The girl sat in the corner, her legs swinging front to back underneath the base of the plush velvet chair. All around her there was activity, buzz and excitement. Balloons, lights, streamers and music.
Music. She loved the music.
She tugged at the collar of her favourite dress, a waistcoat style dress in beige and brown bought especially for this occasion. Next to her sat her sister, also swinging her legs front to back as they both stared in awe at the spectacle surrounding them.
The music grew louder and the girl could sit still no longer. She jumped up and grabbed at her sister’s hand, pulling her towards the dance floor where several other children were playing and moving to the music.
In a matter of moments they had blended into the small crowd and the girl allowed herself to get lost in the music, shuffling from side to side, throwing in some movements that she had been working on in her ballet class.
At the front of the dance floor stood the man. The main man, the man that everyone wanted to meet, everyone wanted to talk to and the man that everyone hoped would notice them.
Surreptitiously she shuffled closer to the front and began to move faster and more quickly, exhibiting as many dance moves as her small body would allow whilst at the same time trying to look elegant and composed.
All of the other girls had also moved forwards and it was becoming harder to find a dance space without crashing into someone. Inadvertently she trod on someone’s foot and earned herself an elbow in the ribs which momentarily knocked her off balance. For a moment she stood still, wondering if she should continue or not, many of the other girls were older than her and far more accomplished.
The crush was getting bigger as the group of dancers swelled in number and the girl found herself pushed around, her space now impossibly small. She had long since lost her sister.
Recognising that she now had only two options, the girl took the first one and rather than leave the floor she gathered up her wits and her courage and threw herself back into the dance. The music had changed, the beat was now slower, the tone more melodic and the girl allowed herself to transport back to her ballet class and allow the moment to wash through her from head to toe.
Silently she moved and swayed, this way and that, dropping her head and her arms and then bringing them back up again, pirouetting and turning and reaching out to the soulful melody that was playing. She was glad that she had stayed on the dance floor, there was no better place to be when body and mind connected as one.
Lost in the dance as she was, she didn’t notice that the crowd had begun to thin out or that she suddenly had more room to move. It wasn’t until she received a light tap on her shoulder that she shrugged herself out of her reverie and realised that the floor was almost empty.
Alarmed she turned to see who had tapped her, her heart beating fast out of her chest when she saw that it was the man. She looked around for her sister – she was nowhere to be seen. Realising that she would have to brave this on her own she looked at the man unblinking, amazed to see how tall he was this close up.
The man bent down in front of her, kneeling almost in order to be on a level with her. She could feel sweat starting to break out and her palms becoming clammy as nerves assailed her. The man reached forward and gently grasped her shoulder. Again, she frantically searched the crowd for her sister. No luck.
The man was speaking now, talking to her in gentle kind tones. She tried to focus, tried to quell her churning stomach. Eventually he pulled something out from behind his back and she recognised it as an LP, a long playing record album, brand shiny new, still in its wrapper. She read the title.
‘Off the Wall – Michael Jackson’
The man was handing it to her and she took it automatically, unable to understand what was happening. With a smile and a squeeze the man stood back up and then turned to address the room. The girl stood stock still clutching the album tightly, her sweaty palms sliding against the plastic of the sleeve.
The man was talking again and this time she tried to listen. Tried to make sense of what was happening. His voice was loud and booming, everyone immediately quieted.
“Let’s hear it for our winner lads and lasses. Hip hip, hooray!”
The crowd erupted, as cheers and clapping threatened to deafen her. The girl looked around at all of her friends seeing their smiles, and at last she realised what had happened.
She had done it. She had won.
She had won the annual gymnastics-club dance competition.
Clutching her LP tight to her chest, she left the dance floor amidst more clapping and cheering, finally spotting her sister. The girl began to walk towards her sister and all the while as she crossed the floor, she had the biggest smile imaginable, plastered to her face.
© Jade Reyner 2013