Heels, flashing at silver speed, step to the beat of a brassy swing band. It seems effortless. A shoulder shrug here, a dip of the hips as she circles in a tight twirl, sliding under her partner’s arm. She vamps, he poses. Their faces are flushed with exertion. The music, a seductive lover, gets what it wants. He smiles and smirks and waves his glad hand in a shimmy. She moves away and rounds back, moves away and rounds back. They say nothing. There’s no need. Everything is there in the rhythm, in the moves, in the love of dance.
It’s an old chair. A well used chair. One that has seated its share of guests and heard its quota of secrets and meted out a good measure of comfort. The chair sat in the nursery for decades, making a cushy seat for the nursemaid when she wasn’t walking the floor with a colicky baby. After the nursery became a study, the chair had a grand refurbishing in burgundy velvet. It sat under a bright lamp, digesting scholarly papers while its occupant snored. In the attic now, a mouse has made a nest in the seat. Time to reclaim it.
In grade school, we played out of boredom, shooting spitballs at the ceiling from straws. A sodden mess, the glop hit tables, never lights. I was the tallest.
I’m a long sip now, a Margarita. Tall as most college guys. My superpower is passing. As in basketball scholarship. Now that I’ve learned chess, nerds get nervous. I trot out opening gambits, spiking pieces across the board at lightening speed. Checkmate.
They call me “Show-off.” I say, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did backwards, wearing high heels. She didn’t make as much, though.”
I wear flats. I dance straight ahead.
Dark clouds drift to the west, bearing a load of rain drops on the wind. There was a storm earlier. The water pounded the bay in sheets, splashing and sparkling against the gulf, moving in a quiet pattern of ripples. Light and dark shadows reflected across the shallow bottom of a sandy shoal. While it rained, the birds were quiet, the trees were still, it seemed as if the whole of nature’s shop had closed up to watch for the rainbow. When the sky cleared, an osprey was the first one out, soaring and diving, making up for lost time.
Photo credit: Peter B. Kessler
The latticed wings resembled a ladder. Like a red-orange crayon they drew a line in the sky, a purposeful gash that attracted attention to the one broken stem in a field of reeds where it landed. The dragonfly held its position the way that top predators dominate a food chain. I snapped one picture after another, directing the lens towards its complex eyes. Imagine one insect seen through the lens of a camera and hundreds of moving human beings seen through a multifaceted instrument like the one the dragonfly projects from the slim taper of its body. Would you stay?
My grandfather hijacks every conversation. Maybe World War II was the biggest thing that happened to him. The last time I wanted to borrow money, he told me that when he was nineteen his ship sunk in the Mediterranean. The water was red with blood. Many people were killed. I always thought that he exaggerated, but now I’ve read about that battle. I’m nineteen and I think, maybe if I’d been there, I’d have to keep telling that story about people I’d saved. Swimming, hypothermia, explosions, smoke. Video games, but real. Survivor’s guilt on steroids. Maybe he’s always had P.T.S.D.