Final Waltz

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Imagination Station

You can't run from the shadow, but you can invite it to dance.

When I step onto the marble floor of the ballroom, my heart nearly forces me to stop walking.

Her eyes glitter with hope and wonder and make me all the more awestruck while in her presence; they beckon me to explore. Her hair is held up in a neat little bun, and her dress is glistening under the chandelier at the top of the prodigious confines of the room settled above the rest of the guests at the ball: all, I assume, want to be dancing with her. All are also probably jealous that I’m the one who will be.

She begins her stride towards me.

Now, I would do the same, but I am far too nervous to move and my legs might as well be microwaved piles of succulent, strawberry flavored gelatin.

Her heels clack against the stone cold tiles, and her dress moves in an unprecedented way; it intimidates me and causes my heart to jog at an even faster pace, and my hands to sweat even more. I try to move, but my shoes are glued to the ground by the high level of my anxiety. I do manage to wipe my forehead through the complex sea of emotion flowing throughout my brain, but that’s the only gesture I can provide.

I realize how stupid I must look, simply staring at a woman amongst a group of other people, but then I realize how stupid I must be for thinking such an idiotic thing. A woman as beautiful as her deserves to hold the gazes of everyone in the world for as long as the Earth keeps spinning.

My mouth curves into a smile and my eyes lock with hers. I notice a slight smirk, but one not too devilish or conniving. It’s a grin that’s comforting in some unnerving, inhuman way like I’m being possessed by an outside force to believe in her perfection.

When the clacking stops, she’s standing directly in front of me.

Neither of us says anything, and I become incredibly confused.

She nudges down towards my right hand. I look at it, thinking something’s wrong with it, but then notice the thousands of lines embrued into my skin and the thousands of pathways they create. The lines hypnotize me, probably even more than her complexion did. My pathway, the line I decided to follow, has led me to this moment.

Again, I realize how stupid I look, and the fact that she’s now giggling to herself.

“Oh,” I say, laughing with her at myself. “Sorry.”

She ceases her laughing to speak. “It’s fine. Just ask me.” Her words are blessed and crafted from the silk touched by Midas, and they soothe my muscles and stop the sweating. I almost forget to listen to her words, and don’t understand them at first, but then it comes to me.

“May I have this dance?” I ask, holding out my hand.

“It’d be my pleasure,” she says.

I take her left hand while she takes my right, and we begin our waltz.

The music creeps up at a snail's pace, causing small bumps to form across my skin. Are they from her touch? Is she infecting me?

“They’re just goosebumps, you’re fine,” she says.

“Oh, okay.”

I try to shrug off the fact that she just read my thoughts, and put full focus towards keeping my feet in check. We glide across the dance floor like gazelles skipping through a field that they call their own, confident and without fear. I note that every person in the room is looking at us, and I feel proud that I’ve captured their attention. Then I realize who the star is: she’s the one they’re looking at, she’s the one who’s grasped their attention, and she’s the one who’s holding it and won’t let go. She’s got an iron grip, stronger than the mightiest of swordsman during the dark ages. 

The music continues, with our steps matching up. I’m god-awful. I've never had any type of lessons, yet I surprise myself. I’m keeping up with her, and I’m doing it well.

“You’re quite good at this, you know. Most aren’t,” she tells me.

“So you’ve had many partners?”

“You don’t even know, my friend,” she says, “you don’t even know.”

I just nod. It probably looked stupid, but I always look stupid.

“No, you don’t,” she says.

I think before speaking. “I don’t want to believe that.”

“Why?” she asks.

“Because I never believe anything.”

The music reaches it’s climax when I look out the windows of the ballroom and see the shadow creeping up on the room we’re located in. It grazes the grass and covers the shimmer of the sun, but I don’t feel any sorrow. It’s a feeling I’m okay with, actually.

“You know, you should believe at least a little bit more. Not only in yourself but in others.”

“You’re probably right, but-“

She puts her finger up to my mouth. “No buts.”

I giggle a little.

She does too.

Soon, we’re both showering in a fountain of immaturity, complete with a full-on cackle as the icing on the cake. Neither of us feel bad about it, and we really shouldn't. I can tell that the happiness in her laugh is genuine.

The shadow outside creeps through the windows and begins to swallow some of the other guests whole, but I pay no mind. I just keep dancing.

I notice someone’s drink, and see that it’s fallen and leaked onto the floor. I lurch towards it to pick it up. She holds me back and brings my gaze back onto her.

“No reason for fuss, okay? No worries, no problems. Someone will get that later,” she says, holding my chin and positioning my head so that her eyes meet mine.

