Rodeo Girl: The Dance Floor

The thorns were everywhere
Waiting to catch her heart
She watched
As they played her tune

Standing alone among them.

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Desert Flower
2008


When the band began playing, a crowd gathered on the dance floor to warm up old muscles. As the music rose above the bustle of people arriving and finding friends, the clock on the wall began to turn backward. Faces, tense with pain, relaxed to the rhythm of the country western band. Hand holding and hugs for lovers showed the attraction that had not faded even after all these years.

In the corner a couple danced to a Patsy Cline tune, he guiding her every step with a sing song voice. Crazy, crazy for loving you…. She moving stiffly and her eyes looked in the distance, seeing something the other dancers did not see. They were still standing he said and somehow you knew that they would be as long as the band kept playing.

On the floor in front of the stage a group gathered. They were all strong and handsome. Some wore cowboy boot and women clad in tight jeans and dangling earrings chatted about the day between songs. When the band began the slow tune, they gently embraced and floated across the floor. Some danced with arms extended and other clung to each other in “get a room” embraces. It was not so much their age that counted in this place but their stage. They were simply younger than the rest.

It was then that she came in the door. She was dressed in her black straw cowgirl hat with a silver conch perched on the band. Her boots shone black and the pointed toes and high heels made her even more regal. When she spoke, rodeo flowed from her lips. Her eyes were gray. He had been gone for a long while and she had remained separate from the rest. All eyes turned her way, amazed at her grace and manner. It were as though the room paused for a moment.

She looked across the room, searching for someone or something and then a slight wince and shake of her head let you know that she had forgotten he was gone. When she sat at the table with the others, there was a chair that had been waiting for her. They all knew that he had finally been allowed to go. She would go on. A tall man came and asked her to dance. The two stepped around the floor without so much as a word and then she was returned to her place with the others to spend the rest of the evening.

Tears were streaming down the face of the woman across the room. She had had a glimpse of what it was going to be like. She knew that the table would make room for one more. The man she loved had stumbled for a minute and the future appeared before her eyes. She laughed and clung to him knowing that if they did not show their love now it would be too late.

The dance floor remained full. Couples swayed to The Last Waltz without realizing that they too were only just still standing and that when the music stopped the clock would spin forward toward the end of their days. They were heard to whisper in each other’s ears, “Save the last dance for me.”

Stars appeared in the sky as the music faded and the couples wandered home slowly. The lady in the cowboy hat slipped out the back door alone. There would be other dances, each one easier than the last. She would become accustomed to the table and the others. They would laugh and dance in the corner with each other. The clock would keep ticking for her and she would get used to dancing alone.

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