Girl On Fire

Rhonda and Chris swayed together in the middle of the softly-lit bedroom, his hands across her hips. Neither danced well, but their movements were effortless and graceful. Chris found himself unable to look away from Rhonda’s face.

A few feet away, Rhonda’s phonograph whirled as it played “Like a Bandaid On a Bullethole.” She bought the vinyl album a couple of days before, hoping it would unlock more secret rooms in her heart. For the longest time, she kept the rooms locked; in time, she forgot they existed. When she looked at Chris, she found herself mentally flinging all the doors in her heart open. For the first time, she wanted to throw them open.

Over the last months, Rhonda took the time to make the room her own again. All the past relics slowly diminished and disappeared until one morning, she awoke to realize that the space was now entirely hers. Her grandfather’s table, the lamp she made, now entwined with fairy lights, and her wall of hats, each of these things shouted her singular name.

When Chris asked her if she wanted to go on a date, she said, “No. Come over. We’ll cook together, drink some coffee, have a glass of wine, and laugh.” Chris laughed and said he’d like nothing better. And the night had unfolded as effortlessly as one between two close friends. They made pasta, each contributing to the messy process and both doing the dishes afterward. They discovered that they already had a shorthand for movement.

Rhonda took the time to explain her aloofness and reluctance. To her surprise, Chris already knew. “Hurt creates space,” he told her. They looked at each other, smiling, knowing they just had an entire conversation in one sentence.

They sat at the kitchen table, the most unromantic of places, and drank a cup of coffee. Both felt as if they’d done so a thousand times before. Their eyes danced and queried each other as they sipped. Rhonda got up from the table and reached over for his cup, placing both cups in the sink. She reached out with her right hand for Chris to give her his hand. She led him through the living room into her bedroom. She stepped away and placed the needle on the vinyl album. Music flooded the room.

Neither spoke as Chris stepped toward her, already swaying.

As the song ended and the scratchy interim played, “Me On Whiskey” began to play. Rhonda nodded at Chris, who bent his head to kiss her for the first time.

In this new room, surrounded by a new life, and more importantly, new hope. And they danced, in all the ways that two people discovering each other do.

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