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Jess was walking down the hallway to her next class. It was Friday, and she was looking forward to going home. She was in such a hurry that she didn’t even see her friend Maria walk up next to her. The surprise of her friend’s sudden appearance only slowed down Jess a little bit.
“Hey, Jess, did you do well on your Physics test?” her friend Maria asked.
“Yes, I got a 101%. I totally aced it. I swear, I am so getting into Harvard,” Jess boasted.
“I’ll never understand those stupid amplitude questions. I got a ninety-four,” Maria said in shame.
“It’s okay,” Jess said.
“Who are you going to homecoming with?” Maria asked. Jess shook her head and looked down at the floor.
“No one wants to go with the nerd,” she said. The bell rang and Jess went to finish her last class. The last class seemed like a blur to her. She couldn’t stop thinking about Homecoming. She couldn’t stop thinking about how this was her junior year in high school and she’d never been to any of the dances. She walked home in the same daze. She had wasted so much time stressing over school, that she never got to truly enjoy the high school experience. When she got home, she immediately started on homework. She tried not to acknowledge anyone, so that no one would suspect that she was upset. Her mom walked in her room and found her in tears.
“What’s wrong, Jess?” her mom asked.
“Nothing, nothing, I was just reading Shakespeare and the emotions got flowing,” Jess said to hide her pain.
“Honey, you have a math book in your hands. What’s really wrong?” her mom said, sitting down on the bed next to her.
“I’m just upset about something. It’s nothing really,” Jess moaned.
“About what? What could you possibly be upset about? You’re smart, talented, and you speak eight different languages,” her mom pointed out.
“That’s what’s wrong. I don’t want to be a nerd. Mom, I’m a loser. The only friend I have is Maria. I haven’t even had a boyfriend. My life is nothing but school,” Jess pressed said as she pressed her face into her mom’s shoulder and cried.
“Listen to me, you are amazing and you are special,” her mom answered
“Mom, I want to be a teenager for once! I want to go to parties and be popular. I don’t want to be trapped inside these walls all the time, practicing piano or speaking German! I want to enjoy high school!”
“Well, what would make you popular?” mom asked.
“I don’t know,” Jess answered. That night Jess tossed and turned. She couldn’t let the conversation with her mom go. All weekend she thought about what would make her high school years better. She thought about joining the drama club. NO! Maybe, she would be good at track? NO! Maybe, she should try soccer? No! Jess got more and more frustrated.
On Sunday after church, Jess realized that she left her book for her book report at school. Her mom drove her to the school and Jess went to her locker to get the book. On her way out, she heard music playing in the distance. She followed the sound to the gym. Inside, she found the Chesterville High Dance Crew. They danced around the gym with such grace and attitude. Jess looked in amazement, finding that the dancers were some of the most popular girls in school. She decided to become a dancer!
“What happened? You look like Moses when he came back from the mountain,” her mom joked.
“Mom, I’m going to become a dancer,” Jess declared.
They immediately drove to Dick’s Sporting Goods to pick up some dancing shoes. Jess hadn’t even tried-out yet ,but she was so excited, she had to buy something to remind her of this glorious day. She couldn’t sleep at all that Sunday night. She was thinking about how fun it was going to be to be a Chesterville dancer.
That morning, Maria greeted Jess at the door, but Jess ran past her, excited to tell the principal about her desire to try-out for the dance crew.
The principal walked Jess to the gym herself. The dance crew was there learning the steps to their next routine.
“Girls, this is Jess. She would like to try-out for the squad,” the principal proposed. The girls were beautiful. They all had matching tank tops on with purple shorts that said “just dance” on the back. They looked like goddesses compared to Jess with her freckled face and nerdy stance. Jess took off her glasses, maybe her green eyes would distract them from her childish leotard.
“Okay, well, let’s see what you’ve got. I’m Lexie and that’s Jen, Leslie, Laquita, Danielle, and Rachel. We’ll start you off with just a short dance. Just to show us what you’ve got,” said the lead dancer.
“Okay,” Jess said shyly. The music started slowly then went to a fast beat. Jess realized she was still standing motionless. She was doing what she always did, over-thinking everything. Jess started to move her feet and did a little groove, too embarrassing for words. The lead dancer, Lexie, stopped the music.
“That’s enough. I think you proved you need a lot of work. We’ll start you off with our main workout tomorrow,” Lexie said. Jess walked out to first period. She was too embarrassed to look at the principal’s face. The next day, Jess walked into the gym to find the dancers stretching.
“Start running, nerd. If you mess this squad, up I’m going to make your life a living torture chamber. You think that just because you suck up to all the teachers you can mingle your way into a two-time winning dance squad? I don’t think so! Start running! We have to get rid of that fat!” sneered Lexie. Jess started running around the gym.
That afternoon, Jess knew this wasn’t the mission she signed up for. Day after day she ran and learned all the complicated dance moves. She was ready to quit but she knew that if she did she would be letting herself down. Two weeks later, Jess went to school as tired as ever! Today was the dance performance in front of the whole school. Most of the dance crew was already there getting ready. Jess quickly dressed and ran backstage to meet up with the squad.
“Don’t screw this up for us, nerd,” Lexie said with an attitude. The announcer called the squad to the stage. They got in formation and the music began. Jess did the first move and froze. She stared at the audience and couldn’t move. She watched her dream crumble in front of her eyes. Her whole life came crashing down. She had worked on this routine for two weeks. Why couldn’t she remember it? She started backing slowly behind the curtain. She looked out at the audience’s bored faces. Suddenly her eyes rolled backwards and the stage started spinning. She heard the crowd gasping, as everything went quiet.
She woke up in a hospital bed. Her mom was standing next to her, along with Maria and the dance squad.
“I don’t think dance is for me,” Jess began.
“Well, you definitely put on a show tonight,” Lexie answered.
“I just wanted to be popular. I got so caught up in popularity, that I forgot what was really important. I’m sorry,” Jess replied. Jess and the dance crew became friends and Jess started accepting herself for who she was. Jess decided to just be a nerd …….until college, at least.