a familiar dance

by Teresa Finney

“Remember that time I told you I don’t get depressed?” I poured myself more coffee and looked around the room.
The Christmas tree in one corner, a man in the other.

“Yeah,” he said looking up at me.

“That was a lie. I’m a writer. Of course we get depressed.” He flicked his cigarette ashes into my “Keep Santa Cruz Weird” ash tray. He chuckled.

“You wear your moods on your sleeve.”

“And?”

“And I already knew that about you. You aren’t a hard person to read.” I felt my face get hot. “You look like you wanna punch me.”

“I do.”

He chuckled, again, then stood up. His cigarette was still lit. The Christmas tree, which we purchase at Duane Reade on 145th St, then lugged home six blocks, stood tall and proud. A symbol of the second chance we had granted ourselves.

He walked over to me and tucked my hair behind my ear. By this point “I love you” had become common place. As casual as “I’ll do the dishes tonight.” As natural as brushing your teeth. Tonight, when he told me he loved me, it illuminated the room. I feared what that meant, if anything and I cussed myself out in my mind for trying to analyze when he was trying, with every breath in him, to help me remember.

He wrapped his arms around me. The record we’d been playing finished, now I could only hear breathing. Once he said to me “You deserve to be worshipped. Like Cleopatra”, and I rolled my eyes and laughed out loud. There is a dance I do when I fall in love. Two steps forward, ninety steps back. I stumble, unsure and wobbly on legs that have forgotten.
I wanted him and I was afraid to. I annoyed myself with my love for him, and he was all I wanted in that moment and one thousand others.

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