They were magic on the dance floor. Ezzie felt it the second Benny settled his right hand on her left shoulder blade. Before the waltz even began the electricity flowed through her veins. When she rested her left hand on his right shoulder she was caught up in the sensation of standing at the edge of a cliff ready to jump. His unhindered smile and twinkling eyes gave life to hope.
When Benny’s outstretched left hand welcomed her right hand comfortably in his grasp then the skies were open for flight. She had no doubt he could feel her pulse racing wildly and she tried to settle her breathing by focusing on the little things. Eyes and nose to the left. Back straight. Feet slightly apart. Let him lead.
Hours in her room alone practicing the stationary box steps, the underarm turn, the progressive and the twinkle were now about to face reality. Benny had come. Ezzie had absorbed Tchaikovsky into the very cells of her soul. The Waltz of Flowers from the Nutcracker. The Waltz from Serenade for Strings. The Waltz from Eugene Onegin.
She never forgot what she saw. Like those Bible lessons that came on right after the dance lessons. She couldn’t get them out of her mind. For now, she had to focus on Benny.
The eyes of the universe would be watching. At least one day. Right now the hours of watching internet lessons and practicing would pay off. She and Benny may be different, but they had found a way. She had carefully wrapped on her best sari. He had borrowed a Polish special from his brother. They may not have a common language of the tongue but their feet would talk for them.
And now, as her spirit prepared to fly – Benny cued the music and the notes of Chopin sounded. Clear, inviting – but not her songs. Benny began to guide her across the apartment floor even as her feet remembered the steps. A deep sense of confusion filled her. This felt more like falling than flying. Fighting for every move to flow and follow.
The pounding on the door caught her off guard and Benny tripped over her foot as she turned toward it. He caught himself on the kitchen towel rack, but snapped it when his weight proved too much.
Ezzie turned to help him up and at that moment the door shattered behind her. She didn’t even have time to turn before large hands grabbed her and threw her to the ground. The beating and kicking began and she curled into the fetal position to protect her head – even as her ribs screamed their pain.
Loud angry voices screamed venomous accusations and profanity so dark it sunk like an arrow into her soul. Someone grabbed her ebony hair and dragged her. She tried to reach up to stop them, but that left her face open to slaps and fists. Her lip split under the barrage. The bitter saltiness of blood flowed across her tongue.
The nightmare didn’t stop until hours later she found herself in a dank earthen dungeon. One weak bulb lit up the corridor outside. Someone else was in the room.
The shadow moved closer. “Not exactly what you planned for today, is it?”
Ezzie didn’t respond. It hurt too much.
“Sure wish there was an easier way to get here. God hardly makes it easy.”
Ezzie twisted her neck and tried to see through swollen eye lids. “What?”
The shadow crouched beside her. “Names Marta. Been here so long I was going insane. I begged God. ‘If I’m going to be salt I need someone else.”
“My father sold spices in Pakistan,” whispered Ezzie. “All I wanted to do was dance.”
Marta talked endlessly to compensate for Ezzie’s silence. She had been a Congolese nurse who came to know Jesus through a patient while working in the Middle East. She learned all she could and passed it on until she was imprisoned. She had gone over memory verses, but needed more.
It took a week of care, sipping watery gruel, listening to Marta’s prayers and verses, gaining snatches of rest amidst the stabs of pain, before her mind began to clear.
The internet lessons she had learned were there. Clear as day. Marta had a memory for verses. Together they taught each other to pray and even to dance.
“Let’s pray for a singer to join our underground church.”
“Just ask God to be gentle.”
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