2 December 2003 | Vol. 3, No. 4

The Dance

My friend says, "If you look for love you'll never find it." Then she tells me how she and her boyfriend take a shower together every morning.

"Don't worry," she says, "love will find you."

I don't know that she's right. Whenever I think about love, I get scared. At the front desk, I get a shortness of breath every time that pretty dancer walks by. The time she stopped to talk, I thought I was having a heart attack. She's incredibly nice. So now we have casual conversation. But my heart still pounds wildly.

There's no telling how this came to be. First time I saw her, I felt she was something from a dream. It was out of the question. A woman like that had no use for someone like me. Besides, she was going with this big Arabian cab driver who looked like a young Omar Sharif. His shirts were always opened to the third or fourth button. But she liked him; I figured they were a lock for the whole marriage thing. I'd given up on her some time ago.

Then one day she notices me. She acts extremely friendly and for no good reason. So we talked. I even let her read the part in my diary that tells how much I liked her. She smiled this incredible smile and for a minute, the whole heart thing started again.

But I'm over that. I really am. I know what it was. It's called infatuation.

Back then, I'd just stare at her while she waited for the elevator. One time I left a note in her mailbox, asking if we could go out sometime.

Maybe the note embarrassed her. I didn't see her for a few days. The Arabian cab driver was visiting a lot. Sometimes even twice in one afternoon. He always came to me for a visitor's pass. I don't think she told him about my note. I think he liked me.

When next we met, she said there were complications. She didn't think we could go out. I still liked her. She was very polite. And the prettiest resident in the whole hotel.

It was around then I stopped going crazy for her.

Today she invited me to a dance recital. I bet the cab driver will be there. I think he knows I talk to her. I think it worries him. He's a nervous type for someone so tall. But I give him all the visitor's passes he needs. It's my job.

On Tuesday after my shift, I go with Bob to see her perform. It's at this large second floor of an old warehouse. We are early. There's no one there. So we go across the street for doughnuts.

In a while, we return. I pay four dollars to get in. It's a performance of a dancing school class. An older woman with a Russian accent takes our money then announces some famous guest ballroom dancers. I don't know who they are.

With rows of metal folding chairs covering the floor, the space doesn't seem large. Still there are more people than chairs. Bob and I are lucky to get seats.

The Russian lady introduces the show. She wears a scarf in her hair and has gold teeth that show when she smiles. Someone behind me says this Russian lady and her husband were once famous dancers. Now her husband runs this dance school.

First is a dance with two men and two women. One man is tall and ungraceful. Both women are pretty, but neither is my special dancer. Still, it is nice.

These four do another dance, followed by the special guest dancers. They swirl around and around, he in a tux, she in a long evening gown. Every time she spins, her gown fills up with gusts of air. It's like having Fred and Ginger in your own living room; it's like the tilt-a-whirl ride at Playland.

At one point, they almost hit the wall. Everyone holds their breath at their dangerous near miss. It's wonderful. When they finish, they take a bow. I'm sitting so close I see the wrinkles on their necks pulse in and out. They are breathing hard. The man wears a lot of makeup. It runs orange on his white collar.

Finally I see my exotic friend. She dances in a group of four and then in a group of six. Then she does a spectacular solo with the man who is not the tall ungraceful one. She is the best dancer there, and even Bob agrees.

Afterwards, waiting around to thank her, I see the Arabian cab driver. He seems upset. He tells her he has to go, then storms out. I come over. She is sweating.

She smiles. I tell her I enjoyed the show. She smiles more. All of a sudden, she gives me a kiss. Just like that. It tastes very salty. I tell Bob about that on the way to the subway. And I still think about it.

It's not like I'm still crazy about her. Sometimes we talk and she's really very nice. We're friends now, just about. But she says she's moving to Canada soon, joining the National Ballet. I expect she'll marry the Arabian and take him along. Then again, I hope not.

Bob tells me she's part Swedish, part Egyptian. She sometimes talked to him while he was on his shift. But it was nothing special between them. Not like with me.

Bob was on duty the night she moved. He said the Arabian cab driver was cursing in a strange language. It doesn't surprise me. This guy always was in a bad mood.

Last week I thought I saw the Arabian cab driver walking in the park. He didn't look happy then either. I guess he didn't go to Canada. I guess he didn't marry her. Maybe it wasn't him. There are lots of tall people walking in the park.

She went. I guess it was Canada, but I never knew for sure. She didn't leave a forwarding address. Of course, she said she'd write me at the hotel. Of course she didn't.

I don't spend time thinking about it. Other dancers stay at the hotel, but it's not the same. Sometimes on a rainy afternoon, I find myself wishing she'd come in, all wet from the storm, happy to be inside, glad to see me. I'd get her coffee and we'd talk. She'd ask for her phone messages and we'd talk some more. But it never happens.

When it gets slow, I play the radio. The other morning a talk show was on, and the lady said the same thing my friend said. If you look for love, you'll never find it. I still don't know that she's right. I just watch the lobby doors and wonder.

About the author:

When not writing fiction, Gary Glauber is a music journalist for both PopMatters.com and Fufkin.com. Recent short stories have appeared in Insolent Rudder, Mocha Memoirs, Pindeldyboz, Word Riot, Eyeshot, Smokelong Quarterly, Fossil Record, Cenotaph, Ululation, and Megaera. Upcoming stories can be seen at Glut and Long Story Short. You can contact him at .

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 3, No. 4, where "The Dance" ran on December 2, 2003. List other work with these same labels: fiction, flash fiction.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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