Dance Hall

She sat next to him on the floor, her hands cupping the warmth of the tea, drawing its energy into her nostrils. Disengaging her hand from the glass, she let it trail down to his neck, touching the chain that circled the sleeping throat. She had noticed the silver trinket while they danced, a flash of light against the darkness of his body. He was warm, the heat of exertion had not yet ebbed, the tide of power still lapped at his frame.

He was not large, barely standing to her chin, he would never be an imposing figure to those with worldly eyes. Indeed, she had overlooked him at first, chasing after the other, stronger men who strutted so well. They had died away quickly though, unwilling to expend any energy beyond that absolutely necessary to attract attention. She ran many of these behemoths to the ground, eventually clearing the floor, or was it just the lateness of the hour? Something made them quit. Then she saw him, small and dark, almost lost in the shadows that cloaked the centre of the room.

His dance was not beautiful, as the others, there was no polish, no contrived movement. He moved solely to the music, reacting on a level just below thought. He continued to dance, oblivious to the loss of the people around him, or perhaps not oblivious, maybe joyful, maybe relieved to have the floor to himself, with the exceptance of a big, clumsy girl trying to set the music to her pattern.

She watched him for quite some time before finally deciding to approach him. It was a strange feeling, trying to nonchalantly glide across the room, without purpose, when there could be only one destination for her wanderings. She might have been embarrassed, had not the DJ been completely disinterested, and the dark one unaware. Her clumsy feet were the first things to break his field of vision, intent as he seemed on the study of his rapidly flashing feet, apparently possessed by some demon crouched within the notes.

At first, as he had all night, he simply avoided a collision with an object in his immediate vicinity, jittering to the side in mid stride. She marvelled how he attained his will while trapped by the music, and followed him, attempting to duplicate the complicated series of movements, which although seeming to fit into the music, had no pattern that she could readily follow. As the song wound to a halt, he glanced around him, a tired gesture, he had little hope of finding what he looked for. His eyes had locked on hers as the last chord sent its reverberations through the hall. He stood, still for once, peering intently through the gloom of the laser pierced air.

The beat swept him up once more, but with that same duality of abandon and control evinced earlier, he maintained his proximity, his will to remain not countermanding, but rather accenting the passion of the song which moved him. She attempted to copy his movements, yet found the actions unpredictable, even though he slowed to allow her an approach. Finally, he spun away, seeming to have evaluated her potential, cataloguing her with the rest of the absentees, relegating her to the midden dump. She watched him glide away, feeling cheap, used. How dare he reduce her to nothing without giving her a fair chance. For some reason, she began to cry, the tears flying off her face, propelled by the violent actions of her body. Surprised, she looked down at herself, to find a pattern, similar to the dark one's, being stitched by her limbs.

He was only a few feet away, suddenly, the slack face taut, lit up by a flash of teeth as he smiled, a broad, grateful laugh. His dancing doubled its pace, still fitting the music, but holding a different interpretation now, hope displacing the dolour and depression. She too increased her speed, until they became a blur in the darkness, bound by the music, yet separated by the air.

Her body was drenched in sweat, her muscles aching, her mind numb when the last song died away, early in the morning. They had been trapped all night by a slaver who wouldn't stop the music until the dancing stopped, and their own inability to cease feeling more than they might cease living with a thought. Eventually, though, all the songs had been played, danced and lived. Reluctantly, the music maker stopped the music, watching the bodies sink to the floor. They were the two who had understood, the two who had moved and been moved, now he had caused them to cease motion.

Regret lade his heart as he packed up the speakers and turntables, tape decks and CD's. The two lay in the centre of the floor, their laboured breaths having yielded to the easy sleep of exhaustion. As if to pay them, he ducked into the kitchen, re-emerging a few minutes later with two cups of steaming tea. He shook the woman awake, proffering the cup. She shivered, the sweat drenched clothes seeming to steal her heat. Gratefully she took the cup, but told her benefactor not to rouse the dark one. Let him sleep the joy off. She smiled warmly at the provider, sending her blessings after him on his journey home. He left, softly closing the door behind him, lest he wake the sleeping giant.

Was she the only one he would have danced with? No, she knew she was not, he was simply waiting for the first person, she happened to be there. How long had he waited, how long had he been dancing, how many times had the spinner left him lying alone, with only a glass of tea to comfort his solitude? She finished her comfort. Rising, she placed both cups back in the kitchen, his still full. She slipped towards the door, intending to leave him in peace. The office was beckoning to her, she was expected to arrive.

Why did she have to go? Why couldn't she stay, continuing to dance, to live, why couldn't she be with him? Why did she have to be content with a memory when she craved reality? She pushed open the door, pausing on the threshold to look back, to ask herself once more. She stood, silent, watching the heap in the centre of the floor, wondering.

The door swung shut.

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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1992