Christmas was a very great time for Allie and her family. She had received a lot of presents from practically everyone she knew---her mother, father, Betty Jane, Mary Beth (surprisingly), and even the most surprisingly---Quincy and even Ms. Hazel. Quincy gave her a beautiful pink heart necklace, which was her perfect size. She tried it on, and she loved the way it just looked on her. And many years later, she still kept that necklace with her, promising to never let go of it. Allie also received a brand new pair of dance shoes from Ms. Hazel, with a small note on them that read, "To: Allie. Thanks for never giving up. Keep smiling, and keep dancing. Love, Ms. Hazel."
"Oh, that's beautiful!" Alexandra exclaimed when Allie tried on the dance shoes. "Doesn't she look angelic, Paul?"
"Yes, indeed," Paul replied. "Who gave them to you, Ms. Hazel?"
"Yes," Allie replied as she took them off. "She also wrote a small note on them."
Alexandra read the note, and immediately became touched. "Aw, that's very considerate of her! You deserved it, sweetie. Merry Christmas." She gave Allie a kiss on her cheek.
"Merry Christmas, doll," Paul said to Alexandra as they both kissed.
"Merry Christmas to you, Ma," Allie said, embracing in the arms of her mother. She glanced at her necklace and thought of Quincy, whom she never really expected to give her a holiday present. In her mind, she said, Merry Christmas to you too, Quincy.
Now the year was 1958, and Allie was excited to be back to school after the holidays. She didn't know it yet, but Quincy was determined to gain her affections and get her to go to the annual school dance with her at the end of the year. Allie and the other students were now taking the bus to school, and she and Betty Jane were sitting next to each other as usual. Betty Jane was holding her lunch bag, and said to Allie, "So, how was your holiday break?"
"It was swell." Allie grinned. "Did you know that Quincy sent me this necklace?"
Betty Jane gasped with awe. "Gee whiz, did he really?!"
"Yes! Isn't he just the keenest person you've ever known?"
"He's keener than any other boy in the whole school," Betty Jane said.
All the boys in the bus turned to Betty Jane and exclaimed, "Hey!" as if they were offended.
Betty Jane chuckled and said, "Well, of course you all know that's not really true." The boys then shrugged and went off to minding their own business. Allie and Betty Jane laughed among themselves.
By the time they got to school, Allie and Betty Jane received some shocking news from Mary Beth, concerning Esmeralda. Mary Beth said to them, "Oh, boy, have I got some news for you." She seemed a little excited, and at the same time, a little shocked.
"Really? What is it?" Betty Jane asked. "You received a present from a 'secret admirer' on Christmas?" she added jokingly, and the three of them laughed.
"No ways, Betty Jane!" said Mary Beth, laughing. "It's nothing like that! Actually, it's about Esmeralda."
"You received a present from her on Christmas?" Allie asked, looking a little disgusted.
Mary Beth nodded solemnly. "Surprisingly, I did. She just gave me a ring, that's all. A friendship ring." She stuck out her hand to display the blue friendship ring on her finger. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is," Allie and Betty Jane said.
"So, what's the occasion?" Betty Jane asked. "Why would nasty snob Esmeralda give you a nice present for Christmas?"
"Yeah, it's quite a funny story, actually. You see, I think Esmeralda may be going off to boarding school."
Allie and Betty Jane gasped, shocked. "Boarding school?" Allie cried.
"Keep it down, Allie," Mary Beth said. "I overheard most of the girls talking about it over the break. The rumor had started during the night of the Winter show, as I was leaving the cafeteria with my parents, and I overheard Suzy Ann, Angel, and Carolyn talking with some other girls, saying that Esmeralda might be going off to boarding school. And for a real long time too."
"Why?" Allie asked.
"Because Carolyn told me that she might be going nuts, that's why. Constantly getting on my back to give her another chance, pretending to be all sweet with me and all that other mushy, gross stuff. Word has it that Esme has flipped, and now her mother is considering sending her off to boarding school. That's to say, we'll never see or hear from her again!"
Allie and Betty Jane tried to control their feelings of overjoy and relief by giving each other a hug. "No fooling?" Allie asked Mary Beth.
"No fooling." Mary Beth grinned, although something about her grin seemed a little forced.
"Well, at least we know one thing for sure---we can go back to our normal lives and not worry about some stuck-up, spoiled girl," Betty Jane said to Allie as they were walking to school.
