Dennis really surprised me when he called in the favour. I though he was going to ask me to the Spring Fling or to kiss him where his friends could see, but not this. He wanted me to go on a date with his cousin Charlie who would be in town on Valentine’s Day. He said Charlie was good looking but shy and a popular girl like me would help build his confidence. I said okay, but no kissing or stuff.

So we set up this code where he’d call me at 1:30 and if everything was cool I’d say I took care of it, but if Charlie was bark-bark he’d make up an emergency that would split us up.

I wore my white peasant dress with the sequins on the top and accessorized with my little black purse, the deep rose vest and the matching high-tops. Mom won’t let me wear pumps yet, not until I’m fourteen. She’s so old-fashioned.

I recognized Charlie by the white carnation, but I didn’t believe it at first. The deep green pant suit was kind of last year but it looked cute against her blonde hair.

That’s right, her. Doofus Dennis had never bothered to find out Charlie’s sex.

Her jaw dropped when she saw me. “Sidney?”

And I said “Charlie?”

Then we both laughed and decided to make the best of it.

We ended up each having a salad and splitting a poutine at the food court. She had root beer and I had iced tea but we were both reading Divergent and we both thought Justin Bieber was so full of himself and had a lot of other stuff in common too.

Afterward we cruised the shops. We totally disagreed on clothes but spent forever ogling the pendants and pins in the jewelry store. Eye shopping only, though; I don’t think either of us could afford to buy the smallest item there.

One-thirty came around and went but I didn’t care. Charlie was good company. About two o’clock Dennis called.

“Hi Dennis. We’re at the mall. Everything’s taken care of.”

Dennis gulped and coughed. “Uh… can you put Charlie on?”

“What’s wrong?”

“I have to tell her something.”

I handed the phone over. She listened for a moment and then her eyes lost all expression. I could hear Dennis calling her name as she handed the phone back.

“Dennis, it’s me. What’s going on?”

“My Mom’s coming to pick you guys up. Aunt Janice and Uncle Terry, Charlie’s parents, have been in a car accident. They’re on the way to the hospital. Can you meet by the food court entrance?”

“Yeah, will do.”

I hung up and looked at Charlie. “I’m so sorry. I hope your parents are all right.”

She fell into my arms and started bawling.
Charlie’s parents were okay eventually but had to stay at Dennis’s place for six months. That was okay by me because Charlie and I became best friends, at least until Steve came along. But that's another story.