Next Dance

Carly put down the last of her boxes as she looked around her new room. She was finally finished moving in the apartment she wanted. After many setbacks including quarantine restrictions she had successfully convinced her mother to let her board in a share-house.

She had two other housemates who she was now friends with; Dennise a sporty girl and Anna who was as sweet as her cooking. There was another fourth person but according to the other two, she couldn’t come back after leaving for a bit because of COVID and some unforeseen circumstances.

“Finished settling in?” Anna came by with a mug of hot chocolate.

“Thanks.” Carly took the offered mug. “Not yet, I need to do some arrangements. Where is Dennise?”

“Oh, she went off on her usual hiking adventure yesterday, but she’ll be back tomorrow early morning, we have plans to go somewhere, so it’s just us until then.” Anna said.

Carly sips her mug in delight, then asks, “Are you guys sure Melissa wouldn’t mind me having her room here? What if she changes her mind and comes back.” She referred to the fourth former housemate.

“If only she could, but she wouldn’t mind.” Anna assured Carly. “She would be happy another dancer took her place.”

Carly choked and nearly spat out her drink. “I-I don’t dance! I-I mean, not anymore at least.” She stuttered.

“How come?” Anna asked.

“Other priorities, anyway my mom is the real dancer. I just did it because of her.” I'm not as bold as I used to be, Carly added mentally.

“That’s a shame, if Melissa was here she would pester you to dance with her.” Anna sighed sadly, missing her friend.

Anna left and Carly was back to arranging her room. Later that night when Anna was asleep, Carly was still awake rummaging through a cabinet. Noticing something below, she crouched down and saw a gap beneath that had two boxes hidden.

Out of curiosity she opened one and found a pair of red shoes. They had glitter and fake gemstones, with added designs that she was sure weren’t included when they were sold. Obviously they were customized, by Melissa, according to a note that said Melissa’s Lovelies. The design was gaudy but it was pretty, the urge to try them on came onto Carly.

In the end she gave in and put them on. Standing in front of the living room mirror, she saw------an average girl with messy bed-hair wearing shorts and T-shirt with the only defining feature other than the look that needed a shower was the pair of glamorous shoes on her feet.

Carly blinked, “Well, I guess it could have been better,” She thought, thinking a clean-up was necessary. Then an idea came to her, she did a few poses and dance moves that she would never display to any other people, before abruptly stopping

Go on! Don’t stop now what you started!” A cheerful and high voice loudly said.

Carly jumped from fright, she turned frantically expecting Anna or Dennise, only to see someone unexpected.

The young woman had a light touch of make-up, not too thick or small. Her curly blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail with a checkered handkerchief. She wore a glittering silver blouse and bright red skirt. It was a person she barely knew. Glamorous was the first word that came to her mind when she saw her, the person on a picture her fellow housemates showed her before.

“A-are you Melissa!”

Melissa spread her arms, “Yours truly!

Carly was surprised to see her, but then realized not only had she witnessed her posing and dancing but the fact that she was wearing her shoes without permission.

“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to wear them without asking but you weren’t here so….” Carly felt embarrassed with her feeble apology.

Oh no. No need to be sorry. Those shoes are temptation itself, but why did you stop? The mood, the emotion and those dance moves, you had been radiating joy!” Melissa asked with a bit of disappointment.

“W-what! No! It was embarrassing, I mean, I would never have the courage to even dance like that in front of other people.” Carly stammered.

Melissa pursed her lips, then had a mischievous smile. “Ok, you can borrow my lovelies, but return it later ok. Let’s reignite the love for dance.” Without further ado, Melissa started shaking and swaying to the music that suddenly played out of nowhere, Dancing Queen.

You can dance! You can jive! Having the time of your life!” Melissa waves around her arms while using both hands to point at Carly. She kept going along the rhythm adding her own tune. Carly, despite her initial hesitation, slowly let go of her inhibitions and started dancing with her.

Both girls went on dancing for the rest of the night. Carly vaguely remembered going to bed exhausted, Melissa had told her good night when she retired, but she did not end her dancing and continued where they left it. Later in the morning Carly woke up, not as refreshed as she’d expect from a good sleep.

Then she recalled the last night’s activity, the sudden arrival of Melissa and the impromptu two-person dance party they did. It all felt like a fever dream, or was it really just a dream? Carly shook her head and got up from her bed, her feet hit something on the floor. Looking at the object, it was a familiar pair of glamorous shoes, the same ones she had on and danced with!

“Aah!” Carly gasped. “She really is something,” She whispered, then got a hold of herself after shaking off her embarrassment and went out taking the shoes with her.

She saw Dennise was back checking her things in the bag she was unpacking and Anise was cooking breakfast while still wearing her sleepwear. Carly greeted them good morning to which they returned, then both noticed the item she carried.

“Whoah! Is that what I think it is!?” Dennise said gawking at the pair placed on the table.

“I found these under the cabinet in my room, they’re Melissa’s right.” Carly replied helping herself to some toast.

“Oh my gosh! It’s like she’s back here again!” Anise teary-eyed said as she came closer to inspect the shoes.

Carly thought she was just very close to her friend, so she didn’t think much of her teary reaction. She wondered if Melissa was hiding in another room, guessing the girl had not informed her friends of her arrival last night.

“We’ll have to bring this with us later,” Dennise says as she patted Anise on the shoulder. “Thanks for finding these Carly. Melissa will be happy she got her shoes back.”

“Your welcome,” Carly replied, but then realized something. “Wait, isn’t Melissa supposed to be here? Why can’t you just give it to her now?”

“Huh?” Dennise looked at her confused. She looked at Anise who was also confused, but then put her hands to her mouth as her face showed comprehension.

“Oh! I wasn’t clear at all when I told her.” Anna realized, looking at Carly who was in turn more confused. Anise’s expression turned sad. “Remember when I said Melissa couldn’t come back here because of COVID? It wasn’t just because of the quarantine restrictions. She also caught the virus and, well, didn’t make it.” She sighed as she recalled.

“What!” Carly yelled aghast. “But then, who? Last night! What!” She though frantically.

Dennise shook her head, now gloomy. “Yeah, it was awful. If she was here, you two would definitely get along. She was as passionate about dancing that it made people want dance with her.”

The rest of the morning had a subdued feeling; Anna and Dennise were being sentimental seeing the favorite pair of shoes of their deceased friend, Carly was a mixture of shock, confusion and was feeling some chills.

Later Dennise and Anna left before lunch. It was only then, did Carly understood that the trip they planned before was visiting Melissa’s grave and all those times Anise was cleaning she was actually looking for their friend’s last belonging. Now that they’ve found it, they were finally giving it back to the rightful owner. So Carly was left alone to contemplate.

After thinking about everything she learned, she went back to her room, took the other box beside where Melissa’s shoes were and opened them. Another pair, similar to the ones she wore, but without any glittering design or added touches from customization was contained. There was a note as well and Carly had a very strong gut feeling that there was not any before.

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She read it. “Thanks for giving my lovelies back. You can have these, hope you don’t let the love of dancing rust away. The next dance is yours!” Carly could imagine Melissa cheerfully telling her this.

Carly couldn’t help but smile, then put the pair on.

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