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Objective Correlative attempt -A-
McMurdo Writer's Group Exercise #4





He steps into a puddle of sweat. His foot slides and she grips his hand. He doesn't fall.

"This is a mistake."

They stop close to the center of the blonde hardwood. Others shuffle by, touching. Light hands on shoulders. Fingers to the small of the back. Excusing.

She has both his hands in hers. Curls her fingers.

"Like this," she says. Shows him the grip.

"It's like climbing the rock wall," he says.

"So I can lean and you won't let me go. See?" She shifts her weight backward. He tenses his arms to keep her from falling over. She pulls herself upright. Smiling.

"You like this so much."

"You won't let me fall."

The house lights dim. A white spot hits the mirror ball and a thousand snowflakes of light begin tracing circles around them. Over them. The music starts. She starts moving, lockstep with the rhythm.

He tries to follow. He catches the first three measures, and then he's off one beat. In a few seconds, he's out of phase.

He stops, standing straight while she bobs in time.

"How do you do that?" he says.

"It's easy."

"This really isn't a danceable song."

"Sure it is."

He looks around. Others are spinning, bobbing, stepping, smiling.

"This is stupid."

"Just relax. Just be with me."

"How can I relax--" A guy with a grin the size of Montana twirls a woman who crashes into him, then brushes herself off as if she's just run into a tree.

The woman says, "Sorry," to the air and continues on. The guy nods. The crowd absorbs them.

"How can I relax when I have to remember this step and this spin and--this beat. It's not regular. They keep changing it." He drops her hands. Looks at the guys in the band. Looks at other people dancing.

"Ok. Let's just start at the beginning." She stops. Squares off. Takes his hands. Finds his eyes with hers. "Just look here. Look at me. Don't be nervous."

"I'm not nervous."

"You're so tense. It's about relaxing. Just feel it." She moves his hands, swaying. After two arcs, he resists. They're out of sync. He drops her hands. She spins once on her toes. "It's okay. Really. Let's try again."

"I can't. I just can't. Don't know why I let you talk me into this."

He starts walking toward their table in the peripheral darkness.

"Where are you going?" she says. Grabs at his wrist. He pulls away.

"Someone else will dance with you. I'll watch."

She follows to the table. Stops. Sets her jaw. Balls her fists. Stamps a foot.

She's still standing like that when he pulls his coat off the back of the chair and puts it on.

"Go on," he says. "You didn't really want to dance with me anyway."

She storms to the table. "What is wrong with you?"

He pulls his lips into a smile. Swallows. "Come on. Who are we kidding here? You know I can't dance."

"Then why'd you come?"

"Because I knew what you'd do if I said, 'no.'"

"That's the only reason."

He coughs. Wipes at a sudden itch on his forehead. One at his eye. His nose. "Come on. Nobody can dance to this song."

"Then what are all these people doing?"

He moves toward her, a little too fast. When they're toe-to-toe he freezes. Says, "You made me come here because you know how much I hate it."

"Because you hate it. Is that what you think?"

"It's not what I think. It's what I know."

She puts a hand to her mouth. Inhales. She turns away.

He says, "Wait. I didn't mean it like that."

"When are you going to stop doing things you don't mean?"

He reaches to touch her, but she pulls away. She says, "Just--just go away."

"Don't be silly," he says, blocking her retreat into the mass of dancers.

"No," she says, first looking into his eyes, and now looking away. "No, and I really mean it."

"Whatever you want," he says. Eyes fixed on the exit he traverses the dining room. Through the double glass doors and outside into the dark clear night. Cold air hits him in the face. Condenses his breath into dim white wisps.

He sets his jaw. Clenches his fists. Pounds the top of a newspaper vending machine. Once. Twice.

Takes a breath. Holds it.

On the exhalation he bursts through the restaurant doors, out of the cool silence and into the warm moist thumping. Tosses his coat on the table as he passes. Finds her in the crowd and moves toward her dancing alone, a little too slow for the music.

When she's close enough he tries to take her by the shoulders, but she pulls away. Tries to take her hand, but she pulls away.

"Why didn't you--" he starts to say when he has her eyes for a few seconds. She looks away. He puts himself between her and another guy, who at first objects, then backs off when he beats him down with a threatening glance.

When he turns back, she's moving off the dance floor.

Chases her to the table.

"Why didn't you--" he says to her back. Then he reaches around her and pulls away the coat from her chair she was about to take.

She hesitates, then marches out of the restaurant. Cell phone in hand, she dials and then holds it to her ear.

"Why?" he says when she starts talking. "Why?" when she tries to move away from him, again.

She swings the phone away. Eyes tearing.

She says, "What's wrong with you? I told you to get lost. Or didn't you get me? I don't lie like you do. I don't say what I don't mean."

"What do you want from me?"

"All I wanted was one simple thing. It was too much for you."

He raises his palms. "I can't--"

She's crying now, turning from him and heading back into the restaurant.

He takes her by the shoulders and spins her around.

She says, "No. Let me go. Nothing means anything to you."

"It all means everything to me."

"Stop. Let me go or I'll scream."

"Ok. But I have one thing to say."

"Great. Tell me another lie."

He releases her. Takes a step backward, then when he's sure he has her attention he says, "A white rhino tusk."

She purses her lips. Wipes at her eyes. "What?"

He shouts, "A white rhino tusk. A frigging white rhino tusk--horn--his horn. A moon rock. The head of Alfredo Garcia. A flawless two-carat 'D' color diamond with a perfect fifty-three degree table."

She stares at him. Squinting. Shivers.

"Mark Twain's shinbone." He takes two steps sideways. One back. Spins on his heels.

"You're crazy."

"Beethoven's hearing aid." He pirouettes.

She says, "Cut it out." He sees the muscles on the edge of her mouth twitch. Not quite yet a smile.

"A condom from Bill Clinton's wallet."

He tries doing the twist. Stumbles. Nearly falls on his ass tripping off the curb. Catches himself. Makes it back to her.

"All of these things--I had 'um all lined up. Was having them gift wrapped," he says. "But you ask for the hardest goddamned thing, straight off. I'm thinking, it's only uphill from here. Soon you'll have me busting into museums, stealing King Tut's dental floss."

Now she smiles a bit. "What would I do with any of those things?"

"This is really..."

"It's only hard because you make it impossible."

"It's only hard--I've got a great joke about that but it's probably the wrong time."

She grins. Says, "You can leave if you want," turns and walks back into the restaurant. He follows.

She takes her coat. He says, "Give me another chance. I got a little crazy before."

"I can't take any more of that."

"Ok. No more."

"You have to promise. You have to mean it. Better yet, just don't say anything."

He crosses his heart with a finger tip. Runs it across his lips. Tosses away an imaginary key. Lets her lead him back onto the dance floor.

She wraps her arms around his shoulders. Lips to his ear as he begins swaying hopelessly out of sync with the music,
she says, "Maybe the diamond."

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