With the semester over and everyone settled into their new classes it was time for the dance. I’d been able to put the guy’s outfits together without much of a problem. A quick search through their closets and a trip to Goodwill was all it took to get them ready but the dresses were another story. Maggie and Yuuki had somehow convinced me to make a dress for myself since I was going to the trouble anyway. They said it wouldn’t be that much harder to do one more since I’d already have the patterns. I agreed and had been frantically trying to finish them ever since. Two days before the dance I delivered Maggie and Yuuki’s dresses and then went home to start on my own. I had no idea whether or not I’d be able to finish in time but my mom stepped in to help and together we got it finished with about six hours to spare.
I frantically ran around my room, grabbing whatever I thought I would need, shoving it into my backpack as my mom sighed over the dress.
“It’s just so beautiful, Lyla. You’re going to look great in it.”
“Thanks mom,” I yelled from inside my closet. “Thanks for all your help too, I would have never finished without you.”
“No problem. So who exactly are you going to the dance with anyway? I never did quite catch his name.”
“That’s because I’m not really going with any one person,” I explained as I crawled out of the closet, several pairs of shoes in hand. “We’re all just going as a group.”
“Yeah, I told you all of this already. Maggie, Yuuki, me, Yuuki’s boyfriend Jack, Mattie and Jack’s friend Cade.”
“And Jack’s the boy who was at the hospital, right?”
“And Cade’s the one who saved you?”
“No, that was Ian.”
“The boy you like, right?”
“So if you like Ian, why are you going with Cade?”
“Technically, I’m not going with Cade, I’m going with Matt.”
“Matt? Are you sure that’s such a good idea?”
“Relax mom, he’s got a girlfriend now. He met her over break. Remember?”
“Oh, right. So then you two are just friends now?”
“Yes! Just like I’m just friends with Cade and Jack.”
“But you’re not friends with Ian?”
“That’s complicated, remember? Ian’s house? The blizzard? The whole reason you won’t let me go back to piano lessons?”
“You mean that’s the same Ian?”
“The one and only,” I sighed as I scanned my room for anything else I might need.
“And you still like him, even after all of that?”
“I don’t know mom, like I said, it’s complicated and I don’t have time to talk about this right now. I was supposed to be at Maggie’s an hour ago.”
“Well, I won’t keep you. You have a great time honey and make sure you stop by here before you go. I want a…”
“A picture, yeah, I know,” I grinned. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
“I’ll be waiting,” my mom grinned as I grabbed my bag, my dress and ran out the door.
Maggie was practically in hysterics when I walked into her room, dragging my things behind me.
“Where have you been?” she shrieked. “I hardly have time to work on you.”
“Maggie, you’ve got like five hours.”
“Yeah, and we need to stop by your house for pictures, right? And we’ve got to eat! That only leaves us two hours to get you ready.”
“Which is plenty of time since you and Yuuki are already finished,” I grinned as I nodded a hello to Yuuki.
“Yeah, well if you don’t look as good as the two of us, it’s not our fault,” Maggie sighed. “So what kept you anyway?”
“I was finishing my dress,” I sighed as I hung it on the back of Maggie’s door.
“You mean you didn’t have it finished when you brought over mine?” Yuuki asked, shocked.
“No. I didn’t even start on it until after I dropped off yours and Maggie’s.”
“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks,” I sighed as Maggie pushed me into a chair and immediately set to work on my hair.
Two hours later Maggie announced that I was finished and the three of us stood in front of her full-length mirror, much as we had done for homecoming, trying to get one final look.
“You’ve really outdone yourself Lyla,” Maggie sighed as she left the mirror and began twirling around the room. “This is so great! I haven’t had a dress this twirly since I was a little kid.”
“Just don’t twirl your skirt too high,” Yuuki laughed, “or you might end up embarrassed.”
“Right,” Maggie nodded as she flopped onto the bed, “I’ll remember that.”
“So, should we go?” I asked just as the doorbell rang.
“Yes, lets,” Maggie grinned as she led the way to the front door.
Jack and Cade stood on the other side, looking like they’d just stepped out of Doc Brown’s Delorian.
