Dancing

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Dancing

When he first wakes up he is amazed that he is still alive. Then comes the panic – years wasted, and a battle won in part of him, from him.

Homesickness comes after. The loss he feels as soon as he sees this new world, but the homesick ache comes and goes randomly. Little things remind him: the smell of a Brooklyn alley, old coffee that tastes like the tar they serve in the army that he so enjoys, the sounds of a proper ball game.

And the dancing. The dancing is the worst.

He has been to a club. His friends drag him every chance they get. He warns them, but they insist, practically kidnapping him. It is exactly like the clubs he remembers. Low lighting, smokey air. The music is all wrong, too loud and too heavy, but familiar patterns remain. The alcohol and the couples together on the floor and the sounds of dozens of people unwinding at the end of the day. He is swamped then, by the homesickness and the loss so strong he thinks he will be sick.

That is when he starts learning to dance. The books provide him with a dozen -- no, a hundred --  references, and he learns everything he can. Two steps and waltzes and swing and salsa. It is his hobby. While his peers are out doing God-knows-what, he learns how to dance. He told her once he didn’t know how. He has made up for that since.

He doesn’t have a partner. He never does; that would sully her memory. Sully the connection it is to his past.

Sometimes, though, when he can’t sleep, when the nightmares keep him awake but everyone else is in bed and it feels like he is the only one left in the world, he closes his eyes and pretends she’s still there. He pretends he made it, pretends he’s back home with her. Pretends he’s not lost.

And, all alone, he dances.

 

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