A shy young man musters up his courage one evening and forces himself to go to a dance being held in his small town. Drawing in a deep, calming breath, he wipes his damp palms on the front of his tan dress pants and walks through the door.
For the first part of the evening, he simply does reconnaissance. He sips his cola, nursing it until the ice cubes have melted and he’s drinking slightly coloured water. All the time he’s watching, working out the best girl to approach with his request. His eyes are drawn to the flashy ones, the brightly-coloured glittering ones that everyone else’s eyes are drawn to. And finally he works up enough nerve to approach one of them.
She turns him down flat. Doesn’t even bother to respond, really, except with a curt “I’ll pass,” as she turns away.
He’s hurt. Deep down inside a little bit of him shrivels up and dies. But he knows he can’t quit. He approaches another of the beautiful, shining ones. Ten steps from her she lifts a hand, not even allowing him to approach.
That hurts. Stung, he turns to another, and another, and another. A few of them are kinder, thanking him for asking, acknowledging the courage it took to approach them before offering their reasons, often a little rehearsed-sounding, as to why they are unable to accept his kind request at this time.
The man returns to his drink. He glances at his watch. Should he quit? He’d given himself two hours to try and find a partner to dance with and it had already been ten minutes more than that. Maybe he wasn’t meant to dance that night. Or ever. For a moment or two he slumps in his chair, wallowing in that thought, in the self-pity and frustration. Then he straightens up and scans the room again.
This time he looks farther afield, past the first row of glittering, sought-after partners, to the rows of girls loitering alone or in loosely clustered groups further back. And he sees her, standing there, a glass of slightly-coloured, melted ice drink clutched in her hand as she watches the couples whirling around the floor. She doesn’t look concerned about the fact that she isn’t out there with them, just interested, aware of what they are doing yet not at all compelled to do it too. He likes that.
The young man straightens his tie, pushes to his feet and crosses the room toward her. Their eyes meet when he’s still five or six feet away and he falters a little, holds his breath as he waits to see if she too will lift a hand to discourage his advances. She doesn’t. A small smile crosses her face, not bright and shiny, but enough to encourage him to come closer.
His eyes don’t leave hers. They’re beautiful, an unusual dark blue that draws him in and loosens up the muscles that have knotted in his shoulders. How had he missed seeing her earlier? Too distracted by all the glitz and glitter, he guessed, berating himself for his foolishness. He takes his first deep breath of the evening and stops in front of her.
The man holds out a slightly-trembling hand, palm up. “Would you care to dance?”
The blue eyes study him for a moment. That’s fair. He’d figured out pretty quickly that she was the right dance partner for him, but she needs to be sure too. The five seconds it takes her to decide seem like an eternity to him, but then her smile widens and she nods her head and places her hand in his. “Yes, thank you.”
He leads her to the dance floor and they join the other couples already out there moving to the music. They don’t follow the same steps as everyone else does; they make up their own. Sure of themselves now that they have both found the perfect partner, they whirl around and around until, breathless with laughter, they slow down to take in the moment. He marvels at how perfectly she fits in his arms, how in sync their movements are. The realization that others are watching them, that in fact the floor has cleared around them to give them room, slowly sinks in.
It’s a nice feeling, but neither of them revels in it too deeply. That isn’t why they are dancing, after all. They dance to celebrate that they persevered, that neither of them gave up, that they have, at last, found each other.
Much can be learned from this couple, whether you’re trying to get published, or are just getting up the nerve to start working on a manuscript: the importance of taking risks, sweating palms and knotted shoulders notwithstanding, the value of stepping back and scouting out the field to determine your best possible match, the possibilities that exist beyond the obvious, more popular ones. And the inestimable worth of never giving up, of persevering through rejection after rejection until the right one in the right place at the right time finally says “Yes, let’s do it, let’s dance together.”
Rejection hurts. But it holds no power over the person who always bears in mind that the one who says no is the wrong one, serving to keep the path clear to the right one, the one who will say yes.
After all, the only thing a no can do, in the end, is make the yes that much sweeter, and the dance all the more beautiful.
Sara Davison has been a finalist for three national writing awards: Best New Canadian Christian Author; Best Column – Single; and Best Novel – Mystery or Suspense. Davison is a member of three different writers’ groups, two of which she helped to found. Her favourite way to spend the days (and nights) is drinking coffee – a running theme throughout her novels – and making stuff up.
Visit Sara’s website: Choose to Press On
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