Jake asked my mother to dance and I watched lovingly as they formally held each other amid the couples of all ages that packed the dance floor. The stern faced women wore their hair stiffly coiffed and shoes dyed to match dresses made of silk and taffeta. Their rough and stocky men seemed caged in their suits of fine wool all the while handling their women with great deference as they circled around and through the limited space. These older couples danced their own distinct interpretation of a jaunty foxtrot or fast-paced free dance that was out-of-step with the modern beat but not out of touch with each other.
The teenaged girls wiggled and grinded sensually to the strange rhythms with their feet precariously wedged into spiked heals and their youthful hips squeezed into tiny black rubber skirts that accentuated their long, elegant legs. They tossed their long, blonde hair seductively and laughed rambunctiously while their coolly sophisticated boyfriends pretended not to notice. We were all of us, Jews, different and yet the same, sharing a comradeship of history and tradition that enabled a Texan and a New Yorker to feel connected as they danced in the soft lights among immigrants who brought Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Odessa to Brooklyn.
Under the influence of the several shots from the bottle of Stolichnaya, my mother and Jake laughed easily as they made their way around the crowded dance floor. My mother’s high spirits shined through her eyes and I caught a glimpse of her youthful self emerge as she swayed and twirled. I watched with loving eyes as Jake tossed back his head in mirth in his awkward attempt to feel comfortable dancing to unfamiliar music sung in a foreign tongue. I could see the broad wide smile that charmed me from the first and I knew that my mother had also succumbed. I thanked Jake silently for bringing such happiness to all of us on this magical night.
As I watched bathed in the warm glow of my emotions, I suddenly sensed a shift in pace and timing. The music’s cadence became distorted and too slow, like a recording played at the wrong speed. The lighting dimmed and flickered and long shadows formed along the walls. I squinted and noticed that my mother’s demeanor had changed and she was no longer smiling. I could see her black, crocheted gloved hand with exposed fingertips whip a fan up and down so rapidly that it looked like a butterfly. This gesture emphasized her displeasure.
A fan? That’s very odd.
With her other hand my mother held Jake’s arm as they twirled in place. Jake’s starched shirt collar stood upwards around his neck and sported some type of tied scarf. His long and fitted suit jacket gave him an aristocratic air and his hair curled down his back in a tied-back ponytail.
Why is he dressed like that?
Suddenly, a heavy weight on my chest made it hard to breathe. A familiar state of anxiety borne from many years of stress surged through me. I was simultaneously the observer and the observed and with this power I knew with certainty there was a bad finish to this scene. But where was this scene happening? And more importantly, when?
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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism
Rating – PG-13
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.