Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
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 stillâŚ Whatâs going on?
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, âDancing Queenâ and an âUmph.â 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 â a male voice this time. She couldnât make out all the words because of the music but she knew her husbandâs voice anywhere. âShe doesnâtâŚâ he said, and then a shuffle of feet moved his partnerâs reply further away.
Joanie eased down to sit cross-legged in front of the door â she cocked her ear toward the mail-slot. Now her husband was laughing. And now she knew who the woman was â her best friend. She just talked to her that morning wanting to go to the moviesâŚbut nooooâŚshe had other plans.
Joanieâs heart began to ache. She really couldnât 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 familyâs future.
It sounds like theyâre dancing!
She thought of all the times she tried to teach him to dance. He gave it his best but he never had the rhythm.
But he sure sounds like heâs having fun now!
She couldnât stand it anymore â 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.
âWhen are you going to let her know? I donât like keeping secrets like this Tory.â said her best friend in the whole world. âIâve got it all planned SusieâŚâ 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 â âThe Winner Takes it Allâ began to play.
She still couldnât grasp what was going on. It was beyond believing! Tell me what?
âTory, help me with this, would you?â came her friendâs voice.
They must be by the couch; maybe on it? No! She didnât know what to do! She didnât want to hear anymoreâŚbut she was riveted with a morbid sense of needing to know.
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 didnât realize she had been holding her breath so now her lungs hurt too.
She could leave and they would never know. But she just couldnât. She dare not lift the slot any higher but she needed to hear what they were sayingâŚonlyâŚthey werenât talking. Meryl Streep was baring her soul to Pierce Brosnan on the hill.
âMama Mia.â She and Susie had so much fun that day! She blinked away tears.
She waited. She feared what their silence meant. They just couldnât be!
A feeling of doom flowed through her whole body. It took over everythingâŚ So this is what it feels like, the end of the world.
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 didnât move. âSuper Trooperâ filled the hallway. Tilting her head just so, she could glance up enough to see the slot was still opened. Embarrassed didnât come close to how she felt. Iâm not the one dancing with his best friend! In his house â alone.
âJoanieâŚ Joanie.â her husband whispered.
She didnât move.
She scooted over, up against the wall.
âJoanieâŚplease, look at me a minute.â
No way! She started to get up to leave.
âJoanieâŚwaitâŚpleaseâŚjust one question.â
âYou, have a question for ME?â she hissed.
âMay I have this dance?â
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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