When you took my hand and we slow-danced in front of the band that night, I knew it was a goodbye dance and that we’d never see each other again. I took your hand anyway, sliding my fingers in between yours and feeling their delicate grace from beneath your orange satin gloves. We moved slowly, rocking back and forth, our bodies pressed close. You rested your head on my shoulder, closing your eyes and smiling. I could smell your perfume and it reminded me of the time I drove through Washington, D.C. at 3:00 am once on a road trip and caught a whiff of the blooming cherry blossoms as I passed by an exit ramp. I still think about those cherry blossoms, and I still think about you.
You’d told me you were a singer, and when I heard your voice I believed you. You had blue eyes the shade of which I’d never seen, and your smile was broad and real and I couldn’t help but smile back as you asked about my writing. You told me you sang in the best clubs in New Orleans and that your band played jazz. I told you I’d been to New Orleans once and would love to go back sometime and I saw your eyes flicker, just for a moment. I couldn’t help but think to myself that I wanted to see those eyes light up like that all the time.
Before that, we’d sat opposite from each other, the lace tablecloth an ocean between the islands that were our separate lives. I’d been sipping whiskey by myself, letting it burn my insides as I wondered what I was doing there among strangers, thousands of miles away from home. When you stood up to sit next to me and introduce yourself, I couldn’t help but stare at your legs – shapely and long and ending in a pair of glitzy heels you’d probably purchased just for the night and would bring back in the morning. After we’d started talking, we had to lean in toward each other to hear one another speak over the music. I could still barely hear you, and I knew you could barely hear me – but I could feel your hot breath on my neck and knew your lips were dangerously close to my skin. I knew what you were doing when you placed your open hand on my shoulder or on my knee. It felt good to be wanted.
But I also knew that it couldn’t happen. We were two ships passing in the night. We were never meant to be, but in the moment we were drawn toward one another. I’ve known a hundred women like you and I’ve been drawn to every single one of them, without fail, and my wax wings have always melted away beneath my outstretched arms and I’ve always, always fallen to my doom.
And so I moved away from you – leaving you to sit and stare and I moved to the dance floor with my drink. I finished it, and I began to lose myself in the music. I pumped my legs and shuffled my feet and twisted my waist and I thought you’d already moved on, but soon you were there with me in my space and when I looked at you, you were smiling. I knew that smile. It was a smile I’d given to you in my head when you first started talking to me. You knew what you were doing all along.
And so we lost ourselves in the dance until our goodbye; two ships in the night, two stories without endings, two people without wings looking longingly at the sun.