A/N: This is a short-ish (for me) story that just refused to go away.
There is a song, by a band called Milky Chance, and the song's title is Stolen Dance.
My fave radio station has been flogging it to death here and it's been stuck in my head for weeks. I lie in bed at night and run over the lyrics and one piece of it stuck with me. The part where the lovers dance is interrupted and he's imploring her to 'fetch back the time taken from us'. That struck a chord with me and this story is the result of my brain's reasoning.
The tenses are wrong in some parts as I'm still struggling with that after writing a few stories in different tenses, so I apologise for that. (Please don't point out where I've mucked it up, I'm aware of it and I'm already working on strategies to minimize how and why I do it.)
This is set in Australia, because I'm Australian ;)
I have changed some Aussie-ism's so that other ethnicity's will understand, but there are a few things that are purely Aussie.
I hope you enjoy it.
I've heard and read, in many places and from many men, that they can pinpoint the exact moment – even the exact second – that their lives changed. Usually they are recounting the moment a child was born, the day they exchanged vows with their partner and sometimes even the day they bought that sports car or retired from whatever gainful employment they'd toiled at for decades.
I've listened to men in bars, clubs and gyms talk about the moments in their lives that have changed them spiritually, mentally and even physically.
I've watched movies and plays where the protagonists life unravels or is transformed from an existence into a life of worth when one of those significant moments happens.
And every time I've watched or heard those things I've thought to myself will that ever happen to me?
At thirty-seven I stopped wondering if it would and resigned myself to believing it wouldn't.
It wasn't as though I lived a boring or mundane life either. I had a great family, great friends. I lived in a very nice home and had money to burn. Professionally I had reached if not the top of my game then very close to it and personally I didn't think I lacked for much either.
Sure, my sister – younger by three years as my mother always pointed out with a creased brow - was married and popping out babies while I was, and again I'm quoting my mother, 'behaving like a perpetual bachelor, Edward'.
I hadn't actively looked for a partner or wife but neither had I closeted myself away so they wouldn't find me. I'd dated. I still went out socially with groups of peers and met others my age. I had a full calendar of social engagements to attend, any of which might put me in close proximity to 'the one'. But so far it hadn't. Well, it could have but I didn't see them. Or hear them. Or wasn't introduced to them.
I got to thinking that perhaps my business being so successful was that thing that had changed my life and I was just being ungrateful or selfish for still searching for something else. Maybe my time had been and gone? Maybe I'd met my soul mate and hadn't realised and she'd moved on? Maybe the birth of a child, or the taking of vows, would never happen for me?
At thirty-seven perhaps I should've just been happy to be healthy, wealthy and possibly a little wise?
But that crease in my mother's brow grew deeper every year. The invitations to events where singles might attend, or were needed to even up the numbers at dinner parties, grew increasingly infrequent as pairs formed inside my social group. My sister stopped inviting me to meet her new single friends. My father stopped ribbing me about grandchildren. My grandmother began to sigh at the weddings of cousins and family friends when I attended alone.
It was a slow progression from wild nights at nightclubs 'with the boys' to nights spent pouring over contracts and tenders while the 'boys' stayed home with their wives and listened to the contented sounds of their child snuffling in its sleep.
Weekends away with friends 'for the hell of it' turned into business trips to the middle of nowhere to secure a contract to supply the mother load of steel reinforcing.
Friday nights weren't spent laughing and hollering in a bar while our team did its ass anymore and instead I read about the teams loss in the paper the next morning.
Movies were something I caught the last five minutes of after the financial news finished and less about popcorn and getting told to take my feet down off the back of the theatre seat in front.
I stopped waking the next morning after a friend's birthday party with a hangover that would fell an elephant and instead I woke wondering how the hell I was supposed to get the baby puke smell out of my good dinner jacket.
Meals were not about fuelling up before a big night anymore either. Now they were lessons in chemistry and mathematics designed to keep me trim without having to take time away from work to visit the gym.
Those annoying late night ads for life insurance and final expenses cover made me depressed because I knew I had nobody to leave anything to, or to provide for should I succumb.
The ads for hair loss and erectile dysfunction scared the piss out of me and then one would come on reminding me that in a few short years I'd need a prostate exam and then I couldn't piss at all with fear!
The shopping channel made me see just how clinical my life was. I would never need to buy jewellery for a woman 'just because' and I wasn't ever likely to want to snatch up a bargain priced bed linen package to brighten up my bedroom either. My entire home was chrome and black, just like the inside of my soul began to feel.
In short my life was lonely, work driven and I was bored. I was also being left behind by my peers.
I was professionally successful and personally devoid.
I went to the hospital benefit dinner because it was expected of me. I wore the dinner suit because my mother insisted. I used my grandfathers cufflinks because it made my father proud and I arrived in good time so that my mother could introduce me to all the eligible daughters of my father's colleagues, just as it was expected I would.
