White knuckling through the busy thoughts in her head, Mika tries to figure out how things happened in a snap.
She is holding a sliver of foil paper between her index and middle finger, the folds and creases of which have become permanent, like patina on an old and reliable instrument. The silver parts of the paper have already begun to fall off.
“I’m glad you showed up. I was already planning to ditch this whole thing together. My seat was getting too warm for me,” Dean was saying as he wiped the cold beads of sweat from his brow. He was wearing a hand-me-down tux that looked too good on him. She liked it when he cleaned up. It brings out the man in him, she thought.
“There. Let me fix this for you.” Small leaves in his boutonniere were starting to fall off and scatter around his lapel like little green eyelashes. Dean was blushing but his eyes looked into different directions. He refused to look at Mika, the petite girl who had become a mainstay in his life for the past year.
The unlikely couple entered the ballroom. Everyone was all suited and booted as Dean would say. He thought he didn’t fit in at such affairs. He’d rather be holed up in his garage, hammering or sawing away with projects that collect dust in the corner. Lights were everywhere as they walked in slowly; a foreign song was playing on the background. Mika looked up to Dean but he still didn’t look at her.
“Why’d you invite me to go to this again?”
“Uh, ya’know. It’s kinda hard to be alone in this kind of event. And besides, you said you were free tonight so, there.”
“Ooohh.” Mika knew there was something else. Even when Dean hadn’t asked her yet, she already knew what her answer would be.
She was wearing her long hair almost down to her back. The light little curls and waves of her auburn hair were draped over her bronzed shoulder. Parts of it were perched on the left side of her face and it accentuated her small and pensive face. She was wearing a little black dress and heels, making her look a bit taller than she really is. It wasn’t difficult to spot her, even inside a crowded room. Maybe it was her youth and pixie-like charm — or her nubile body — that made people turn their heads.
They eased into each other as the evening progressed. Dancing lights covered the walls and ceiling of the ballroom. She caught Dean staring at her from across the hall but he pretended that he was just looking in her direction. It was awkward for Dean; it was awkward for him to finally admit how beautiful she was that night. He took a swig of whiskey from the glass he’d been serenading the whole night.
“Ya’know what.” He could feel the burning from his gut rising to his nose and throat, its sweet and spicy notes clinging to every word he said. Fine drink.
“I’m really glad I asked you to come with me tonight.”
“Uh, okay. Why is that?”
He leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“It’s getting late. I should take you home, now. I had fun.”
Mika looked up and saw the fading blush on his face. She got the answer she was looking for.
The burning sensation of her tightly closed fists reminded Mika to open her eyes. She was still at the airport, and passengers for the next flight were being called. She almost missed hers. There were barely 10 minutes left before her flight. Still, the silver specks from the paper she now clutched in her left hand looked like glitters, leaving a trail as she made her way through human traffic.