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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Music · #2262789
Prompt: Music of the past
“Ouch!” Gwen’s face contorted in agony.

I jumped back, heat radiating over my frustrated cheeks. “Oh! I’m so sorry, Gwen!"

Gwen grimaced as she raised her leg, her fingers prying off the ballet flat to rub feeling back into her wriggling toes. “I know you didn’t mean to step on my toes,” she sighed. “It’s just that it’s the third time this class…”

My cheeks burned. I felt as if someone had stuffed a lit match into each side of my mouth. “Maybe you should bring some steel-toed shoes?” I knew it wasn’t funny, but I said it anyway. I couldn’t come up with anything better, and if I were clumsy, I should at least try to be funny as well. Right?

The corners of her lips twitched into a perfunctory smile⁠—one that didn’t reach her eyes. “Yeah.” She even managed a forced chuckle at the end. The effort was more than I deserved.

The instructor of the dance class, a tall, slender woman, strode purposefully toward us, her stern face seeming more severe than usual due to the high arch of her plucked brow. She looked me up and down before doing the same to Gwen.

“Come here,” she snapped, spinning swiftly but gracefully on her 3-inch stiletto heel. I gaped in amazement. I couldn’t have executed that elegant maneuver in sneakers, let alone shoes like that. Maybe I was truly hopeless at this dancing thing.

She swept forward, gliding out of the room and into the next. Gwen and I hurried to follow her. She spun on her heel once more with the same militaristic precision, her eyes flashing as they met mine. “Do you like swing?”

I scratched my head, wondering why she would ask about something I hadn’t done since grade school recess. I shrugged, however, and not wanting to be rude, I answered the odd question. “Sure, I like swings, I guess. Haven’t done it since I was a kid on the playground, but…”

She rolled her eyes. “Not swings. Swing! The style of dance to big band music you were just attempting to perform?”

“Oh, right!” How could I have been so stupid! My blush, which had been fading, heated my cheeks with renewed vigor. Would the embarrassments of this night never end? “It’s, um, okay. I guess.”

Gwen laid at hand on my shoulder. “He hates it.”

I cast her a meaningful glance, doing my best to ask, nonverbally, “Why did you just say that?!”

Gwen didn’t seem to notice. She never seemed to notice when I gave her disapproving looks. I must not be good at those, either. I was beginning to wonder if there was anything I was good at.

The instructor tapped an index finger against her lips thoughtfully. “I thought as much.”

The middle-aged woman began to slowly circle me, gliding around my rigid form with long, graceful strides as her dark eyes sized me up. Her finger continued to tap at her pursed lips for a moment more until she abruptly stopped.

“What kind of music do you like, Mr. Weaver?”

Oh goody. I wasn’t very typical of twentysomethings in terms of my musical tastes. Just what I needed⁠—more humiliation.

I hesitated until, finally, Gwen nudged me with an elbow.

“I, um, like classical.”

The instructor’s arched eyebrow rose still higher. “You do?!”

Gwen shot me a surprised look as well.

I nodded, praying the awkwardness of this infernal dance class would end before I lost every last ounce of my dignity. This had been the worst date idea I’d ever come up with in my entire life. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gwen never wanted to see me again after this.

From out of one hidden pocket in her dress, the instructor drew a small bluetooth speaker. From the other, her phone. With a sly smile, she made a few swipes on the phone before it disappeared once again into the folds of her long dress. A moment later, The Blue Danube began to play.

It was Strauss! I loved Strauss!

My head began to bob as the familiar swell of strings arose. I smiled as the winds answered with four staccato notes.

As the music settled into the lyrical flow of the river for which it was named, I closed my eyes, feeling my hips begin to sway to its ¾ time. For a moment, I simply lost myself in the pleasure of the piece.

When they reopened, I caught sight of the instructor shooting Gwen a knowing look. My head swiveled from side to side as I cast curious eyes at each woman in turn.

With mischievous eyes, the instructor positioned us, pressing our hands together. “Now step to the beat of the music. A large first step, followed by two small ones.”

She gave me an encouraging shove, and I stumbled forward, following my gaffe with two small, steadying steps.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together as I managed to string together a single measure of the waltz by complete accident.

“Again!” she cried, giving me another shove.

I stumbled forward a second time, catching myself once more with two small steps. I managed to continue the motion this time. Step-step-step. Step-step-step. One measure. Then two. I began to feel the rhythm of the expressive music, my taut body beginning to relax as I led Gwen about the room.

After a few minutes of actual, honest-to-God dancing, I felt like cheering. I could do this! Heck, I was doing this!

Gently, Gwen lay her head on my shoulder, our bodies twirling over the dance floor as one. A thrill went through my heart as I felt her soft breath on my neck.

When the music finally ended, my eyes found those of my instructor. The woman’s stern countenance had melted away, replaced by twinkling eyes and a broad smile.

I turned my gaze to Gwen as she pulled back to gaze up at me with adoring eyes. “Want to try another walz?”

She nodded eagerly, and I grinned. I revised my previous assessment of the night’s activity.

Best. Date. Ever.

Contest: Writer’s Cramp (Winner)
Prompt: Music of the past
1,000 words
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