Authors: Tia Siren
Lance sat at the edge of his bed. He had been single for a few years, since the passing of his wife. Being good looking, he had always had many opportunities with women, but being a romantic, none of them satisfied. Lance had taught English literature for almost twenty years and knew all of the great lines of poetry by heart. The stories of Romeo and Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, or Tristan and Isolde, were part of his heritage. Intellectually he lived in those stories and had loved them from a young age. But what had he done with that knowledge? Lance had loved before, even passionately, but it was within the bounds of societal norm.
Why must I be restricted, when there is so much in this life to experience? I must be true to myself, I tell my students that every day.
He thought of Liana, and how she looked at him.
She is different, forbidden, lovely. I do not desire to possess her, but to see her blossom and flourish. I must act on my passion before it is too late.
He had been debating on whether or not to try and see Liana outside of the class setting, but now Lance knew what he had to do.
People may say I am wrong, but I know deep down how right I am.
The masquerade Christmas dance started at seven. Liana pulled up at about 7:15. It was being held at a convention center, and the school had spent a few weeks outfitting it for the evening. There would be music, drinks (non-alcoholic of course) and a ballroom floor. Most high school dances consisted of a bunch of kids gyrating their hips and grinding on each other. This one, as the principal had explained many times, sought to be different. They wanted to inject some class into the school culture. Liana and Jamal had bought tickets months ago, figuring it would be a fun way to spend an evening together. But now, the only thing that Liana could think about was Lance. It wouldn’t be too bad, she thought. She could dance with Jamal, and pretend to have fun and maybe even smile at the right moments so that he didn’t suspect anything. The music would be nice as she loved Christmas music.
Why not try to have fun.
Liana walked in, and noticed that it was very crowded; almost everyone from the school had gone. There were even teachers and administration dancing. They were dancing with each other, or their spouses of course.
But if they were here, that means that possibly…
Jamal tapped her on the shoulder, “I made it. Liana, you truly look beautiful.”
“Thanks, you look good too, I like your mask, it really disguises your identity,” said Liana.
“Really, I still think it is pretty easy to tell who I am,” said Jamal.
“Yes, but from afar, you blend in, looking like just another masquerader dancing the night away,” said Liana, trailing off at the end.
“That is interesting to know,” said Jamal. “Now can I have this dance?”
Liana agreed, and they began dancing. The music was playing at a slow pace, and they tried to match it, but neither Liana or Jamal knew much about slow dancing. Besides, the fact that Jamal seemed to blend in made her wonder. She looked around the room; Lance could be anywhere. He could be watching her right then. The thought made her tense up.
“Are you alright?” Asked Jamal.
“Yes...I guess I have just never done much slow dancing, but I’m getting the hang of it,” said Liana.
“Oh right,” said Jamal.
They continued, but Liana could only think about Lance. She looked but saw nothing.
“I think I need a break, I need to get something to drink,” said Liana.
“Oh...sure,” said Jamal.
Liana walked quickly walked over to where the drinks were being served. She tried to lose Jamal in the crowd.
If Lance is here, he won’t want to find me with Jamal.
She grabbed a drink and then moved into the crowd, trying to disappear.
The next song began, this one even slower than the one before. Many of the younger couples stopped dancing and went to the sides to socialize. They preferred faster songs. Liana stood in the middle, the only person not dancing. She began to swing her hips and glide around and twirl so that she would not look awkward just standing there. She felt like a part of the beating heart of the ballroom as the long flowing dresses seemed to flow and breathe in unison. It was beautiful, and she lost herself in the moment; for a second even forgetting about Lance.
Then a man came up behind her.
“May I have this dance?” He asked.
Liana curtsied slightly, a tacit yes. He took the lead, knowing how to move, but more importantly how to make her move. Liana felt beautiful like she was a character from a poem come to life. His hands felt strong and steady. She looked at him. His face was almost entirely covered by his mask. It would be hard for anybody to recognize him. But Liana did not need her eyes to tell her who it was. She felt it. His confidence and warmth could penetrate any disguise.
“And who are you pretending to be?” asked Liana with a coy grin.
“Someone who notices you,” he said.
Everything seemed perfect. He always knew what to say and how to carry himself. He seemed to glide across the floor with her, making her feel weightless. Their bodies seemed in sync.
“Aren’t you worried about someone seeing you, seeing us, you could get fired,” said Liana.
“Yes...aren’t you worried about your boyfriend seeing you.” said Lance.
“Yes…” but they continued to dance anyway.
“How do you feel right now, Liana?” Asked Lance.
“Scared, excited, happy,” said Liana.
“That is how you should always feel,” replied Lance.
Liana nodded in agreement. She tried to let go of her fears. But she felt like everyone was watching them. There were only a few dozen couples dancing. Liana felt sure that Jamal would see her with another man. He would figure out that Lance is who she has been thinking about all this time.
“Liana, live in this moment, for it can last forever if you let it,” said Lance.
Really? yes, it can. This is what I have wanted.
Liana let go of her anxiety, and for that moment, she was eternally happy.
No matter what happens, we will always have this dance, this final dance,”
Yes, one dance, that is all we need.
Liana felt peace like a river wash over her. Suddenly, snow began to fall from the ceiling. It was fake but set the mood nonetheless. The music swelled, it was nearing the crescendo.
“Don’t let this moment slip by,” said Lance.
