by Heidi Hodges
It was Friday night and Natalie’s husband stayed home with their children while she went out with a couple of her old friends from college. They went to a bar on the river with outdoor seating and dancing.
There were four of them all together, but Natalie was the only one yet married. Soon enough, after they all caught up with one another, the others were off talking and dancing with men, and Natalie was left alone.
She walked up to the bar and bought a drink. Seltzer with a splash of cranberry and a twist of lime. A man walked up beside her and they started chatting. He was nice and funny, just like Natalie. It wasn’t long before he noticed the ring on the third finger of her left hand. The plain silver band contrasted starkly with her dark skin.
“Oh, you’re married?” He asked.
“Yes,” Natalie said.
He bent his head down gravely, “Is it serious?”
Natalie couldn’t help herself and laughter bubbled up and out. “Would you like to dance?” She asked the man, Dustin.
“Uh… sure,” he said. He put his glass down on the bar and she did the same.
They walked to the open area next to the band. The band played jazz that warmed the cool air off the river, jazz as smooth as the wooden boards beneath their feet, jazz as bubbly as Natalie’s laughter.
They held hands and kicked and twisted. Dustin couldn’t remember the last time he danced with anyone like that. Maybe never.
“You’re good,” he said.
“Hmm?” she looked as him again. Most of the time, her head was lost in the music and the movement.
“Do you like to dance?”
“Oh, I love it,” she said.
“I can tell.”
“Almost as much as I love my husband.”
Dustin’s smile faltered for only a moment. Natalie didn’t see it because she had dipped her head back and around.
They danced a while longer, to a song even faster than the one before.
“Then why are you here dancing with me?” Dustin asked.
Natalie did a move that seemed almost a shrug. “You’re here and you’re fun.”
He seemed to be waiting for more.
“That’s it,” she said.
Dustin had never encountered a woman such as this before. She was charming and he was charmed. He had gone out for beers and distraction and stumbled upon magic. He knew that magic and he missed it.
The night couldn’t last forever. Natalie’s friends found her so they could all walk back to their cars together. Natalie laughed at the tales her friends recounted as they took out their keys in the parking garage.
She put her high-heeled shoes on the passenger seat and drove home barefoot. She walked still barefoot up the front path to her house.
Her husband loved tasting the lime on her breath when she got home, the children fast asleep. They danced in the living room, after she left her shoes on the floor by the couch. They danced down the hallway to their bedroom, where they danced some more, the sheets dancing above them.
Dustin had had a few beers, but drove home anyway. He was used to it. He was, however, more focused than even he expected. He parked in the street in front of his house and slipped his wedding ring back on as he walked to the door. He was used to that, too. But he wasn’t used to this feeling of floating.
He floated in the door, kissed his wife who was barely awake on the couch, a magazine open on her chest.
“What was that for?” She asked, suspicious.
“Oh, did you want to sleep on the couch all night?” He asked lightly, with a smile.
“No…” His wife said. She had gotten used to a nudge.
He took her hand and he pulled her close.
“You seem… happy,” she said.
“I am happy.”
“I am happy with you,” he kissed her. “You make me happy. You’ve made me happy for a long time.” He had almost forgotten.
He kissed her again and the heaviness of her sleep lifted away from her. They floated up the stairs, floated into their bedroom, and floated some more, the sheets floating above them.