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Close? Only When We Danced
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Close? Only When We Danced
Secrets and promises are often the hardest things to keep. They have a habit of slipping out in conversation. Phillip, a boy on the verge of manhood, tells all his secrets to a man he’s just met in the park, a sympathetic ear that cools his frustrations with growing up. Phillip wants to be just like the man when he grows up, but something changes all that and alters Phillip’s life forever.
Everyone has secrets.
Everyone makes promises.
Everyone has the right to take their own life.
Paul Leighland MacLaine
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (15)
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Ash Bester - The Devil May Care (Novels) Here are the first two chapters of my crime novel. I am looking for feedback and motivation to get on with it. Ash Bester, war hero, boxer and Melbourne private detective in 1953, is about to fall vi... [5,188 words] [Crime]
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Dropping The Red Doll (Short Stories) He hasn’t seen his ex-wife in three years but suddenly she is back in his head and back in his life. As he sits next to her, while she is dying from injuries sustained in a car wreck, he sees the red ... [822 words] [Mystery]
Especially Brilliance (Short Stories) A little bit of heaven has just come back to earth [2,340 words] [Spiritual]
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Close? Only When We Danced
Paul Leighland MacLaine
Close? Only when we danced.
a short story from the collection:
the tales of socrates dancing
paul leighland maclaine
I want to tell you something.
Something about a man.
Something about someone I thought I knew, but only now realise that I didn't know him at all – he knew me.
Something about pain and about buried secrets.
Something about a friend.
My best friend.
I don't know where we met. One day he was just there. One day he was there and it seemed that he had been there all my life. But he hadn’t, it just seemed that way.
One day I had felt sad and alone and he had been there. Listening to me talk.
He stayed for what became an hour, smoking his pipe, blowing large, full, white clouds to the ceiling as he listened. My problem seemed small and trivial, but he listened. I guess that's why he knew me so well, and not the other way round, and as I think of it now – that first day – things become clearer in my mind why he did do such a terrible thing.
We were neighbours, and I would walk through the park and to his house nearly every day. I’d never invited him to my house. Not that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. It just didn’t seem right to ask. Perhaps I was a little jealous. Maybe I didn’t want him to solve anyone else’s problems except mine. Perhaps I thought that no one else had problems like mine. He didn’t seem to.
One day I stopped in the park. I couldn’t go further. I sat on the grass and wept. I was sure he wouldn’t have understood. The pain in my body was afire with memories and guilt. It felt like my flesh would melt from its frame. My father’s razor in my pocket was to be the extinguisher. As hot tears rolled down my face, the cutthroat lay cool against my leg.
Then he was there, sitting beside me, smoking his pipe.
Covering the top with his fingers and signaling white clouds up to the sky - listening.
He smiled and I gushed.
We walked to his place and talked. He told me about a time that he had tried to extinguish the pain.
He even used the same word: extinguished. I was shocked that he would even contemplate such a thing. Perhaps I was selfish to think that. Why should I have the patent on pain? He explained that he made an oath to his mother never to try and kill himself again.
A promise, can you believe that? To his mother of all people.
I could not ever imagine my mother caring enough to extract such a pledge. He didn’t say why he had tried, and I never asked.
Perhaps I should have.
We talked some more until I felt better, and then he did something strange. He asked if I could dance.
I said no.
He stood and placed a record on the player, and beckoned me to join him.
He held me round the waist, pulling me to his own, raising me to tiptoes. He took my hand in his.
As the time passed us, I became better, less nervous. He pulled me a little closer. At first I felt awkward.
I relaxed, and we danced round and round the large mat in the room. Around and around we circled, faster and faster and faster until – suddenly the record stopped.
It clicked back to the ready position, but we did not.
We were still swinging round and round in ever increasing and then smaller circles. My legs gave and buckled under but, instead of me falling, he held me upright and pulled me a closer to his body. He looked into my eyes.
My face flushed crimson.
It was, as if he could see something I couldn’t. Something buried deep...
He let me go, the thought evaporated, and I returned to reality.
I walked home, and returned the razor to the bathroom.
I was the one who found him.
I called the police, but not till I had spent half an hour holding his head in my lap and talking to him like we had before. I did not move anything except his head, raising it gently up off the mat and setting it on my lap. I could smell the stale, sour mash scent. I looked at the ocean of pain that had spread its way from his wrist across the mat. I never thought he had problems. Perhaps it was an old one that wouldn’t go away.
When the police arrived, I heard one say that he must have meant it. He had cut only once. Most suicides hack away half-hearted till they see blood then stop. He had cut, just once, deep into the pain. They showed me the torn piece of the newspaper he’d held in his hand.
It was from the obituary column. The last name of the woman in newsprint was the same as that of my friends. It was his mother, and their pact had been broken.
They asked me questions after they had removed his body. One policeman asked if we were good friends.
He repeated the question thinking that I had not heard.
‘Were you close?’ he said.
I looked at the drying, red stain on the rug.
A tear ran down my cheek.
‘Only when we danced,’ I replied.
‘Only when we danced.’
|READER'S REVIEWS (2)
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"ohhhhhhhhh! my how touching. but the way it was portrayed is true. if someone close to you dies you remeber what was. if you make a pack to someone then that someone is gone what packt is there left? a really heart renting story that you could imagine that they where strangers that could touch each other in a way only true true people belive can happen. a really sad but great story. I LOVED IT> DUNNO BOUT YOU BUT I LOVED IT> " -- rachel williams, west melbourne, vic.
"Love this story. Simple yet full of possibilities. Fluid, easy to read. One grammatical error- he held me upright and pulled me A? closer to his body. Guess you need a good proof reader. Been a long time! Nicole" -- Nicole Radford, Melbourne.
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© 1991 Paul Leighland MacLaine
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