"Yeah, you're right," Allie said in agreement. "No one's gonna threaten me to go back to Boston." They both giggled as they approached class.
But Mary Beth was just standing there, feeling a little glum. She knew the reason why Esmeralda was being sent off to boarding school against her own wishes---because of she. Esmeralda had really meant it when she wished her good luck at the talent show, and Mary Beth just pushed her away. And now, she had gotten her wish. Esmeralda was going to boarding school for what seemed like all eternity. So she really does care, Mary Beth thought. Oh, what have I done now? She secretly pitied herself when no one was around so that no one could recognize her as Esmeralda's former sidekick.
The rest of that school year had gone by just like the blink of an eye. Esmeralda had disappeared from the face of the Earth---well, not completely, of course, but she was now attending the boarding school to where her mother had sent her. Which was also the constant talk of the whole school---that and the fact that Mary Beth no longer had to deal with being anybody's sidekick. Valentine's Day was the only day everyone was forced to be nice to each other and treat each other to nice, cute little gestures such as making cards, handing out flowers and candy, and many other sweet, romantic things. Quincy even gave Allie a rose and a box of chocolates, with a note on it that read, "Will you be my Valentine?" Allie gave him a big kiss on the cheek as a way to show her gratitude. "Yes, I will," she replied. Along with the Spring Talent Show in May, the most important upcoming event was the end-of-the-school-year dance. Everyone was thinking about whom they should go with, what to wear, and many other things of that nature. Quincy was determined to ask Allie to be his date. There was no other girl he wanted to go with, rather than Allie.
Allie, on the other hand, was hoping that Quincy would ask her to the dance. During that week, she was expecting Quincy to come up to her and pop the question to her in a romantic way, or something, but Quincy was too nervous to ask her, for fear that she would say no. Quincy was new at noticing girls for the first time, and he obviously wasn't good enough to handle rejection very well. The day before the dance, Quincy met with Betty Jane and said, "Do you mind if I speak to you for a minute or two?"
"Sure," Betty Jane replied.
"Um, it's sort of about Allie, and I don't know how to say this, but......" Quincy paused to take a deep breath.
"You wanna ask her to the dance, don't you?"
"Yeah. I'm just, you know, afraid. I mean, what if she says no? What if she says she doesn't like me in that way?"
"Oh, come on, Quincy. I know Allie very well," Betty Jane said. "I notice the way she always stares at you. She also talks about you a lot." She grinned.
"Really? What does she say?"
"Well, she thinks you're really swell, and she says that you bring out the best in her, and........."
"Well, I gotta admit, you guys were really phenomenal at the talent show."
"That's right! Anyway, just ask her already. Allie is a really nice girl, and you know it as much as I do. She likes you, Quincy. She really does. Just go for it."
"Thanks, Betty Jane," Quincy said. "I will definitely go up to her and ask her right now."
Allie did not know that Quincy was about to ask her to the dance, and just when he thought he'd gotten his chance to ask her, one boy came up to her and sighed in despair as he stood next to her. Allie, noticing that he was bummed out about something, asked him, "Hey, is everything alright?"
"Hardly," the boy replied, and Allie suddenly realized that he looked quite familiar. "I can't even get a date to the dance, which is tomorrow night. How am I supposed to find a girl to go with, in such short time?"
"You and me both," Allie said with a sigh. "You and me both."
"Hey, I know you," the boy said to her. "Or at least I think I do. You're on the dance team, aren't you?"
"Yeah, I suppose," Allie said, flattered that a random boy at school would recognize her.
"Well, you must remember me 'cause I'm on the dance team too," the boy said.
Allie was surprised. "No fooling?"
"No fooling, Allie. The name's Jeffrey." He shook hands with her.
"Oh, I think I do recognize you now," Allie said at last. "Ms. Hazel partnered us together once, didn't she?"
'Yeah, she did. Where did you learn to dance like that?"
Allie shrugged. "I don't know; it's just that I've always wanted to learn to dance when I was little, and I suddenly got my chance right now."
"Well, you're really swell, you know that?" Jeffrey said with a smile.
"Yes, I know." Allie grinned.
"So, you say you don't have a date? Well, that's kind of surprising for the new girl in school."
"What does that mean?" Allie asked.
