C5 FIRST DANCE
Baffled as to why Jean was standing behind her and not dancing with her partner in the auditorium, she stood up and asked, “Why are you not inside?”
“I could ask you the same question, my dear,” replied Jean.
“I don’t know, it felt weird dancing with someone who was not only just a boy but also a stranger to me. So, I stepped out to get some fresh air.”
“But sweetheart, you are wonderfully dressed to sit here all alone and be by yourself while everyone else is having such a good time inside.” “Come, we will go back,” said Jean.
“No, Jean. I don’t want to go back.”
“Then we will sit over here and play with the grass together, okay?”
“No-no, please, you go back there and have a great time just like others are having.”
“What if I said I was not enjoying it at all?” Jean asked.
And as Marie looked at her in confusion as she was unable to understand why she was not enjoying something that every girl looked forward to happening and to be a part of this.
“I would rather enjoy being here with you than dance with the boys,” said Jean.
Marie started smiling hearing that from Jean. She had never really had a true friend in life, but now that she was making one such friend, it was exciting to her. She wanted to hug Jean right away but controlled herself from doing so because she was not sure if she should do it or wait for them to first become good friends, and the latter seemed appropriate to her.
As both of them sat beside each other on the grass and also felt a little different. Marie had a subtle excitement which was reflecting on her face, whereas Jean was thrilled about being with Marie. Once they got comfortable, they started talking about their exams, various teachers, favorite subjects, their hometown, their families, and what they were going to do during their vacations.
They got even more sparky as they realized they lived in the same city that was not very far from the hostel. It was just one and a half to two-hour drive from school. What overjoyed them even more was the fact that where they lived was within walking distance away from each other’s house. That was fun for them to know because during the summer holidays, they could still meet one another and spend time together.
And because they liked each other’s company, they started calling them friends and became better friends than they were with anybody else in school. After some time, while they were continuing with their talk, Jean kept her hand on Marie’s back making it seem unintentional, and Marie also did not say anything. Neither did she move a little to push her hand down. She did not even notice it was there.
Something was up with Jean, she was getting restless and was not able to sit without moving. Sometimes she put her hand on her own legs and then on Marie’s back or shoulder before bringing them again to her to maybe crack knuckles deliberately. This happened until Marie was talking about something, and Jean did not want to disrupt her at all.
Jean waited until Marie told her the entire story of the lame things which her batchmates did and how happy she was about starting her senior high years. Then as soon as Marie was done saying it all, Jean questioned, “Do you want to dance with me?”
Marie was confused again. Even though faded music could be heard from the auditorium, it was still not good enough to dance. In spite of that, Marie wanted to dance because she had her mind made up for this event. But because she got a little uncomfortable and was just not feeling right around the boy who she was dancing with, so she had walked out.
Before she could reply to the question that was asked, Jean stated, “You look beautiful, girl! Do something for yourself. Don’t let this day go wasted.”
She couldn’t understand why Jean was asking her for a dance and what exactly she meant by what she said. Not wanting to already create differences, and because she really liked receiving the compliment that Jean gave her, she also raised a question.
She asked, “You want to go back inside and dance with me?” “Is that what you mean?” Marie clarified to know better.
“No, stupid! I do not want to go back inside. Instead, I want to dance with you over here, on this ground, just you and me. Tell me, are you in?
After careful consideration, she replied, “Sure. Why not?!”
Both of them stood up to begin dancing together, but Marie was still confused on what to do. She didn’t know if Jean wanted them to dance on their own or if she was referring to the couple dance that was happening inside. If so, then who would lead because she herself had absolutely no clue on how to begin. She was just standing there.
All of a sudden, something happened to Jean, and she became super active. She threw her head to the side to throw her hair at the back, which was falling on her forehead from the side, and she took a step forward where Marie was standing. She placed her hand on her back exactly on the shoulder blade and held that arm firmly on top for Marie to place her hand on it for support.
Instead of offering Marie the other hand, she took it right up where it was supposed to be with an open palm for Marie to lock her hand straight. As Marie followed and held the other hand of hers, Jean started giving the lead very slowly for Marie to catch up on it just perfectly.
It was a nice feeling to be given that amount of respect and not be forced into doing something that she didn’t want to do. Regardless that Marie was skeptical about this whole thing, she started enjoying it and started smiling the way she had not in the entire day.
She was loving the way that she was feeling about herself even though she did not know how to dance very well. Jean was flawlessly covering up for it by going extremely slow and doing whatever Marie was comfortable with.
As a matter of fact, Marie was feeling just the opposite of how she felt in the auditorium dancing with Jacob. She was feeling extremely comfortable with Jean because Jean was not pulling Marie towards her. She was being respectful about the space that was there between them and giving the right amount of intensity for the lead.
The smile of Marie kept growing broader, and she felt as if the universe was showering confetti on them as the few fallen leaves were flying everywhere. It felt beautiful to them, and Jean was also showing it on her face how proud she was dancing with the girl she felt differently for only because she did not disregard her the way others usually would.
They kept swaying with the music and continued to dance for a couple of minutes even after the low sound of music stopped. They were having a great time together. Never in all these years had any of them enjoyed so much with a friend. Their cheeks were hurting because they had been smiling so hard despite the ache they were feeling in their hands and legs from dancing for so long without any practice.
“Are you not thirsty?” Jean asked Marie as she was panting herself.
“Y-yes, I am,” replied Marie.
“Let’s go to the tuck shop and pick up something to drink,” said Jean.
“Snacks and drinks for the event are in the canteen.”
“Shu-up, come on, let’s do something fun,” responded Jean and pulled Marie’s hand to take her along to the tuck shop.
Soon after they grabbed a bite of the sandwich from the tuck shop which they shared and drank half a bottle of the juice which they liked and wanted to, Marie mentioned, “I have had the best day of my life today with you. I am glad you are going to be my new roommate.”
And as Jean was done chewing a piece of chocolate that she picked up from the counter for change, which the shopkeeper did not have to give her, she looked at Marie and replied, “This is just the start, my dear. Wait till you experience everything with me!”