She looked herself up and down in the mirror. This was the first, proper, time. She caught a wrinkle in her skirt and straightened it out. Looking again at the mirror, she was ready, but so very nervous. What if she’d find a way of screwing it up? A deep breath for the nerves and a walk out the door to solidify her actions. She was doing this. No-one would stop h-
“Hey, umm, whatcha wearing?” Or not. Caught at her door. It wasn’t as if her hall-mates didn’t know she was going to be doing this, but she didn’t want them to actively know she was doing it. There was a massive difference there. She pickled her brain for a millisecond to get the appropriate response and delivered with the assurance of someone who was committed to their actions.
“Hi Pol. Dance society, remember?” Nola was not someone to be caught off-guard, but she quickly realised that she was tightly gripping her bag’s strap on her shoulder and immediately slacked it off by her side.
“Oh. Right.” Polly looked her up and down with as much apparent villainy as her mirror. “Well you look good. Have fun!”
“Thanks.” And onwards she went.
If the hall could be packed any more there wouldn’t be any space for dancing. This wouldn’t do, Nola thought. Far too many people still involved at this stage. She thought it’d remain to the people who had already done it and the others who were really invested in the idea. No way they could all be, surely. “We’d like to thank all of you who have committed to staying! We know that you’re all going to have tons of fun and it begins this very evening!” Oh. Well, perhaps not. “For those of you who are not too experienced, please stand on the left side of the hall. If you are, well, the right is for you. We’ll sort it all out.” This loud, but not offensively so voice echoed with authority around the room. Whoever this girl was, Nola thought, she reckoned she was better. Something about her gave Nola that vibe of “Yes, I’m pretty good at this, but my pretty face is the best out of us to present.” From this, she found it hard to discern if her own returning confidence had indeed slipped through to arrogance. A little hard to tell and quickly pushed to the back of her mind.
“Hey. You look…the part.” The girl at the front of the society, Susie, was it? Nola internally groaned. She did rather well to also internalise her “Oh goody. I’m so very glad to talk to you.”
“I’d hope so.” This was the least aggravating thing Nola could think of to respond with.
“Well obviously you know me as Susie. What’s your name?” She was passive-aggressively happy.
“Nola.” It was a sharp, short response.
“Uh huh. So what level of experience do you have with ball-room dancing?” Susie put her hands on her hip as she tilted to one side, awaiting yet another story of “I’ve done a few lessons”.
“Well.” Nola purposefully took a pause, invoking an unconcern about the whole thing. “When I was 16 I won a young-person’s nationwide competition. During my lunch times in sixth form, I led a lesson for a group that peaked at around 30 people.” It seemed only appropriate for her to follow that up with a passive-aggressive smile, the one that says “Bet you were not expecting that.”
“Oh. Wow.” She didn’t expect that. “Ha, you want to take this class?” Despite being clearly tongue-in-cheek, it did ignite a spark in Nola’s head.
“I think I’ll give it a miss for this week.”
“Well then, I guess I’ll have to hand you over to Chris. Who knows, maybe you’ll show up the heads of the society?” Susie lightly punched Nola in her arm in a friendly way, eliciting a wry smile.
Nola wasn’t completely sure what it was about a room full of people looking at her that was less daunting than her mirror. Nevertheless, a parting had been made in the middle of the room, big enough for two people to glide majestically over the floor. She eyed up her partner. Tall, but not outstandingly so. A soft chin and not particularly endearing eyes. Really, there was nothing particularly defining about Christopher, the male head of the society. Still, that was the situation.
“Susie said that you’re really good. Care to keep up?” His cockiness was welcome at least, although Nola recognised a metaphorical dance quickly. It was one she had no intention of taking part in, nor one she intended in losing.
“I’ll have to exclude the exciting things, but I’m sure I’ll have no trouble.” Followed an internal eye-rolling. The music started up. And they were off.
“And just how wild was the applause?” Polly sat at her desk, spinning around on her chair with nothing particular to do.
“It was pretty wild. Animal preserve levels, probably.” Nola took to lying down on Polly’s bed with her eyes closed.
“That’s pretty damn high! Nice one!” She’d now abandoned the half-turn-while-holding-desk and had adopted the free-spin technique, pushing off with a great effort.
“Yes, well…I’m happy about how it went. That’s enough.” Without wanting to show it, Nola was intrigued to see if Polly could get a double spin.
“How come you never mentioned this before? It sounds like a kinda big deal.” One and a bit. Needed more push, perhaps?
“As if I know everything exciting and interesting about you? It just never came up. Why would it?” Nola found it unexpectedly difficult to find The Spot on Polly’s bed.
“I suppose that’s true. I’ve never done any dancing before. Never really saw it as my kind of thing.” Barely made a full spin there.
“Like anything, it’s not for everyone. It’s just…fun, I suppose. Exhilarating, perhaps? To throw so much energy into something for a few moments of stitched together perfect movement.”
“Wow, when you put it like that.” The spinning had stopped. “So you really showed them up then?”
“Utterly.” Nola raised her arm for a high-five, accepting that Polly was too far away, as the pair managed a distance one.
[To the next entry: One Founding Day]