Dead Set on Dancing (Five)

I was the only one awake. Henry the Eighth was snoring, rather loudly, The Twins had tired themselves hours earlier with Knock-Knock jokes, and Grace had been trying to stay up, but passed out just hours into our game of twenty questions. How could anyone tell me about a late-night secret admirer when no one could stay up! I closed my eyes. This is dumb. Why would I stay up, only to feel like a tired fool tomorrow?

No one was coming.

As I started to fall back into death, I heard a crunch. My eyes popped back open. You’ve got to be shitting me! The crunch got closer and closer and eventually, I heard a small thump. Someone was sitting right on top of me. How rude! I heard some clicking, then a loud screech, followed by a quick apology.

“Sorry, this portable amp doesn’t always work right. I finished the song I wrote for you.” Derrick, indeed! I couldn’t understand it, a song for me? Why was he here, not just now, but every other night? Derrick and I had class together for almost all four years. In fact, if I remembered correctly, we had a few classes together even before high school. He was always a loner but, as popular as I was, I only gave him some time of the day, if any at all. Maybe it was that; guys like to play hard to get? That had to be it.

I shook my head. This is impossible. Why, of all people, Derrick? My mind was going in a hundred different ways but I tried to pull myself together enough to hear the song. I was sure whatever lyrics were in it, it would help me better understand his feelings.

There was some more tuning of the portable amp, then the guitar itself. I listened to rock music; metal and punk all the time, but never in front of Sawyer, who preferred rap and pop music. Rap, I could tolerate, but I’ll pass on the pop. For the greater good of my high school career, I pretended to like it and all seemed well. Now that Derrick was revving his electric guitar, I couldn’t have been more excited.

The song went on for ages. There weren’t any real lyrics, just the sound of his voice humming over the soft playing guitar. It was enough to sound rock and roll, but with enough romance mixed in to scream ballad. I cried, for forever it seemed. Cried even harder when I heard him leave, and harder still when I heard Henry shuffle awake.

“Little Bird?” he asked, concerned. I actually heard him turn on his side to face the direction of my coffin.

“I don’t understand.” I sniffled, but nothing returned into my nose. I had cried nearly all the remaining liquid out of my body.

“You’re going to dry out faster than you want if you keep that up. Try and relax.”

“Henry. Why does he love me? We’ve never really talked.”

There was a moment of silence before Henry started to speak.

“The first night, when you first came home to us – he came. Sat above you and just cried. I wanted to wake you but your first night underground is always your deepest sleep. The boy poured his heart out, Little Bird. Talked about younger times when yous was almost babies. How you played together and as you two got older, you started to stray but never fully left him. He talked about your classes together, how even when you were with your popular friends, you still smiled at him. Or the birthday texts you would send him. You never really stopped being his friend, you know.”

“But -.”

“Little Bird, the heart feels even when the mind doesn’t. You didn’t spend time with him, sure, but he knew inside you cared for him in your own way and he cared for you. Just a bit deeper.”

I couldn’t feel more like crap. Henry the Eighth was right! Derrick and I had been friends when we were younger and of course as we got older in high school, we drifted. I only spoke to him with classwork questions, but I did always nod or smile. I did send him birthday messages but it was Facebook! I sent those to whoever was at the top right hand corner of the screen on their birthday but it was different to him.

My heart swelled like it never had before. I felt my body gain a certain amount of energy and I laughed. Full-blown hysterical laughter. Henry chimed in as well, until we got so loud the others woke.

“What’s so funny?” Jenny asked, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t talk.

“It appears she’s just realized she’s been in love all along,” Grace giggled, which turned into laughter as well.



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