1

Eleven students walked through two oak doors in a building that said: FIND YOUR DIRECTION. All of these unknown young adults at the present were freshmen in college. Or, well, they were supposed to be freshmen in college. That’s what they WOULD be, except they don’t know what to do with their lives, so they were either forced to or came to this program, ‘Find Your Direction’.

Waiting for them at the end of the hallway was a dry erase board that said in somebody’s handwriting: FOR ‘FIND YOUR DIRECTION’ PROGRAM, HEAD UPSTAIRS TO THE FIRST ROOM TO YOUR RIGHT.

They all grunted and muttered, “Ok,” and headed upstairs, just like the board told them to do. When they arrived there, the first room to their right was occupied by a man with red spiky hair and a deep voice, who said, “Come in.”

There were eleven blue chairs all in a circle in the middle of the little room. There were shelves of books all around, and a few signs that said: FIND YOUR DIRECTION HERE!

The man stood up. “Hi, I am pleased to make your aquattiance, and hopefully later, friendship. I’m Mr. Gonzilaytqieeiii, but you may call me Mr. G.”

There were a few snickers from the students among the small group.

“Yes, I know, it sounds a bit unusual, doesn’t it?” Mr. G. laughed. “It’s from Africa, my parents were of African assent.”

Some of the students raised an eyebrow, since Mr. G seemed very smooth and clever dealing with obnoxious students. He was also light-hearted, and he didn’t seem to get mad.

“I have a daughter about your guy’s age, Yvette. She’s albino, uh…”—he cleared his throat—“she’ll be coming in once in a while to deliver stuff for me, or pick me up for lunch. So just to give you a heads up, since I know some of you might not have ever seen an albino girl. But Yvette is still very pretty, and you get quite adjusted to it after a while.”

He clapped his hands. “So, anyway! You guys, take a seat, please, make yourselves comfortable. And shake out your stiffness that I can see in some of you, because by the time this program is over, you guys will know each other like the back of your hand!”

A buff and rough boy in the group, whose name was Will, raised his hand, and said in a ‘trying to be dumb voice’, “Uh, Mr. G? I don’t know the back of my hand very well.”

A brave girl with dark skin and a short skirt rolled her eyes and said, “You—are—hilarious. I am falling to the floor laughing,” sarcastically.

Will was surprised someone would stand up to one of his obnoxious jokes.

By then, everyone had sat down in one of the blue chairs, which were fairly spread apart to feel comfortable but were in a circle.

“Let’s start with a little name game, eh?” Mr. G suggested. “We are going to go around the circle, and I want you to say your name, age, what you are interested in, and what you want to have accomplished by the end of this program.”

“I will start,” Mr. G announced, and some of the shy kids breathed a sigh of relief. “I am Mr. G, I am thirty-five, and I like books. Just anything to do with books. Something I would like to accomplish by the end of this program is…well, getting to know you guys really well, and having fun.”

“We’re gonna rotate…left!” he decided. “Go,” he said to a blond boy with a blue sweatshirt. “Uh, ok,” he said. “I’m Erik, I’m eighteen, and something I’m interested in…? Well, I sorta like guitar, I guess. By the end of this program, I would like to…find something else I’m interested in, I guess? Other than guitar and being bored?”

Mr. G nodded. “Ok, that’s fine, if you’re not sure what hobbies you love yet. That’s why you came here. Next, go.”

A girl with a lacey white dress and a black beret with curly short black hair under it sat up straight. She said in a energetic and peppy voice, “I am Serena Lace, I am eighteen years old, and something I like is writing in this checkbook. I am big on orginzation, being neat, and letting your ideas shine. I know one day I will be a big star, and for now I write it down in my PRECIOUS checkbook. I hope you all will respect this little notebook of mine, because it is very important to me. By the end of this program, I hope I will have to buy a second checkbook, because all my stardom ideas will fill up my first one.”

A girl with curled blond hair with pink hightlights whispered to the girl next to her, “Goody-two shoes much?” and the other one snickered.

“Uh, ooookay, thank you, Serena, for sharing that. I’m glad you have a possession that brings you so much joy,” Mr. G said, a little overwhelmed.

“Next, please?”

“Hello,” the boy said, waving his hand daintily. “My name is Charles Hummer, you may call me Charlie. I’m eighteen years old, and I like fashion and clothes, as you can…probably see. I love scarves and colorful pants. That is a passion of mine. By the end of this, I hope I have bought another nine scarves. Thank you.” He ended proudly and confidently.

“Wow, thank you, Charlie,” Mr. G commented. “I do like your outfit today. It’s very…colorful.”

Sitting next to Charlie, was a girl with straight brown hair. She was looking down at the floor, playing with her twirly hair. She still didn’t start.

“Ok, Shy McGee, you gonna go yet?” the other girl with red hair who had been whispering with the blond one insulted.

