Author's Note: I know I said you couldn't expect to hear from me again, due to some very rude reviews left a month or so ago, but I wanted to post this here. It's in an attempt to lure katakechicken in, because I don't know her regular email address. So if you're reading this Erin, you'd best email me! I've something to show you!
The hatch was empty of everyone except her. Its usual occupants had long-since left, venturing into the jungle to parts unexplored. And they had left her behind, just as they always had and no doubt always would. The unfairness of it only glanced off her mind, however, as this time, she didn't mind having a moment alone.
With a switch at the wall, she dimmed the flickering fluorescent lights above–those that had not gone out. For a second, they shone within her eyes, then died. Died as if the very life within them had been snatched away. But she didn't notice this, even if someone else did. All she noticed, as the room fell into shadows and became cluttered with undefined shapes, was the old record player.
She'd touched it before, but never had she been alone with it to play whatever she so desired. As she examined the multitude of albums, the discs safely slipped inside, she felt a certain thrill at her ability to choose. A world of music was at her fingertips, and there wasn't anyone there to tell her which one to pluck from the shelf.
But after several moments of contemplation, she closed her eyes and extended her hands. Her fingers brushed against the tattered corners of the albums, and from her sense of touch alone, she selected one, pulling it free from the others.
She didn't recognize the name. Even the songs, as they spun from the crackling disc, were unfamiliar. Slow and melancholy.
Without thinking, she moved her feet in quiet, awkward steps, just off the music's rhythm.
One two three, one two three...
She counted the beat in her head, furrowing her brow. A waltz. She frowned slightly, and she staggered. She hadn't ever liked dancing–not like this. She'd never been so graceful as the slender women she'd seen on the television, gliding and glittering across the screen with their painted lips pursed. She wasn't one of them, though at one point, she had secretly envied them.
But now, she was just Kate. Kate the fugitive. Kate who climbed trees and hunted boar.
Her steps turned more daring, even angry, as she began to fall into the tune that played. She held her right arm out, her hand grasped around that of an imaginary partner, and together they spun in circles around the hatch. Sometimes she led, and sometimes she followed, but never did she feel in control.
Suddenly, she stumbled, her head spinning in a dizzy delirium. It was like she was watching herself fall, only she never hit the ground. Never felt the impact. All she felt was the pair of strong arms that grasped her from behind and held her tight until all she could do was sink into them and breathe.
"Why you cryin', Freckles?" His Southern drawl was but a whisper in her ear. She hadn't noticed the wetness of her cheeks until now, but as she did, she shivered.
"Let me go, Sawyer," she murmured feebly. As she blinked, she felt the dampness from her clinging eyelashes trail along her skin. "And I'm not crying."
"You ain't kidding nobody but yourself, Sassafras."
He brought her to her feet, and she stood there listlessly, unable to meet his eyes.
"C'mon now, lemme show you how it's done."
She felt the roughness of his palm as he laced his fingers between hers, his other hand resting just above her hip. Then she looked up at his rugged face, and he smiled.
And they led each other in a melancholy waltz.