Liana closed her eyes, focusing on herself, how she felt, and then on the environment around her. She focused on the feeling of the floor on her feet, the heels she was wearing and the orchestra playing the background. She could hear individual instruments and feel the sound entering her ears and filling her being. Liana opened her eyes. She saw blue. Lance gazed right back at her. He saw green. They danced in that moment and were lost in a beautiful eternity. Time slowed down for Liana. She breathed deeply and savored the smell of Lance. It made her feel safe. The music began to grow softer; it was nearing the end. Liana began to think again, instead of feel, and time sped up. The music stopped.
“That is all for tonight,” said Lance, and as quick as he showed up, he was gone.
Liana stood speechless.
“Hey, I’ve been looking all over for you,” said Jamal.
“Oh...hey...ya sorry I couldn’t find you either,” said Liana.
“I was standing in the same place, waiting for you.”
“Well this is a large venue, I tried to find you, but I guess I got lost, I’m sorry.”
“You have just been acting so strange lately. And who was that guy you were dancing with?” Asked Jamal.
“What are you talking about,” said Liana.
“Nevermind, I need to get out of here. I need some fresh air,” said Jamal as he turned to leave the dance.
Liana followed him. Now she felt the weight of her day to day problems. She hated it and wanted to return to Lance. He never brought problems into her life, only joy and peace and happiness. They went outside to the parking lot.
“You know what Liana, you have never really showed much affection to me, and I get it, that is just your personality. But this past week, it has just been a different ballgame. You don’t even give me the time of day,” said Jamal in anger.
“Jamal, I have a lot going on, you can’t expect to always be in the center of my world,” replied Liana.
“See, that’s just it. I am never the center of your world; I am just a convenience to you. You know what? I am tired of doing everything I can to understand you and treat you right. I’m tired of the games and putting myself out there and getting nothing in return. I’m going home, said Jamal.
Liana just stood there, as Jamal got into his car and left. She turned and looked back at the dance. There were couples outside, holding each other, laughing and seeming to love each other.
Why can’t I find that? Why do I turn guys away?
Lana sat down on the curb and began sobbing. It was supposed to be a special night. Christmas had always meant so much to her. Now she was alone, with nobody to console her.
Lance is just a fantasy. He would never truly love me. He probably thinks I’m just a stupid girl. I’m sure he gets hit on by tons of young girls. Who am I that he should care.
She remembered their dance, but it felt as if a dream.
How could that be real? Did that really happen?
She wondered what kind of guy Lance really was if he could be trusted. Her thoughts made her sadder, and she continued to weep. A light snow began to fall, and she was very cold.
Lance got in his car to drive home. He had taken a huge risk to dance with Liana. Driving home, he felt something. There was a look in her eye that he couldn’t shake.
Lance took a deep breath. He couldn’t turn around and go talk to her. This was forbidden. He should never have come.
But I must return.
Lance would lose his job immediately and get his teaching license revoked. It isn’t worth it, just a fantasy, nothing more. There have been countless girls in the past he has liked and have liked him back. And there would be countless more. Why should Liana be any different? But she was. He knew it to be true. Lance turned around.
He had just got done telling Liana that she should always feel alive, on the edge, excited and dangerous. Now he would live out those words. He sped up, his heart rate rising. Lance felt alive now. Lance was Don Quixote rescuing Dulcinea, or Romeo about to meet Juliet, knowing that their love was forbidden. Lance knew the cost. He knew that Pyramus and Thisbe died, that Romeo and Juliet committed suicide. He knew that forbidden love often ended with tragedy, but that was made it beautiful, and why the poets and muses sing of it. Lance had lived his life according to the rules, and it was good. But now Lance was no longer satisfied with good. He wanted a beautiful, dangerous love. He wanted Liana.
Now his heart was soaring, as he imagined the scene that was about to take place. Forbidden love didn’t have to be forbidden for long. There was a way for them to be together, and he would make it happen. His car continued. He turned the last corner and there she was, alone in the cold without a coat.
Liana’s spirits were now completely downcast, and any hint of forlorn hope seemed to slip away. She was nearly out of tears. The cold set it, and she began to shiver. She looked around. The ground was beginning to cover up with snow. A few people were still entering the dance; it had not ended yet. She didn’t feel like going back, though. There was nothing for her there but pain and sorrow.
Suddenly, a large truck pulled up right beside her. She looked up. The door opened, and a well built handsome man stepped out.
“Lance!” said Liana surprised.
“You came back for me. I didn’t think you really cared. I thought that…”
Lance put a finger to Liana’s mouth. “Liana, you are young, and there are a lot of things about life that you do not know. I have noticed that you love the romantics; you love Romeo and Juliet, Guinevere and Lancelot, and other of the great love stories. I think that is wonderful, attractive, and really admire that in you. But what you must understand, is that at my age, I have lived long enough to see how precious they are. Those stories remind us of the power we have to feel. Liana, if we live our lives by the rules, and we do what others tell us, and try to do what we think is right, we will never feel. I want to feel again. Ever since I laid eyes on you, I have felt deeply. You have stirred within me something new, something I never even realized existed. I don’t care how old you are, or our backgrounds. I just care if you feel the same way. When we danced in there earlier, we floated, like a prince and a princess, as if we were animated from the pen strokes of Lord Byron himself. I say that we live out what we believe, and we follow our hearts. What say you?”