The Flip Side (500 words)

The music stopped, but we kept dancing.  We could hear the melody going on, even though the musicians were packing up.

I began humming the first song we’d ever heard together, that night we went to see The Great Gatsby, then headed to Ala Wai Clubhouse.  There was a ballroom dance for the students.  We joined in.  I realized that’s the last time we’d danced.

I could hear “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?” in my memory.  Corny, I know.  It had been out for months, but they were still playing the hell out of it.  That night at Ala Wai, I had a strong feeling I knew what I’d be doing, with you, and everything about that wish was coming true.

It was like time travel.  Streisand’s bigger hit, “The Way We Were,” was getting competition on the charts from her own B-side of that single.

“Excuse me.”

A tap on my shoulder.  I stopped humming, opened my eyes.


“We’re closing.  Time to go.”

“Can’t we dance here a little longer?”

He gave me a strange look, as though he thought I’d had too much to drink.  I had.

“I’m sorry.  Did you say ‘we?’”

“Yes, us two.  If you could let us finish the song I’m humming.”

He cleared his throat.  “Please, sir, you really need to go.”

Sliding into the car, drunk as I was, I decided to drive anyway.  You didn’t say anything on the way to your house; I tried to figure out if you were upset.

“What is it?” I finally asked, your silence killing me.  And then it came to me.  “Oh, right, the whole Gatsby thing.  It’s still bothering you.”

Actually, it was always the same thing.  Why did I have to think so hard about it?  I’d known she didn’t like blood in movies, so the death of Gatsby shook her.

“Again, I’m sorry,” I said. “I should have told you there’d be bloodshed.  But as I’ve said, I didn’t want to ruin the story for you, since you hadn’t read the book.”


Trying to improve the mood, I said, “I like that last bit, where Nick Carraway says we keep rowing against the tide, trying to go backward, even though time’s pushing us forward.  That kills me every time I think about it.  Anything we might desire from the past, any person, any situation, anything.  You can’t get back to it.  It’s always getting farther away.  The tide of time rules.  You always lose.  Even though Gatsby thinks you can repeat what’s happened in the past, you can’t.”

I came to a stop outside her house.  The old routine.  I’d done it a thousand times.  The house was dark.

“Come on,” I said.  “That was like six months ago.  I don’t know how many times I have to apologize for what I did to you.”

Back home, I lay in bed thinking about our dance, and I started humming our song again to sleep.

Talk story

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