Everything In Time
com·pro·mise (ˈkɒmprəˌmaɪz), n.
- a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
- an endangering; exposure to danger, suspicion, etc.: a compromise of one's integrity.
He opens the door, a crack just enough to see who it is. I stand there, hair still stringy from the rain and say I don’t love you anymore. Because loving him is a disease I needed to be cured of. Because people like us have no right to love. He lets me in. My boots make squishy noises on the doormat. The music starts to play.
When we were younger and when music was new, he asked if I knew how to dance. I shook my head. I’ll show you, he promised. He took my hand and made it hover over his shoulder. Keep it there. We mustn’t touch. His arm moved near my waist. Our palms faced each other like magnets of the same pole, an inch of space in between. When I advance, you must retreat, he began. If you advance, I retreat. We must never touch. This is how it must be if we want to keep dancing. This is how it must be for the music to play.
And so I learned to move the way he taught me. As my left leg steps forward, his right foot steps backward. Our knees moved carefully so they would not touch. We would dance for hours, my left hand longing for his right. The inches felt like miles. Each sigh seemed like an eternity. Our bodies were so close. If I tried really hard, I swore I could even hear his heartbeat. And if I breathed a certain way, I knew I could make my heart beat in sync with his.
I wanted to close the distance. Was I wrong to want more?
I became greedy. I desperately needed to touch him. I stepped towards him. He stepped back. When it was his turn to come to me, I advanced. At that moment, our bodies smacked into each other, the force strong enough to make us both fall. The music ended abruptly, the last note sounding like the pianist slammed a bunch of keys at once. With our bodies pressed together, I slithered my fingers into his right hand. My other hand squeezed his shoulder. His hand suddenly gripped my waist. I could smell the fear in his breath.
I closed my eyes and waited for him to kiss me. When I opened my eyes, he was gone. The song, his words, like an echo ringing in my ears. This is how it must be if we want to keep dancing.
The song ended. The room fell quiet. Now that it’s over, why am I the only one crying?
Sorry, I begged. I was wrong to want more. I don’t love you anymore, I said, my clothes dripping with rain water. Because I was wrong to touch you. Because it’s wrong to love you. Because I am addicted to the way we danced.
The music started playing as he let me in. The apartment smelled like dead flowers and heartbreak. Can we continue? Is it too late? My questions seemed alien. My voice didn’t sound like my own. He put his left hand near my waist. I made my right hand hover over his shoulder. Our free hands came together, the mandatory inch apart automatic. I advanced, he retreated. He pulled close, I stepped back. Those were the steps. I knew them very well. As long as I didn’t change them, he would never leave.
I knew you’d be back, he whispered into my ear. It was only a matter of time. His eyes seemed to pierce right through me. His pinky shuddered as it reached to touch mine. I fought it at first but he imposed himself. When our fingers touched, it felt like a mild current just coursed through my body. I looked at him, not understanding why he was breaking his own rules.
What’s this? I asked, my eyes fixed on our pinkies touching.
Compromise, he answered, a sly smile on his face.
We danced for hours, our bodies never tiring. If only my heart could be as willing.
Photo Credit: 141209