Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Dance

They sat in the bleachers — they weren’t the only couple to do so, but they may have been the only couple not taking advantage of the play and placement of the shadows cast by the twin bonfires.

“This has to be a dream,” Jack insisted. “I’m going to wake up, at home, in bed, my alarm going off or something.”

She pinched him again, on the other arm.

“I told you, it isn’t.”

“You and Ellie planned this.” It wasn’t a question.

Beth blushed. “Yes and no. I told her to get you outside at sundown. The fire and pack of fairies keeping you from running away was her idea. She has such a flair for the dramatic.”

“She’s not the only one,” Jack muttered.

“Come on,” Beth said, getting to her feet.

“I’m comfortable,” said Jack, but she tugged at his hand. He hadn’t let go since she returned, and she hadn’t said anything, so… “Where are we going?”

“There’s a dance going on over there,” Beth said, as they descended the steps.

“Yeah? So?”

Beth gave his hand another tug, sharper this time. “Look, however long its been for you —”

“Ten days. Not that I was counting.”

She kicked him.

“Well, its been like, ten times as long for me. Longer.”

“Okay, so…”

“So I want to dance.”

They were standing at the edge of the field. The firelight was brighter, and Jack could hear the song winding down. He watched the people, flowing back and forth. When the music started up again, an awful lot of couples were dancing. Slowly. Closely.

Beth took two strides onto the field, dragging Jack behind her. She stopped, turning abruptly, dress billowing about her ankles, and Jack nearly ran into her.

Which, apparently, was what she’d had in mind. She’d twisted her arm behind her in such a way as to maneuver his hand to her lower back.

Jack swallowed. “Beth, I—”

She glared up at him. “What?”

“I don’t know how to dance,” he whispered.

“You’ll do fine,” she whispered back.

The music was slow, the rhythm of it simple enough that even Jack could figure out a set of fumbling steps to match the tempo.

His heart had other ideas. He tried to take deep, calming breaths. Those threw off his rhythm. Beth’s hand squeezed his, and her wings gave a shudder as she hopped.

“You’re not wearing any shoes,” Jack whispered. “I tried to warn you.”

“I didn’t think you’d be this bad a dancer,” she whispered back. “Next time I’ll know better.”

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