First Love

Across the lab, I catch a shimmer

Of faded, purple-based red dyed hair

Scattered across soft cheeks and luscious lips

Then pulled back to avoid touching chemicals.

She’s one of the smart ones in the class

Way out of my league.

We could at least be friends, I think

I start to walk over, I’ll um…ask for a flask.

Her lab partner scoffs, “What do you want?”

“I uh…was wondering if you had an Erlenmeyer flask.

I can’t find mine,” is what I come up with.

“No, we’re using ours,” her lab partner rejects.

“Oh ok,” I resolve. Now what do I do?!

I ask a few other people so it looks like I actually needed it.

I reject them if they offer one.

After a few more, Good, they’ve forgotten about it.

Never again. You didn’t even stand a chance.

Just forget about her. But I couldn’t.

She didn’t even say anything. Was she just being nice?

Does she like me back? No, of course not.


A few months pass.

I don’t say a single word to her.

Then, I see her at swing dance club.

What? She likes this, too?

Now I know I have to say something.

But what? I scour my brain for pick-up lines.

“Care to dance?” a man to a woman a few feet away.

I guess I could start by dancing with her.

Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up.

“Hey, um…would you like to dance?”

I say to the space in between her and her friend.

“Sure!” trills her friend. Dang it! “Cool”

I lead her friend to the dancefloor.

A few lines of small talk then I’m distracted by her

Pose as she leans against the wall silently

Waiting for her friend to come back.

Her black dress—knee-length, functional and lacy.

Her hair back to its natural lighter brown.

She looks lonely. “Hey you’re off beat again,”

Her friend comments. “Oh, sorry, I’m normally good at this.”

A few more steps, and the song is ends.

“Thank you,” I quickly bow.

“Yeah, thanks,” her friend curtseys.

And just like that she brightens up as her friend returns.

Maybe she doesn’t like it here. Then, why is she here?

I dance with a few other women to make it look inconspicuous,

And, then, return with determination.

Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up.

“Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to dance.”

I say looking into her hazel-brown eyes.

“Um, I guess,” she replies.

I take her hand—softer, smaller palm, longer fingers.

I lead her to the dancefloor.

She missteps in her shoe—black, dressy slippers.

We position ourselves and affix to the tempo.

I shouldn’t do sensual moves. That would send the wrong message.

An inside turn.

”So, um, is this your first time?” I ask.

An outside turn.


An inside turn. Think of something different!

“Oh, I’ve never seen you here before.”

Start a butterfly move.

“Yeah, it was a while ago.”

Finish a butterfly move.

“Are you a sophomore?”

A waist-slide. No! Too sensual! Ah!


An inside turn. I guess it was ok?

“Oh, cool. I am, too.”

Start a butterfly move.

She missteps.

“Oh sorry,” I apologize. Maybe dancing isn’t her thing?

“It’s ok,” she forgives as we get back into it.

An inside turn.

“So what’s your major?” No, don’t be cliché!

An outside turn.


Start a butterfly move.

“Cool! Mine’s Math and Chemistry, but I’ve changed it twice, so I don’t know.”

Finish a butterfly move. That was too much…

“Oh, well, you’ll figure it out.”

A few regular steps. Wow, she’s so chill.

“Yeah, I guess.”

A waist-slide.

She looks back at her friend almost as if she wants a way out.

A few regular steps. What did I do?

“Hey, so what are you doing after this?” I investigate.

An outside turn.

“Probably going to see a movie in Mike’s room.”

A few normal steps. Mike. I can’t stand that guy…


Start a pretzel move.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh, you don’t know that one?”

“No.” Crap…I should’ve stuck to the simple stuff.

“Ok, well um, the leaders can teach you it some other time.”

“Ok.” We get back into it.

An outside turn. The song is approaching the end.

“I might stop by Mike’s room, too. Depends on what he’s watching.”

A few normal steps.


An inside turn as the song ends.

“Thank you,” I bow.

“Thanks,” she rushes to her friend.

“Hey, what was your name again?” I plead.

“Sarah,” she smiles.

“Ok, I’m Caleb.” She begins talking with her friend.

“I’ll see you later tonight.”

Sarah. I wonder if she likes me, too?


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