“You guys look great!” I cried as Matt joined us at the door and the six of us headed toward Cade’s van.
“So your parents let you take the van again?” Maggie asked as soon as she’d called shotgun.
“Yup,” Cage grinned. “So are you girls hungry?”
“Starving,” Maggie grinned as she hopped into the front seat.
“Me too,” I agreed, “but we need to stop at my house first.”
“Why?” Jack asked.
“Pictures,” Matt answered for me.
“Really?” Cade asked. “How do you know?”
“Because I was Lyla’s date to homecoming,” Matt grinned, as if he’d just played the trump card in some serious poker match. “Liz likes to document important occasions in Lyla’s life with pictures.”
“Oh,” Cade sighed, looking a little deflated. “Well, I guess our first stop is Lyla’s. Sorry Maggie, you’re just going to have to starve a little longer.”
“That’s alright,” Maggie grinned, “I’ve got a pop tart in my purse.”
My mom nearly flipped out when the six of us piled out of Cade’s van, ooing and ahhing over our outfits as we dutifully lined up in the living room for our pictures. I had to admit, we did look good. The guys all looked very suave in their various suits. Jack had opted for the George McFly look with his black pants, white shirt, white jacket and black bow tie. Cade had gone way John Travolta with his black pants, black jacket and hot pink shirt, complete with matching handkerchief. Matt decided to forgo the sweater and had instead settled on a jacket and tie; he looked a lot like Marty McFly but that was alright. As for us girls, well, Maggie had settled her heart on having a dress just like Sandy’s so that’s what I made her; a plain white dress with little straps on the shoulders and a fitted bodice, which looked surprisingly like the original dress. Yuuki, wanting to look as much the part of Lorraine as she could, had opted for a pale pink checkered sleeveless dress and a little white jacket she’d found in my mom’s closet. My dress was a yellow and black polka-dotted halter with a skinny little belt at the waist. Each of our dresses had the full swing skirt and about a million petticoats underneath which made sitting down a bit interesting.
My mom, thrilled to have everyone looking so dapper, as she called it, quickly set to work with the camera, taking about a zillion pictures. She started with several group shots and then broke us down from there into trios, couples and finally individuals. I ended up being paired off with both Matt and Cade before it was all said and done, but I didn’t care and my mom was happy to have so many pictures of me. When Mom was finally satisfied with the pictures and Yuuki’s stomach growled so loudly we could all hear it, she let us go with her usual parting words: “be good, have fun, drive safely and wake me when you get home.”
After pictures came dinner which ended up being at the only diner in town.
“We thought it was appropriate,” Yuuki grinned as we were led to the only booth in the place big enough for the six of us.
The guys agreed that it was and we quickly set to scanning the menu, all of us acting as if we hadn’t eaten in weeks. When our orders had finally been placed, we sat back and enjoyed ourselves, but as time rolled by without any sign of food coming our way, things began to get a little dodgy. Even Cade’s perpetual smile was replaced by a frown as a huge tray of food came and went beside him. By the time our food did come, it was cold, gross and practically inedible, though we all managed to choke it down anyway.
“So the diner wasn’t exactly the best idea,” Maggie chuckled, trying to lighten the mood as we all climbed into the van.
“Uh, no,” Cade laughed, back to his old self, despite the disappointing meal.
“Sorry guys” Yuuki sighed, “I really thought it’d be fun. You know? Old diner, fifties clothes, it all seemed to fit.”
“It did,” I assured her with a smile.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” Jack insisted, “it’s not like you wanted dinner to suck.”
“True,” she sighed, “but I really am sorry.”
“Hey, it’s Maggie’s and my fault too,” I told her, “we all decided on this together, and really, it’s not that big of a deal. What’s one lousy dinner in the grand scheme of things anyway?”
“I suppose you’re right,” Yuuki sighed, “but I still feel bad. Not only did the food suck but now we’re late for the dance too.”
“Ah forget about it,” Cade laughed, “the party won’t start until we get there anyway.”
