A short story just in time for the holidays/Christmas.
“Come dance with me,” he says.
I look up at him as he stands, reluctantly placing my hand in his.
He leads me towards the living room in his apartment, and stands right next to the Christmas tree.
I gasp when his fingers swiftly curve around my waist, never wasting time to press my cold body against his. He grazes his hand down my arm and guides it up to rest on his shoulder. And then I follow his lead, matching his very movements and steps, swaying to holiday jazz and blues. I lean into his chest once we fall into a rhythm, listening to his breaths and heartbeats as snow falls from the twilight sky and creates a bed. I close my eyes and imagine the city, how Christmas lights ignite every street and alleyway at hand, from lampposts to mailboxes and every dead end near. I imagine joy and laughter from children—many in jammies, families with pets—a true Christmas feeling.
But I am here, dancing in the living room again with a man I once knew, wondering if nostalgia fills his mind like mine, as if we were children once again.
I don’t particularly believe in fate or destiny (although I can’t be too confident in that answer to say both don’t exist) but I do believe in that very clichéd phrase that essentially, everything happens for a reason. If I didn’t crash at my friend’s place that night after a treacherous rendezvous, I wouldn’t have met my husband at a coffee shop that next morning. If I had accepted numerous requests for pure selfish pleasure, I wouldn’t have achieved my career, be promoted in my business.
I don’t have many regrets in my life, but this man that stands before me makes me rethink that notion. There is still something about him, whether it’s his aura or overall persona, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I’ve known him since I was young, since I was a naïve child, an even unpretentious teen, and an even more inexperienced adult. We were once lovers in Fall, suddenly craving each other’s presence and bodies in college. It’s been over five years since the last time we spoke, and now I’m confused on whether or not I should or shouldn’t go through with this, with whatever this may be, if I should pursue this definite tension he evidently can see.
I open my eyes and lower my hand to his chest, twiddling the wedding ring between my fingers, diamonds in clear display.
“My husband will be home soon,” I whisper, remembering the night my husband proposed. He was so anxious! His knee trembled when he bent down, and his voice shook as if millions were watching his very timid proposal. I was so in love with him…
“Don’t ruin this,” he says, slowing down his pace.
I look up at him, reaching up to touch his cheek and perfect stumble, even smooth my thumb over his full lips, something he’s always done to mine. His hazel eyes stare into mine as if he’s reaching inside to pull on strings and tear off stones, as if he’s waiting for me to give into this tension one last time.
But that’s what we said last night.
I back away, “I…it’s almost Christmas.”
He sighs, “I know that but…just…just one last dance. One more song.”
“He’s going to be waiting for me. I…I have to go,” he steps closer to me and I stay still, secretly desiring for him to touch me.
“I’ve missed you,” he says, taking a hold of my waist once again. “And I know…I know you love him but not in love with him. You missed me too.” His lips hover over mine, fingers grazing down my arm so I can put it around his neck, “Please…please don’t ruin this. Don’t ruin this.”
The home phone rings in the kitchen, the one he’s installed himself because of his love for nostalgia and old things. He lets it go to voicemail, still lusting to kiss me.
“Hey honey, it’s me. Let me know what time you’ll be in from your flight. Your kids made you a early Christmas present and they are dying for you to open it! I love you. Bye.”
Everything inside me convulsed. My eyes widen in shock, my mouth completely agape.
He…he never told me he has a…family. He never…
“I…I didn’t ruin anything,” I half whispered, shoving him away from me. “But you just did.”