This Lullaby

Author: P Hana

Page 16

   

“Believe what?” Jess asked, picking up her fork. “Man, this smells great. ”

“The band-” I began, but that was as far as I got before Jennifer Anne appeared beside me, Chris in tow.

“Mom’s asking for you,” Chris said.

“What?”

“You’re supposed to be dancing,” Jennifer Anne, queen of etiquette, informed me, gently nudging me out of my seat. “The rest of the wedding party is already up there.”

“Oh, come on,” I said, looking at the dance floor, where of course my mother was now staring right at me, smiling beatifi cally and waggling her fingers in that come-here-now kind of way. So I grabbed Lissa up with one arm-damned if I was going out there alone-and dragged her with me, through the maze of tables, and into the crowd.

“I don’t feel like dancing,” she sniffled.

“Neither do I,” I snapped.

“Oh, Remy, Lissa!” my mother shrieked as we came closer, reaching out her arms to pull us both in close. Her skin was warm, the fabric of her dress slippery and smooth as she brushed against me. “Isn’t this just so fun?”

We were right in the middle of the crowd, people dancing all around us. The band segued cleanly into “Shout,” accompanied by a whoop from someone behind me. Don, who had been dipping my mother wildly, now grabbed my arm and spun me out, hurling me into a couple doing the bump. I almost felt my arm disconnect from my body before he yanked me back, gyrating his pelvis wildly.

“Oh, Lord,” Lissa said from behind me, having seen this. But then I was flying out again, this time in the opposite direction. Don danced with such vigor I feared for the rest of us. I kept trying to send him back to my mother, but she was distracted dancing with one of Don’s little nephews.

“Help me,” I hissed at Lissa as I whizzed past her, Don’s hand still clamping my wrist. Then he pulled me close for a weird, jitterbug kind of hopping that made my teeth knock together, but not enough to distract me from seeing Chloe, who was standing off to the side of the dance floor, laughing hysterically.

“You’re a great dancer!” Don said, pulling me in close and dipping me wildly. I was sure my cleavage would bust out of my dress-the fittings, while many, had not quite done the trick-but then he pulled me back up, lickety-split, and I got a mean head rush. “I love to dance,” Don yelled at me, throwing me out into another spin. “I don’t get to do it enough!”

“I think you do,” I grumbled, as the song finally began to wind down.

“What’s that?” he said, cupping his hand over his ear.

“I said,” I told him, “that you really can move.”

He laughed, wiping his face. “You too,” he said, as the band finished up with a crashing of cymbals. “You too.”

I escaped as everyone was applauding, pushing my way to the bar, where my brother was standing nibbling on a piece of bread, alone for once.

“What was that?” he said, laughing. “God, it looked like some wild tribal ritual.”

“Shut up,” I said.

“And now, folks,” I heard Dexter say from the stage as the lights dimmed a bit, “for your listening pleasure… a little slow song.”

The opening strains of “Our Love Is Here to Stay” began, a bit clumsily, and people who’d been avoiding the dance floor during the faster numbers started getting up from their chairs and pairing off. Jennifer Anne appeared next to me, smelling of hand soap, and slid her fingers over Chris’s, dislodging the bread he was holding.

“Come on,” she murmured, tactfully dropping the bread onto a nearby table. Whatever I felt for her personally, I had to admire her technique. Nothing stopped this girl. “Let’s dance.”

“Absolutely,” Chris agreed, and wiped his mouth as he followed her, glancing back at me as they reached the floor. “You okay?”

I nodded. “Fine,” I said. The room had grown quieter as the music did, people’s voices more hushed as they moved together, cheek to cheek. Onstage, Dexter sang on while the keyboardist looked bored, glancing at his watch. I could relate.

What was it about slow dancing, anyway? Even in junior high I’d hated the moment the music stalled, screeching to a halt so that someone could press their sweaty body to yours. At least with real dancing you weren’t trapped, forced to rock back and forth with a total stranger who now, simply because of proximity, felt it was perfectly all right to grab your ass and anything else within reach. What a bunch of crap.

And it was crap. Totally. Because all slow dancing was really only about getting close to someone you wanted close or being forced to be close to someone you wished was far, far away. Okay, so my brother and Jennifer Anne looked totally smitten, and yeah, okay, the words to the song were nice and romantic. I mean, it wasn’t a bad song or anything. It just wasn’t my thing.

I grabbed a glass of champagne off a passing tray, taking a sip and wincing as the bubbles worked their way up my nose. I was fighting off a coughing fit when I felt someone come up beside me. I glanced over to see a girl who worked with Don-her name was Marty, or Patty, something with a middle t. She had long, permed hair, big bangs, and was wearing too much perfume. She smiled at me.

“I love this song,” she said, taking a sip of her drink and sighing. “Don’t you?”

I shrugged. “I guess,” I said as Dexter leaned into the microphone, closing his eyes.

“They look so happy,” she went on, and I followed her gaze to my mother and Don, who were laughing and doing dips as the song wound down. She sniffled, and I realized she was near tears. How weird that weddings do that to some people. “He’s really happy, isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” I said, “he is.”

She wiped her eyes, then waved her hand at me apologetically, shaking her head. “Oh, dear,” she said. “forgive me. I just-”

“I know,” I said, if only to save her from whatever she was about to say. I’d had all the sentimental stuff I could handle for one day.

Finally the last verse came to an end. Marty/Patty took a deep breath, blinking as the lights came up again. Under closer scrutiny I could see she was actually crying: red eyes, face red, the whole deal. Her mascara, which I could not help but notice was applied a bit too plentifully, was beginning to streak.

“I should…” she said shakily, touching her face. “I need to freshen up.”

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