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Something Wicked, Something Sweet

By , Marysville, OH
It hadn’t even grown dark yet, but the mood of the building—that laughter and the squeals of excitement as a friend entered another’s line of sight—had enticed everyone. I stood with a big, dopey grin on my face as mothers insisted on pictures. Despite the fact that I hated pictures, I smiled and let them snap photo after photo. My happiness was like a liquid—gold and warm—bleeding all over, staining everything. And I didn’t care. I would let nothing get in the way of this feeling; the feeling of being light and bubbly.

I could hear it; the music pulsing through my veins, the voices that were like crashing tidal waves. I tugged at the hem of my dress, uncomfortable and self conscious of the many eyes that grazed over me with disinterest. The lights flickered from green to blue, and I felt like I was being thrown into the sea, water filling my lungs.
I couldn’t breathe.
He was dancing just a couple of feet away. No matter how far I tried to get from him, he always managed to stay so close. Like something inside had him tied around my ankle. Ducking my head, I weaved through the bodies, surprising myself with the grace in which I moved. It was like I had wings. My friends were on the other side of the room, chatting comfortably, laughing freely. The lights glinted off of their shining eyes.
Something touched my foot, and I jumped back, holding in a girlish squeal of terror. A rose petal, I realized. One of mine. My corsage had wilted and was anything but pretty anymore. The once white and perky roses were now dead things resting on my wrist. Every time I watched a petal drop, I swore I could feel something inside of me being cut. I just wasn’t sure if it was something I didn’t need, or something I did.
“Are you okay?” A friend asked as I approached their table.
I nodded, lying to both myself and them.
He appeared then, that boy I’d been so aware of all night. He always had had a sense of pride and authority about him, and it pressed down on me like a boulder now. Then he smiled at us—at me, “Do you want to dance?” Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” was playing, a song I hated more than I let on.
You can do this, I told myself. It ended two months ago, and we’re friends. What could one slow dance hurt? We’re friends. “Sure,” I said, smiling. He took my hand, and led me off to the side. I glanced over my shoulder, and saw my friends watching us intently; the look in their eyes was like looking into a large, vicious machine: cold. I almost felt better.
I gingerly laid my arms on his shoulders, ready to run if I needed to. He touched my waist, a casual gesture he’d been used to up until recently, and together we swayed back and forth. I looked up at him, and laughed uncomfortably. “This song,” I reminisced. “Do you remember, last year, when the guys screamed it at the top of their lungs?”
He chuckled, “It was the last dance, wasn’t it?”
“I think so. I was laughing so hard, I couldn’t breathe.” We sighed as one, remembering when the days were less complicated, when we weren’t walking on broken glass. I kept my gaze level with his shoulder, only looking up at him every now and then. My palms were sweaty, and I could feel myself shaking all over. If he noticed, he didn’t show it.
Before I knew it, the song had ended. I removed my arms, and was about to leave when he surprised me with something I’d never expected him to do—especially in public: his lips brushed my cheek; just something brief and awkward, like that of two little kids trying to be grown-ups, but instead just looking silly.
I stood, frozen. My eyes burned with unshed tears and rage. How dare he? I wanted to slap him; I wanted to leave a handprint on his face. But something stopped me, and instead, I stood on my tiptoes, whispering two words to him, “I’m sorry.” Why was I sorry? For the break-up? Maybe I was sorry for him—sorry that his pride had been hurt. Either way, it didn’t matter. As soon as the words left my mouth, I was gone. Like a phantom, disappearing into the masses of bodies. As I approached my friends, I smiled.
“You okay, then?” They asked.
“Of course,” I replied. “Can we go dance now? I love this song.” I tossed my hair over my shoulders and wiggled around to the beat. I’m sure I looked like an awkward fish, but I didn’t care. Without waiting for an answer, I pulled my friends to the dance floor.
I danced that night. More than I’d ever danced in my life. And with every move I made, part of me fell to the floor, like the petals of the roses on my corsage. They fell, and I trampled all over them, with something new and light sprouting deep within me.
Closure was wicked. It stabbed at my flesh with a knife of grief, powdered with regret that ate at me like a poison. But closure was also light and sweet; closure meant the end of something, but it also meant the beginning of something new. In my case, closure meant the beginning of my independence, my freedom.
And nothing had ever tasted so good.





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