The First Dance
While secretly taking ballroom dance lessons to surprise his fiance at their wedding’s ceremonial first dance, Jordan falls into an adulterous relationship with his dance teacher.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
I leaned over, pressing my hands against my thighs and exhaling heavily.
“I need to quit smoking…”
Dayna sat on the bench leaning back on the dance studio window and giggling at my exasperation. She put her tiny hand in front of her mouth, in an effort to dilute my embarrassment. “You’re doing fine,” she assured me. “Your fiance is going to be so thrilled when it comes time for the first dance. You’re going to blow her mind.”
I let out a sharp cough and straightened up, saying, “I’m going to blow a lung…”
Dayna picked up her jet black ponytail resting gently over her shoulder and swung it behind her back. She got to her feet and gave me a playful smack against the chest.
“You’re doing fine,” she repeated. “You’ve made so much progress in just a few lessons.”
This was true.
Somehow, though I could not tell you exactly how, Dayna had managed to teach this old dog some new tricks. I was no longer the worst dancer I knew.
My whole life I had been cursed with two left feet. It took about five minutes of dancing in front of the mirror in third grade for me to realize that. And so, instead of trying to get better, I came up with any excuse I could to avoid things like school dances or nights out at the club; from faking colds, to lying about previous engagements I had to attend, to straight up trying to convince myself, and those around me, that dancing was a practice strictly for squares, gays, and Melvins.
Now, in my early thirties, I could run from it no longer.
I would be on the spot.
The idea that there would be a room full of close family and friends all watching my every step, pulling out their phones and recording the entire spectacle, cementing in stone that its reference was forever only a quick scroll away…well, it was enough to induce a frantic panic attack at the mere thought of it.
But fear was not something easily discussed with a girl like Shannon, my bride to be. She was perfect, and she expected just the same from me. And in most aspects of my life, I was perfect. If not perfect, I was damn above average, that’s for sure. I had managed to keep my hockey body, though hadn’t been near a rink in close to a decade. I had a closet full of designer shoes and suits. I whitened my teeth. I drove a Benz. The payments were a little rich for my blood, but I took the hit anyway and bought the thing brand new.
You see, Shannon expected a certain standard from the man she chose to be her mate. And who could blame her? She was Barbie doll beautiful. A head turner. An alpha. If I couldn’t be the desired missing piece to her puzzle, there were about a million jigsaws out there ready to take my place.
That was the reason for taking the ballroom lessons. When the time came to lead Shannon onto that dance floor, and all the eyes were fixed on us, I wanted to be able to give her a first dance fit for a princess…If I didn’t, there’d be hell to pay.
“Okay, ready?” asked Dayna. She had no problem letting me take a breather here and there, but she was always eager to get back to task. I suppose she didn’t want me to think she was wasting my money.
I nodded, exhibiting my readiness to reconvene.
She walked over to the stereo on the floor, graceful and rhythmic in her strides, as was her demeanor.
She was like a swan.
She pressed play on the boom box and immediately the familiar Waltz melody exhumed from the speakers. Her slender figure, wrapped in a black leotard, bloomed towards the ceiling. She turned her body and stepped towards me. In my head, I could hear her gentle voice keeping time over the melody, “1,2,3. 1,2,3.”
I took position over the imaginary box at my feet. We had started with the tape strips on the ground in the shape of a square, but surprisingly, I had figured out the succession of steps in the first couple lessons and no longer needed a guide. My left hand stretched out and interlocked with her right, my right hand resting on her left shoulder blade.
“Remember,” she said. “Palm cupped, fingers together.”
“Oh yeah,” I said, cupping my palm and sliding my fingers inward over her back.
Her body shivered for just the slightest of seconds.
“Now,” she continued, clearing her throat. “We need to get rid of that slouch.”
I straightened up my neck, consciously adjusting to the correct posture. As I did so, our eyes met.
For a second, I was not able to look right at her, and my eyes darted quickly to the left. I scolded myself for my cowardice and quickly turned my gaze back to her. It was not because my eyes didn’t want to look at the young woman in front of me; in fact, it was quite the opposite. I was actually very taken by her. Her features were more subtle, her make-up less dramatic than most, but her beauty was present in a classical sense. It was simple and honest. Dayna seemed like the kind of girl you dream about as a boy, in grade school, when the idea of true love is first instilled in your mind before the harsh realities of life came crashing down on you.
But on that night in particular it had been notably hard to hold her gaze. I felt as if she would take one glance into my quivering eyes and immediately know of the very private dream that had played out in the depths of my unconscious as I slept next to my fiance the previous evening.
Granted, having a familiar person appear in one’s dream is usually nothing to get worked up about, or even something worth remembering, but this dream was different. This dream…I could not forget.
