Saturday, 27 June 2015

'The Dancing Girl' by Paul Heatley

I stand in shadows at my bedroom window, and I watch. There is a girl in the building opposite. She leaves her curtains open and she dances in the middle of her front room, her bare feet apart, her eyes closed, her arms wrapped around herself as she sways slowly from side to side as if embraced by an invisible lover. I don’t know what music she listens to though I often wonder. Her hair is brown and cut below her ears, and she wears a cream jumper and a black skirt that ends at her knees. Always she wears these clothes, a uniform, as if she cannot dance in anything else. Her walls are bare and the room is minimally furnished, the sofa and chairs arranged around the space in the centre where she dances, like she’s expecting an audience. 

Sometimes we pass each other on the street. These moments are not manufactured. Sometimes we will be in the same caf√© or the same coffee shop, and she will order drinks with soy instead of milk. Sometimes I will try to catch her eye, to smile at her, but she never looks my way. 

But I watch her dancing, night after night, and when she’s not there I wonder where she is, and in these lonely moments I understand that I know nothing about her, not even her name. 

Tonight, she is there. She dances. I turn on the light, clear a space in my room, and take my place in the middle of the floor. I don’t put on any music. Just silence. I close my eyes and I begin to sway, and I imagine I am the one holding her, dancing with her. When I open my eyes, her curtains are closed. 

First published by Spelk Fiction

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