desk, I sat on my bed for a few minutes, staring at my Bible. It was opened to Colossians, but I wasn’t really reading it. I had too many thoughts running through my head.
I wanted Ethan to get better, because I hated seeing him sick. I was excited for next week’s dance class to get to share what I thought of the songs. I felt the butterflies in my stomach for my date with Ryan tomorrow night. My heart skipped a beat at the thought of holding his hand again. I was so lost in my thoughts, that I almost didn’t hear my cell phone ring. I finally picked it up.
“Hey,” Ryan said.
“Oh, hi. How are you?” I asked him.
“I’m pretty good. You?”
“I’m good, too. So, what’s up?”
“Well, I was just thinking about our date tomorrow. I could come pick you up around seven, and we could go see the seven-thirty showing of ‘Our Life’.”
I smiled to myself when he said that. I had been wanting to see that movie for a while. It was supposed to be a romantic comedy, and I thought it was so sweet that he would go see it with me.
“That sound great,” I told him.
We both sat in silence, and I could sort of hear his breathing through the phone. I bet he could hear mine, too. Finally, he said something.
“So, uh, how was your day today?”
“It was fine. I’m starting to take dance classes with Grace. We listened to two possible songs for our recital. Have you ever heard the song ‘Dare You to Move’? It is the most amazing song.”
I was suddenly aware that I was telling him a lot of stuff. I didn’t really mind though.
“I have heard that song before. That’s cool that you are taking a dance class,” Ryan said.
The more I talked to him, the more I realized how sweet he was. He didn’t care that I was talking a lot, and he seemed interested in everything I did. We talked about school, and our friends, and what we like to do. He listened as I rambled on, and I would laugh when he would tell funny stories about his brother. In the middle of our conversation, I heard a knock at my door.
“Hold on a second,” I told Ryan. “Come in,” I called.
My dad came in the door. He looked at his watch, which prompted me to glance at my clock. It was almost eleven.
“Sorry, daddy. I’ll go to bed now.”
I picked up the phone.
“Hey, I didn’t realized what time it was. I have to go. But I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
He sounded upset, but he said goodnight and hung up the phone. My dad came over and sat next to me on my bed.
“Are you staying up all night talking to boys now?” he asked me.
“Well, not all night, and it’s only one boy.”
My dad laughed.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier when I asked about your date. It’s just that you are my only girl, and I want to keep you safe.”
I hugged him, touched by his fatherly protectiveness.
“It’s okay. I think Ryan is a very good guy.”
My dad shrugged.
“He’s alright. He’s nothing compared to me, though.”
I laughed and he hugged me tight. He kissed my forehead, told me he loved me, and he went down the hall to his and my mom’s room. I got out of bed to quickly brush my teeth before I went to sleep. I didn’t even notice that my Bible had fallen on the floor, and landed underneath my bed