The Dancer – A Short Story

Note: I wrote this just as a practice piece. I’m not very good with description, and I just wanted to try it out. As you may know I’ve been working on a book, which I hope to actually do something with, so why not perfect my craft? I may update it and make small changes to it periodically to polish it a bit more, but I didn’t want to make a huge deal out of this since it is only practice. With that being said, please enjoy!

Charles was the kind of man who always styled his hair. The kind who wore cologne and cashmere sweaters with the sleeves rolled up. The kind where everything in his house had its place and never strayed far from it, but when stuff did, was immediately put back.
That night he stood on the paving stones in his back yard. Though the stones were put there so there was no need to stand on the grass, it still forced up between the cracks. Resistance is futile, even to grass. He was laughing and smiling between sips of beer when he heard the doorbell ring.
He did a little jog through the living room. With a big grin he pulled the front door open.
She stood wrapped in a long coat, a faint jingle escaped from beneath with every step she took. Her makeup was overdone, dramatic, perfect. She carried a bag, bursting at the seams in a feeble attempt to hold in its contents.
“Hello! Come in!” He beckoned to her and lead her to the perfect living room, with the chairs set up in a rectangle around the coffee table. “You’re June right?”
She nodded then set her sack down and dove into it, her bangles disappearing into its depths.
He blinked. For the first time since she walked in, he could take his eyes off of her. Of course he had seen her pictures and videos of her performances, but something was different about meeting her in person. She was radiant as she pulled miles of cloth from her bag and threw them across his couch. An accidental splash of color across his pristine monochrome life.
She popped out of her bag and held an old MP3 player to her nose, then thrust it into his hand, “Here.” She spoke, “The playlist called ‘set 1’ is for the first dance, ‘set 2’ is for the second one later, obviously.” She let her coat slide from her shoulders and crammed it in the bottom of her bag, then pulled the miles of cloth back in.
He stared at her wondering how her bag could be so full of more cloth when it seemed like she was already wearing an entire wardrobe. She had a long skirt with scarfs and belts that jingled around her waist. Her stomach was completely bare, and she had a top covered in beads and chain.
“Are you ready?” He looked her up and down.
“Sure, whenever you are.” She pushed stray hairs out of her face and tucked them under a beaded crown that drooped across her forehead.
He walked out, MP3 player in one hand, beer in the other. He pulled the speaker chord out of his phone, and plugged it into her player. His friends, caught off guard by the abrupt end to the music all looked up from their drinks and conversations and peered around wondering what had happened.
He hit play and shooed some friends away to clear a space in front of the speaker.
The music began and June bounced out of the house in all her glory. She danced to an Arabic beat and moved with hips that could kill a man. She twirled and skipped around and smiled. The guests watched clapping and smiling, and Charles stood in awe letting his beer go flat.
She ended with a twirl and her hands held high. She had danced for 20 minutes, but not a moment was dull. She skipped back into the house laughing and spinning, then disappearing back to where she came from.
The crowd laughed and started talking and praising her. They dispersed, taking over the spot where she danced, but Charles just stood staring at where she was. That was when he noticed something on the stones. A red smear across the ground. He followed it with his eyes, bouncing back and forth, then into the house. He ran to the speaker and grabbed her MP3 player, shoved the chord back into his phone and hit play on the music then scurried into the house. He followed the red smear across the carpet to the bathroom just off the side of the living room.
He tapped on the door, “Are you alright?”
“Do you have any paper towels?”
“I’m an EMT, I can look at it for you.”
There was a moment of stillness as he waited for a response, then she spoke, “The door’s unlocked.”
He pushed the door open and set his beer on the counter, the last sad bubbles trailing up the sides of the glass, now long forgotten.
She sat on the edge of the bathtub holding a wad of toilet paper to her foot. He kneeled in front of her, then she pulled the toilet paper off.
“Ouch.” He inspected her cut, “It doesn’t need stitches or anything, we should clean it and wrap it though.” Somehow, something managed to slice open the bottom of her foot. Broken glass from a previous party, or a stray stone no one had ever noticed.
“You’re not an EMT.” She leaned an elbow on her knee.
He smiled up at her, “No, but I can tell that you don’t need stitches.” He stood and rummaged through a medicine cabinet and pulled out some bandages and an antiseptic cream, the kind with painkillers, “I did take some EMT courses though.” He set them down on the counter and washed his hands.
“That doesn’t count.” She reached for the antiseptic, but he grabbed it away from her.
“You didn’t wash your hands.”
“Isn’t it supposed to kill bacteria?”
He sighed, “Yes, but you don’t want to rub dirt in, even if it’s antibacterial dirt.”
“Whatever.” She crossed her arms and slouched down, “Sorry about this. I can give you half of your money back.”
He sat on the ground in front of her and swiped the cream across the bottom of her foot, “No, I should be apologizing.” He pulled a bandage out of a box and placed it over her cut, “Better?”
She nodded, “I can read tarot cards. That way you’re not paying me for nothing.” She stood up and hopped around then steadied herself on the counter.
“Sure, why not.” She shrugged, “Please, let me help you.” He let her wrap an arm around his neck, then slid his hand around her waist. He felt the acidic tinge of adrenaline rush from her hand across his body.
They stood side by side, staring at the bathroom door.
She spoke, “How are we supposed to get out?” The door was too narrow to walk out side by side, and hopping sideways seemed a bit clumsy.
They looked at each other, then back at the door, and then again to each other.
“I’ll just…” He scooped her up then scooted out of the bathroom sideways. He walked her to the couch and set her beside her never-ending bag, “There.”
She dove into the bag once more and pulled out a pack of cards, “What do you want to know?”
“Oh no… Not me.” He waved his hands in the air. He slipped behind the kitchen bar, “Water?”
She laughed at him, “Yes, thank you.”
He pulled a glass out from a cabinet, and filled it from a tap that was separate from the one used to wash dishes. Because normal tap water wasn’t good enough, so he had to have his purified with 3 ice cubes, which was how he served it to her.
He ran outside to his friends. Some clapped in excitement at the thought of tarot, others raised an eyebrow, skeptical of the practice, but by the end of the night, they all had answers.
The party slowed, and people left. Charles hugged his last friend goodbye and sat on a couch opposite June.
She watched him as she shuffled the cards, “You sure you don’t have a question?” She smiled, “No one’s here. It’s just you and me.”
He scratched his head, and stretched his arms across the back of the couch, “Yeah.”
She slid the deck across the table, “Shuffle the deck while you think about it, and tell me what you want to know.”
He shuffled the deck a few times, lost in thought then set it down in the middle of the table. “Want to stay a bit longer?”
She flipped the top card on the deck, and without looking at it replied to him, “Why not.”