When the Loner Learned to Dance

Lionel

 There wasn’t a need for the minor surgery that I
received, but I was still thankful for it. My body ached from my fight with
Craig, but I was certain that he wouldn’t come after me or my friends again.
Next time he tried to step towards an acquaintance of mine, if he dared to do
so, I would be right by their side.

 Craig didn’t intimidate me anymore, and he wasn’t around
at school to do so; the rumors stated that he too was put into the hospital,
but this time in emergency care. I thought he might expose Charles and I for
the brawlers that combated him, but the force of my deadly double-fist blow
seemed to cause him to suffer from amnesia.

 Claudia and Daniel had officially forgiven me, and I had
forgiven them, so it seemed as though all of our problems were left behind us.
Charles, whose assistance with the skirmish was unmatched, became a common
sight now, apparently bragging about the fight. Our tight ring of three friends
now grew to four to accommodate the British exchange student.

 Samantha made me doubt she was growing father away from
me. As I entered school today, I found her leaning back on my locker, smiling
to greet me. I had been running late, but my excuse was that my injuries were
still recovering. The school was nice enough to buy this statement.

 “Some British kid has been talking a lot about how you
and him took down the ‘giant jock’. You said you hated fighting, didn’t you?”
she asked, slightly inquisitive.

 “Well…” I said, wondering whether I would or not I should
tell her the truth. She walked closer to me.

 “You won the fight too? I don’t like it all too much, but
I must say… I’m impressed” she said in a tempting sort of voice.

 My brain began shutting down as though it knew what was
about to happen.

 “I couldn’t have done it without Charles” I replied
honestly. “But I guess he couldn’t have done it without me”.

 She was now positioned right in front of me. “I was just
a little sick this week, and over that time I guess you became the neighborhood
Batman?”

 “You know Charles… or maybe you don’t… but he sort of
exaggerates things”.

 “Think you can win this fight?” she said, leaning closer
to me.

 “I surrender”.

 We soon ended up in a dimly lit empty classroom, kissing
passionately with neither of us ready to stop. She had never done this to me
before, and it felt like heaven. Through her actions, I guess she felt the same
way.

 After a while, we quit and walked our separate ways,
plans for the weekend now created. I loved her so much… and this time she
wasn’t going to leave me. We were in to each other just like before.

 Claudia passed me by in the hallway with an odd glance
directed at me. Had she looked in on Samantha and I? I recognized the look on
her face from when I thought she saw us making out before; sad and
disappointed. What did she have to be disappointed about?

 The day continued on as of normally. The science project
which had previously been thought to be the event that would tear our
friendship apart now mattered little. Claudia and I had actually finished our
project ahead of time, though I couldn’t help but notice something seemed to be
on her mind, something that was troubling her. What exactly was it?

 Occasionally she tried to make conversation, but her
words faded away and were never brought back into the present. She and Daniel
were going along just fine, but every day I became more wary of that look of
sadness and disappointment. One day in Math class, I finally brought the
subject up.

 “Sorry to pry, but you seem to be… a little… off… to say
the least… sorry… I just-“

 She interrupted me. “I just… I… you…”

 I turned my head away back to my homework as her voice
once again was decimated at the end of her sentence. It, in a way, reminded me
of myself… though it seemed that every day I seemed to be getting better at
talking to others.

 She continued to try and get what she wanted to say out,
but it never came. I thought one day she would tell me, but that didn’t seem to
be a possibility once the news began to spread. On the next day, we entered
school as of normally, but one thing was different.

 The posters on the walls. They must have been placed
overnight when all of the students had left the building. These announcements
were the reason that Claudia, Daniel, Samantha, Charles and I were huddled in
front of one such poster.

 The winter moth was approaching; today was day before the
last day of November. Even though Christmas was farther away than it appeared,
talk of it erupted like a violent volcano. A school tradition was that the day
before Christmas Break… was a dance.

 “I… uh…” I said, speechless.

 “Sounds like a load of fun!” Charles said, his trademark
grin showing.

 “Not to sound mean, but do you even have a girlfriend?”
Daniel asked him. He obviously didn’t know Charles enough; it took more than a
comment like that to merely annoy him.

 “I can get one faster than you can blink” Charles
retorted. He snapped around and gazed around the open room we were in. A pretty
brunette girl was sitting over in the corner of it. Charles pointed at her and
called.

“Hey, you, wanna go out some time? You look bloody
brilliant”.

 The girl answered. “Uh… of… of course!” She had been seemingly
enticed by his question.

 She came over to Charles, who promptly kissed her on the
lips. She then departed out into the hallway, talking at an erratic speed to
her friends. Charles turned back to face us, his eyebrows raised.

 “And there you are” he said.

 I pointed back and forth between the girl and Charles. “How
exactly-“

 He waved his hands. “Please, you Americans go crazy if I
simply say one word. It’s all in the accent. Bloody weird on how it works so
well”.

