That Nightby Candice Lola
- short story
Her fingers rapped the rhythm of the music that commanded her hips.
The base of his neck was her drum.
There was something about the way he ran his hands down her sides as they swayed
As they rocked
As they flowed through crowded dance floor with nary a worry.
His mouth was liquid that poured into hers
Palms pressed underneath her chin
or clutched at her naked waist
or pressed against her ass at it moved in time with his quickening pulse
until their bodies seemed to vibrate into each other, and the entire world fell away.
It was just supposed to be dinner and a dance
with drinks in between.
During the day, they were both delightfully noncommittal and decidedly driven.
During the day, they were both attuned with their dreams and ambitions alone.
During the day they chuckled at the lovelorn, comforted by delicious judgment
the sense of security that comes with unattachment.
Their first meeting happened out of convenience, as it often goes for the professionally overwhelmed; both, while chasing their own ambitions, stumbled into each other’s path.
They were only meant to pass each other, undeterred.
But one, out of equal parts rebellion and curiosity, asked the other; “Would you like to go out sometime?”
To which the other, out of equal parts boredom and sexual frustration answered, “Sure.”
And it was decided.
Dinner and a dance.
And maybe some drinks in between.
They exchanged phone numbers, parted ways, and nearly forgot about each other. Were it not for their impressive time management skills, their phones would not have simultaneously dinged two days before the date, prompting a frenzy in both of them that neither can ever be expected to admit to.
He was wearing something his tailor advised him to wear.
She was wearing something a magazine had described as “tastefully sexy”.
They meet up on a busy street in the middle of the dirty city they called home. It was a safe, sensible location with a bar close by to wait inside of in case of bad weather.
They approached each other. Gave the appropriate compliments and shared a respectable hug.
Ignored the electricity in their chests when their skin touched.
“Shall we call a cab, then?”
At dinner they made small talk drier than stale bread, nearly choking on the gulps of wine they took while the other wasn’t looking.
They made comments on the meal’s lightness and complimented the sommelier, even though they both wished for something stronger.
They joked about the date’s awkwardness.
They joked about how dancing was probably a terrible idea for a first date.
Made the obligatory “two left feet” reference.
Skipped out on dessert. Both lied about being on a diet.
“Another cab, then?” even though they both longed to recoil separately into their respective lives, rinse the bitter taste of conformity out of their mouths, and go back to being above everyone else.
It was competition that overcame the fright of closeness, if we are to have an honest moment. Competition with each other, and with the moment, and with the wild beating of their hearts every time their eyes met for too long.
The hyper ambitious are to be overcome by nothing less than death, and certainly not disobedient bodies that inch close to each other in the back seat of the taxi. The driven are not to be distracted by their nervousness, nor be allowed to cave in under their insecurities, nor be allowed to be frightened away by intense physical attraction that ruins regular people.
No, people that are meant to be great anchor themselves to their seats and chat politely about the weather and the stock market. They tip the cab driver and thank him for fast service. They compliment the other’s choice of venue as they approach the throbbing club, comment about young folks music, leave their jackets at the coat check and order fine bourbon at the bar.
They certainly do not order a second glass.
They absolutely do not allow its smoothness to erode their carefully constructed walls.
They don’t begin to subtly sway as they shout over the music, leaning into each other to catch drowning words.
They don’t lightly touch each other’s arms, or lower backs, or tops of hands.
They don’t abandon their drinks at the bar, and then, hand in hand, move to the dance floor.
Tonight, the music was lord and the rhythm, their master.
And so, as if in reverence, they closed their eyes
and for the first time all night, saw each other.
Skin to skin.
Hips to hips.
Palm to palm.
Lips to lips.
The floor disappeared.
The crowd faded away.
And suddenly, despite being pressed together, their bodies seemed to impede their closeness.
In the vibrations that surrounded them
walls, clothes, palms, bodies
seemed to melt away
leaving their naked souls free to intertwine and tangle impossibly together.
They could feel it, as they danced that hot, tiny club, surrounded by regular people who they were starting to look identical to.
It was happening so quickly and profoundly that they did not feel themselves worthy to stop it.
During the day, this would not have been the case.
During the day, they would have been smarter than to let this happen.
During the day, sobriety would have guarded their soft hearts and made sure their defenses were intact.
as the music commanded
they fell in sync
they fell in line
and they fell in love.
The music stopped and they opened their eyes, and tried to untangle the knot they had become.
Once again, respectability had overcome them.
And so, one did not ask to go home with the other, and the other did not dare plant a deep kiss on the one.
Instead they rushed to their coats, he, chivalrously placing hers about her shoulders, fighting the urge to push his face into the back of her neck,
her, fighting the urge to fall into his chest and count his breaths as it rose and fell.
And so they parted.
Back to their lives, and away from each other, back to worship the elitism that placed them above regular people with feelings
and with hearts
and with souls.
Far away from the feeling of vulnerability.
The same elitism that kept them from ever working up the courage to call each other ever again.
Elitism that helped them ignore the tugging on hearts that they tried to forget they had.
Hearts attached to souls they would never claim.
Souls still tangled together where they had danced, stretching into flexible strands that ran in opposite directions, and seemed to grow more taut every day.
Strands tethered to two people who moved in fast-forward, and hopelessly tasked with compelling them to rewind.
Two people who overestimate their resilience.
Two people who, in time
will find their way back to each other
or tear their souls to pieces trying to run away.