Mr. G shot the red haired girl a look. “Not everyone is as loud and obnoxious as others,” he said. He changed his voice to gentle now. “You may go on now, hon.”

The girl said, “Um, I’m Jane, I’m eighteen, and I like art. I really love to paint. Something I’d like to get done by the end of ‘Find your direction’ is, well, find my direction. So yeah.”

“Thank you, Jane, that was very sweet,” Mr. G said gently. “Next?”

Next to Jane was a boy with spiky brown hair and plain clothes. He looked depressed as his eyes stared into the ground. His whole body slumped and his eyes were dark.

“Uh…next, please?” Mr. G repeated.

“Ed, eighteen, joined this program because forced,” the boy said quick as can be.

“Okay, and what do you plan to accomplish by the end of this?”

“That is private,” Ed mumbled.

“Alright, well, I would appreciate if you told me later, just the two of us? If you could come to me by yourself and discuss it, that would be great. Next, go.”

A girl with curled long blond hair with pink hightlights who looked sassy said, “Okay. I’m Anna. I’m eighteen, like, all the rest of you…and like, I’m interested in shopping. I like, love it. By the end of this stanky bo-janky program, just kidding, Mr. G! I guess I’d like to, um, I’d like to go shopping as much as humanly possible, I guess.”

“’Kay, next.”

A girl with a long straightened ponytail full of red hair and purple long earrings said, “I’m Celeste, I’m eighteen, and I like cheerleading. But I did that more back in high school. But I still think I could do it at football games for a profession or something. And by the time this is all over, I’d like to learn a few new stunts, show off my hot bod, and meet new people. Oh, and also find my direction, like Shy McGee said.”

“Okaaay,” Mr. G said through gritted teeth. “Thank you.”

Next was a boy in a black sweatshirt who was buff and who had made the ‘But, Mr. G, I don’t know the back of my hand that well’ comment before. He cracked his knuckles and looked bored as he slumped in his seat. “I’m Will, I’m eighteen, no duh, and I came here ‘cause I was forced, basicially, by my retarded mom, so…by the time this is all over, I’d like to play football, and make out with as many hot chicks as I can. Oh, hey, guess what? I have a nipple ring. Anyone wanna see it?”

“No, Will, that is okay,” Mr. G said irritated. “That was extremely disrespectful the way you said it, but okay, if that’s what you want to do, that’s you.”

A girl with straight black hair with bangs, who looked sorta like Cleopatra, who was wearing a black turtleneck with a gold necklace and a grey skirt, said calmly as she held her head up high, “I am Ivy, I am eighteen, and I like history. It is very interesting. I also enjoy nature and being outdoors. I also like witch-craft. It is interesting”—Anna whispered to Celeste, ‘looks like a witch herself!’ and Celeste cracked up—“so by the time my time is up here, I would like to have gotten advice on how to pursue my interests.”

All of a sudden shy Jane piped up, “Yeah, we all heard that, Barbies. And for the record, your fake pink hair isn’t so attractive yourself, and neither is yours, other Barbie sidekick. So back off, because Ivy’s interests are more cool than yours!”

Anna and Celeste looked shocked for a moment, and so did everyone, because Jane had come across as shy. But then Anna and Celeste covered up your shock by cracking up again. “We’re BARBIES now, huh?” Celeste laughed to Anna.

“That’s ENOUGH, you guys, can we have the next person go please?” Mr. G scolded.

“Ok,” the dark-skinned girl in the short skirt and blue tank top with her hair in a big bun said. “I’m Raven, I’m nineteen, and I like volleyball and sewing. It’s really cool. By the end of this year, I’d like to accomplish getting better at those things, and also entering a volleyball competition. Like, in the Olympics.”

“Thank you, Raven. I feel like I’ve seen you on the cover of a magazine somewhere…are you a model as well?”

“Well, I am, but it’s not really my passion. So I don’t know if I’m gonna keep that up.”

Anna was staring at Raven with jealously.

“Cool, next? Ope, and this is our last person to meet!”

It was a boy with black hair in a red T-shirt. “Hi, I’m Jay, I am nineteen as well, and Eddie”—Ed hissed, ‘it’s Ed!”—used to be my best friend, but then he got depressed, so…”

Some people’s mouth fell open at Jay just outing Ed/Eddie like that.

Mr. G butted in. “Ok, Jay, um, maybe can you keep these things to yourself? I don’t think Ed really appreciated that. Right, Ed?”

Ed nodded sadly and madly.

“Ok, so Jay, what interests you?”

“I don’t know, I think marine biology is cool. By the end of this, I want to have invested deeper in the water.”

“Uh, okay, thank you. Well, that’s everybody, eh?” Mr. G says, putting his hands together. “So I guess you’ve all met each other now, so…now I’m going to explain how this class works.

