The Dancer

By , Milwaukee, WI
The time right after she died was so hard. Her laugh and her smile and her face when she cried were still so fresh in my head.
It was my fault.
We walked up the stairs of a lake overview tower and looked over the edge at the yellowing sky and dark waves.
“It’s really pretty up here,” she told me.
The wind played with our hair and the waves splattered lazily onto the sand. It smelled like lake seaweed. Not a bad smell once you got used to it.
She leaned forward and took a huge breath in an attempt to calm herself.
She was crying silently; the wind could not keep up with her tears. No one could. I could never dry them fast enough. She was calm now. As if she knew something I didn’t.
She did know something, though. And I knew it too. I pretended like I didn’t as I tried to keep up with her tears. She wouldn’t wipe them away herself. Her energy, her vibrant, colorful person was dancing away onto the lake.
I could see her on the waves, walking over them effortlessly, jumping and twisting. Colors followed her feet and trailed off of her hair. Fish in the shallow water swarmed around her feet, creating the illusion that she was surrounded by diamonds as their scales threw the light.
I turned back to her body next to me.
“Are you okay?” was all I could think to say.
“No.”
“You will be.”
She leaned forward again, squinting at the girl on the waves.
“She’s getting really far away.”
“She could come back.”
“Maybe.” She said. But her face said “Impossible.”
The sun was setting and the dancing girl dove under the water, rose up, and continued to dance over the waves towards the lighthouse. The colors around her continually got brighter and brighter.
“She’s beautiful’” I said.
“Maybe.”
“So are you.”
“huh.” She had started crying again. Silently. She leaned further over the rail of the tower. Then she did something that terrified me. She swung herself over the rail and leaned forward with her hands loosely clinging to life and her toes barely helping.
I tried to move. I tried to cry out. I tried to do something. I tried not to be so useless.
But I failed. I failed her.
She let go.
It was only then that I could move.
She seemed to fall in slow motion. A cliché, but that’s how it was.
I panicked. I reached out to grab her far too late. I sprinted towards the stairs as if hoping to get to the ground before she did. I wasn’t even to the top of them by the time she hit the ground. I ran. I tripped down the last flight and half crawled, half ran to where she lay.
Her breathing was quiet. Her face was calm. She was beautiful. The wind caught up with her tears at last, but it couldn’t keep up with mine.
I strained my eyes to see across the water. I could just barely see as the girl danced up into the air, the colors now completely enveloping her figure.
And the sun slipped under the waves.
In the darkness, I watched her dance higher and higher, until she became one with the night sky.





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