She Said
John A. Ward

"I'm sorry, I can't talk to you now. I'm making a marble cake and I have to go put the marbles in it." I laughed. It was witty. She hung up. I called to invite her to the dance. "No, thank you," she said, "I went to a dance with you once before, remember?" I did. I really didn't dance, and I felt uncomfortable around girls. I was shy. I tried a few abortive slow shuffles around the floor when the Platters crooned Twilight Time. I didn't even attempt rock'n'roll or cha-cha. Dance was a miserable venue for me.

"How about a movie then?" I said. That's when she delivered the punch line. It was an unkind cut, to kill while your victim is still laughing. She was so cute, I never dreamed she was capable of such cruelty. She had raven black hair, though now I can't remember whether it was curly or page boy. Wait, I know. I can see it. It was curly. Of course, she could have dyed her hair. It was unnaturally black.

She wore sweaters. That I remember. And she wore them well. She had breasts, and in high school, that was a definite plus.

I wish I could meet her today because now I can dance. In fact, I'm damn good. I'm better than the average male. I'm better than a lot of women, too. Now they tell me they don't want to dance with me because they're afraid I'll be disappointed with them. But you can never believe a woman. They will lie just to be nice. They won't say, "I don't want to dance with you because I'm tired of being groped and fondled by every would-be Romeo to come down the pike."

If she danced with me now, I would give her the best dance, and another, and another, every number the musicians played. What I didn't know, I would fake. I'm good enough to do that. I would be very nice the whole time and I would never mention how she ripped out my heart and stomped on it when I was a meek and callow youth.

I would treat her like a goddess, until the music stopped and the lights went up and everybody was going out for coffee, to extend their acquaintance for as long as they could. Then I would reach into my pocket and take out the marble that I always carry there and I would kiss her fingers and fold that glass orb gently into her palm and I would say, "Put that in your cake."

Even if she didn't remember me, I would still walk away with a vendetta-accomplished smile.

First published: August 2002