“Okay,” I say. I trust her more than I trust myself.

I think my footwork is slightly messed up, but she’s changing her own to fit my mistakes. The shadow has engulfed the entire audience, leaving our dancing space to ourselves. When I look, all I see is darkness.

“Don’t mind that,” she says. “You won’t be going there, anyway.”

“Going where?”

“Down.”

“Oh.”

I look back to her, and she’s smiling at me.

“What?” I say, with a little chuckle.

“Just proud, is all.”

“Of who?”

“You,” she says. “You did pretty well, I must say.”

“You’re kidding.”

“You’d be surprised with the quality of some of my dancers. Most can’t even hold themselves together without making a fuss.”

“Your other dancers sound awful,” I say.

“Compared to you, they are,” she smiles.

I smile, too, just as the music ends. The final note echoes throughout the void around us.

We stop dancing.

We’re both completely silent as the shadows inch closer.

“Do me one favor, though.”

“Yeah?” I say.

“Don’t forget this, or yourself, or me.” Her eyes look happy yet sad at the same time, and a transparent shiny sheen covers them. “Don’t forget me, got it?”

“Wouldn’t for the world,” I say.

She sighs a sigh of relief, as to say that she’s ready to let go. Then we laugh.

She hugs me. I feel a small wetness emerging on the shoulder she’s resting on.

She keeps hugging and crying until the shadow consumes her, leaving me alone, by myself, left to fall.

I close my eyes, and images of my life rise: being born, screaming, my parents, school, work, fighting, alcohol, and then a car. She’s the last thing I hear, the last thing I feel, and the last thing I’ve ever wanted to see.

I spread my arms and smile, catching myself before I start making airplane noises. I nearly laugh at my immaturity, but I’ve got a young soul. I can’t change that. I don’t want to change that. I think she would’ve for me if it had to be changed. She didn’t. She never had to.

This doesn’t feel like falling, though. Like an airplane, I feel like I’m moving upwards, towards the clouds, through the air, and towards the highest point I can see, where the ocean meets the sky.

Opening my eyes, I see a hole of light slowly breaking through the darkness. As it gets bigger, I feel peaceful, and warm, and happy, and…

I believe.

I believe in my last dance with death as I pass through the light.


Submitted: January 28, 2016

© Copyright 2020 H. Adams. All rights reserved.

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Comments

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Jack Motley

Wow, very nice imagery there, Hanorbi! I was swept along as the dancers swept across the floor.

Thu, January 28th, 2016 1:14am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Jack!

Wed, January 27th, 2016 7:39pm

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Melancholic Wisdom

This was really, very good. The imagery was amazing, some of the best that you've done. The ending really ties everything together nicely, and gives it a whole different spin on it. Great work!

Thu, January 28th, 2016 2:55am

Author
Reply

Thanks Nik! Always happy to get a comment from you :)

Wed, January 27th, 2016 7:42pm

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Chris Green

This is astonishingly good. From the very first line to the unexpected last line, this is a great story. Your powers of description really are first class, hanorbi.
Regards
Chris

Thu, January 28th, 2016 6:11am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Chris. I appreciate the motivational words, and I'm glad you enjoyed!

Thu, January 28th, 2016 1:58pm

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B Douglas Slack

"When the clacking stops, she's stood directly in front of me." -- I think you mean either "she stood" or "she's standing". What you have is grammatically incorrect.

"I’m god awful at dancing, nor have I had any type of lessons, yet I surprise myself." -- the use of "nor" requires the use of "neither" before it. "nor" is an alternative to neither. I would just leave a period after "god-awful" (note the hyphen) and change the next sentence to "I haven't had any type of lessons..."

"I think my [footing] (footwork) is slightly messed up,..."

This is absolutely wonderful, Hanorbi. The imagery was vivid and had me dancing right along with them. If only death, all death, could be handled in this manner, but we all know that some are violent and without any redeeming qualities. This one was soft, gentle, and quite remarkably peaceful.

Well done!

~Tom

Thu, January 28th, 2016 4:39pm

Author
Reply

All fixed! Thank you for pointing those out, this was one of those stories that I think I wrote too quickly (sometimes the mind works faster than the pen, or in my case, the fingers). And thank you for pointing out the hyphen as well, I didn't realize there was one there. I'll stow that away in the recesses of my brain for later usage.

Seems the imagery is sweeping everyone away with this one. Death is a sensation we will never come to understand unless we experience it. Everyone's time is different, and there are far worse possibilities in terms of who you dance with at the end depending on the journey you take in life.

Thank you, Tom!