Cade may have actually believed that the fun wouldn’t start until we were at the dance but the rest of us knew better and walking into the crowded gym proved our point. It looked as if half the school was there all decked out in poodle skirts and greaser threads. I wondered how much thought really went into most people’s outfits as we made our way to the dance floor and was extremely glad I’d been talked into making my own dress; conformity was something I really hated.
The six of us got a million compliments as we joined the mass on the dance floor and I could tell that Maggie and Cade, at least, were eating it up. They both thrived on attention and coming to school looking as if they’d just been on the set of Grease made them the main attraction. It didn’t take long for them to find the spotlight and stay there. Yuuki, Jack, Matt and I didn’t care much for the attention and were happy to blend into the crowd, though I didn’t stay happy for long. As excitement over the school’s very own Danny and Sandy died down, the music settled too, flowing into a slow song that allowed plenty of time to talk and observe. As Matt and I talked about anything and everything, I scanned the gym, hoping to catch a glimpse of anyone else I knew.
Half way through the song, my wish was granted and I caught sight of Ian across the dance floor, swaying arm in arm with Ashley Tucker. My stomach sank to my toes as I watched the two of them, talking and laughing while Ashley snaked her fingers through the hair on the back of Ian’s head. As much as I hated the sight of them together, I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. Ian must have felt my eyes on him because he looked up and for one brief moment our eyes locked but his attention was back on Ashley a second later. Upset and disgusted by the sight of my mortal enemy and my beloved Ian together, the room began to feel very small. When the song ended, I thanked Matt for the dance and then told him I was going to sit the next one out.
“Are you sure?” he asked. “Is everything alright?”
“Oh yeah, it’s fine. I just wanted to get some water.”
“Okay,” Matt shrugged as I wound my way through the crowd.
Once free from the throng on the dance floor, the room began to swim and I quickly sought the comfort of the cold night air. Sitting on the frozen concrete steps of the gym, looking up at the sky full of glittering stars, the world no longer felt as if it were collapsing and I could think again. What was Ian doing at the dance with Ashley? Ashley of all people! I knew he wasn’t interested in me at all, but why did he have to pick the one person I couldn’t stand? Frustrated and heartbroken, I opted to spend my evening outside, watching the cars in the parking lot come and go as the night progressed. I was cold, freezing actually, but I preferred to die of frostbite rather than a broken heart.
When the steps became too cold to sit on, I decided to wander aimlessly around the school grounds. With snow on the ground, I was confined to the sidewalks and parking lots but that was fine with me; the walking kept me warm and the pain in my toes covered the pain in my heart. The parking lot was slowly beginning to empty as I walked and I wondered how long I had been outside when I saw Ian trekking through the snow, taking a shortcut, no doubt, to his car. I had been walking around the perimeter of the parking lot, keeping to the shadows in case anyone decided to come looking for me. I knew Ian would never know I was there so I stopped to watch him, wondering what his plans were for the evening. Would he take Ashley home soon? Would they stop for dessert and coffee first? Would he kiss her good-night?
The revving of an engine across the parking lot saved me from any more awful thoughts of Ian and Ashley. Curious, I looked up in time to see a car back recklessly out of their parking space and tear towards the exit. I just shook my head as they burned rubber in the parking lot, wondering how many days ago they’d gotten their license. I didn’t give them a second thought until I heard screeching tires a few seconds later. I looked up, expecting to see the car speeding out of the parking lot, but was surprised to see the car headed my way. I guess they must have decided that a cruise around the parking lot and a couple of donuts at the empty end of the lot was more fun than going home. I watched the car spinning at the far end of the lot, wondering what would happen if it ended up smashing into one of the light poles. After one too many close calls, the driver must have decided the fun wasn’t worth the risk and abandoned the donuts.
Ian must have been intrigued by the idiot behind the wheel because he stopped not five feet away from me to watch. As the car idled under the harsh lights at the far end of the lot, I caught a few faint notes of what sounded like Bon Jovi. Pretty sure I knew where the music was coming from, I turned my attention to Ian and watched him pull his cell phone from his pocket, his attention drawn to some far off place as he spoke. Transfixed by Ian’s incredible resemblance to Link Larkin, I forgot all about the car at the other end of the parking lot until a rev of the engine and a squeal of the tires brought it back to my attention. For a horrified second, I watched as the car, much closer than it had been only seconds before, tore through the parking lot and headed straight for Ian.
