This one was inspired by my friend asking when I would write a story where it was the narrator's turn to dance. She asked this question after she had read my story 'Speaking Without Words' and so I wrote this one as a reply.
The marble floors felt cold beneath my bare feet as I stepped into the enormous room. Moonlight streamed in through the wall of windows on the opposite side, filling the room with an almost surreal silver glow. The whole room was empty, save for two long strips of brilliant blue cloth that hung from the exact center of the ceiling, almost twenty feet above my head. I stared at them in an unsure state of mind. Part of me drowned with nervousness, the other half just about bubbling over with joy.
The very moment I had seen the room during our initial tour of the house Megan and I were currently visiting, I had known exactly what it was used for; exactly what purpose the blue cloth served. I had said nothing at the time. I had not wanted to interrupt the moment as Megan listened to the description of what events would take place in this very room the following day.
When we had finally gone to bed that night, I had lain awake thinking of the bright white marble room with the gracefully draped fabric. I could not get it out of my mind. I knew what I wanted to do but I was unsure if it was something that I was ready to do in front of others. I wanted the uneasiness to go away about showing my skills, but it stubbornly remained. I knew that it would eventually break, allowing me to see what fun there was to be had in showing others what I could do, but that would be sometime in the future. And I was sure that the future definitely meant something further away than the following day. But still the images of the room danced through my mind and wouldn't let me sleep. There was only one remedy to this situation and I knew full well that I could not refuse.
So I soon found myself standing on cold stone and allowing my eyes to wander up the long ribbons of blue fabric. This was where I could finally let out my frustrations, here in this silvery room with no one to see.
I stepped forward, my feet finding a pattern of quiet grace. I would normally have liked to have music to move to, but tonight it did not matter. A song of epic proportions was building in my head and it felt as though a full blown orchestra had set up in the far corner of the room.
Stepping lightly in a circle I held out one am and allowed the fabric to flow across my skin. I smiled as the silky threads moved like water over my wrist and forearm. My feet moved faster and I twisted my arm into the fabric, wrapping it tightly around my wrist. The music gained intensity in my mind as I broke into a run and felt the blue material tighten. I was flying now; my feet held in an elegant point as I bent my knees and allowed myself to swing out on the end of the blue ribbons. My speed held for one full turn of the rom before I began to settle back down to the floor. I reached out with my other hand and grabbed onto the ribbon just above my right wrist. I slid across the floor for a moment before effortlessly springing to my feet and running for the bank of windows. As I came to the end of the fabric I changed my direction and careened to the left. The fabric tightened again and I lifted off the ground.
The music was reaching a crescendo in my head as I allowed myself to spin in a tight circle. The marble floor brushed my toes as I began to sort out the ribbons into two separate lines. Each one was carefully wrapped around a different wrist and I dropped my feet to slow my momentum. I slid to a stop and began to climb. I wrapped my body in the smooth fabric, each turn and twist a carefully executed move, designed to support and cradle me against the pull of gravity. I twisted slowly in a circle as I moved upwards, relentlessly inching my way to the ceiling.
The music was lighter now, lilting along with the soft sounds of flutes and a gentle piano. Somewhere in the background there was a subtle choir, almost hidden beneath the sound of a single female singer. There were no words, just the melodic voice.
I ceased my journey upwards and hung for a moment in the security of my fabric cradle, still twisting slightly in a slow circle. Then the music burst out again and I moved into an acrobatic descent. My body twisting and turning, unwrapping the fabric in a spiraling dance. Halfway down I halted and started myself swinging. At full arc I deftly twisted my movement into a figure eight and unwrapped myself further still from the fabric support. I stopped when my feet were within inches of the floor and allowed my speed to slow at a natural pace. I was nearly spent, my breath coming in long gasping heaves, but the smile on my face was unmistakable; the elation of the moment welling up from my very core.
I spun to a stop in front of the huge windows and closed my eyes. The music was fading in my head and the floor beneath me was a welcome coolness to my overheated body. I remained there for a long moment as I waited for my breathing to calm and then shakily climbed to my feet. I had probably pushed harder than I should have, my body no longer used to the physical strain of dance, but I didn't care. It had felt so good to just let it come out once more. I had been surprised to find that the whole routine had come back so easily, it had been so long since I had done it last.
I stared out the windows for a few moments before turning around and was startled to find myself looking into Megan's stunned gaze. We stood there for and unknown amount of time, just simply looking at each other with blank minds. I finally managed to break the silence.
"I never saw you there," I said my voice quiet and unsure.
Megan just continued to look at me and I was having a hard time reading her reaction in the low light of the room. So I went on.
"I guess I never told you about this," I said. I turned to look at the blue fabric again, the smile returning, but only a dim reflection of the one that had previously adorned my face.
"I had no idea," she said. I noticed that her voice was almost a whisper, the velvety tone of wonderment making a solid appearance. "Why didn't you tell me?"
I returned my gaze to her face and thought deeply about her question. I honestly didn't know why I had never told her. "I don't know," I said meekly.
The look in her eyes was a mix of disbelief and amazement. "You have a talent," she said. "I never intended to stay. I was just going to go back to bed, but I couldn't stop watching. I never knew."
"I didn't either until I met Claire," I murmured. "It has been a long time since I've done this. Claire taught me a long time ago and I haven't thought about it since, not until they showed us this room on the tour of the house. I never meant it to be a secret, I guess it just happened that way."
Megan stepped forward and pulled me into a hug. "I hope I didn't intrude," she said into my ear. "It was just so beautiful to watch."
I shook my head and eventually pushed her away until she stood at arm's length. "You are always welcome," I said. "I just didn't expect to see anyone this late at night."
She nodded silently and I could see the relief in her eyes. I knew that she would never push her way into my guarded places. She knew that I would eventually let down my walls and show the world what was hiding beyond. I could tell that she felt a certain amount of impatience towards my slowly unravelling shyness, but she never pushed, and for that I was grateful. I would come out of my shell but we both knew that it would take time.
"I'm glad you came," I said as we began walking back to our bedrooms. "Even though I didn't see you until the end, I was dancing for you. You were the one who encouraged me to let go of my worries. You showed me what it was like to just allow myself to feel the exhilaration of a new learned skill." I put my arm over her shoulders and pulled her close, squeezing her tightly in a hug of grateful happiness. "You have taught me so much."
I could feel her melt slightly at the words and I didn't need to see it to know that the smile was there. "I've learned a lot from you too," she said softly. "But I guess I always thought that I was the only one learning anything."
"Nope," I replied with a vigorous shake of my head and a broad smile of my own. "Learning is a two way street with us. Each of us leans from the other. Teach one and you reach us both."
Her grin widened and we stopped in front of her bedroom. She turned to face me and pulled me into another hug, her arms gripping me even tighter than before. "Thank you," she said.
"For sharing yourself with me."
We pulled away from each other, each of us taking in the other's reaction.
"There's more to come," I said after a moment. "Just be patient."
"As always," she said. "As always."
I have always loved the type of dance referred to in this story. You can look it up by just searching for aerial silks.