One, two, three… John was counting in his head, even though he knew exactly how to waltz. Dancing was like algebra; it was pretty simple once you understood the formula. He liked the twist better, of course, but that new dance was the devil’s music according to his parents. All of a sudden Lucy, his partner, made a wrong step, but John noticed just in time. He quickly overstepped, so he wouldn’t step on her toes, and he fell. Fortunately he let go of Lucy, so he didn’t take her with him.
“Oh dear!” Lucy said apologetically.
“It’s ok, I’m ok,” John said as he stood up.
“John, you really need to pay more attention,” Mrs Weathersby, the dance instructor, said sternly.
John cursed in his head. It hadn’t been his fault, again. Why did Lucy pick him to dance with tonight? She was a nice enough girl, but she couldn’t dance. Unlike Angela, who was an angel flying over the ballroom dancefloor. Angela was dancing with Peter at the moment. Everybody was watching the perfect couple as they passed. John had decided this morning to tell Angela how he felt about her. He had been in love with her since 3rd grade, but had never had the courage to talk to her. Maybe he could get her to notice him when they danced. But Peter was always in his way. Stupid Peter, John thought. He had to admit, Peter was the male version of Angela. He was tall, handsome, and good at everything he did.
John wanted his moment with Angela to be perfect. ‘First impressions are the most lasting’ his mother always said. He had bought a rose after school and had it in his jacket pocket. He had planned to walk up to her, offer the rose and then to tell her how she compared to it.
When the music stopped it was break time. Everybody flocked to the bar. It’s now or never, John thought. He looked around and spotted Angela. John pushed his way through the crowd to get to her. He pulled the rose out of his pocket. As he stepped past Derrek he held the rose up and opened his mouth to talk. Angela turned her head and looked at him. She had a beautiful smile. Then Peter moved between him and Angela and handed her a drink. Angela didn’t look at him again. John put the rose back into his pocket. He went to the bar and got himself a drink. He waited patiently for the next perfect moment. Then Peter went to the restrooms. This was it! John wiped the sweat off his hands and turned around. He walked up to Angela and, again, held out the rose for her. This time she took the rose from him.
“Angela…” he started.
The next thing he knew he felt this awful pain in his jaw and he was flying through the air. Peter had returned and had hit him.
“Peter! What are you doing?!” Angela screamed.
“Stay away from my girl,” Peter said to John as he stood over him.
“I’m not your girl, Peter!” Angela yelled. John could see she was angry over the statement. He tried to get up. Peter was about to whack him another one, but Angela was hanging off his arm, preventing Peter to strike again. John scrambled backward and wiped the blood of his lip. This was not going the way he wanted it to go at all! He got up and looked at Peter and Angela. They were arguing now. John turned around and fled to the men’s restroom. He looked in the mirror and saw that his lip was swelling. He heard the door open and his best friend Danny came in.
“Are you okay?” Danny asked.
“I’ll live,” John answered.
“Here, let me have a look at that,” Danny said as he wetted a paper towel. He let Danny wipe the new blood from his lip, it was getting painful now.
“Ouch, be careful!” he said a bit irritated to Danny.
“I know something for the pain,” Danny said. His eyes were gentle and he took John’s face in his hands. He moved his face closer and pouted his lips. All of a sudden John realised that Danny was about to kiss him. With all his might he pulled his head back.
“I’m ok, it’s ok, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” he said. He pulled Danny’s hands off his face and practically fled from the restroom. What was Danny thinking? Could it be that his best friend was… gay? No way! He would have known, wouldn’t he? John was confused now. First being hit and now this. Could it get worse? He went back to the dancefloor and danced the second half of the lesson with Lucy. Peter kept looking at him over his shoulder and whenever he did John quickly looked away. Whenever he saw Angela he noticed that she was not happy and that there was definitely a distance between her and Peter.
After the lesson ended he waited until the crowd had left before leaving himself. He couldn’t face Angela tonight after fleeing from Peter and he certainly didn’t want to face Danny again tonight. Tomorrow he was going to pretend nothing had happened on that front. When he was outside he zipped up his jacket. His eye caught movement to the left and he saw Angela in the shadows. He turned towards her, but then saw she was kissing another girl! John couldn’t believe his eyes. What was it with people tonight? He walked off to the right and banged his head on the post box next to the ballroom entrance. He noticed somebody step from behind the post box. It was Lucy. She lifted his head and kissed him.
“I know I’m not a good dancer, and I don’t look like Angela,” she said. “But I love you in the most normal way…”
John smiled and happily kissed her back.
Copyrighted by Jacky Dahlhaus