One Last Dance

June 8, 201710 min read

Amelia stood at a pair of elaborate wood doors that led to everything she ever wanted, paralyzed by an emotion she couldn’t identify. There were hundreds of people dancing, drinking, laughing. This was the most important moment of her life, and she was the sole witness. Not a single pair of eyes flashed in her direction.

She expected to feel different. Special. Noticed. Instead, all she felt was out of place. She was just some girl standing at the back of a ballroom amongst the highest people in society, wearing a dusty ball gown and shoes that were too big.

“Excuse me, may I have this dance?” said a light-haired stranger, pulling Amelia from her thoughts.

“What?” said Amelia, which she almost immediately regretted because shortly thereafter she realized what he had said. She couldn’t help but smile.

“Would you like to dance? With me?” He smiled back, holding his hand out to Amelia.

“I would love to.” The smile on her face widened. She placed her hand onto his, and let him whisk her off into the horde of dancers.

An orchestra played an elegant waltz that pirouetted through the ballroom more gracefully than Amelia did.

“Sorry, I’m not the best dancer,” said Amelia shyly.

“Just follow my lead.” He seemed to be focusing on a point beyond her left shoulder. “I’m Elliot, by the way.” He said after a pause, finally looking at her.

“I’m Amelia,” she began but did not say anything after that because Elliot’s eyes once again darted off to something (or someone) in the distance.

Elliot guided her expertly, albeit absentmindedly across the ballroom floor. The dancing itself was fun, but Amelia wished that Elliot had actually paid attention to her.

When the song ended, Elliot thanked her, and he disappeared into the crowd. His presence wasn’t astounding, but his absence reminded Amelia of her sheer awkwardness. Before she could become lost in her sense of inadequacy, she marched over to the nearest young man who didn’t already have a dancing partner and asked him to dance with her.

This was her night. She couldn’t waste it.

Faces and names blended into each other as Amelia’s list of dancing partners grew longer. Some partners were friendlier, more attentive than others, but Amelia realized that she didn’t care either way. Anything was preferable to her real life.

It was nearing midnight when Amelia’s feet began to hurt, making her realize that it was time for her dream to end. She bade farewell to her final dancing partner and began to make her way to the doors that she walked through hours ago.

“You surely aren’t leaving now, are you?” A smooth voice came from behind Amelia.

She turned around to lock eyes with the perfect stranger. His hair was still perfectly coiffed, despite the late hour, and his jaw and nose were very sharp. His handsomeness had a sort of harshness to it.

“That was my plan. It’s late, and I think I’m getting blisters on my feet,” Amelia said ruefully.

“Could I tempt you with one last dance before you go?” He smirked.

She grinned. “I think you could if you tell me your name.”

“Oh, but where’s the fun in that?” He held out his hand to Amelia. “I’m whoever you need me to be.”

Amelia knew he was right. Elliot. Hudson. Christopher. John. What did it matter? She took his hand and let him guide her back with all of the other dancers. It seemed as though there were more people dancing there than at any other time of the night.

The man rested one hand on Amelia’s waist, and the other was locked firmly with her hand. He was by far the best dancer out of everyone at the ball.

The orchestra was playing another beautiful waltz, and Amelia thought she recognized it. Perhaps they had played it earlier.

Unexpectedly, the man she was dancing with removed his hand from her waist and made her spin. She almost lost her balance and was grateful that her ankles didn’t give in. Amelia almost laughed, although she wasn’t sure why. She nearly crashed into a nearby couple, but her partner pulled her back into him at the last moment.

“Are you alright?” He laughed.

“I’m fine, I just wasn’t expecting that,” admitted Amelia, feeling a little shaky.

“Sorry, I’ll give you notice next time. I just wanted to give the whole ‘spontaneous’ thing a try.”

It felt as though the music was getting faster. Amelia could no longer recognize the tune. Her feet ached but she felt like she was finally ‘getting’ the waltz. She felt free and alive and absolutely exhausted at the same time. This was the moment she’s waited for her entire life.

“Alright, are you ready to spin again?” the dark stranger asked.

“Why not?” Amelia gave in, letting herself be at the complete mercy to her dance partner. He spun her around faster than the first time. Her surroundings blurred together and the colors of the women’s gowns whipped past her eyes. The only thing keeping her from falling was the strong hand that gradually guided her back into him. She and him were dancing in the dead center of the ballroom. Anyone observing them would see a carefree couple in love.

He drew Amelia back in and his hand was at her waist once again, but they continued to spin. Amelia felt her heel give out, causing her to roll her ankle. She cried out in pain, and her shoe fell off. They kept spinning. It was as though he was more holding her in a standing position and keeping her from falling than he was guiding her.

“Stop. I- my ankle…”  Amelia felt as though she was going to throw up. Each time her injured foot pounded against the shiny marble floor felt like a gunshot in time to the music.

“The song is almost over, just enjoy yourself,” he said nonchalantly. They stopped spinning and were waltzing once again.

His movements felt more rigid, almost as though he was a cage rather than a person. Amelia knew that if she let go of him, she would collapse. Her head was spinning one way while he spun her body in the other direction. She closed her eyes.

The music continued to get louder and faster, and so they danced faster. Amelia’s feet tangled around each other and her body violently jerked away from her partner. Her remaining shoe caught on the edge of her gown, and she heard the rip of fabric.

For a split second, she felt free. Then she realized she was falling, and it was almost as though everything was in slow motion. She didn’t stop spinning until she hit the ground. Amelia crashed to the floor, feeling a sharp pain in her shoulder.

She was so dizzy that she could barely process anything in her field of vision, but she could make out the outline of someone amidst the dancers, walking away. Her partner disappeared into the crowd.

The ball went on. No one noticed a thing.

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Lin Li Oechsle

Lover of stories