I didn’t want to call Taylor and tell her that I’m not coming as her date to the dance. It was hard enough that I would be refusing her invitation, but then I’ll have to explain that I’m going with Payton instead. Even though Pay asked me much later. And especially because Payton’s my best friend.
“Hello?” her voice asked at the other end of the line.
“Umm, it’s Max,” I said, wanting this conversation to be over and done with already, “Listen, about next Friday...”
“You are coming yeah? I already got you a tie that matches my dress,” she said.
“Well, about that. You know Payton?”
“Who wouldn’t? She’s too loud and energetic to be missed. Don’t tell me you’re going with her.”
“Okay, I won’t tell you.”
“Are you serious? Payton Leons, the loudmouth of the class? You could’ve told me she asked you out beforehand,” her sulky voice said.
Payton, the loudmouth? Talk for yourself,I thought annoyedly.
“Yeah, I should have,” I lied, really not wanting to break the news to her that Payton kind of made my mind up for me. A whole four hours after Taylor herself asked me.
“Well, too bad,” she tried a cheery voice, “Guess I’ll have to go find my own best friend to take to the dance then. Bye Max.”
“Bye...” I said, but she already hung up.
I felt horrible. This was all Payton’s idea. I never should’ve told her that Taylor asked me out. But then again she would’ve found out anyway, and I’d rather Taylor angry at me than Payton angry at me. But what was that she said about a matching tie and dress? I dialled Pay’s home phone.
“Guess who?” I said as the receiver was picked up on the other end.
“What can I do for you, Mr Maxwell Everett?” Payton replied in her mock-secretary voice. We both laughed.
“I told Taylor,” I broke the news to her, “She seemed ok, a bit annoyed though. This is all your fault, Payton Leons.”
“You ought to be thanking me, Mr Everett,” she told me in a serious voice, “Taylor Gilligan is quite a nasty and bitchy girl.”
“I know,” I said quickly, “Listen, she said something about matching ties and dresses. What am I supposed to wear?”
“Since when do you care about that kind of things?” Pay laughed through the phone, “I’ll pick out your tie when I get my dress this weekend, don’t you worry. Listen, I’ve got to be off to work now though. Am doing an extra night babysitting those little Faraday rascals. I’ll call later?”
“Yeah okay,” I told her, “Have fun Pay.”
True to her words she dropped a poshly wrapped box in my locker the Tuesday of the next week, flouncing off to class before I got a chance to thank her. She had picked out a silvery tie, all smooth and silky to the touch. I already had a suit ready at home, the same suit that I wore to all those ballroom dance finals that we’ve been through. Mum insisted that she would iron everything and buy a corsage for Payton. She would’ve offered to brush my hair if I’d let her. As it was, she drove me to Payton’s house and waited outside.
Ryan glared at me as he opened the door, clearly still hating me as much as ever just for being around his sister. I was sorely tempted to tell him that this time it was nothing on my account, that his precious little sister had invited me all on her own accord. He pointed me to the hardest, most uncomfortable couch in the living room, and told me to wait while Payton finishes getting ready upstairs. Really, if looks could kill Ryan would’ve been rid of me for the rest of his life.
After a whole ten minutes passed, Ryan began to complain loudly from the first step of the stairs about how slow and annoying Payton is, until she shut him up with a well-aimed shot of her high heel. He clutched his arm and yelled in mock agony as Payton rushed downstairs to collect her shoe.
“Serves you right,” she said, however she still reached a hand over to pat her brother’s bruised arm, “Don’t you mess with me next time, Ryan Leons.”
She hopped around for a while, trying to balance so that she could slip her heel on, looking very much like a whirlwind of magic. Her silver dress was beautiful, falling down around her feet in almost liquid folds. To my horrors, my face was turning the colour of my hair as I watched her adding the finishing touches to her attire. Great, now she will laugh at me and that brother of hers will be more annoyed than ever.
“Seems like a gust of hot air blew past your spot,” Pay said as she faced me, winking.
The blood in my veins chose that precise moment to rush to my head. Curse my stupid habit of blushing!