Ian, who was completely absorbed in his conversation, paid no attention to the car speeding toward him and for a second I felt as if I was frozen in place, doomed to watch the man I loved die a horrific death. Unwilling to accept my destiny, I tore my feet from the pavement and raced across the parking lot, knocking into Ian with all of my might, sending us both sprawling on the asphalt between two cars as the donut car sped by.
Terrified and disoriented, it took me a second to figure out where I was and what had happened but once I did, I freaked out, my heart, pounding like a John Bonham solo.
“Oh my gosh!” I cried. “Are you alright? Ian? Are you okay?”
Ian lay on his back, half beside me and half under me, his eyes were closed and he didn’t answer.
“Ian! Oh Ian, please! Are you okay? Please be okay! Ian! C’mon Ian! Ian!”
Afraid that I might be squishing him I tried to push myself up but found that my right arm was pinned under Ian and moving really made it hurt.
“Ow,” I whined as I lay my head on Ian’s chest, unable to go anywhere else.
“Ooh,” Ian groaned below me.
“Ian!” I shrieked, ecstatic to hear his voice. “Ian, are you okay?”
“Lyla?” Ian asked, groggily. “What are you…? What happened? Why are you on top of me?”
“Huh? Oh! Sorry! I’d get up but you’re kinda squashing my arm.”
“I am? Why?”
“Well, you were standing in the middle of the parking lot and a car almost hit you.”
“Are you sure it didn’t hit me? I feel awful.”
“Trust me, if it had, you wouldn’t be talking right now.”
“Yeah. So are you alright? Do you think you can sit up?”
“I think so,” Ian grunted as he slowly sat up.
The pain in my arm intensified as Ian sat up and I pulled it gingerly into my lap to examine it.
“Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” I cried as I looked over my hand, “Ian, quick, your head, it’s bleeding!”
Touching the back of his head, Ian groaned as his hand fell limply to the ground, his fingers covered in blood. Knowing I needed to stop the bleeding and not knowing what else to use, I quickly yanked off one of my hundred petticoats and wadded it up, pressing it to the back of Ian’s head.
A groan was all I could get out of the slumped over Ian.
“I need to get you to a hospital. Is your dad working tonight? Ian?”
“Is your dad working tonight?”
“Where? Which hospital? Foothills?”
“Yeah,” Ian groaned.
“Okay, Ian? I need to get you to the hospital but I don’t have my car here so I’m gonna need to drive yours. Is that alright?”
A slight nod and a groan was all I got as Ian fished weakly in his pocket and pulled out his keys. Grabbing the keys, I threw Ian’s left arm over my shoulder and put his right hand on the petticoat before wrapping my arms around his waist.
“You’re gonna need to hold this for a second,” I told him as I nodded to the wad of fabric in his hand. “You need to keep pressure on your head to stop the bleeding, while I try to help you stand up, okay? Once you’re up you can lean on me if you need to. You’re parked just on the other side of this car and I’m going to help you get there. As soon as we’re there you can lay down again. Alright?”
“Sure,” Ian groaned.
Practically lifting Ian on my own, I managed to get him to his feet and half drag him to his car. I scrambled with the keys for a second before he grabbed them from my hand and put the right key into the lock. Turning the key, I opened the door and helped Ian into the passenger seat, buckling him in before running around to the other side and sliding in behind the wheel. Being a huge fan of classic muscle cars, I’d always dreamed of being able to drive Ian’s but driving to the hospital with him only semi-conscious beside me wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Searing pain shot through my hand every time I had to shift, but I ignored it, more concerned with Ian than my own suffering.
I’d seen too many movies were it was imperative to keep the injured person talking, lest something awful happen to them, so that’s what I did. I kept Ian talking to me as much as possible, though his responses were little more than groans and grumbles. I think I may have annoyed him as we drove, but I didn’t care; there was no way I was going to let him die on me. I pulled into the parking lot of Foothills Hospital and found the closest parking space possible. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to drag Ian across the parking lot but I didn’t have a choice, his answers to my endless barrage of questions had gotten shorter and less coherent as I drove and I was afraid if I didn’t get him inside soon, he’d be completely gone. Half dragging Ian from the car, I somehow managed to wrangle him across the lot and into the glowing emergency room.
