Mels sat in the back, her arms crossed and her eyes unfocused. She vaguely watched Rory and Amy as they fumbled their way through the Cha Cha slide. Amy ignored every third step and did whatever she liked instead, while Rory focused so hard on following the directions he was always a beat and a half behind. Mels watched as the music stopped and half a dozen middle schoolers paused, unsure if they should clap or just go back with their friends.
Amy and Rory bounded back over to Mels, both breathing heavy from activity.
"Come ON, Mels! You've gotta have fun," Amy whined, pulling on one of her arms. Mels shook her head, shrinking back further into herself.
"You two go. I don't dance."
In a huff, Amy turned and ran back out to go dance some more. Mels caught Rory's gaze and motioned with her chin back over at Amy. Sometimes, she liked to think that what was doing wasn't dangerous, that she wasn't risking her own existence, that if she pushed just hard enough at staying invisible she'd be okay.
Rory paused, completely torn between running after Amy and grabbing Mels. He did both. With a tug so hard he nearly popped her arm out of its socket, Rory pulled Mels up and onto the floor. Mels tried to back away, but Rory pulled her again.
"C'mon, Mels. We want to dance with you."
Mels thought long and hard about what she wanted to do next. Rory was no match for her should she actually fight him, as he well knew. Finally, she let Rory drag her along until she stood in the middle of a bunch of carefree kids all decades younger than her. Amy was dancing crazily, but she still had a sense of rhythm. Rory danced out of sheer determination, his tongue between his lips as he tried to imitate Amy without her noticing. Mels had never danced before and she looked down at her feet, stealing glimpses of what Amy and Rory did. She memorized each movement, each flick of Amy's wrist and each jerky shake of Rory's leg.
Finally, Mels began to dance. It was a hesitant dance, one with more arm movements than hip movements but Amy's face lit up and she started to dance with her, grabbing her hands and pulling them back and forth. At first shocked, Mels absorbed the information, trying to take it in stride. Mels finally cracked a smile, giving into a silly little dance. She forced herself not to think, something so much easier said than done. In the heat of the moment, she grabbed Rory and spun him around, dancing next to him with total abandon.
Mels attracted quite a crowd. She was the bad girl, the one that had punched Jeff Mulligan so hard he'd been knocked out when he said something mean about Rory (but no one knew what he'd said and Mels had made sure he'd never repeat it). Teachers watched, half-afraid that the dancing was the calm before some horrible storm.
After another half an hour and all the teachers' worries were put to rest, Mels, Amy, and Rory all ran to the back and collapsed in a heap of giggles and stolen cups of punch. When the lights came on and they were all told to go home, Amy and Rory bounded off home, waving animatedly at their friend.
Mels watched them leave and turned to head back home herself. She stood on the sidewalk, pulling out a pen and a piece of paper. Scribbling furiously, she scratched out a note. When she pulled the pen back, in black ink and a messy scrawl, were the words "october 13, 1999. mom and dad taught me how to dance, and i did a lot of dancing. a lot. it was fun." She read the words back to herself before shoving the note into her pocket and sprinting away.