Two to Tango
The party was great. Good times with good people. She was thankful for the anti-smoking campaign for giving her the perfect excuse to take a little breather. She has always had the urge to take a little break from parties. The memory of her wandering off at her father’s doctorate party to look up at the night sky, feeling so happy and proud she might burst was clear as day. She had been seven at the time. It had been the first night no one mentioned a bed time to her. She sat there, processing her happiness and then went back to have some more. Over the years that had become a habit. She had learned to be a little secretive about it. People tended to get upset over her walking off to sit alone for a couple of minutes. They worried something was wrong. It was hard to explain things were the opposite of wrong. Luckily people didn’t worry about a woman walking off to have a cigarette. At worse they would lecture her on her unhealthy habit.
She sat down at the edge of the deck, fished her rolling tobacco and papers out of her purse and rolled herself a cigarette. Her lighter had disappeared among the stuff that accumulated in her purse since the last time she cleaned it. She let out a series of explicits as she realized she was going to have to empty the whole thing out if she wanted to find it.
“Do you need a light?”
She looked up startled. The muffled noise of the party must have masked any sound of him approaching. The dim light that kept over half of him in shadows and at the same time illuminated the smoke of his own cigarette made it seem like he had just materialized out of thin air. He had a little smirk on his face. Presumably because he had just heard her swear like a sailor. She realized her mouth was open and quickly closed it. She hoped it was too dark to show her face turning red.
He sat down beside her and offered a lit Zippo lighter in one fluent movement. Once again she was thankful for being a smoker. The few seconds it took her to light her cigarette and take a drag gave her the chance to collect her thoughts. It also put it on him to keep the conversation going.
“I’m Sean” he said as he put the lighter in his pocket. She nodded. That explained why she hadn’t seen him before. He had only recently returned to town.
“I heard stories about you”
“All of them bad, I’m sure” he responded with a serious face.
“Of course,” she smiled “Leah has gone into great detail about all the times you made her life difficult”
Now he was smiling as well. He had a great smile. “That’s what big brothers are for”
They looked at each other for a while. She decided she was going to like Sean. Then she remembered she hadn’t introduced herself yet. “Sorry. I’m Anna.”
“I know, Leah told me. She also told me you have a special talent.”
There was a slight panic as she mentally ran through the personal things she had told Leah over the two years in which they had become best friends. She was a bit surprised she heard herself respond with a flirty voice “I have several” That had to be the wine talking.
“Is that so? My sister has been holding out on me.”
For the third time in under fifteen minutes, Anna was happy to be a smoker. Now she could stub out her cigarette and had the perfect excuse to get up and get back inside before things got out of hand. It felt like a night for things getting out of hand. It felt like all the events needed was just a little push. A push she was determined to deny them.
When they got back inside something was off. Some of the furniture was moved, it was quiet for a party. Everyone was standing back and looking at them. She noticed Leah standing near the stereo with a pleased smile on her face. Then the first notes of ‘Tangled Up’ started playing and she was spun around. Sean slipped his right arm around her waist and pulled her against him, hard. She gasped and her knees buckled slightly. She looked up at his impish grin, the word ‘what’ on her lips. Then he grabbed her right hand in his and stretched them out and suddenly it all fell into place.
Her special talent. The music of Caro Emerald had been her inspiration to start taking dancing lessons a while back. Ballroom dancing. She loved it. And of course she had complained to Leah that the only real drawback was that men just didn’t dance. Sean danced. Her friend had set her up to experience what she had complained about just didn’t happen any more. Dancing the way it was supposed to go. Slightly drunk, just for fun, at a social engagement. But the Tango? With an audience? Fuck!
She hooked her left thumb under his arm, raising their elbows to shoulder height and turned her head left, hoping he hadn’t expected the Argentine Tango. It would be difficult enough for her to dance the regular one. She had only attempted to dance it a handful of times and had never been all that satisfied with her performance. She glanced at him through the corners of her eyes “I’m a beginner” she whispered.
“I’ll be gentle” he whispered back.
They started moving. Her pounding heart almost drowned out the music. She was slightly trembling. Slow, slow, fast fast, slow -even the voice in her head sounded panicked. She had never quite understood the tango. If it was supposed to be the dance of passion, why was the proper posture for the woman to arch back and away from the man as if she was recoiling from his breath? But here, with this man, she got it. She fucking got it. She wasn’t recoiling, she was half way in a swoon. The distance created was electrifying. Soon she realized she wasn’t counting her steps in her head anymore. She was letting the music lead her. Letting him lead her. She was anticipating and pulling off moves she felt she never quite got the hang of before.
She knew the song by heart. Three minutes and fifteen seconds long exactly. It felt like it would never end and over way too quick at the same time. When the last notes died out, the rest of the party goers cheered and whistled. They stood in the middle of the room, slightly out of breath, flushed and beaming.
“Beginner, huh?” Sean teased her.
“Yeah…but I never had a great partner before” Anna answered honestly. She was pleased to see him turn a little shy at the compliment. He offered her his arm. “let me get you a drink”
As they walked off, the coffee table and chairs were being pushed back into place. There wasn’t going to be an encore tonight. It was just as well. She didn’t feel all that steady on her feet anymore.