In the dance hall he takes Helen into his arms, her hair smelling of apricots, soft against his cheek. Such sweet grey eyes, they make his wits quicken and sharpen like morning frost. He knows he should mention that the top button of her cotton print dress is undone but sneaks a peek instead, humming into her hair as they dance. The lights come up. That’s a shame. He prefers the lights dimmed, low and gentle.
Feet trot on tiles. Heels click out of time. The mashed potato, the shag, he knows all the dances, wants to do each with Helen but she murmurs his name and adds ‘you’ll have to leave.’ Grey eyes turn stern blue, icy not sweet. ‘I’m sorry,’ she says to the people watching. ‘This gentleman is known to us.’ He blinks. He’s not in the dance hall anymore and this mardy cold woman, she is not Helen.
He is marched out of the supermarket, but pushes an apricot into his pocket first. Walk it off, he’s told.
What, walk off the apricot? He slouches, legs as heavy as wet sand but in his head he waltzes home, both feet in a percussive shuffle, arms full of warm, the stolen fruit bumping against his hip.
Previously Published in Spontaneity
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