“Today is your first day, so it won’t be the same as everyday. But basicially how things roll here is you can do whatever interests you, we have lots of computers and art supplies et cetera, and you can also meet with me in the hall outside whenever you need to discuss something privately, and usually I have a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to munch on, and a stereo to play music, and we have balls/dances every month. So enjoy that! We have one coming up in one week, so buy your dresses, fit your tuxes! It will be held in the gym downstairs.”

People started chatting amongst their-selves now, a little more pumped up about the program after this announcement.

“Ohmigod, ohmigod, it’s next week?” Anna chattered. “I needs to buys this dress.”

“Yup, it’s next week, Anna!” Mr. G called over.

“Me too,” Celeste agreed, although she didn’t chatter and squeal like Anna did, she wasn’t as girly.

The students spread apart and got up from their chairs. “Let’s go shopping together,” Raven told Charlie.

Charlie turned around in surprise. He quickly looked Raven up and down. “Uh…you are, Raven, correct?”

“Correctamundo,” Raven said, smiling. “I noticed we both have good fashion, and you seem sassy enough, and I seem sassy enough, so…whaddaya say?”

Charlie shrugged. “I’ll coordinate it into my plans.”

Then he opened his mouth as if he was about to say something about Raven having good “fashion”, but then closed it, as he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

All of a sudden everyone heard the door opening. Everyone spun around and Anna and Celeste got ready to gossip about whoever was coming in.

It was a girl who looked about their age—with white skin, white hair, white everything. Everyone stared, but the girl said casually, “Hey Dad, here are the files you wanted me to drop off. And Mom’s purse for Lulu’s later tonight.”

“Oh! Thanks, hon,” and Mr. G kissed her on the forehead. She left.

“Why is everyone so silent, guys?” Mr. G demanded. “That was my daughter, Yvette, remember? I told you about her?”

Anna whispered to Celeste, “Ohmigod, I’d never seen an albino before.”

“Mean neither,” Celeste whispered back.

Mr. G put his hands on his hips. “Yvette’s albino, okay, I get it, but she’s still beautiful. And she is a wonderful person. So please stop staring, get back to work.”

Anna and Celeste had accomplished nothing the whole time, they had just been in the corner gossiping.

Serena was sitting at a table scribbling something in her checkbook, smoothing her dress, and sitting up straight.

Jay was next to her, staring at her smooth legs. When he glanced up and saw Anna pointing at him to Celeste and saying something, he didn’t check out Serena’s body again in public. Or at least tried not to.

Soon enough, the class ended for the day, and everyone filed out.

Anna was walking out with Celeste, of course, but Mr. G said, “Hey, Anna! Can I talk to you for a second? Sorry for your time.”

Anna shot a look to Celeste like, ‘I’ll tell you about it tomorrow’.

Once Celeste had walked away, Mr. G got straight to talking. “Anna…I noticed when we were introducing ourselves today…is shopping really what you want to accomplish by the end of this? Sometimes I can tell when people are lying, and…these were one of these times.”

Anna sighed. “Okay, look, Mr. G, you got me. I don’t love shopping. Well, I do, but not as much as what I’m about to tell you. I love dancing. That’s what I really love. It’s my passion. When I’m doing it—in private, like it’s always been—I feel intensly alive, and…happy.” Then she shrugged her shoulders. “But it doesn’t matter, it’s silly. And my parents don’t like it.”

Mr. G put a hand on Anna’s shoulder. “That’s amazing that you love dancing, Anna, and I’m sure you are great at it. I’m glad you told me, because this is what you can work at for the rest of this! Isn’t that what you want to do? Dance? For a living?”

“Yeah, but…” Anna said reluctantly.

“Look, I know it’s hard, because, well, you’ve always been the pretty, glamorous one, right?”

Anna nodded glumly.

“I could just tell,” Mr. G explained. “But, anyway, don’t let that stop you, Anna! I’m here to help, and I don’t want Celeste or any of your friends or your parents to get in the way.”

“But my parents don’t want me doing this!” Anna exclaimed.

“Why not?” Mr. G asked simply.

“I don’t know, they think it’s…useless? Silly? They want me to be a model, or a doctor, or something.”

“Have they ever watched you dance, Anna?”

“No, they’ve never let me take a class, much less dance in public or, frankly, anywhere!”

“Well, I’m sure we can find a way…if we can arrange a time where you dance for them. It might change their mind. Just tellin’ ya. Well, anyway, thank you for talking to me, Anna. I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye!”

“Bye,” Anna said, and her footsteps clattered down the stairs until they got fainter…and fainter…until you couldn’t hear them at all.

2

Mr. G was glad that he had talked to Anna, but there were a few others or so that he knew he needed to talk to as well. There was Ed, who seemed severely depressed, and Mr. G had no clue why, and then there was Will, who seemed like a chick magnet as well as a bully.

‘That’s why you made this program,’ Mr. G told himself, encouraging. ‘To help these kids.’

