Fiction

The Dance Lesson

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Maria sat cross-legged on the living room floor surrounded by piles of little white receipts. There was a giant mound for groceries, a large pile for credit card payments, a small one for fun, home repairs, schooling… It was like looking back through a diary. She picked up a receipt that was for one marriage counseling session and wondered which pile to put it in.

“Tim!” she yelled again.

Maria was sitting cross legged on the floor among piles of receipts.

The sun shined warmly into the apartment living room. Tim lounged on the couch in a white shirt and boxers. He patted his full stomach and looked at the clock.

“How about we go over some of our dance moves before I head to work?” he said to Maria.

Maria’s face lit up. “Really? Do we have time?”

“We know about three moves. I think five minutes is plenty of time.”

Maria was already at the computer, selecting a tune.  Soon, piano chimed a few measures, and then was stamped out by screeching horns, followed by a double bass and drum kit leading a nice, moderate swing. Tim and Maria held hands and bobbed in place .

“One,” said Tim, “Two. One, two, three, four.”

“Quick, quick. Slow. Slow,” they both murmured as they watched their feet stepping in unison.  Tim pulled Maria toward him and made her spin around him.  Then he spun and flung Maria around again.  “What else…” said Tim, realizing he had already spent his entire repertoire.  “Oh yeah…”  He then pulled Maria to his side and they began doing the Charleston.  “Left foot back, forward, front foot forward back…”  Dancing there in the sunny apartment with his wife, Tim couldn’t help but laugh to himself.

They continued the Charleston, hunched over and bouncing and kicking.  “How do we get out this move, again?” Tim asked his wife who was connected at his waste.

“I forget,” she said.

“You don’t remember?” Tim’s voice grew urgent, “Think!”

“I don’t know, I just… You’re supposed to be the leader.”

Tim began to sweat. He searched his memory and came up with nothing. They continued kicking forward and backward and bouncing.

“Come on, baby. It can’t be that difficult. Just lead. Lead us out of this.” said Maria.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’m the leader. I can do whatever I want. I just got to… Got to…” he counted the beats, waiting for an opportunity to spin out of it. “Okay I think I got it.” But just as he was about to make the leap, the song changed. A faster paced song beat with terrible swiftness.

“I can’t!” said Tim. Their legs kicked and kicked and kicked. “I will lead us out of this,” Tim composed himself, “But I’m going to need help. Do you trust me?”

“Yes! Yes, I trust you.”

It was a strange sight to see them. Locked together at the hip, moving a great amount, yet traveling so crawlingly. They Charleston’d down they sidewalk, onto a bus where they kicked in the aisle, stomped through the park, bouncing up steps, kicking doors wide open. The sun beat down on them like the angry tempo they marched to.

By the time they made it to the dance instructor’s studio, it hardly resembled dancing at all; more like a pair of broken marionettes. Thats when they saw the note on the door: “The instructor is out sick today.” But something even more morose awaited them. Circling the studio was a tragic parade–like something out of Dante’s Inferno–of aching couples stuck in frightful foxtrots, bellowing balboas, terrible tangos, woeful waltzes. Their clumsy footing sounded like a rain storm in the otherwise pleasant spring day.

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