Here is a short story, loosely inspired by the song “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie.
If all the world were a stage, I preferred a behind the scenes role. Yet all eyes were fixed on me as I puzzled my way through slow dancing. I was hyper aware of his warm hand in my own and the heavy weight of my partner’s other hand on my lower back. My dance partner! A bigger commitment couldn’t be assigned. We never even had a conversation before. He only stretched one arm out towards me, and now we were in the middle of the dance floor, two guys with a crowd of eyes watching.
With his dark hair, dark eyes, and an even darker tux, I had trouble looking away. The white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the top, the tie undone but the light purple scrap of fabric hanging loosely around his neck.
“Can’t say I expected this,” I spoke. I tried to follow his lead, the motions not practiced but fluid. “This is crazy.”
“You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he muttered, hand tightening against mine briefly while he glanced toward the spectators.
“It’s just, I’m nobody. And you’re–”
“We both got invited to the same wedding,” you protested.
“And I was under the impression you were, uh that dancing with me wasn’t something you would be interested in.” I should have just said ‘straight,’ but he reminded me of a skittish animal, like he might spook and bolt. I kept talking, perhaps to soothe him, though it mortified me. “This isn’t where I expected the night to go. Me touching your arms. You have nice arms.”
“Uh, thanks.” We spun, slowly. Enough to see two girls from the wedding party gawking. “God, do they have to stare so much?”
“Don’t have to take their side.” The petulant quality to his voice seemed cute, less menacing without the usual stubble and leather jacket.
“You don’t have to tell people stuff if you aren’t ready, obviously, but. What did you think would happen?”
“I had no clue I would do this until I did. Also, I wasn’t sure you were gonna say yes.”
“You have very nice arms.”
He laughed. “You mentioned.”
We managed to dance without comment for a little while.
Close together with a stranger, someone I’d only seen from afar, it felt weird. Nice too. He smelled woodsy and like the lavender from the centerpieces. The bride’s little brother, he had stood on her side of the altar with women in identical champagne-colored dresses. The groom’s older sister stood on the groom’s side. Cobbling the honorifics together, he became the ‘man of honor,’ her the ‘best maid.’
“Why did you ask me to dance?” I wondered.
He nodded, indicating the happy bride. She picked her dress up as she spun around, showing her neon pink shoes covered with sparkles. The footwear didn’t match well with her color scheme, but I heard her thought process when getting punch. She was the bride, she could do what she wanted, and those shoes were worth clashing.
Even from here, we could hear her laugh. A bright sound as she spun again, her and the groom dancing with a group of kids. The song was slower, romantic, but that didn’t stop the kids or the happy couple.
“She’s really happy,” he noted. “Ecstatic. Annoyingly so.”
“Yeah.” He smiled, watching as her and the ring-bearer grabbed hands and jumped up and down while the groom danced with a flower girl on his shoes. “She said why are you frowning, you should feel just as good as me.”
“Can’t say no to the bride?
“Wouldn’t be smart. She told me to dance with whoever I wanted and not to waste time on anyone else. I don’t think she imagined her advice would play out like this.”
The song changed, upbeat now, and fear crossed his face briefly. The song changed abruptly, back to another slower one, the bride lowering her hand after indicating to the DJ he should change it. We had a little more time.
“Regrets?” I wondered.
“Only that any kind of preparation for whatever comes next would have been smart. But holding you and swaying? I can do that.”
“Then I guess just focus on this part?”
“I can do that too.”
We kept dancing.