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can i have this dance?

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you’re in a tux, and it fits in a way you used to only dream of, tight in the shoulders, button-down laying flat against your chest, no binder. your tie matches the wedding decorations, the bride’s nails. there’s a girl, at a table out there, with a ring like a promise of a future on her finger, who you will dance with most of the night. go home to your shared apartment with, fall into bed together.

but right now, you’re dancing with her, and it’s perfect. she’s got a brand new ring on her finger, that your brother slipped on mere hours ago. her hair still falls in the same perfect curls and your hands find the curve of her body so easily, a muscle memory from the first time you met.

here, spinning around on the dance floor, you can't help but think back to ballroom. you think of your awkward stumbling steps in class, of how badly you wanted her. you don't think about after, about failed hallway flirtation... about heads slammed through doors, outings, the lighter you used to keep tucked under your pillow

it's not her, anymore, the angry girl in those memories. and it's not a defining point in your relationship.

instead you think of prom, of apologies on the dance floor, of perfect partners. your shared history stretches nearly ten years, is filled with bullets and car crashes, so many tears and so many dances. you’ve never had a better partner than her.

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you dip, rise up into a twirl, white lace spinning out around you. there are eyes on you, you know, but this isn’t about the show.

this dance isn’t a performance. this dance isn’t an apology or forgiveness. this dance is belonging, becoming, beginning… then again it isn’t. this dance is an affirmation of what has already been true for so long.

you’re dancing with the best man you know, your favorite casanova all grown up. there’s a scar on his forehead from a car windshield but sometimes you still see school hallways, shattered glass on slammed doors. this moment seemed such an impossibility then, but you’ve learned to forgive the angry girl you once were. (you know he forgave her years before you did.)

impossible turned inevitable so quickly, looking back. this day’s been on your heels for years. there’s a ring on your finger that fits as well as it did when you were 18 and you know it will fit there forever. this isn’t a love you outgrow. you tried that once, ended up unrooted. lost in a way you’d almost forgotten the sting of.

now, your roots tangle in this family tree you’ve only just made official. but you never needed a piece of paper to tell you where home was. home was forgiveness when you didn’t deserve it, ballroom floor second chances, the first parent-teacher night where anybody bothered to show up.

you forgive the girl that you were back then. she got you here