“I know that when they get to know each other, they’ll probably be more comfortable in their skin,” Mr. G told Yvette as they ate dinner.

“I’m sure they will,” Yvette agreed.

Mr. G glanced at his watch. “Ooh, I better go, it’s 7:15,” he said. “Bye, Yvette, love you.”

“Bye Dad, love you too.”

Mr. G walked out the door, got in his BMW, and drove off to FIND YOUR DIRECTION. He had to be there before the students to get organized and be prepared, so he rushed in to the room reserved for them.

He organized all his papers, set some chocolate chip cookies made by Yvette out, gathered the chairs in a circle, and opened up the book he was reading, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare.

He heard a knock on the door, which was see-through, but it was just Erik being polite.

“Hello, Erik!” Mr. G said merrily. “How are ya?”

“I’m good,” Erik replied. “Sorry I’m so early, but my mom is always 10 minutes early for things, so it usually ends up turning out that, well…I am too.”

“Oh, it’s fine, it’s fine, better now than never, right? At least you’re not late. You can have first dibs on the chocolate chip cookies, that’s somethin’. That’s a reward for being early, right?”

“Yup,” Erik agreed, smiling.

Erik sat down in a blue chair munching in a cookie, and Mr. G went back to his book. 10 minutes passed, and soon enough, everyone started arriving.

“Hello, hello, everyone! Sit down, please, take a seat, take a seat.”

Everyone sat down, and this time in slightly different places. Celeste and Anna still sat next to each other though, and Jay was still next to Serena. However, he made sure to not stare at her legs and be whispered about. Will was next to Anna, on her left side, since Celeste was on the other.

Today, Anna wasn’t wearing cheetah-print leggings, black high heels, a black strapless top and a diamond necklace, but a brown top with short sleeves, but the shoulders cut out, and blue pants with polka dots. She kept the black high heels and diamond necklace, though. And boy, was Will checking her out. That’s why he sat next to her. He liked her thin legs, her blond hair, her angel face.

“Hey, Anna,” Will said flirtaciously.

Anna looked over at him, hadn’t noticed him there before. “Um, hi,” she said blankly and then turned to Celeste to talk.

“You lookin’ fine today, sweetheart,” Will tried again.

“Um, thank you,” Anna said, annoyed, and went back to whispering with Celeste once again.

“Real fine,” Will muttered, and then he attempted to put his buff arm around her chair!

Anna pushed his arm off, and Will put his hands up. “Hey, hey—” and he tried again, but he got rejected once more.

“Ok, let’s get STARTED, please, that’s you, Will,” Mr. G said.

“OOPS, sorry, Mr. G,” Will said sarcastically.

Mr. G shot him a look and then got started. “Alright, guys, it’s so nice to see you again. You all are great young adults, and I was glad to meet you yesterday. I hope you enjoyed your time, because we’re going to be together for the next month or two. Also, get prepared for the dance next week! Today, is…what?”

“Wednesday,” Serena piped up.

“Wednesday, thank you,” Mr. G continued, “and the dance is on Tuesday of next week!”

“What time?” Raven asked.

“I believe it will be…8:00 pm.”

“Awesome! Late at night!” Will yelled, excited.

Anna rolled her eyes at him. That boy was out of his mind.

Ed slowly raised his hand, his eyes sinking into the floor, full of sadness.

“Yes, Ed?” Mr. G called on him.

“Are we required to come?” he asked blankly and depressed.

“Uh, well, I guess you are not required, if you have something important to go to, but it’s going to be really fun, and I’d sure appreciate for people to at least stop by, if not stay.”

“Well, I won’t be coming,” Ed told him, his eyes showing no emotion.

“Oh! Well, uh, Ed, I’m sorry to hear that. Are you sure you couldn’t stop by?”

“I’m looking after my baby sister,” Ed said sharply and coldly.

“Okay, um, well that—that is great that you love your sibling so much. And if that is so important to you, then I guess…okay, I’ll put you off the list.”

“We have to be wearing, like, fancy dresses and tuxes, right?” Jane demanded.

“Well, once again, guys, no one’s forcing you to do anything, but I will say this, if you can afford it and would like to, that’s great. And that’s what I had in mind, yes. Because I know you college students just had prom last year, and I think you guys enjoyed it, right?”

“Right!” they chirped back, some sarcasticially, some meaning it.

“I know at least two of you said you love clothes, right…?” he quickly winked at Anna, since he knew she really loved dancing, not shopping.

“Ugh, enough talking, Mr. G,” Will said, annoyed. “Can we get started with the program?”

“Yes, yes, of course. So today, it’s the usual set-up, get to know each other, get to work on stuff you love to do, talk to me in private, eat the chocolate chip cookies I set out for you, whatever. Ok! Get to work.”

