The dance was held in the local school hall, with coloured lights and handmade decorations hiding the ever so boring plaques that lined the walls. The theme for this year’s dance was “Winter Wonderland”, and upon seeing the silvery tinsel and fake snow all over the room, I was sure that the girls rigged the vote for the theme. It was very much a feminine heaven, with snow draping the floor and delicate angels hanging from the ceiling. In the far corner the parents’ association had even managed to put up a fake Eiffel Tower, a cardboard affair whose front was crowded with eager couples vying for pictures. The minute Payton set eyes on the tower, her hand clamped around mine and she physically dragged me through the crowd to line up for a photo.
“My god, slow down Pay,” I gasped to her, “It’s not going anywhere. And what am I supposed to do with this foil thing?”
“Pin it on you jacket, silly,” she told me, pointing to her own aluminium snowflake on her dress, “I never knew they’d have an Eiffel Tower! This is the best ever!”
“Do you seriously want to line up and wait all this time just for a picture?” I asked her, motioning to the long line of people in front of us.
“Yeah,” she said seriously, not paying any heed to the dizzying queue ahead, “Unless if you would promise to take me to the real one in Paris. I’ve always wanted to take a picture with one.”
“I will one day, Miss Leons, when I become the most famous dancer in the whole world,” I told her, and settled myself in to inch up the line very slowly.
Music had already started playing when we were no more than half way up the queue, and I could see that Pay was torn between waiting for a picture with the Eiffel Tower and doing the thing she loved most in the world: dancing. Hesitantly, I reached over to take her hand and spun her around to face me. We slow danced to a vibrant pop song in the middle of the queue, a graceful girl in her flowing ball gown and a dancer made clumsy by his own drumming heart. I nearly let go of her hand halfway through the song when I realised that lots of people were staring at us, but the bright smile on Pay’s face kept my hands around hers. We bowed as the song finished, grinning to each other as applause thundered around our spot in the queue. I caught a glimpse at Taylor, the only one who was scowling under the pretty lights of the winter wonderland. Someone else wolf whistled, and Pay blushed deeply.
“Hey, that was amazing!” said the source of the whistle, winking at Payton, “Aren’t you so lucky; such a romantic boyfriend!”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” she replied automatically, and I winced, “But he’s even better than that, he’s my best friend.”
“Ah, the best friend,” said the winking boy, his blue eyes twinkling under the coloured lights, “Well, I should introduce myself shouldn’t I? Elliot Graham, just moved here from California. I take jazz and contemporary.”
“Payton Leons, but call me Pay,” said Pay, traces of faint pink still painted her cheeks, “Been here since forever. I take everything.”
Elliot laughed at that, and Pay grinned back at him. After what seemed like eternity, he turned to me and extended his hand. I stared at it or a while until I remembered that I was meant to shake it.
“Max Everett,” I said, taking his tanned hand in mine, “Same as Payton. We’re practically twins.”
“Then I take it the pretty miss over here is still available?” joked Elliot, “Since it would be incest if twins go out. Ah, don’t look so alarmed Pay. I joke, I joke.”
“Well, we’re here,” I interjected, already feeling uncomfortable standing next to the extremely extrovert personality of Elliot.
“Come on Max,” Pay called to me from up front, somehow already standing next to the Tower even though she was beside me a second ago, “Want a picture too, Elliot?”
The damn grinning Elliot clambered over after me, and what was meant to be a nice romantic picture of just me and Pay turned out to be a complete mess. I glared after the laughing backs of Elliot and Pay as I looked at the Polaroid in my hand. Her silvery dress was positioned on the left of the picture, and I was on the right hand side, just as we had planned. Except that there was an annoying winking face in between ours.