Writing Time: 30 minutes
Over the bobbing heads of the dance floor crowd, I stare at the woman in the blue dress. She has a cocktail in her hand and confetti in her hair. Her lips are parted in laughter, the sound lost in the noise of the music. My fingers curl into fists against my stomach, mimicking the tightness of the air in my lungs.
Jealousy. It is nested in my chest.
It is not that I wish her to be otherwise. The night is better for the glow in her eyes. I do not wish it gone. I only wish to know it; to know the release of that laughter and the pleasure of my limbs swaying to the song.
"What are you thinking about?" my husband asks, his face close to my ear so I can hear him.
"Do you see her?" I point my chin in the direction of the woman. "In the blue dress."
He cranes his neck to see. The silver hairs at his temple catch the light of the dimmed sconces behind our table on the perimeter of the dance floor. For a moment I'm transfixed by his profile, then he turns and catches my gaze. He is confused.
"Was I ever like her?" The question is spoken before I can filter it. I expect more confusion. Instead his face is transformed by a broad smile.
He leans in close again. "Even better."
I rest my forehead against his cheek. His stubble is soft; a comforting texture on my skin.
"You still are," I hear him add at the pause between songs.
When I close my eyes, a memory plays like a film projection. My roommate and I walking past the fountain at the center of the university campus. A small congregation of other students, strangers, with a radio blasting and an impromptu dance party coming to life. One of the guys pulling me into the group. Dancing with them until the song ends; laughing through every second.
My husband speaks now and I am startled to realize he is reliving the same memory.
"I'll never forget watching you dance the night before we met. Sitting on the edge of that fountain, seeing you approach. You started singing along to the music. I hoped you'd stop and you did. I hoped you'd dance and you did. I hoped you'd keep laughing and you did."
I finish the familiar commentary. "You hoped I'd sit down to rest on the edge of the fountain and I didn't." I require a deep breath to keep the tears behind the border of my eyelashes.
"You were transcendent."
A sigh falls from my lips. "That girl is a stranger now."
"Not to me." He lifts my chin with his fingertips. "I still see her every day."
Baby blues. Such a trite, pretty name for the darkness I dwell in presently.
"You're still her. You are her and more."
I tuck his words into the deepest corners of my mind, where they are needed. Then I watch the confetti scatter from the hair of the woman in the blue dress.