“Could somebody help me, please?” I cried as we stumbled our way inside, my hand throbbing and my back aching from the now lifeless Ian.
“Lyla?” I heard a somewhat frantic voice call out behind me. “Lyla, what happened?”
Turning I came face to face with Dr. Wallace and immediately burst into tears.
“He…he…” I stammered, trying to explain what had happened through my hysterics.
“Lyla, calm down,” Dr. Wallace instructed as he took Ian from me, “it’s alright, everything is going to be alright. I’m here and you’re going to be fine.”
“What about Ian?”
“I don’t know, I need to know what happened before I can answer that question. Do you think you can do that? Can you tell me what happened?”
I nodded my head in response as I tried to stifle my sobs.
“Good girl,” Dr. Wallace smiled, “now come with me.”
Obediently I followed Dr. Wallace into the nearest examining room and did my best to explain what happened as he began to inspect his son.
“So you pushed him out of the way?” he asked, sounding a bit shocked.
“Well I couldn’t just stand there and watch him get hit. I had to do something.”
“So you risked your own life to save my son.”
“I don’t think I did a very good job of it,” I sighed as I looked at the lifeless Ian lying in front of me.
“You did just fine,” Dr. Wallace smiled.
“So how bad is he hurt? I know he hit his head pretty hard because it was bleeding earlier. Will he be alright?”
“He should be. The blood was from a cut on the back of his head, my guess would be from a rock.”
“Really? But in the parking lot he was bleeding so badly. I thought for sure he’d cracked his head open.”
“Head wounds tend to bleed quite a bit, much like the one on your own head.”
“Huh?” I asked, completely confused by what he meant. I didn’t have a cut on my head, did I? Of course, the second Dr. Wallace mentioned it, I felt the sting on my forehead and felt the sticky trickle of blood that had made its way down my cheek.
“Why don’t you come with me and we’ll get you all patched up.”
“But what about Ian? Will he be okay?”
“I think so. I’m having him taken for a CT scan, just to be sure, but I have a feeling he’ll be alright. He’s a pretty tough kid.”
Reluctantly I followed Dr. Wallace into an adjacent examining room and hopped onto the bed, wondering if all of this was really necessary. After all, I wasn’t the one lying unconscious in the next room. It surprised me when Dr. Wallace announced that I was going to need stitches and an X-ray of my right hand.
“Seriously?” I asked, completely surprised by the news.
“I’m afraid so,” Dr. Wallace smiled. “The cut on your head isn’t large but it is deep and your hand…well just look at it. I’m afraid it’s broken.”
“Great,” I groaned as I looked down at the swollen purple mass that had once been my hand.
Two hours later I was stitched, mended and very, very tired. Dr. Wallace told me to wait in Ian’s room while he filled out some paperwork and so I did, creeping as quietly into the room as I could, not wanting to disturb Ian, if he were awake.
“There you are,” Ian announced as I stepped into the room.
“Augh!” I cried. “You scared me! I thought you were still…you know…”
“Nope,” Ian grinned. “Dad just let me stay here while I waited for you.”
“Oh, so does that mean you’re okay? How are you feeling?”
“I’ve been better. My head feels like it’s been smashed with a baseball bat and for some weird reason my teeth hurt…”
“I think I can tell you why,” I interrupted, pointing to the bandage on my forehead.
“I think so. I don’t know what else I could have hit my head on; I wasn’t close enough to the ground.”
“So you fell on top of me.”
“No, you fell on top of me,” I corrected, holding up the cast that now covered the majority of my right arm.
“But you’re the one who pushed me.”
“And you were the one who decided that standing in the middle of the parking lot was the perfect place to hold a telephone conversation.”
“Speaking of which, where is my phone? It’s not in my pocket.”
“I don’t know. You were still on it when I ran into you but you didn’t have it afterward. It must have gone flying when you did.”
“I know,” I sighed, “I’ll buy you a new one.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Ian shrugged, “my parents have insurance on it, they can get me a new one.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to be getting any more of your bills.”