Celeste and Anna headed to the corner, to discuss the dance, and gossip, of course. Raven and Charlie stayed seated and chit-chatted for a bit, Will followed Anna around and tried to flirt with her, Ed sat in a corner and looked miserable, Serena got to work in her checkbook and on the computer, Ivy was drawing something while looking something up with Serena and Jane, and Erik was playing his guitar out in the hallway. Oh, also, Jay was trying to sit as close as possible to Serena. Quite a combination.

Raven and Charlie were talking about what they were wearing to the dance, and that’s when Charlie revealed a secret to Raven. He didn’t mean to. It just came right out, spilling out of his mouth. He was talking about what fashionable suit he was going to wear, when he blurted out, “and since I’m gay, I can—” but then he stopped midsentence when he realized what he had just told Raven.

Her mouth stayed wide open, until she closed it and said, “Knew it all along. After all, what other boy is fashionable, girly, and doesn’t seem to be checking out the girls up in this hot joint?”

Charlie smiled and exhaled. “True,” he agreed. “You’re a wise one.”

That’s when they first officially became friends. Charlie had been a little skeptical of whether he really liked Raven. But now he was sure.

“I like you, Raven,” Charlie said out loud, and Raven glanced at him and smiled. “Well, I am a pretty likeable person, eh?” Raven suggested.

That day, the mall was busier than ever.

   3

The dance was nearing. Now that it was about Saturday, and everyone in “Find Your Direction” knew that they would return to the program on Monday anxiously, and then on Tuesday, and then that night…would be the dance! With the exception of Ed, everyone was so excited and fretting over their dress or tux. Also, some boys were getting sweaty palms considering if they should ask a girl to the dance.

After all, in this program, there were some crushes and friendships building up. Even some romance.

Jay checked out Serena every day—though he tried not to get caught. He seemed to be the only boy interested in that girl who made everyone want to light themselves on fire. Then there was Will, who had a little somethin’ somethin’ for Anna, and at first she was annoyed at him, but now in her, there was something building up too.

And then there was a boy who liked a girl, but wasn’t ready to tell her yet. Well, he was trying to make himself ready so he could ask her to the dance, but it just wasn’t happening! Yet.

Competition was building up between the girls concerning their dresses and hair, and some tension was rising up between the boys concerning who was going to ask which girl.

Finally, to the students’ avail, Monday came. Mr. G was sitting in a blue chair, as usual, reading a book waiting for everyone to get there.

Instead of Erik being the first to arrive like usual, it was someone Mr. G did not expect—Ed.

“Why, hello, Ed,” he said, looking up. “It’s nice to see you.”

Ed did not say anything, but continued staring at the ground miserably, and he sank into a seat.

“Ed?” Mr. G inquired. “Is there something you’d like to discuss with me? Legend has it that I’m very good at listening to people’s problems. And, Ed, you know, I’m here to help.”

“Like…I…said…before…it…is…private,” Ed said slowly through gritted teeth.

“I understand that it’s confidental, Ed, but I’m not going to make it public. I only want you to let me know. I’m worried about you. The past week, you’d just sat here looking severely depressed.”

“Well, I am, as Jay informed you.”

“Yes, but why, Ed? Is it something going on at home I should know about?”

Ed did not answer, but instead seemed to be drifting off, his mind in a different world.

**Flashback: it all started when Ed got home from school that one day in September. His mom was sitting at the kitchen table, her face stricken with tears, and then she looked up and saw her son. “Nola is sick, Ed, very sick,” she explained before he asked. And that’s when Ed became depressed. His world changed to a dark view. His eyes were cloudy and gloomy all the time. And he never, ever smiled, except a hint of one when his baby sister Nola was doing good in the hospital.

** “Ed?” Mr. G whispered. “Bud, you…awake?”

Ed shook himself out of it. “Yes, of course I am,” he muttered angrily.

All of a sudden Celeste came in, a leather purse hanging over her shoulder. “Uh…hey guys,” she said, smiling.

“Hello Celeste,” Mr. G turned to her. “It’s nice to see you. Sit down, please, or get yourself busy, whatever.”

She grabbed a chocolate chip cookie and waited for Anna. She knew that Anna might be a little late, since she and Will were dating now, after all.

Next arrived Jane, and then the rest all came stumbling in. Anna entered with Will’s buff arm around her shoulders. She was laughing and talking with him.

Everyone was present now, except for one—Erik. And that was unusual; since he had explained to Mr. G himself that his mother liked him to be 10 minutes early for events.

You see, Mr. G did not know this but, Erik was at home fretting about the dance and seeing Jane. Should he ask her today? During class? After class? Outside? Ask her out first? Or tomorrow? Or tomorrow AT the dance? He had no idea! What was he to do? What if she was already going with someone else? Erik’s mother was in Washington, DC on a business trip, so today he was in charge of biking to the program. But he didn’t yet, because he was too nervous.

