August 18, 2012
An outstretched hand is a powerful symbol of openness and acceptance. It was the last dance of homecoming night. Everyone was exhausted, drenched with sweat, and most had ditched their dates. Myself, I had been dancing with a group of friends the whole time, tethered to them by a freshman’s promise to use the buddy system. But finally, in the haze of that final slow dance, I escaped the shackles.

I saw the face of a friend wandering conspicuously alone through the crowd of swaying couples. My hand seemed to autonomously extend toward her, as if breaking an intangible wall to invite her into my being. She delicately took my hand in hers; glancing over her, she was like a fairy: petite and lithe with soft, pale skin, supple lips, tendrils of flame-red hair falling about her collarbones. Like a porcelain doll sparked to life, a powerful force seemed to burn within her and emanate outward, surrounding her in a sugarplum aura that twinkled in her eyes and burst forth in her laugh and smile. Without hesitation, she pulled my body close to hers and I awkwardly shifted into a comfortable position. She held me close; her body flush against mine so I could rest my head on her shoulder.

That blazing red hair seemed to burn holes through my cheeks, the heat of the moment encapsulated in them, and into my heart, which bounced and shuddered as she wrapped her arms loosely around me. We not so much danced together as wavered gently to the song, the embrace more precious than the dance. I dared not look into her bright, sad eyes, afraid of the truth mine would tell as I looked back, the truth of a love born in an instant of perfect beauty. Perhaps I should have let that truth be told. Sometimes hope burns more than rejection.

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