I bought the ridiculous voucher for a fortnights holiday use of the ski cabin knowing I'd never use it, then donated it back again after paying for it, because it's what Cullen's do.
I ate the dinner, which could've been roast placemat with a gravel glaze for all the notice I took of it and made polite conversation with the usual philanthropists at my parents table like I did every year. I drank no more or less than was socially acceptable. I danced with my mother and sister as was expected. I shook hands with those who could help my father and danced with the wives of those who could help me. I smiled when a business card was put in my hand and smiled again when I offered my own.
My only break from the mundane was my one and only vice.
I stood on the balcony of that reception centre and inhaled the sweet nicotine of the one and only cigarette I allowed myself daily. I watched the smoke tendrils twist and turn in the cool night air and closed my eyes to savour the flavour of what had once been a serious habit, but was now relegated to just the one after dinner lest I be seen as a social leper by the political correctness of the day.
My mother had given me her usual tut of displeasure as I announced where I'd be and what I'd be doing on that balcony. My father had nodded that he'd heard but offered no opinion, as ever. My brother in law ribbed me with his elbow and whispered how lucky I was to still be allowed to have that one cigarette and my sister ribbed him back, reminding him that he'd given that up years before and shouldn't still be craving it.
And so there I stood. On the balcony enjoying my one, solitary act of pleasure in an otherwise bland existence, when I spied an extraordinary sight.
There was a girl.
If she was tall or short, plump or slim I couldn't tell from the distance I spied her, but it was definitely a girl.
Her long dark hair told me so. It swayed as she swayed.
She was alone and swaying.
I tilted my head to hear better whatever music was playing for those that wished to dance and then looked back at the girl. She swayed exactly to the beat of the music. I doubted she could hear it as clearly as I could, but she kept perfect time all the same.
She looked so carefree, so ...I don't know what, but I was guessing she didn't feel like I did at that point.
I felt lost. Inadequate. As though there was some fundamental part of my make up that was missing or faulty because I couldn't seem to achieve what others were achieving.
But this girl. She looked content. Content enough and confident enough within herself to be outside, after dark, dancing alone.
And then she was gone inside beneath me and I was being dragged back in to be introduced to another of dad's cronies. The moment was lost, the spell broken, and I felt lesser for having not been able to watch her for longer.
The next introduction was swift, the handshake clammy. The man's daughter looked horrified to be palmed off on to me to dance and I must have looked equally horrified as I led her to the floor because my mother gave me a small smile that looked a little like an I'm sorry.
She danced like all the others. Her technique was that borne of years of insisted upon dance lessons and her smile was as forced as mine as we moved about the room. She offered her name, Anthea, I offered mine and when the dance was complete and the music had run its course we parted ways, happily.
As I was moving back toward where my parents stood I caught a glimpse of long dark hair and balked. I dashed to the foyer but I was too late, or the dark hair belonged to someone other than the swaying girl because all I saw in that foyer were others I knew to be attending the benefit.
For whatever reason I didn't think the girl was a guest at the party. I'd certainly not seen her inside the reception room, I'd have remembered her if I had. Maybe. My glimpse of her had been hardly earth shattering or defining. It was just a glimpse. A dark one at that.
Why I wanted to see her again wasn't a part of my reasoning at that point, and for whatever reason the memory of her gently swaying, so carefree, intrigued me enough to want to see her again.
But I didn't. Not once. For the rest of the evening I watched and waited to see her but I didn't. It was as though she was a figment of my imagination. An imagination that so desperately wanted me to have a life that it conjured a swaying girl in the moonlight for me to obsess over.
And I did obsess over it.
For days after the benefit.
Every dark haired woman I came into contact with – and there were plenty because let's face it, dark haired women are everywhere – I studied them to see if it could be her.
After three days my brain began to seek out hips as well as hair colouring. And that's just creepy. Especially for the women I was caught watching.
Twice I thought it was her and twice I was wrong. One wasn't tall enough but I reasoned that from the distance I'd spied her my mathematical brain could've been off by a foot or so, but no. The other was about the right height and had long, flowing dark hair, but she moved less fluidly than the girl I'd seen and so I ruled her out too.
After another week I gave up.
I gave up on the image just like I'd given up on ever having what my friends had.
I gave up on the idea of love, or companionship at the very least.
I gave up on the notion that life might just give me what I lacked.
So I did what I always had and threw myself back into my work and tried to convince myself that I should be content with that.
A/N: So there you have sad-sack Edward's story.
Don't worry, he's not a mopey whiny pain the ass in this one ;)
Oh yes, the usual disclaimers apply.
I didn't write Twilight. SM owns the whole shebang. Blah blah blah.
And anyone who has a penchant for Jake sorry, you're shit outta luck here, again.