February 14, 2008

"The Prom"

How Geraldine and Ricky Become the King and Queen of Russia

Kiki holds a mirror in front of Geraldine, turning it from side to side, so that Geraldine can see the tiara twinkling, sparkling in the stage lights: fireflies caught in her own hair, caught in a net of crown...

Music swells: "Dr. Zhivago". The kids cheer, and Ricky, with his crown askew, holds her hand so tight the tips of her fingers turn white. Ricky smiles and smiles and smiles. Kids waltz all around them, turning, twirling. Fireflies dance across the floor, turn into stars, and swim across the ceiling. Geraldine touches the red rose and the velvet trim on her dress with the tip of a finger, again and again, first one and then the other, grinning. The petals embrace. They hug and hold each other like her Babushka dolls... like she would like to hug and hold Ricky: close, and tight. The rose is candy... chocolate,maybe... rich and sweet. The rose is the purse of Ricky's lips, so close to her ear, whispering.

Ricky rises from his rhinestone throne and tugs on Geraldine's hand. He steps from the small stage to the gym floor and helps her down. Almost shy in a circle of friends, they turn to each other, and stare. Ricky moves against her; Geraldine moves against him. They sway to the music together. Dancing isn't hard, it's easy... it feels like water... like a warm river... like honey... like heartbeats... like breathing... like Magic.

Geraldine lays her head on Ricky's shoulder, basks in the circle of his arms. Geraldine breathes Ricky and the smell of Ricky. Everywhere their bodies touch she feels a burning. Their skin flickers like fire. Now they are thunder and lighting. Now they are melted butter in a patch of sunlight.

As they dance between the cafetorium curtains, the paper Kremlin trembles and a tree comes loose, but no one notices. Geraldine remembers a heron gobbling a frog, then forgets again as they kiss. In a pile of backdrops, they taste the salt sea and ocean breezes. As they dance yet closer, and closer still, she sings a quiet little song.

(An excerpt from a new work by Mary Stebbins Taitt)


ImperfectNerd said...

There are a lot of ways to say I love you (or I WANT to love you) and dancing together, over the floor, for all the rest of the world to see, is one of the oldest ways and rituals we have to do that. It has become something less than that ideal at times, but when I was young, asking a girl to dance was the highest compliment you could pay her. And her acceptance meant she thought you were not bad, yourself. Is it still that way?

ImperfectNerd said...

The picture with this story piece Mary Stebbins Taitt created back in 1967! This just goes to show you, clearly, how long some dreams endure!