Another Excerpt from "Niagara Falls All Over Again"

by Elizabeth McCracken

That night, we danced. We’d only ever danced during my lessons, but now we jitterbugged. Then double time. Then quadruple. I couldn’t tell whose idea it was to speed up, mine or hers or the band’s, but I realized that everyone else had stopped dancing and had cleared space for us. I’ve always wanted to be that guy, I thought. Maybe they were just doing it because it was our party, but I didn’t care. I spun her from me and then back. I missed her when a step took her farther away, and I tried to prevent sweat from dripping off my nose and onto her face when she was near. We were both laughing, even though laughing was an effort. I could feel my back suddenly soppy wet. Surely the song was nearly over. It wasn’t. I’d never danced this hard in my life, and I couldn’t tell whether I was giddy because I danced or vice versa. People around us clapped, which would have given us permission to stop, but I couldn’t imagine doing that until the end of the song, which in my mind had become our wedding itself, and would I walk out on that? My lungs hurt. My heart felt slightly bruised.

Finally. End of song (were those sons of bitches putting on all those extra flourishes to kill me?). Applause. Lovely. I collapsed onto a nearby chair. For a second Jessica stood, fanning the backs of her legs with her skirt. Then she sat down primly on my knees. Despite myself, I took her by the waist and slid her closer to me, both of us still panting. When she leaned I could feel that her shirt was soaked through, too.

She arched her back away from me for a minute, and then settled the backs of her shoulders onto the front of mine. She said, "I’m afraid I’m sticking to you."

I said, "Please."

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