A MEMORY

  1. In the fifth grade, I played football.
    We would wear our jerseys to school on game days. And on Homecoming, if a girl liked you, she would wear your jersey.
  2. Her name was Holly.
    I told her I had forgotten my jersey. She smiled. Said that was too bad. She would have worn it.
  3. There was a dance.
    The pee wee football players and the cheerleaders had a dance at the end of the season. I wanted Holly to be my date. Holly wanted to wear my jersey.
  4. His name was Drew.
    Drew was cool. Popular cool. I asked him to teach me how to dance. I wanted to be ready. For Holly. Drew and I slow danced in the empty school hallway. "You can do this," he said.
  5. I went to the dance alone.
    I would ask Holly to dance when the time was right. Another slow song. Not yet. Another. Not yet.
  6. His name was Kyle.
    Kyle approached me. "Hey Patrick. Will you dance with Holly?" It was happening.
  7. "Hey Holly, Patrick said he'll dance with you."
    Holly looked at me, standing in front of her and all our friends. I shrugged. Why not? Let's do it. "EW. Gross." And she ran away.
  8. Her name was Mom.
    She parked the car in our driveway and let me finish crying before we went inside. It's okay. It'll get better.
  9. Epilogue
    It was the summer after sixth grade. I had a Harry Potter-themed dance for my birthday party. Holly was there. I asked her to dance. She said yes. Then I asked Kali to dance. She said yes. And I asked Ruthie to dance. She said yes too. It got better. And John Michael won a copy of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" by guessing the correct number of jelly beans in a jar. Four hundred forty-four.