Squeeky Ball


Dancing (Photo credit: Dennis Vu Photography for Unleashed Media)


Tyler swallows hard before making his way across the gym floor. He is president of his middle school student body, on high honor roll, and captain of his modified football team, and still he has never been more afraid in his life. His father raised him right, even if he had to do it on his own, and Tyler knew what he had to do when he realized how he felt about Chase. After the varsity game, at the dance, Tyler would do what he wanted to do.

Chase is not a popular girl. She is awkward and dresses haphazardly. She usually keeps her head down in the hallway, trying to avoid eye contact and seeing the other kids point and whisper. She comes from a broken home as well, but from the “wrong” side of town. She and Tyler are worlds apart and yet they spend an hour a day together as lab partners for science.

Despite his grades he expected her to treat him like a stupid jock, but she never did. She never asks about the big game: why they won or lost. She never treats him like he is special or different, and Tyler likes that. He and Chase finish their assignment early every time and find other things to work on, avoiding the uncomfortable silence. Once and a while she even smiles from underneath the red hair that she lets fall in front of her face.

So now he makes his way, lump in his throat, across the basketball court, a symphony of sneakers on wax playing over the DJ’s selections. He knows what he is about to do may ruin his reputation in the brutal politics of the eighth grade, but he does not care. “Don’t worry what other people think,” his dad’s words echo in his brain, and that advice has always served him well.

He reaches the bleachers where Chase sits silently with her small group of fellow outcasts. No one looks up at him until he reaches out his hand. “Hi,” he winces as his voice cracks “you wanna dance?” His chest tightens as she looks up and smiles.




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