We were high above the clouds, weightless and free of the constructs of gravity. Below us was the most magnificent of sunsets, surrounding us in a blanket of soft oranges and reds for as far as the eye could see. A choir of trumpets and strings played a familiar melody all around us. We stared into each other’s eyes without a wisp of hesitation, our souls every bit as interlocked as our bodies. Her hair blew carelessly behind her. Her face tilted, only slightly, and drew close to mine. Our eyes closed and our lips touched. But I could see every moment, from every angle, as if watching on the silver screen. The sleeve of her dress, red as blood, fell loosely over the length of her arm, exposing the top of her breast. Her skin, like caramel, called for me, screamed for me…I could not deny its siren song. I kissed softly on her chin, down her neck. Her head bent back, welcoming me in. Her hips pressed tight against mine. She dipped back, deeper. And then…
Then I woke up in my bed, the rod between my legs pulsing upwards against thin cotton sheets.
It was Shannon who received the benefits of my primal desire that morning, but it was Dayna who deserved the credit for my enthusiasm and stamina. As I climaxed, I closed my eyes and Dayna’s face appeared once again. I sunk back down on my pillow and, as Shannon nestled close and rested her head on my chest, Dayna’s specter evaporated into the ether.
It was this flash of recollection of the previous night that broke my concentration from my current reality, causing me to lose timing and foolishly step on Dayna’s toes. She yelped and let go of me. Out of reflex, my head looked downwards to assess the damages I had just inflicted on my poor teacher.
Unfortunately, her instinctual reaction was to do the same, and our heads smashed together with a dizzying clunk. It sent us both back a few steps, disheveled.
“I’m such an idiot,” I muttered, condemning myself. “Are you okay?”
Despite her obvious pain, she flashed a forgiving smile. “It’s fine…I think I might need to sit down for a second, tough.”
And so she did.
I followed her to the bench by the window and took a seat next to her, unsure of how to help and kicking myself for my clumsy idiocy.
She removed her hand from the crown of her head and looked up to me, concerned. “Can you feel if there’s a bump?”
I inched closer to her as she leaned into me, lowering her head for my inspection. I gently ran my fingers over her scalp, my heart sinking as I felt the swollen elevation. “A little,” I winced. “God, I’m such a twit.”
Suddenly, she broke out into a sharp laugh, even snorting for a slight second before she caught herself and once again put her small hand over her mouth to stop herself from losing her wits.
Her head raised and her ponytail fell to the side. Once again we were eye to eye.
“Twit?” she mimicked. “Who says twit?”
My shoulders dropped and I relaxed a little. “Well, I was going to say cunt,” I said. “But I wasn’t sure how you would take it.”
She laughed again, seemingly coming out of the physical anguish I had just put her through.
She slapped a hand down on my thigh.
“You’re funny, you know that?”
I looked up from my feet, back to her.
Her gaze remained on me, still. Without a word. Without a blink.
Then, void of meditation, as if I were being pulled by some sort of cosmic force greater than you or I, I leaned in and drew my lips to her’s…
When I walked into the condo, Shannon was still in her office wear, sitting crossed-legged on the couch and resting a glass of red wine elegantly on her knee. But the television was off and she was sitting in silence, which was odd to see. She always had to be talking, or moving, or cleaning, or fidgeting. But that day she sat perfectly still and calm, watching me closely as I stepped into the apartment.
The smell of Dayna’s perfume on my collar, a scent that had been a pleasant afterthought on the drive home, now made me sick with worry.
Shannon placed the glass of wine gently on the coffee table and once again leaned back on the couch, running manicured fingers through her platinum highlights.
“I came to see you at the office today,” she said, finally.
The words stabbed me in the gut like a shiv.
“I saw you leaving as I pulled in,” she continued. “So I followed you…”
Though my face remained stiff as stone, the wind had been knocked out of me and my heart beat faster and even faster yet. I had been caught. And still, in that moment of vulnerability, I felt little remorse for my actions. When I was inside Danya, rolling about on the hard dance studio floor, I felt more alive than I had in years.
Maybe my father was right…maybe Shannon wasn’t the girl for me.
Shannon got up from the couch, readjusting the silk blouse tucked in the high waistline of her skirt. “I saw everything, Jordan,” she said. “I can’t even believe it…”
Meaningless words dripped from my lips. “Babe…I’m sorry…It was a mistake…”
But that was a lie, and I knew it.
“Well, yeah, it was,” she stated firmly. “But still…I’m impressed.”
Suddenly, the spinning room stopped dead. Even my heart seemed to stop its pounding, so my ears could make sense of what had just been said without distraction.
“Impressed?” I uttered.
A thin smile curved upward on her face. “Taking ballroom dance lessons for the wedding? That’s so…romantic!”
I let out a concealed sigh of relief. She hadn’t seen everything.
Her heels clicked on the hardwood panels as she headed toward the bathroom. “Take as many lessons as you want, babe,” she teased. “Because you need lots of help.” She laughed to herself as the bathroom door shut behind her.
As I heard the running water of the shower, I knew I was safe. I dropped onto the couch and took a sip of wine from Shannon’s lipstick-stained glass. I leaned back, relaxed, and closed my eyes, only to find myself high above the clouds, with a magnificent sunset below me, radiating the most vibrant oranges and reds for as far as the eye could see. A choir of trumpets and strings played a familiar melody as Dayna’s voice whispered softly in my ear, “1,2,3. 1,2,3…”