The Dancing Angel

Art supplies, the keys to her lifeblood, surrounded us. She held a Styrofoam cup half-full of green tea. The music slipped from speakers to ears, and after a while, I heard her begin to sing softly. I had never heard her sing before. Her hips swayed, and she raised her hands above her head in a kind of ballet move as the words changed, dancing around the room.

It was the last day. We were cleaning away the remnants of the last class, the remnants of the summer. There were tears hiding in my heart, but I looked over and saw her cleaning, knew that we were in this together, and held them back.

She twirled and swayed as she moved, dancing while we cleaned. Love stood behind her, in the form of her husband, changing the music.

I smiled softly as I realized that peace had come to her at last in this job, this place, this moment. There are few that have to weather as many storms in their lives as she had, and I admired her resilience. She spun slowly, gracefully, greeting the hardships of her life with a beautiful inner defiance. I watched her move, listened as she hummed, and knew that she was like no one else in the world.

She was my inspiration, my friend, my Manda.

Replacing her tea, she came over to me, put her hands around my waist, and turned me 'round. A repeating thought: we were together in this, as we had been together in life, as we would be. There was a beautiful, deep companionship in that movement, an expression of a promise that we would be connected forever, whether we met again or not. I laughed, glad to have her here, glad to know her, glad to be reminded that there was passion in life. But most of all, I was grateful beyond words to know the hidden promise in her actions.

A knock on the door. I looked up, and swallowed back sudden tears for the hundredth time that day. Mother had come; it was time to leave at last. My eyes misted for a moment. When would I see her again? This season, this place, was where we met, where we hugged. Otherwise, our connection was limited to e-mail and the once-in-a-blue-moon phone call. I thought of this, and was suddenly, powerfully seized by the very real fear that I would lose her. That she would not be able to return next year, that our friendship would be limited to memories now. Our eyes connected, and we embraced. She kissed my cheek, we said farewell and expressed our friendship.

"I'll miss you, Manda-love." I meant it, and she saw the truth in my words.

"I'll miss you too."

That was all I needed to hear, just then. I smiled again, and then it was time. I turned, waved to her husband, and followed my mother out the door.

I have spoken to her a few times since then, but that was months ago. I worry about her now, wonder if she's alright, and hope for the best. She is gone, but her passion and love are with me every day. I pray for her safety, and for the possibility of reunion next year. But even if I never see her again, I will always remember that afternoon. That day, I saw the epitome of real beauty. That day, an extraordinary girl named Amanda Bret showed her true self, in a room that contained all that she loved, and she was a dancing angel.

Author's Note: I'm back! It's certainly been awhile, hasn't it? As always, please review. But remember that this story is based on actual events, and is about someone very dear to me, so please be gentle. Constructive criticism is welcome. Thank you for reading, and may you go in peace. It's good to be back! Review away!

Always believe, Nimue