On the attendance sheet, Mr. G marked Erik as absent and frowned. But he tried to shrug it off, because he knew Erik probably just had a cold or couldn’t make it today.

People could barely concentrate today, because it was all chit-chatter about the dance. Mr. G noticed, and said, “Guys, guys! Quiet down, please! I would like to make an announcement.”

The chit-chatter slowly came to a stop, and all turned to face their beloved teacher.

“Thank you,” he said. “Ok, I know a lot of you are very excited for the dance tomorrow night. I am too, and I don’t blame you for having a hard time concentrating today. But it’s coming soon, okay?”

Erik never showed up that day, and he didn’t the next day either, on Tuesday.

Then the moment everyone had been waiting for since the day this group met arrived. It was 6:45 PM, and the dance was at 8:00 pm. Celeste was at Anna’s place, since they had become friends very quickly. They were helping each other adjust their dresses, do their hair, pick out jewelry, etc. And gossiping about what was going to happen and who was going to dance with who, of course. Will would be picking them up.

Charlie was at Raven’s house, and they were jumping up and down with excitement. Them two were going as friends.

Jane was in her room getting ready, as Ivy was in hers, and same situation for Serena as well. Jay had asked Serena to the dance yesterday, and she had accepted. So Jay would be picking her up shortly.

Ivy and Jane were still single for the dance so far. They were kind of friends by now, bonding over something inseparable and something they could have empathy for each other.

And then there was Ed, who was staying at home in his room, looking at the window, thinking of Nola, who was sleeping in intense care in the hospital at the moment.

Finally, Erik. Erik had been absent from “Find Your Direction” yesterday and today! On the day of the dance!

Erik was at home, and he had been arguing with himself. “No, don’t go, Jane’s probably not interested in you, no, no, of course you should go, Erik! Wear your white tux and have fun, and ask Jane to dance! No, it wouldn’t be a good idea. Well, yes it would. Wait, no it wouldn’t! Wait—” and so on and so forth.

But then, FINALLY, he finished on the note “You should totally go for it, Erik, dude! Get on out there!”

So he put on the white tux that had been hanging peacefully and with importance in his closet for the past week. By 7:15, he was looking in the mirror, combing his blond hair, and smiling at himself. He took a deep breath and decided to ask Jane to dance when he got there. Calling her right now wouldn’t be worth it. Besides, it’s more romantic when the girl is standing all alone, and the nice boy holds his hand out and says, ‘may I have this dance?’, Erik thought.

At 7:30, Celeste and Anna were in front of Anna’s big mirror in her bedroom admiring themselves. Anna had dyed some of her hair a darker color, a light brown, mixed with her natural blond color. And she had ditched the pink highlights for this dance.

Celeste had her red hair in a side bun, and went nicely with the black strapless dress she had chosen.

Jane had her brown hair down, and it was nice and straight as usual. Ivy had her black straight hair in the same hairdo it always was, down and straight. And then Raven had it in the big bun that had been her hairstyle for the past 2 weeks.

Serena had her dark brown hair up in a swirly bun.

At 7:45, Serena was picked up by Jay, and Anna and Celeste by Will, and everyone else headed off to the building that held “Find Your Direction”. This time, they wouldn’t be heading upstairs, they would be heading downstairs—to the gym. To dance!

4

The gym was magical. There were streamers and colorful posters on the wall that said: DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY! And SHOW THE DANCE FLOOR WHO’S WHO! And so on. There were two tables, one on each side, that had punch and snacks. And then there was a blue disco ball with sparkles right in the middle of the checkered dance floor, and it made the lights on the gym all shimmery and romantic.

Mr. G really did care about them. He had hired people and helped set this up all for them? Some of the students’ hearts filled with love.

He was already there, chatting with a few other employees of the building. “Oh my gosh, there they are, the lovely students, welcome guys!” Mr. G exclaimed, turning to see them all coming in fancy dresses and suits.

“This is amazing, you really put this together for us?” Raven asked, standing close to Charles, who was grinning as he looked around the shimmering gym.

“Of course,” Mr. G grinned.

“That’s so sweet,” Charles whispered, and Raven nodded.

It was quite something to see them all walking in. Anna had linked arms with Will, and she had Celeste next to her on the other side. Anna was wearing a strapless dress that had silver sparkles on top, and the rest was a gold smooth color. Celeste had on a black strapless dress with ruffles at the bottom. And Will had on a handsome suit, like all the other boys.

Ok, moving on to next couple!, Mr. G thought, as he took it all in. There was Jay and Serena, who were standing close. Serena’s dress was black and strapless, with big long ruffles on the back side, and on the front was a short glittery skirt under. Jay thought she looked beautiful.

Charles and Raven. Charles was wearing a tight, fashionable black tux with a white bow-tie. Raven was wearing a short blue cocktail dress with one strap on the side that had flowery ruffles. They headed excitedly over to the punch.

