by Catherine Barker
Ballroom tickets rest on the quartz counter. Miranda fastens the buckles on the rhinestone heels, ups the Big Band volume on her iPad, pushes furniture to the walls, and foxtrots around her snoozed lab-mix. Miranda curtseys to bloodshot eyes, corn chip farts, and dead squirrel breath. “Hey Benny, wanna dance?” Not a tail-wag.
“C’est la vie. You’re too old for me anyway.”
A retreat of slow-quick-quick rhythm clicks on hardwood throughout the open concept. Chassés around Steven’s vacant recliner teeter her balance. Miranda twirls in her gown. “How do I look, lover-boy?”
She puts on her happy face and dances. Rumba, tango, quickstep, brings flush. Miranda guzzles water and fans perspiration.
“Don’t push me, Steven. If you’re not going, I’m not going. It’s an us thing, remember? And by the way, I’m still pissed at you for dying on me. You know how I hate to drive alone at night.”
Strains of a Viennese Waltz fill the space. Neck high, three-four-time-glides push her mood to romance to love to lust. Miranda leans forward on the arms of the recliner. “Please, Steven. I’d rather sit on your lap all night than have some guy ask me for an East Coast Swing. Or a salsa. Or have his mambo hips sync with mine. You know what I’m talking about. And after, he’ll buy me a drink. And before you know it, we’ll go out for dinner, Sunday drives, bolero on the front porch.” Miranda shuts off the music. “Do you know what I miss the most? Besides the cha cha of course.” She sways. “Smooth. Your smooth on my cool.”
In silence, she exhales in slow streams. “Call me crazy, but I can hear you loud and clear. And no, I don’t forget my promise, so stop yelling.”
She dabs the wet from her bottom eyelashes. “Okay, I’ll go.”
Miranda takes the tickets and drops them into her purse. She wraps a cashmere stole around her shoulders. “Come on Benny. Do your biz.”
Benny struggles to the grass, sniffs. One of Steven’s muddy boots topples down a stair. Miranda gasps. “Look, Benny, look. He’s saying, “I’m here. I’m right here.””
Miranda curls into the recliner. “I’ll try to enjoy myself, Steven, but you better be here when I get back. I’m not ready to fall in love.”