The cool breeze whirled through my hair as I waited for Payton, sitting precariously on the tiny swing on the park’s playground. It was strange being outside at this time of night, watching the stars gleam above my head as I count down the minutes til Payton would come. She was taking a damn long time, probably still stuck in her bathroom trying to apply the last layer of makeup. Payton was like that, never a girl to appear in public without her armour of mascara and perfume.
“Max?” said her familiar voice, “Where are you?”
“Over by the swings,” I replied, standing up so she could see me easier.
The crunching sound of her footfall on the layers of dried leaves carpeting the playground’s floor came closer, until I could make out her thin outline in the dark. She was wearing her baggy T-shirt over skinny jeans, a hasty combination of clothes for Payton. As I guessed, her face was perfectly made up, and her hair’s tied into a ballerina’s bun.
“Sorry, couldn’t find my shoes,” she said by way of explanation, “What’s so urgent that you needed to see me right now, in the middle of the night?”
“Sensitive topic,” I said, unsure how to start, “Come sit on the bench?”
She nodded and walked over to the nearest bench, tucking her feet under her as she waited for me to sit down. I ran my hand through my hair, feeling for the first time that perhaps this was not a good idea.
“So, what is it?” she asked.
“Well,” I started, “Since you’re kinda my best friend and all, I need some advice.”
Her eyes gleamed as she turned fully to face me. Payton was always one to love giving out advice.
“Ummm, there’s kinda this girl,” I said after an awkward pause, “You know Taylor from Jazz class?”
“What about her?” she asked, her eyes were round with curiosity.
“She called me earlier, at around eight,” I told her, “Asked about the concert and everything, and then out of the blue, she asked me out.”
“Like for real asked you out? What did she say?” Payton pressed.
“She asked me to come as her date to her school dance next Friday,” I mumbled, “I didn’t know what to say. Which is why I’m asking you for advice.”
“Well,” Payton drawled, “Do you like her?”
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly, “Never thought about it before. She is pretty though, with her shining auburn hair and her blue eyes.”
“As pretty as me?” Payton asked, her eyes teasing.
“Umm,” I stumbled, blushing, “Maybe... Not quite...”
“Hmmm? Can’t hear you?” she laughed.
There, I said it. Now she’s going to turn it against me like she always does. I could already see her eyes gleaming mischievously.
“So what do you think I should say to Taylor?” I asked her, trying to deflect her naughty thoughts away from me.
“The truth,” she answered simply.
“You’re going to the dance with me,” she told me nonchalantly.