No one knew how young they were when first they met in the dancing place. He entered from the east and she from the west. The trees arched above in cathedral splendor. The floor was the elegance of rustling leaves, hardy grasses and moss. He smiled, she smiled. They laughed and skipped in the leaves. Neither knew who first suggested the dance.
Over the years they would meet. The children changed with time, hair and clothes, features maturing. The trees and grasses made way for walls and parquet floor. No one quite knew how that particular place was chosen to be the dance hall. The years pass by in the swirl of the dance yet always when it ended he would leave to the east and she would leave to the west.
During the war she would enter alone. No one spoke, wondering what she would do. Turning her face to the east she raised her arms for the dance and swirled. His mates remember a particular night the artillery silenced inexplicably and he stood turning his face to the west. Holding up his arms he silently danced. No one talked about it, and for some strange reason, this act passed without the normal comrade banter.
When next they met on the dance floor, he entered in a wheelchair. His face held a sad hope, acknowledging his broken body and the years between. Wrapped around his shoulders was a red robe given him in memory of his heroism. When she entered she looked at him with the smile of welcome that broke the icy bitterness growing around his heart.
They danced through the years only on that one night, leaving each time through their separate doors. No one knew why or what their lives held, but they would meet for this one dance. That she would bend her stance to the wheel chair and later changed arm holds to accommodate crutches then cane would simply become a part of their ritual.
The last time he enters the hall he is old and wizened. His body curls up into itself and his trembling, age spotted hands can hardly hold up the red robe that drapes his shrunken figure. There is a sad certainty in his rhumy eyes. This time he would dance alone. Those who bring him wheel his chair into the center of the room and step away. He would still have this dance. He would dance to remember.
Suddenly a pale shadow of a woman appears before him. She is old like him and yet her skin is unwrinkled, her body tall and straight. “Did you think I wouldn’t come?” She asks him with the easy smile he has always known.
She walks to him and holds out her arms in the dancing embrace that had swirled through their lives. He can barely lift his arms so she gently lifts them in the flexibility that had always played a part in this moment. He closes his eyes and they begin the dance one last time.
The slow clumsy movement becomes a dance of glory, the wheelchair soon left behind as they dance. Their bodies grow backwards through the years until they are children again, dancing in the cathedral of trees.
This time when the dance ends, they do not part. Arm and arm they walk toward the door opening in the north line of trees and leave the dancing place together.