Oh, the comfort, the inexpensive comfort, of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
-- George Elliot
Spotting the glistening eyeballs, Paul Peter grabs Despina's hand as she rises. "Well, you'll just wallow in self-pity if we all stand around reliving your failure. Come on. I haven't ever danced with you sober."
"That makes ME sound like a lush! I've always been sober!" Despina snaps waspishly, trying to jerk her hand free.
He tows her to the dance floor, where he turns out to be a surprisingly good dancer. Dejectedly, she relaxes against him, letting the music wash over her.
Soon, she embarks on a stream of consciousness monologue. "I always seem to manage to scare men spit-less. You're not supposed to openly show tenderness, then fiery passion. The one reminds him of his mother, and the other brands you an evil temptress. Heaven forbid if you show both sides to the same person in a short time span!"
"If you're male, having both compassion and passion is rare,” Paul Peter, never at a loss for words, confides without his usual rancor. “Tenderness is equated with weakness, so we guys tend to cover it up."
"So I've noticed.” Despina observes. After a pause, she continues thoughtfully, “Or overcompensate once they feel they've shown their tender side in error. Those who have it either use it incompetently, or indiscriminately. Anyone who expects a monogamous relationship is at horrid risk. Been there, done that."
"Was I really that bad?" queries Paul Peter, running his hands up and down her back as he raises his eyebrows in an inept imitation of Mick.
"I don't need yet another lesson on the perils of relationships,” she dodges. “My shell is too fraught with cracks, too fragile. I didn't come here to rekindle lost loves, especially not imaginary ones.” She leans away from him. “I wasn't thinking about romance at all. I just felt a change of scene was in order."
Settling her back against him, Paul Peter consoles, "We had some good times."
"Thanks for the condoms, and even more for the concern for a fellow human being's well-being that their offer represents, but here are the rest." Leaning back, she fishes them out. "I don't need them. He turned me down the instant I took one out. It didn't seem to mean to him that I was willing to take him up on his offer...
"Story of my life.” Despina wilts into his shoulder. “Missed chances, and opportunities that evaporate by the time I'm ready for them emotionally, physically, mentally, or finally have time for them...
Straightening, she tries to brush her tears off his shoulder. "I'd better go. I'm not fit company for my worst enemy in this mood."
As she turns, she notices the grump dancing with the best cook. With a sad smile, she continues, "Well, at least someone is making positive lifestyle changes tonight."
Heading over to Nancy, she makes her regrets and leaves, alone.
Last updated 2/25/10 Added “tells”. 8/9/04 ? 1/22/03.
Word Count: 545