Flash Fiction #3 ~ The Dance

Jaime couldn’t wait to get home and go to sleep. She wasn’t tired, unfortunately, but that didn’t stop her from hearing things. She could have sworn a voice had cussed someone out quietly during her math lecture, but Rebecca claimed she didn’t hear anything. At lunch she’d heard oldie’s music clash with the contemporary pop that the dining hall was blasting through the speakers. Then on her way to women’s glee club she heard a man’s voice urgently pleading with someone named Lily, though no matter how many times she looked behind her she saw no one close enough to hear them as clearly as she did.

Things were a bit hazy in glee rehearsal. She was able to follow along and sing the right words and notes, but she had a weird feeling of déjà vu. Well, something a bit different, like she was remembering a rehearsal that was so similar to this one yet was dissonant enough to leave her with a headache, like the pitches of the memory and reality were a half step away from each other.

She was aware of Natalie asking if she was sick. Nearly half of glee club was, this time of year. Jaime shrugged.

When the choir turned to the piece Les Sirénes, Jaime stared at the first page. They’d sung it multiple times already, but the page seemed to be colored differently. Or, maybe the ink was a little lighter. Whatever it was, she was seeing it differently. Not like she was seeing it for the first time, more like she was finally seeing it the way it was meant to be seen.

When she and the other soprano two’s came in on their line, Jaime sang with renewed energy. The song had always grated against her ears, the strange chords and seemingly nonsensical melodic lines frustrating her, but this time the song really fell into place. Instead of air, she breathed in the music, and breathed out the siren’s call. When it came to the solo in the center of the piece, she felt the rest of the choir slip away and leave room for her to fill the room with her song. It wasn’t until she was shaken back into reality that she realized the entire choir had stopped singing and was staring at her.

“Is there something you want to tell us?” Natalie asked, arms crossed. Jaime studied the faces around the room. They seemed out of focus, but from what she could see they were not happy.

“What?” Jaime clutched her music.

“Why are you singing Nikita’s solo?”

Jaime frowned at her. “Her solo? You mean, my solo?”

No, not my solo. Nikita’s solo. She remembered that now, but it still seemed wrong. The director had picked Nikita for the part, she remembered this, but somehow she knew that the part was meant for her. She realized that she should be more frustrated, or upset, or something like that, but all she felt was confusion.

Natalie was speaking again (she knew this because her lips were moving) but all Jaime heard was a fit of giggles that erupted around her. She looked at the other girls standing next to her but they were still staring at her silently. As she watched, though, she thought she could see their faces change, replaced by completely different people, but still familiar somehow, maybe even more familiar. They were the ones who were giggling, and not at her. With her.

“Excuse me,” Jaime sighed to no one in particular before floating down the aisle towards the doors. She felt like muscle memory was taking over, carrying her through the doors and into the hallway. She turned to see a girl (Deborah, her name is Deborah, of course!) smiling and waving goodbye. “Good luck!” Deborah called before walking away, her footsteps making no sound, her figure fading into the shadows.

As she walked down the hall, Jaime began to feel giddy. She was anxious about something, but was sure it would end well. When she pushed open the doors to the outside and took a step out, she looked to her left, where she knew he would be.

“Bobby.”

The young man stood by the clock tower, wearing his stupid grin and his leather jacket. As she watched, he started towards her and took the jacket off, throwing it over one shoulder.

“How was practice tonight?”

She bit her bottom lip and smirked at him. “Fantastic. I did wonderfully on my solo, wish you could have been there to hear it.”

Bobby put a hand on the side of her face and stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I’m coming to the concert, babe, I’ll hear it then.”

Strange, all he was wearing was a plain T-shirt now. How could he stand to be out in the middle of winter without his jacket on? “Aren’t you cold?” she asked.

He let out a breathy laugh in response. “Cold? It’s the warmest day of the year, Lily. Even for April.”

“April?” She looked around. It was December, there were snow banks around her. At least, there should be. She’d jumped into one earlier that day. But now, there were none to be found. In fact, as she watched, the trees sprouted leaves and the entire block looked more alive. She became uncomfortably aware of the coat on her shoulders, its warmth causing her to break out into a sweat.

“Lily?”

Lily looked back at Bobby. “Yes. I’m here.” She dropped the coat, and the sweater underneath that, until she was wearing only her short-sleeved shirt and jeans. Even the jeans seemed too warm now. Without a second thought, she removed her shoes, socks, and jeans until she stood on the cement in her shirt and underwear. Smirking, she asked, “Wanna dance?”

Sizing her up, Bobby laughed. “Here?”

“No, in the plaza, right in the middle.” Lily grabbed his hand and, laughing, dragged him down the sidewalk and across the street. As she ran, she saw the grass on the lawns wriggle and grow, fireflies dancing in the dark. She stopped in the dead center of the crisscross network of sidewalks and turned to face her boyfriend.

Bobby hesitated. “You’re not still upset at me? For earlier, I mean.”

“Why should I be?” Lily placed her hands on Bobby’s chest and let her fingers walk up his body until she was cupping his face. “That was last week. The past should stay in the past, don’t you think?”

He slowly broke into a grin. “Yes. I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

Lily slowly pressed her lips to his. They were soft, familiar. She could feel his quickening heartbeat against her chest. Or was that her own?

They began swaying to a slow rhythm. Lily thought she heard music whispering through the trees, but even if she was just imagining it, she knew that she and Bobby both slow-danced to the same song, completely in sync. She rested her head against Bobby’s chest and sighed. “I could dance with you forever.”

Bobby gently kissed the top of her head. “I know.”

. . . . .

A student found Jaime’s body early the next morning. She was lying in the middle of the sidewalk covered with the inches of snow that had fallen the night before. That section of campus was quickly cordoned off, and when the police came, they suspected that cause of death was hypothermia. The poor girl wasn’t even wearing any winter clothes, stripped down to a short-sleeved shirt and her underwear. One police officer suspected drugs were involved, and the others concurred, but nothing would be proven until the body was examined.

An unfortunate accident. That’s what this death was. It most certainly didn’t have anything to do with the deaths of Lily and Bobby decades ago. That didn’t even cross anyone’s mind. Sure, Jaime had the same color hair, same eyes, similar weight and build as Lily. In women’s glee club she sat only a few seats over from where Lily had sat when she was a part of the club. Of course, no one made that connection. And no one thought that an unfortunate accident could have anything to do with a murder-suicide. That was an open and shut case from years ago. Lily had suspected that Bobby had cheated on her, though he actually hadn’t, and never would. During a heat wave near the end of April, Lily had taken him to the middle of the plaza, pretending to want to dance, then shot and killed him before shooting herself. Both were dead before anyone found them.

It was a shame that Bobby never did get his dance with the love of his life. And, of course, the presence of a small, wilting lily next to Jaime’s body was a pure coincidence.

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