Next there was Ivy, who came by herself, but she did have friends attending the dance, such as Jane. Ivy was surprinsignly wearing a pretty stunning strapless dress that was one half gold stripes, and the other half grey and black polka dots. It was more of a cocktail dress, like Raven’s.

Jane. Jane looked very pretty, she was wearing a light purple dress, with one strap that was sparkly silver. Her earrings matched the strap, which were silver diamonds.

As everyone was heading over to either the punch, or the dance floor, or some of the chairs to sit down on, all of a sudden Erik came rushing in! He smoothed back his blond hair and gave a shining smile. He was out of breath. “Hi! Uh, sorry I’m late, I had a little trouble getting ready, but I’m here now.”

Mr. G gave Erik a hug. “I was worried you weren’t coming!”

Then, Erik ran out to the dance floor, and stopped at Jane. “Jane, may I have this dance?”

She looked up in surprise. “Y-yes, yes, of course you may!” And the music began playing by the DJ, and Erik’s hand went to Jane’s waist, while hers to his shoulders.

On the other side of the dance floor, in the shimmery light, there was Will and Anna, and Celeste having lots of fun. Will and Anna were dancing in the prom form, while Celeste hung out by them to talk. “You are killing it in that dress, Anna, babe,” Will told his girlfriend.

“Why, thank you—” Anna began, smiling, and then she spotted Jane, dancing with Erik. She saw her purple dress with one sparkly strap, and her brown hair down, and her diamond earrings. She filled with envy. ‘I was the hottest girl at this dance until she walked in’, she thought, and then she turned back to Will. “Thank you,” she said again.

By the punch, Charlie and Raven snickered as they watched Anna and Will flirt and hand out compliments. Not too far from them, there was Jay and Serena, a new couple. (Or at least Jay was pretty sure!) Jay dipped Serena and they also did the tango and did not only slow dance. “You look beautiful tonight,” he told Serena.

“Thanks,” Serena said, leaning into his arms.

And that was how the dance night ended—under the sparkling disco light in each other’s arms.

5

As Celeste slipped on her wool blue dress, boots, and curled her red hair with the curling iron, she remembered her cheerleading days, when her red hair was in a long straightened ponytail, and her thin long legs were under a blue and white cheerleading skirt. And she was directing all the girls to take 5, or to do a certain handspring, or encouraging a certain shy cheerleader to do her best at championships.

She sighed. Celeste did miss those days, but she hoped to figure out something in Find Your Direction, the program she was in now. Maybe she could manage to earn a cheerleading scholarship, with Mr. G’s help of course, and she could slip on that cheerleading uniform all over again!

Celeste called them her “Glory Days”, when as she flipped her ponytail over her shoulder, boys mouths’ fell open. And if she slapped a girl, the girl would say, ‘it was awesome! Because Celeste was actually INTERACTING with me!’

“Celeste, hon? It’s time to go to Find Your Path, or whatever that program’s called.”

“’Find Your Direction’, Mom.”

“Oh, that’s right. Honestly, dear, I don’t get why you couldn’t have become one of those Texas cheerleaders in those skimpish outfits who cheer all day for those buff men!”

Celeste rolled her eyes. “Mom, you know that I’m better than that.”

“Keep in mind though, you wish you had your glory days back,” her mom yelled after her.

She ran out the door, ignoring her mother, who was right.

Celeste walked to “Find Your Direction” because she only lived 4 blocks away. And this time, she was the earliest one there.

“Oh! Hi, Celeste,” Mr. G turned around when he heard the door open.

“Hi…um, what were you doing?” Celeste asked suspiciously.

“What? Nothing,” he laughed nervously.

Celeste fixed him a look that said, I’m not stupid.

“C’mon. Seriously. What…were…you…doing?”

Mr. G threw his hands up. “Seriously, nothing!”

“Yeah right. Why are you lying to me? It can’t be that bad.”

He sighed. “You got me. Fine. You really want to know what I was doing? I was making a list of the kids in here who I need to talk to.”

Celeste squinted. “What do you mean, talk to? About what?’’

“About…their…careers…?” Mr. G said quietly, sheepish and ashamed.

“Do you think some students need help with their careers more than others?”

“Um…well.”

“You know, someone invented the words ‘yes’, and ‘no’, you are aware of that, right?”

“Well, um…yes. Yes, some students need help with what they want to do in life more than others.”

“Let me see the list,” Celeste demanded, crossing her arms.

“What? No! You can’t see the list. It’s mine to look at, not a students’ business—”

Before Mr. G could stop her, Celeste was reading the list out loud. “Ed, Anna, Celeste, Jay—”

Celeste didn’t finish. “Wait, you think Anna and I need help with our careers? Ok, Ed is that weird depressed boy and Jay is that guy with no personality who likes Serena and used to be friends with Ed. But me? And Anna? Why, Mr. G, why?”