"Oh, no, it's nothing offensive, I'm telling you! It's just.........when it comes to events such as dances and such around here, it's quite hard to find someone to go with. Otherwise, you can just go alone, and I don't know how that feels---going to dances alone and getting there with your friends, only to see that they have their own dates and you're the only one who's gone there dateless." He was making it sound like a bad thing. "That really blows, don't you think so?"
"Well.........yeah, I guess," Allie replied hesitantly. "I mean, I guess I was expecting someone to ask me........but unfortunately, he never did. I'm not so sure if I wanna go anymore."
"Well, then again, it's not completely a bad thing either, you know? You can just go alone and still have a good time with your friends."
"I would consider you my friend, Jeffrey," Allie said with a smile.
"Friends? But we hardly communicate with each other! I don't even know what you like to do after school."
"What I know is, friends are the people you enjoy having good talks with. If anything, we are actually acquaintances, but I'd like for us to get better acquainted so we could become better friends, if that makes any sense. I'd love to go to the dance with you, if you agree to go with me, Jeffrey."
He thought about it for a moment, then as his own way of saying yes, he said, "If you wanna be my friend, just call me Jeff from now on." He winked, and she giggled.
"Will do, Jeff," she said, laughing again.
"Alright, well, see you tomorrow night........pretty one," Jeff said to her in a flirtatious manner as he walked off. Allie was blushing with flattery, along with the fact that a boy had asked her to the school dance for the very first time in her whole life! It might not have been Quincy---had he had the courage to ask her---but sometimes, a well-acquainted friend was just what you needed.
Quincy realized that he had missed his shot. He had a chance to shoot the ball into the basket, but then missed by a million points. He came up to Allie, clearly disappointed, and said, "How could you just do that? You knew I was gonna ask you to that dance with me!"
"Oh, Quincy, I'm so sorry, but you never really asked me," Allie said. "I was really hoping that you would, but you never did, and I wasn't sure that you wanted to go with me or even yet, wanna go at all, so......."
"Please just stop talking. Allie, I thought I was your friend; why would you go with some guy you don't even know?"
"Jeff is with me on the Dance Team. Isn't that right, Betty Jane?" she asked as Betty Jane came over. "Isn't Jeff on the Dance Team with us?"
"Yeah," Betty Jane said. "Ms. Hazel paired you two together once to do some sort of new moves for the Winter show."
Quincy gasped. "Ms. Hazel paired you two together?!"
"Quincy, you know that it doesn't really mean anything! Jeffrey and I are just Dance Team partners, that's all. I didn't even know you wanted to ask me."
"Yeah, well, why don't you just ask Jeffrey to marry you then?" Quincy said sardonically. He was livid now.
Allie gasped, shocked. "Jeff marry me? Quincy MacKenzie, what is your problem? Don't you want me to be happy?"
"He really wanted to go with you, Allie," Betty Jane said with a slight hint of amusement at the lover's quarrel.
"I don't want you to go to this dance with some stuck-up guy who thinks he's all that just because he joined a dance team. He's probably like that with other girls." Quincy said sharply. "You don't even know him, Allie. And he doesn't know you that well, either. So if I were you, I'd keep my distance away from him."
"Well, what am I supposed to do, just abandon him? You can't be serious, Quincy!"
"I thought you were my friend, Alessandra Sampson. If you really were my friend, you wouldn't do this to me!" He slammed shut his locker in anger.
"Do what?" she snapped.
"You wouldn't understand! Of course you wouldn't because you're just the new girl in school, you're new to this whole place, and you wouldn't even know anything that you're going through! Goodness gracious, you're just like a fish out of water sometimes."
Now Allie was extremely furious with him. She never knew that she and Quincy would have their first disagreement. "I dare you to say that again to my face, Quincy MacKenzie."
"I don't need to, 'cause I never wanna see you or speak to you ever again as long as I live!" Quincy then stormed off. Betty Jane was glancing at him with sympathy.
"At least that's one thing we can both agree on!" Allie retorted back. And seeing her one and only true friend walk away from her just like that truly crushed her, shattering her heart into a million pieces. Betty Jane reached out to give her a nice, warm hug.
"Are you alright?" Betty Jane asked her gently.
Tears rolling down her eyes, Allie shook her head and sniffed, without saying a word. She and Betty Jane gave each other a hug.