The Last Dance

Standard disclaimer applies; not my characters or settings or backgrounds. But they are my words.

Standing in a dark garden, an elderly woman looked into a brightly lit room. She was clad in a simple white robe, a hood covering her grey and thinning hair. Music spilled out into the warm night, and she watched as the couples moved in precise steps and turns. Minbari did not dance, but the Alliance had many members who did, and occasionally a formal reception ended with the practice of the art.

Stars filled the night sky, performing their own celestial dance, imperceptibly turning, circling an undefined center. Many beings of many races had tried to locate that focal point, the heart of the galaxy, but none had yet succeeded. The stars looked so close this time of year, like candle flames shining against the dark fabric of space.

You are the brightest star in my sky, he had told her when he had left her. The stars may seem close enough to touch, but they remain out of reach, isolate and burning, consuming themselves until they fail and fade.

Earlier in her life, she had danced. Even after he had gone, she would go to the parties, the diplomatic functions, and participate in the ritual. Never would she accept a partner for the final dance of the evening. Unfailingly polite, she declined so graciously that no one was ever offended. They were only curious when they saw her smile, full of secrets and hidden pain. She knew the map of her sky, and the location of her heart. She would keep faith...and always, always, save the last dance.

"All stars stand close in summer air
And tremble, and look mild as amber;
When wicks are lighted in the chamber
You might say stars were settling there."

Leonie Adams