My friends told me I should go dancing. I laughed at them. They knew I had two left feet and the coordination of a clown in a circus act; but, they persisted. They knew I’d been down on my luck since things ended with my ex and they were just trying to cheer me up, just trying to do what friends do. They pushed, probed and prodded, teasing me with all sorts of goofy and comical names.
I finally relented with a groan. I told them I’d dance once, maybe twice. No more. I had to preserve my dignity somehow.
They said they knew the place. Real low key, off the wall. Somewhere where I could be myself and no one would know me or my name. I smiled and allowed myself to feel a glimmer of happiness for the first time in weeks. The sun seemed to sense my mood and peeked through the curtains of my room. The rays slowly crawled across my covers, up my bed to the mess of dirty clothes sitting in the hamper by my closet that I promised myself I’d pick up soon.
I realized with a sigh that I had nothing to wear. Flipping through the shirts, pants and coats on my hangars left me with the grim realization that I hadn’t purchased anything new in weeks. That the clothes still smelled of her. I threw one shirt in the hamper, watching it collapse the pile with a grim smirk of satisfaction. My fingers trailed softly along the sleeve of another jacket, memories playing like an old, familiar video in my mind. The jacket followed the shirt to the pile and finally, I pulled a gentle, blue and white plaid, button-up shirt. I shrugged my t-shirt off and eased my arms through the sleeves, pushing the buttons through their slots until my bare chest was covered save the slight cavity at my neck, just below my chin. That, I left bare. Jeans quickly replaced the sweats I was wearing and I shrugged them up my hips until I was able to tuck in my shirt and button my jeans.
I smiled again as my fingers traced the soft, supple leather of my boots, hidden away because I’d had no reason to wear them since moving; but, caution and care were going to be thrown to the wind tonight. I needed to let loose and have some fun. My boots had always made me smile and added another inch or two to my already impressive height, making me feel giant. There was a sense of security in that towering height that I was above the pain of the past.
I made my way to the bathroom where I paused in front of the mirror, frowning at the boring blue hue of my eyes and the faint, dark circles around them from my lingering illness, now nearly completely gone save for an occasional cough after a laugh or brisk run. I perused my meager cologne collection and sprayed it along the length of my neck and across the back of my wrists.
That left my hair. An unruly mess that stuck out in all directions. I sighed and took some of the messy paste, smeared it on the tips of my fingers and ran it through my hair until it was organized into a somewhat, decent-looking spiking that faded to smooth at the back near the crown of my head.
I smiled again, I knew I looked handsome and it felt good to feel that way.
The doorbell of my apartment rang and I raced to unlock the door, standing back and laughing as my friends teased me for my ‘rodeo’ attire and teased that I didn’t even know where we were going. I shrugged and smiled again, letting me be me for tonight. I didn’t care how country I looked. I paused at the doorway before rushing back into my room to grab my cowboy hat off the top shelve and placing it down over my eyes, adjusting it until it sat comfortably with the brim hiding my eyebrows. I realized with a groan that I’d just ruined the time and effort I’d spent working on styling my hair when my friends grabbed an arm and dragged me, albeit unwillingly, to the waiting ride outside. They’d agreed on me being the designated driver because my avoidance of all things alcoholic.
It was the taste. Some people just don’t like it and some people will never understand.
It didn’t take long for us to arrive at our destination and I felt the butterflies teasing the pit of my stomach and I wanted nothing more than to hide in the SUV until the night was over; but, my friends weren’t about to let me get out of tonight that easily. They grabbed me and pulled me out of the back passenger seat. I stumbled for a bit and grabbed at the handle of the door to catch my balance before I took a tumble. I was about to growl at them about manhandling me when my gaze drifted to where we were. They’d taken us to an honest to goodness western bar and club. The crowds drifting in and out ranged from simple jeans and polo to those more ‘western’ like myself. I let my gaze drift teasingly over some of the attractive women who flashed smiles at my friends who simply waved and pushed me forward, causing me to blush an embarrassing shade of red.
They dragged me inside and the sounds of country could be heard playing from the speakers mounted on the walls. It felt oddly comforting and reminded me of home, of dragging my brush through the long, tangled locks of my horse’s mane. I’d have to remind myself to thank my friends for this welcome distraction from my self-pitying. I could feel the toe of my boot begin to tap softly on the wooden planks of the floor in tune to the beat and allowed myself to be guided over to the bar where my friends set to getting plastered while I ordered simple water, slipping the bartender a dollar in thanks.
I spun on the stool to watch the crowd on the dance floor, my gaze drifting through the crowd of shuffling bodies, spotting an occasional beauty here or there who twirled or danced with her partner. Then I saw you.
I saw you dancing, long locks waving as you twirled, spun, dipped and climbed back up, hands running teasingly along your side as you bit your lip playfully. Your friends stood nearby, watchful sheepdogs, for guys who thought they had a chance with the dancing beauty. The lovely phoenix, red locks framed a beautiful face with full, pouting lips as you frowned at a friend who wouldn’t join you in dancing before you laughed, a rich, merry sound that seemed to make the room that much brighter. You were lost in the sounds of the music, the way it called to your soul, the way the chords played across your smooth, tanned skin, flashed teasingly from beneath a floral colored dress. Long legs that seemed to go on forever with powerful, runner calves that peeked from beneath the lips of your cowboy boots as you tapped, skipped and twirled, setting your fiery mane to twirling.
I felt the straw tap my lip and I set the drink down on the counter, lost to the siren call of your dancing, the way you spun, twirled and dipped, in perfect sync with the music.
“Why don’t you go say hi?” My friend teased from beside me, nursing a mug of draft beer. “What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll say no.”
He must’ve caught the hurt that flashed across my features because he backpedaled and offered a consoling slap on the back. “I’m sorry man.”
“No,” I replied with a defeated sigh and a soft smile, my gaze seeking to trap yours and failing. “Tonight is supposed to be about us having fun. I’m not doing that if I’m sitting here moping on the chair.”
My friend simply laughed and shoved me forward with a soft ‘go’, before turning back to my other entourage who were busy arguing about who would win in an arm-wrestling competition. I felt my boots glide across the floor until I stood mere inches from where you twirled before stopping.
“Hi,” I said bashfully, hiding beneath the brim of my cowboy hat. “I saw you dancing. You looked amazing, so serene and graceful, like a swan.”
You simply smiled and took my hand and pulled me out on to the floor with you. You slid your fingers through mine and used your other to guide my hand to rest against your waist. I resigned to let you take the lead, letting my inexperience be covered by your graceful skill. We spun across the floor until you leaned back, long, fiery locks teasing the wooden floor before you spun into my shoulder with a teasing laugh. I found myself smiling and the tension I hadn’t even known was in my body slowly ebbed away until I found the time flowing by in a current that carried me toward painful bliss. I sighed and pulled away, thirst drawing me back toward the bar and the cold glass waiting for me. I lifted the straw to my lips and sipped the cool liquid, sighing at the ease in the dryness in my throat.
I turned to find you standing before me. My fingers sought yours again and pulled you close. I lifted a finger to let it flow gently through your soft, fiery locks before cupping your chin and lifting your lips to mine. I heard one of my friends cheer and I pulled away, my face a bright red. You merely laughed and teased a kiss in return on the tip of my lips.
To this day, I still remember the night.
I saw you dancing.