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She Believed in Dancing

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The darkness pressed in, and then she heard it. A loud plop followed by a quiet splatter. And then another, and another, until the plops and splatters meshed into a symphony of rhythm, growing louder and louder. She had been waiting. Finally, the rain had come.

She closed her eyes and felt the pounding of the rain within her. Slowly she sat up. The time was anonymous, too late for clocks. She still had her jeans on. They were coarse, like burlap.

She hoped that if she walked on tiptoe no one would hear her; that they would let her be. The old floppy wool socks made sneaking around difficult. They were three sizes too big, but perfect all the same.

At the bottom of the stairs she breathed in. Relaxing, she listened to the drumming of the rain on the tin roof. She opened the door and walked out onto the stoop. The world was black and smelled of fish, as though the salty ocean was visiting Missouri.

Sitting on the concrete stoop she pulled off the old wool socks. Carefully she rolled them into a ball and placed them at her side. She breathed, deeply, so that the cool night-time air washed over her, soothing her. She felt her stomach expand as she breathed in. The concrete was rough under her feet.

She stood up slowly. A streak of lightning illuminated the sky, lighting the rolling expanse of brown fields. And then there was darkness again, and the pounding of the rain, the drumming. She began to walk, to walk into the field, slowly at first. The mud squelched in between her toes, soothing her calloused feet, gushing, beautifully, rhythmically. Faster, she walked, the rain, caressing her back, faster, until she was running. Running, until she was dancing. Lightning pierced the sky and the thunder boomed. And she was twirling, spinning, moving. Tears mixed with the rain, rain with tears, all of it drenching her, cleansing her as she pirouetted to the music of the storm.

She could feel the big, warm hands: thick, calloused and full of love. She could feel them moving her gracefully along the kitchen floor. Twirling her, lifting her. The deep mellow voice of Louis Armstrong floated through the aromatic air. Air that smelled of roast chicken and parsnips. The warm hands picked her up, and she was flying.

The wet earth oozed through her toes, consuming them. She wanted to become one with the mud, to be a part of the earth. She lay down on the ground, sinking into the saturated field. “I am the Virtruvian Woman,” she thought as she spread her arms and legs into a star-like position. The rain pounded.

The rays of the sun peeked out from the horizon turning the corn a strange shade of purple. They stood together, two trees in the big field, feet planted in the earth, and watched as the sun slowly set. He leaned down and picked up a handful of dry earth and let it fall through his strong fingers. The red dust blew in the gentle breeze. His worried eyes took in the land. Silently he put his hand on her shoulder. “When God cries, we will dance in his tears,” he said. She nodded her promise.
Her shirt and jeans were plastered to her body, covered in rain and dirt. She felt organic, natural. She dug her fingers into the mud and picked up a handful of wet earth and placed it upon her stomach. She took another handful, and then another, covering the front of her shirt.

The sun beat down on her back and a drop of sweat rolled down her brow. She stood, stoically, listening to the chanting of the Hebrew. The relatives rocked, moaning, tears streaming down their cheeks. The wind whistled and a lone bird soared overhead. She followed the winged beast as it circled and circled over the open grave. The bird was getting closer and closer. She wanted to grab onto it, to hold on, to fly away.

And then she was being called upon to cover the coffin. To take a handful of dirt and to throw it into the deep pit. She reached down and grabbed a handful of the dry, red earth. She held it tightly, squeezing it into a solid form. She flexed her wrist, holding the ball of earth tighter and tighter until the world went black and her knees buckled beneath her.

She looked up at the heavens. The rain pounded down at her, and the blackness pressed at her chest. She felt empty. She yearned for the big, warm hands cracked from long hours in the field. She longed for their waltzes in the kitchen that smelled of home. But they were long gone, surrendered to the hot sun, the deep grave, and the circling vulture.
Instead she got up and began to twirl, to spin, to dance. He was present; in the wet earth and rain that came three weeks too late. Later, she would put her muddy feet into his oversized wool socks and she would cry. Now, it was God’s turn to grieve.





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