I couldn’t believe he was asking me. My two best friends had gotten dates weeks ago, so I had given up hope of anyone asking me to the winter dance. And he wanted to go with me?
“Are you serious?”
“I’ve already taken care of the tickets, and my parents will let me use their car,” he assured me. My mouth worded, “Yes,” as my heart leaped with joy. I had never been to a formal dance before and now was my chance. This would be the best night of my life.
The moment I go home I told my mom about Rick’s invitation. Immediately, she took me shopping to find the perfect dress. We decided on how to fix my hair and what color polish to wear.
Before I knew it, days had passed. I couldn’t sleep at all. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and my heart was throbbing. Friday morning I woke up, and the whole world seems to spin, I tried to lift my head off the pillow, but I couldn’t move.
“Honey, you’re going to be late for school. Are you okay?” My mom came into the bedroom. Her hand went to my forehead. “Oh, no! You’ve got a fever.”
I didn’t feel hot; I felt cold, very cold.
My mother helped me dress and drove me to the doctor. I had been there only a few minutes before my doctor called an ambulance. I couldn’t understand what he was telling me. All I could hear was a muffled, “One-hundred-four-degree-fever.”
The hospital looked so blindingly as a nurse stuck two IVs in my arm. I didn’t remember seeing her come into my room, only the blanket being thrown on top of me. “Cold, very cold,” I responded.
“It’s filled with ice,” she explained. “You have a bad infection. Your doctor ordered fluids and antibiotics for you. Just rest.”
I closed my eyes.
It seemed only a few minutes later when I heard my doctor’s voice. “Good morning. I’m glad you slept through the night. Luckily, we’ve brought your temperature down. You are one special girl. You have a very serious infection, but I it seems we have it under control.”
“Mom?” I gasped. “Dad?”
“We’re right here.” My mother grabbed my hand.
I looked up at them.
“Did I miss the dance?”
My mom smiled. “I called Rick. I got his number out of your address book and let him know that you were in the hospital.”
“Oh, no,” I cried.
“There will be other dances,” said my doctor. “Be thankful you’ll be alive to see them.”
Days passed, and I got increasingly stronger and no longer had a fever. The medical staff discovered that I had developed a bad strep infection, which my doctor treated with antibiotics.
I hadn’t heard from Rick at all. That bothered me. I worried that he was angry. Not only had I missed the dance, but I had let him down. Who could blame him if he never spoke to me again? The same nurse who had given me my IVs came into my room holding a hospital robe. “Put this on,” she said.
“Why? Aren’t I going home today? I have a gown on already.”
She just smiled and left, shutting the door behind her. I didn’t feel like putting on the robe, but I did what she asked. Maybe there was another X-ray or test my doctor needed before I could be released.
Suddenly, the door swung open. Standing before me were my parents holding balloons and a CD player, my two best friends in formals, and their dates and Rick in tuxedos.
“Would you care for a dance?” Rick asked. “Just because you missed the winter dance doesn’t mean we can’t have our own right here, right now.”
Tears came to my eyes. “Sure,” I stammered.
The nurse closed the curtains and left only the bathroom light on. My friends coupled together as Rick wrapped his arms around me and began to sway to the music.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” he said. “I called your parents every night to check up on you.”
“They didn’t tell me.” I pulled at my hair so it would look brushed.
“Don’t worry,” he smiled. “You look beautiful.”
My friends and I danced for what seemed like hours. We didn’t mind the people watching from the hall or my parents dancing beside us. My hospital robe was less than formal, but I didn’t care. When the CD was over, Rick helped me into a wheelchair and took me downstairs to his parent’s car, which was waiting to take me home.
I will never forget that afternoon for as long as I live. I didn’t have my hair done or a pretty dress on, but I felt truly beautiful and truly loved.
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