“Do you really want an answer, Celeste? This isn’t meant to be offensive, I just know the students who are less aware and sure of what they want to do than others. Is that so bad?”

“Ugh. Yes, I want an answer. NOW TELL ME!” Celeste was practically yelling now. “What is it, Mr. G? You think I’m just some daffy cheerleader with no future? Is that it? Okay.”

“No, no, of course not! I can see the spunk in you, shining bright. But…it’s just, you didn’t have many ideas on what you are interested in, that’s all.”

“I said cheerleading!”

“Well, that’s great, but it’s not exactly a career.”

“Oh really? Ok, so now exercise and dancing are not careers. I get it.”

“They can be if you want to be some Texas cheerleader who spends all day in the sun jumping up and down for football players, or if you want to teach a yoga class, or become a famous dancer, but if those are things you don’t want to be, then no, it isn’t a career choice. And you need to find something else.”

Celeste was silent. She couldn’t yell at Mr. G now, because he had just made a good point. And now she realized he was only trying to help her.

She took a deep breath. “Ok, you’re right. I’m sorry for yelling at you, but I honestly do need help with my career!”

All of a sudden the door opened and in walked Serena. “Oh, oops, am I interrupting something? My apologies. But I must get to work.”

She sat down with her notebook and began scribbling things. Everyone else scrambled in and Celeste sunk into a seat. She knew she liked Mr. G from the start. And maybe she didn’t need her glory days back after all. Maybe she could find something new and that was just what she needed all along—to leave the past behind and start the future.

**Flashback: “Alright, guys, take 5!” Celeste had her hands on her hips and had just finished a complicated cheerleading routine that they were doing for the competition. They were flips in the air, complex dance moves, and pyramids to balance on. But Celeste, the cheerleading captain, just knew they were going to win.

She straightened her red high ponytail and smiled as she went over to grab her water bottle. All of a sudden she looked up and saw the cheerleading coach of their team, Coach Roz. “Hey, Coach,” Celeste said.

“Hey,” Coach said. “The routine’s looking pretty great, and I think we got that competition in the bag. I couldn’t ask for a better captain, Celeste.”

Celeste beamed with pride. “Well, thank you, Coach Roz!”

** “I said hi, but I’ll say it again. Hi. Are you in another world or something?”

“Hmm?” Celeste looked up and shook out of her daydream. “Oh! Hey, Anna!”

“Hi,” Anna replied, looking at Celeste like she was a total weirdo.

“Sorry, I think I did just slip into another world or something.” She shook her head. “Weird.”

“Sure looked weird, too,” Anna agreed, rolling her eyes and scoffing. “Um, anyway—before you ask, things with Will and I are literally…going…great. I can tell he’s really into me.”

“Yeah, I know, Anna. That’s really great.”

Anna smiled but then looked at Celeste suspiciously. “Hold up. Did I just hear a hint of sarcasm in that comment?”

“Oh, no. Did I? How shameful that I could use sarcasm in a sentence towards a girl who only thinks of one person: herself. Weird.”

And then Celeste walked away, to see what was going on on the computer with Ivy, Serena, Jay, Raven, and Charles.

Anna’s mouth was open with shock. She never thought Celeste would be a girl to tell her off. She seemed so loyal and like such a perfect sidekick. Anna rolled her eyes. Whatev.

‘Now with Celeste off my back, I guess there’s just one thing left to do: focus on making Jane’s life a living hell. I am pretty freakin’ jealous of her, anyway’, Anna thought to herself, smirking in the best mean girl way she could.

All of a sudden Anna saw Serena walking her way and then came to stand in front of her. Before she could speak, Anna remarked, “Ugh. The hyperactive one who’s obsessed with that silly notebook? Ok, what do you want.”

Serena was silent for a second and then said, “Ok, I am completely just going to ignore what you just said because I know that’s so not true, this notebook is not silly, but I was here to talk to you. You love shopping, right? Well, come over here! There’s this website we found for shop-aholics and it really helps give you career options and also—”

The rest of what Serena said drifted away to Anna because #1, she wasn’t a shop-aholic, she loved dancing, and of course she couldn’t reveal that, and #2, Serena’s hyperactiveness was overbearing so she just tuned her out.

Finally Anna interrupted.

“Ok, ok, thank you, Serena!” Anna said, her voice raising a little. “I’ll come check it out. God.”

“Oh good, oh good,” Serena said excidetly. “Guys! She’s coming,” she informed Ivy, Jay, Raven, and Charles.

“Ok, we know she’s coming,” Charles commented, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“Well, I just wanted to inform you,” Serena snapped back.    
 


Comments

Ann Daniels
07/06/2013 12:05pm

Now this sounds like a fun (or serious) story! I like the idea of a program offering "direction" to beginning college students!! I like the professor, Mr. Gonzilaytqieelii, and his albino daughter. I certainly want to read more!!

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