Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Twirl

The old dancehall was empty and dark for the middle of the afternoon. She pushed the creaky wooden door open, sunlight glaring across the worn floorboards.

"Hello?" she called in a timid voice, stepping across the threshold. She couldn't help but smile at how ridiculous her sneakers and tights looked next to a saloon bar. There was even a bullet slug in the counter. And she was standing here in a leotard and ballet skirt, her hair twisted in a bun.

"Hello?" she called again, creeping closer to the stage. She knew she shouldn't be here. She should be driving home, filling out college applications and doing her chemistry homework.

But the dancehall looked so sad, empty after all the summer tourists had piled back into their trucks and driven back down the highway. While she fluttered across wooden floors in toe shoes on hot summer nights, she had watched the lights at the dance hall flicker and wink at her. Everyone always looked happy going in, and people always stumbled out laughing. Sometimes they left the door open, and she could sneak a peek inside as she did her plies at the bar. While her every step was measured and controlled, the girls at the dancehall did fun kicks and shuffled across the floor in the arms of cowboys wearing tight Wranglers with skoal rings. They wore mini skirts and boots and sang loudly to bad country songs.

Deciding the dancehall was closed on Mondays, she set down her dance bag. Walking to the center of the floor, she held up her arms to an imaginary partner.

"One, two, three, four," she counted, shuffling her sneakers across the floor like she had seen the dancers do. "Five, six, seven, eight." She held up her hand and let her pretend partner twirl her, then bent her spine back in a dip. As she lowered her head, she saw a pair of scuffed up boots.

"You're doing it wrong."

Snapping upright, she whirled around. Deep in the shadows of the bar stood a boy her age, wearing faded jeans and worn brown boots. Lines crinkled around his eyes and his lips were curled in a smile.

"I'm sorry," she blurted out. "I know I shouldn't be in here. I just watched from my dance class and just wanted to--I'm sorry. I'll leave." She fled to her bag, her cheeks erupting in red flames.

"Just wanted to what?" His voice was quiet and amused.

Clutching her black bag to her thin leotard, she looked down and murmured, "I just wanted to learn how to dance."

"Seems like you know how to dance," he said, nodding to her leotard and tights. "Probably better than we do."

She shook her head, a few wisps of hair escaping from her tight bun. "No, I mean really dance," she said. He stayed quiet. The words poured out of her in a rush.

"You see, I've been doing ballet all my life," she burst out. "All I've done is pirouette and leap and arabesque. I mean sure, it's great, and sure I've got offerings from a dance company. But I've watched you all summer, and the people that dance here have more fun than I've ever had on stage. You all seem so happy--so free. You shuffle and you kick and you--well, you twirl! I want to twirl!" As soon as the words left her mouth, she clapped her hand over it. "I'm so sorry," she gasped. "I don't know what's wrong with me." She rushed across the room, her pink ballet skirt fluttering in the dark wooden room.

"Can you be here tomorrow at eight?"

In the old doorway, she turned. "Tomorrow? Eight?"

He nodded, his blue eyes twinkling. "I'll see you here then. My name's Wade. And oh, darling?" he added as she turned to flee.

"Yes?" She froze, clutching the doorway so hard splinters stabbed her skin.

"If you want to dance right, you need some boots and jeans," he said, one side of his lips stretching into a grin. "You got any of those?"

Her head bobbed up and down. She tried to breathe.

"See you tomorrow," he said, turning back to the bar. She rushed across the street, leaping to her car in the dance studio parking lot.

It wasn't until she was almost home she realized she had never told him her name.


The next night, she slipped out of ballet class early and exchanged her tights for her jeans. Sneaking out of the back door, she pulled a black tight shirt over her leotard and shook her curls free from the bun.

The dancehall was busy tonight. Cars stuffed the parking lot and people loitered in the doorway and parking lot with beers. She ducked her head as she hurried inside. The room smelled of tobacco and fried chicken. A woman at the bar with two pigtails and a hoop through her nose shouted, "Honey, who are you here with?"

She had barely cracked her mouth open when Wade appeared next to her. "I got it, Helen," he called. The woman shrugged and turned back to her customers. The next thing she knew, Wade had taken her hand and was pulling her through the tables to the dancehall.

"I forgot to tell you," she shouted over the music. "My name is Vivi."

He just smiled. Tossing her dance bag to another man, he pulled her onto the crowded floor. They were immediately swept into the continuous swirl of dancers circling the floor. Some couples shuffled, some two stepped, other waltzed. Vivi tried to watch as Wade took her right hand in his and placed a warm hand on her back.

"This is all very different," she murmured to Wade as they hopped and stepped in a grapevine pattern. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

"That's the point," Wade said with a grin. "Just have fun." The slow song turned quick, and the dancers whooped with glee. Vivi found herself swirling around the dance floor in Wade's strong arms. She laughed as he lifted her in the air and expertly guided her with his quick steps. Her legs were racing across the floor and her chest was so full of joy she thought she could burst.

"Ready?" he asked. Without letting her answer, he pulled her hand up and twirled her around and around and around. She twirled and twirled and twirled.

All she ever had wanted to do was twirl.

19 comments:

Amanda said...

What a beautiful piece. is this something from a book you are writing? I adore your fun background on your blog!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I was really getting into this...Can't wait to see what happens with Vivi and Wade!

hot garlic said...

Yes, I love what you write about yourself in your header. You sound like a fun gal!

alexandra's kitchen said...

you are such a poet! i am loving the short stories I have been reading the past few days on your blog, and am looking forward to reading more.

Marjie said...

All any girl wants to do is twirl! Preferably with a nice fluffy skirt!

Marie said...

Ohh, I smell beginnings of romance here! This is wonderful Duckie!!! Is there anything you can't write about? I think NOT! Fabulous darling, absolutely fabulous!!! I want to twirl too, in a Western skirt and cowboy boots, and with my Todd. Viv can keep Wade. I already have my dreamboat! ;-)

Candy said...

Oh the boy always makes me twirl! Can't wait to see what happens next...

Mama K said...

You paint such vivid pictures with your words. Sounds like the beginning of a lovely story as well as a romance "to boot". We have GOT to get you published!

Maria said...

Twirling is so much fun. I should do it more often! Great one!

Lo said...

Lovely! And twirlsome :)

noble pig said...

That's magical, and twirly-girly.

Bunny said...

I love it, please say there's more....please!

Veronica said...

I want to twirl! What a lovely story!

Pam said...

I am excited for the rest of this story. Wade sounds pretty cool. Can't wait for the next installment.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Oh My! Except for the ballet part...that's how Cowboy's & my life started out, so many years ago!!
I'm anxious for more chapters ....
see how close it comes to my life ;)

Lore said...

Now all I want to know is how to twirl and do a pirouette! And I've got the perfect fluffy dress for it ;)

Prudy said...

Another fun read just twirling right out of your head. I'm anxious to read more.

Mom said...

What a nice way to combine your two favorite ways to dance. I could almost smell the chicken fried steak at the Spoke. Good memories.

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