by MAIRIN WASSON and ELLA NICHOLSON - February 12, 2021
Colorful lights and lively music surround me as I walk alongside the crowds attending the festival. A breeze brings the sound of singing in the night air and the smell of delicious foods. Deciding to move closer to the band playing, I step into the street and start walking towards the music. And that’s when I see her.
She twirls across the pavement, a bright star in a dark sky compared to the other dancers. Her dress, colored like a grand sunset, ripples as she spins. She moves swiftly and gracefully, and when she pauses, I find myself staring at the most beautiful face I’ve ever laid eyes on. Her smile and dark eyes are filled with joy, her face framed by curls as dark as the night sky. For a moment I wonder if I have met her gaze; I shake the thought from my head as she continues her dance.
Her beauty is intoxicating. I watch her vibrant colors swirl in time to the beat, feeling my heartbeat grow faster. I focus on her merry face, feeling my own grow warmer. Suddenly, a large part of the crowd shifts, and I stumble backward. I no longer see her easily, but I can just make out the flower crown she wears up ahead. I take a deep breath. I’m going to find her.
The tension in my stomach continues to grow stronger. I place my left foot in front of my right, and already I am interrupted by a string of dancing people brushing past me. My hand grabs the skirt of my dress as I rise to the tips of my toes. I see her midnight black hair again for only a moment as she sways across the floor from me. I nearly giggle at myself, unable to believe how weak and silly this stranger has already made me. I just need her to know my name. I step through two couples dancing hand in hand. How lucky they are to be loved so dearly in this intoxicating moment. After pushing through the swarm of buzzing, bouncing people, I stand just in front of the band, the music rushing through my ears and into my beating chest. The melody is spirited, far too alive for me to cease my dance, and even further, my quest. The soft hands of the moment seem to pull me back into the exuberant crowd.
I take a few more steps before I am swept away by a beautiful man and woman with linked arms. They are beaming, thrilled to be with one another and with me and every other stranger in the street that night. They lead me and we flit in circles, my head whipping around trying to catch a glimpse of the girl with the soft eyes. I glance up to the twinkling orange lights strung above the dance floor and the stars peeking just in between them.
In a matter of moments, the song dies down to just a playful tune, and the couple releases my arms as they skip further through the crowd. Behind me, I hear a tender laugh, one that I am urged to follow. I turn away from the sprightly string of linked dancers and meet the eyes of the one person I’ve been looking for all night.
All of the people and music surrounding me fade away as she takes a step towards me. My face flushes, my breath catches in my throat. She’s smiling at me.
“I was looking for you!” I blurt out and immediately clap a hand over my mouth. “I mean, uh, hi there?” She laughs again, but there’s no scorn to it; that eases my fears a bit. I let out a small sigh of relief as her laughter fades, and she composes herself again.
“Well, you’ve found me,” she says. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Iris. Like the flower.”
“And I’m Primrose. So why were you looking for me?”
“Well, I saw you dancing, and I wanted to meet you, and you’re really really pretty, and-” My words trail off as she blushes a bit, looking down at her hands.
“You’re very pretty too.” For a few moments, not quite sure what to do, we stand still together as the crowd swirls around us. I can’t take my eyes off her; we end up staring at each other for what feels like a long time. Then, breaking the silence, she asks, “Would you like to dance with me?” and offers me her hand.
“I’d love to,” I say, nodding enthusiastically. I hesitantly take her hand as the music picks back up, and she pulls me closer.
Her hand on my waist and a smile growing on her face, I am bewildered. I have always been one to see and write futures with another, yet leave muted and wanting. My knees have grown weak and my feet stand frozen in my beige ballet flats. I have never been a girl whom other girls looked at. I danced once with a friend of mine in junior high and even then, I think it had been a favor, for she knew that I had always liked her. That distant, miserable night still inhabits my mind, and as Primrose looks at me, I fear she’ll see that worry within my icy eyes.
Our fingers clasped, we take our first step. An item, a duet. I am sure we are the only ones left on the floor tonight. Everyone else remains plastered to the 2D walls of our scenery. We are lonesome but unguarded and sincere. The strum of the guitar, the serenity of that sound ripples through my ears, a cyan river leading straight to my core.
Every step we take is another piece of this moment’s mosaic. The water lilies on the skirt of her dress seem to leap from their stitching, soaring in circles just above our heads. They cascade to our feet, quickly replaced by a breath of wind parading its amber oak leaves. It twirls with us, its leaves prancing like joyful children. The excitement of the breeze crawls upon my skin, chilling it, persuading me to pull myself into the arms of my dance partner. And as she leads me through the steps, I see her leading me through the rest of tonight, through the rest of autumn, through the rest of my blurry, unforeseen days.
The song ends, but her hands linger on my waist for a little longer before letting go. We smile at each other, catching our breaths between laughs. I brush away strands of hair that have fallen over Primrose’s face, glowing under the lights.
“That was wonderful!” she exclaims, beaming at me.
“It really was,” I say. We drift away from the crowd as the next song begins, staying close together. We sit down on a bench and talk aimlessly as the time passes us by, as the music plays on, until the people start to disperse and the festival ends. As the band puts away their instruments, she plucks one of the flowers from her hair and tucks it into mine, smiling fondly at me. The streets are nearly empty now.
“I’m not sure I want to go,” I admit, leaning towards her.
“We don’t have to go home yet. And besides, I’d like to see you again, after this is over.” Primrose stands up and offers me her hand again. “We could go find something fun together for now though. If you’d like to?”
I nod at her and take her hand. Together, we leave the now-empty streets behind, the melody of the music still playing in my heart.