Thu, January 28th, 2016 2:05pm

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LeParadisNoirPoetique

This story is a different insight of death than the one in my novella. In mine, A person is rejected by Death many times, but she can't die until he is ready to finally accept her. This is a beautiful story of Death coming when people don't expect it, and because of it, makes the man here realise life. Kind of a beautiful Romeo and Juliet love story, the descriptions of him being stuck to to the ground because he can't believe she is looking at him is pure beauty. The other people staring, and the dance itself. The message here is that in her death, it makes him believe. He couldn't dance, but with her he could. When she was gone and he opens his eyes, and he believes. He may not remember her, but he will believe when death comes, only certain people want to believe it, and others want to forget it. A stunning example of how death can make a person more alive, because when they see the light, they never see the darkness. This is one of your best stories, a story from a gifted extraordinary talent!

Fri, January 29th, 2016 12:10am

Author
Reply

Love your insights, Dex. You pointed out some important things, thank you!

Fri, January 29th, 2016 11:35am

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A. K.Taylor

Good story, great imagery, amazing flow with the content. You write very well for your audience, Hanorbi. You mention in an above comment that you wrote it fast and as a result ended up with some errors. Just take your time, feel the story progress, and tell it how it sounds; but be mindful of using the right words for the right purpose. I've recently had to look up several words to be sure I'm using them properly. Terminology is important to remember when describing your subject matter. Still a good job and Tom got you straight on the grammar part so all's good. Keep writing.

Fri, January 29th, 2016 3:34am

Author
Reply

I do need to work on that, you're right. For future stories, I'll take more time in the writing process instead of getting my ideas onto paper as quickly as I can. Terminology can definitely be tricky!

Thanks for the comments, Akumakaze :)

Fri, January 29th, 2016 12:49pm

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Keke Serene

This was a very nicely written short story! Afraid I don't quite understand much about it... Will be back def to reread and reconsider... Why can't you write simple things for simple people XXD
But anyways, well done! I really liked this, your imagery and descriptions were wonderful. The dio was also quite realistic! Well done! :D

Sat, January 30th, 2016 6:22pm

Author
Reply

If you've ever heard the phrase "a dance with death", that's what this story was. The woman was death, and the man was having his final dance with her where she decided on whether he was going to heaven or hell. He just happened to go to heaven :p

I've got some simpler stuff coming up, I promise! lol. At least I think it's more simple. My mind's different from other people's, I guess. Thanks Keeks!

Sun, January 31st, 2016 9:41am

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Jason Crager

Literally gave me chills. The fantastic imagery has been mentioned by other readers, and I agree. Yet, I believe that even the imagery is surpassed by the emotion of this story. An original and very well written take on Death's coming. It's great Hanorbi. I have been impressed by all of your work, but I must say that in my opinion, this piece has brought your writing to a whole different level.

Tue, February 2nd, 2016 6:04pm

Author
Reply

The great Ronin received chills from my writing? Sounds impossible to me, but I've been proven wrong on many occasions. I'm surprised this is the piece that brought it up a level, but as long as I'm improving, I have no complaints or regrets. Thank you!

Wed, February 3rd, 2016 8:33pm

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Dots

Damn. I had a comment typed out and page reloaded. Anyway, yes I've been super busy and interrupted every time I come here hence inactivity, but yes interesting take on the dance with death. I wasn't surprised by the ending but you may know why. however, you have left me to question many things, which is something you do a lot of. So cruel, yet good at the same time. For example, why does death not want to be forgotten? Is it the act of dying that he shouldn't forget? Why would death take an interest in whether his soul was young or old? Perhaps it's more the embodiment of everything that comes with death... mourning, acceptance, etc. I don't know. But you definitely make me question it. That all being said, the imagery was beautiful, sickeningly romantic in the beginning[sorry, against romance] ;P and well executed. Fin. -Dottie.

Tue, February 2nd, 2016 8:45pm

Author
Reply

Thank you for your observations, Dottie, and I'm glad it got you questioning! I'm not a huge fan of romance either, but I couldn't see another way for them to share that special kind of bond. Love was the only ultimatum for these two.

Wed, February 3rd, 2016 8:31pm

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Oleg Roschin

Beautiful work, Hanorbi! You have great imagination and there is a lot of creativity and emotion in the story. I love the way you've turned the saddest and most scary topic possible into a bizarre, yet strangely pure and innocent romantic story. Excellent work!

Thu, February 11th, 2016 11:48am

Author
Reply

Thank you, Oleg! I appreciate your observations, as they help me figure out my strong points. :D

Thu, February 11th, 2016 12:38pm

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