Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: Slot Dancing
By Pat Guy
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A muffled giggle and distant music gave the impression there was no threat. But still… <I>What’s going on?</I>
She stood there a moment listening.
She placed her purse on the counter and slipped off her shoes.
Her pulse as intense as her curiosity.
Bare feet made no sound on the cool wooden floor.
A tinkling laugh, ‘Dancing Queen’ and an “Umph.” came from behind the vintage door to the family room. The mail-slot was its most charming feature. It was a quirky decision to put inside the house but it would come in handy now.
She stood there at the door – a male voice this time. She couldn’t make out all the words because of the music but she knew her husband’s voice anywhere. “She doesn’t…” he said, and then a shuffle of feet moved his partner’s reply further away.
Joanie eased down to sit cross-legged in front of the door – she cocked her ear toward the mail-slot. Now her husband was laughing. And now she knew who the woman was – her best friend. She just talked to her that morning wanting to go to the movies…but noooo…she had other plans.
Joanie’s heart began to ache. She really couldn’t grasp what her imagination was conjuring between those two. The two she loved the most, beside her children. Joanie squelched a terrifying thought about her family’s future.
<I>It sounds like they’re dancing!</I>
She thought of all the times she tried to teach him to dance. He gave it his best but he never had the rhythm.
<I>But he sure sounds like he’s having fun now!</I>
She couldn’t stand it anymore – her heart was beating so hard! She lifted the mail-slot just a tiny-little-bit.
Two pairs of feet swooshed by and Joanie nearly dropped the slot. She wanted to cry.
“When are you going to let her know? I don’t like keeping secrets like this Tory.” said her best friend in the whole world. “I’ve got it all planned Susie…” is all she could make out between the lyrics and music.
She kept her finger poked in the slot.
The dancing stopped. The volume was turned down – ‘The Winner Takes it All’ began to play.
She still couldn’t grasp what was going on. It was beyond believing! <I>Tell me what?</I>
“Tory, help me with this, would you?” came her friend’s voice.
<I>They must be by the couch; maybe on it? No!</I> She didn’t know what to do! She didn’t want to hear anymore…but she was riveted with a morbid sense of needing to <I>know.</I>
Her chest hurt with pounding, her wrist hurt from lifting the slot, her ankles were numb pressed against the floor and her eyes burned. She didn’t realize she had been holding her breath so now her lungs hurt too.
She could leave and they would never know. But she just couldn’t. She dare not lift the slot any higher but she <I>needed</I> to hear what they were saying…only…they weren’t talking. Meryl Streep was baring her soul to Pierce Brosnan on the hill.
“Mama Mia.” She and Susie had so much fun that day! She blinked away tears.
She waited. She feared what their silence meant. <I>They just couldn’t be!</I>
A feeling of doom flowed through her whole body. It took over everything… <I>So this is what it feels like, the end of the world.</I>
She waited. She listened. The mail-slot lifted itself.
She sucked in air and choked as she crouched to the floor.
Minutes passed and she didn’t move. ‘Super Trooper’ filled the hallway. Tilting her head just so, she could glance up enough to see the slot was still opened. Embarrassed didn’t come close to how she felt. <I>I’m not the one dancing with his best friend! In his house – alone.</I>
“Joanie… Joanie.” her husband whispered.
She didn’t move.
She scooted over, up against the wall.
“Joanie…please, look at me a minute.”
<I>No way!</I> She started to get up to leave.
“Joanie…wait…please…just one question.”
“You, have a question for ME?” she hissed.
“May I have this dance?”
It took a moment. Well, maybe a few more than a moment but relief flooded every cell of her body.
The door opened and there stood her husband, as handsome as ever reaching out to his emotionally-worn-out wife.
She should have known.
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