It was one of those misty mornings where every sound seemed amplified tenfold. And Sam left even earlier than usual, when the quietness is almost overwhelmingly loud.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
She ran faster and faster, as if she wanted to escape from the sound of her own footsteps.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
She had taken two unplanned turnoffs already, extending her route significantly. But she barely notices she’s out of breath. A single car passes by, hooting at her as it drives past. It’s a group of young men, probably returning from a night out and in need of some sobering up as they hang out of the windows. Sam doesn’t look at them. She just keeps running.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Despite the coolness of the morning, the sweat is trickling down her face. Sweat and tears are a lot alike.
“And next up, demonstrating the tango is Mr Kelly, accompanied by his partner, Miss Benson.”
The hall erupts into applause. Everyone loves watching her dance. It’s like voluntary hypnotization, being taken on a journey of everything that’s perfect and desirable.
From the instance that the music starts, the spectators all fall under her spell as she moves with her signature seductiveness. Her partner is a mere puppet, a monotone shadow that simply obeys her demands in humble support. But she, she is the ultimate representation of a femme fatale.
“If only I could dance like that!” Sam’s friend exclaimed with plain-spoken jealousy. “Look at her legwork; it’s simply flawless and she makes it look like there’s absolutely nothing to it.”
Sam smiled and took a sip of her wine, not once taking her eyes from the dance floor. They’ve just completed the first lift and Miss Benson has landed with the grace of an autumn leaf drifting to the ground. She was now teasing the audience by drawing her right foot slowly across the floor as she prepared for the next staccato step.
That’s when Sam heard him. She could recognize his voice amidst the hustle and bustle of a crowd at an international rock concert. He was cheering on Miss Benson with the enthusiasm of a proud spouse.
Sam willfully looked back at the dancing and tried to focus on the couple on the floor. But the two bodies have become a blur of black and red.
When he yelled her name for the third time, Sam’s friend nudged her in the side.
“Why is Mr Williams cheering on Miss Benson so much? I thought things between them were over. After all, she cheated on him twice.”
“I thought so too,” Sam said calmly, trying everything in her power to control the feeling of distress that has come over her, like a solitary malicious cloud shifting over the sun on a beautiful summer’s day.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re back together. You know, guys can sometimes be so gullible. And we all know the captivating effect she has on men. I mean, she even makes me nervous when she looks at me with those alluring eyes!”
Sam’s friend has carried on talking, but she doesn’t hear her anymore. In fact, Sam doesn’t hear any sound. The dancing couple have made their final bow and left the floor. As Miss Benson walked past Mr Williams, her hand slipped into his effortlessly. And for a moment they looked at one another with a longing that transcends all verbal communication or physical acts.
Sam suddenly realized she has stopped running. She is standing in front of a dead oak tree, staring at its stripped branches and faded bark. She doesn’t understand why she’s only sweating in her face.