 Samantha turned towards me and asked the all-important
question at this time, all the while Daniel asked the same thing to Claudia.

 “Do you want to go to the dance with me?”

 “Yes” came Claudia and I’s synchronized response.

 So that was that then… without hesitation, I responded.
And so did she, but I still couldn’t help but notice her mood and facial
expression hadn’t changed.

 “Sounds like we’ll be in for a good time” Charles said
cheerfully. “A night full of caffeine and dancing with hot chicks, gonna be a
spiffing time if I do say so myself”.

 I didn’t pay attention to him however. There were a few
words that were yelling at me, alerting me, warning me… they weren’t written in
bold or anything… not easily noticeable… but they stuck out. Big-time.

 Slow-dancing.

 Slow dancing… knowing Samantha, she’ll ask me to do that
with her, and I’ve never danced before in my life. Claudia, I knew, took
classes, and was apparently very good. I didn’t doubt that, but I’ve never seen
her actually in the act.

 I knew that slow dancing didn’t take much skill, but I
had zero experience with foot coordination in terms of dancing. This placed me
in a very uncomfortable situation, with an equally uncomfortable way out.

 After we dispersed from the poster, I was able to catch
up with Claudia as she was on her way to her first class.

 “Umm… hey” I said, offering a weak wave of hello. She
acknowledged this with a smile and a nod.

 “I uh… it’s a dance and… I… the thing is…”

 “You can’t dance” she made the correct assumption.

 “Well… uh… yes” I responded, my voice barely a whisper.

 “You… what do you want me to do about it?” she asked me.

 “I was thinking… that… maybe…” I shook my head and got
straight to the point. “I was thinking you could teach me”.

 She looked at me with a new look on her face, the
disappointment and sadness giving way to slight happiness.

 “Just to slow dance?” she asked for clarification. I
could only nod.

 “Believe me when I tell you it’s not that hard” she
assured me.

 I was happy for her assistance and the fact that she told
me that she was available for tonight. The whole thing was, of course, still as
awkward as it could get. She didn’t tell Daniel about what she was doing, so I
assumed it would be… a little less then fine… she was ok with it at least.

 The night came in, so I walked myself down to Claudia’s
house, keeping a careful eye out for any of Craig’s minions who were rumored to
have it in for me. Seeing as the coast was clear, I strolled up to her front
door and knocked.

 She opened it up, smiled, then gestured inside. I had
never been inside her house before, and the elegant floor designs and paintings
looked quite magnificent.

 “So do you want to get started now?” she asked me. I
nodded nervously.

 “Remember, it’s not as hard as you think”.

 I didn’t take this assurance too seriously, but I later
learned that I should have. Claudia led me into her basement, which was
unfinished save for a small space of carpet lying in the middle of it. Se
guided me over to it.

 “Now, the concept is simple”. She gestured to her body. “Just
take my waist, that’s step one”.

 She seemed completely unfazed by this particularly awkward
request she made. I slowly approached her and did as she instructed, sweat
starting to form on the top of my head. I hoped it wouldn’t start to come down
in a downpour.

 “Now…” Claudia seemed to be taking in the reality of the
situation. “You grab my hands…”

 I abided to this as well. Her hands felt warm, and they
seemed to be slightly shaking.

 “So… now what?” I asked, just for the sake of making
conversation to fill up the silence.

 She kicked a button on a nearby radio, and a
cheesy-sounding tune came out. “Just move in sync with me… simple enough…
right?”

 I was uneasy at first, and off-balance, but I found
myself quickly getting a handle on this whole dancing thing. I began to develop
a rhythm to mimic hers, and we moved perfectly on the carpet. It came to the
point to when I was the one setting the beat and pulling off intricate moves I
didn’t think I was capable of. Claudia looked like she was enjoying this
experience… and I was in a mix of emotions.

 The song reached its end, and the two of us stepped away
from each other. Her head was bowed to try and conceal her facial expression I
guessed. She brought it back up with a smile back on it.

 “Well… thank you” I said, seeing as the learning session
was at its end.

 She suddenly pulled me into a hug. “No, Lionel, thank you”
she said. “You thought you couldn’t dance… but I think you didn’t give yourself
enough credit”.

 I left her embrace, a smile forming on my lips. I was
smiling… something I did rarely.

 She grabbed my hand and squeezed it. “I’ll… see… see you
tomorrow then?”

 I nodded. “Of course… good night Claudia”.

 “Night Lionel”.

 I left her residence with a perfectly good mood in mind.
I had danced unlike I perceived myself to do… and it felt oddly… terrific. I
think I liked dancing.

 As I walked back in the direction of my house, my feet
began copying the moves I had done just a few minutes ago. I felt prepared for
the dance, or just to dance at any time. I was pumped.

 I felt happy like I never have before, and no one was
going to take that wonderful feeling away from me.

The End

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