“You won’t,” Ian grinned. “After all, you did save my life.”
Dr. Wallace came in before I could make any kind of reply and announced that Ian and I could go. He handed us each several sheets of instructions on what to watch for once we got home and told us to come back if we had any problems. It was a little weird to see Dr. Wallace acting so formal with his son, but I assumed it was simply hospital policy and didn’t think any more about it. Together Ian and I made our way into the lobby and were immediately attacked by my half-crazed mother.
“Lyla!” she cried, throwing her arms around me as she broke into sobs. “Oh Lyla, I’ve been so worried. Yuuki called me from the dance and said you were missing and then I got a phone call from the hospital, telling me you were here and I… well, I was afraid something horrible had happened to you. Why didn’t you call me? What were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry mom,” I groaned as she nearly squeezed the life out of me. “I didn’t have my phone and Ian was bleeding so badly I didn’t really think, I just brought him here.”
“Wait, you brought him here?” my mom asked, pulling away from me and looking Ian over. “I thought it was the other way around.”
“Not this time,” Ian cut in.
My mom gave Ian one of her patented “you’d better explain yourself now” looks and Ian knew exactly what to do, retelling the story of my daring rescue while I stood back and listened, my face growing hot as Ian praised my heroic acts to my enraptured mother.
“Oh honey,” my mom sighed when Ian had finished, “that was such a brave thing you did. I’m so proud of you.”
Once more I found myself being squished by her embrace and when she finally stepped back, tears were in her eyes.
“Mom, it’s no big deal, really.”
“Personally, I think it’s a very big deal,” Ian stated simply.
“Ian’s right,” my mom agreed, “this is a big deal. You put yourself in harm’s way to save someone else. Lyla, that makes you a hero.”
“Mom, please,” I groaned, “you’re embarrassing me. Can we please just go?”
“Of course we can,” she smiled as she threw her arms around me one last time. “I’m just so proud.”
“Mom…,” I gasped, “can’t breathe!”
Relieved to be free of her iron grasp, I headed for the door, completely unaware of the fact that my mom hadn’t come with me. It wasn’t until I heard my mom’s emphatic “of course” that I realized I was alone. Turning, I found my mom talking to Dr. Wallace, her face lit with gratitude as she shook his hand and said her farewell. Seconds later I was flanked by her and Ian and the three of us passed into the frigid night air.
“Oh my gosh,” I gasped as we started toward the parking lot, my teeth almost immediately beginning to chatter.
“What is it honey?” my mom asked, sounding a little worried.
“Nothing,” I answered through clicking teeth.
Beside me Ian shrugged out of his jacket and draped it over my shoulders.
“T-Thanks,” I stammered as I wrapped myself in the jacket.
“No problem,” he shrugged as we stopped beside my mom’s Jeep Wrangler.
“Lyla would you mind crawling into the back so Ian doesn’t have to? His dad said he might be a little dizzy still and I’d…”
“Sure mom,” I answered as I turned my attention to Ian. “So I guess this means we’re talking you home, huh?”
“Is that alright?”
“It fine, but only on one condition.”
“You have to stay here,” I commanded pointing at the spot where he stood, “and you have to look out there,” I commanded pointing out across the empty parking lot, “until I get in there,” I stated, pointing at the backseat of the Jeep. “It’s a little tricky, crawling back there in a dress and I refuse to be embarrassed by my attempt.”
“Fair enough,” Ian chuckled, as he turned his back to me and the Jeep.
The ride to Ian’s house was quiet, as was the ride home. My mom must have known I was tired because she never once asked about the dance or my “heroic deeds.” Of course, the next morning I had to tell her everything, from the moment I arrived at Maggie’s to the second she met me in the emergency room lobby. It wasn’t until after I was finished with my story that my mom told me I probably ought to call Maggie and Yuuki and let them know I was alright, which I did, right away. They were both enormously relieved to hear that I was fine and completely astounded when I told them what happened. Neither one could believe what I had done, and yet when I came to school on Monday, my hand in a cast and the stitches in my head, they couldn’t deny that it was real.