Ballet in the Snow
It was the first day of the new year. The snow poured down from the sky in big, fat flakes, blanketing the world in white, muffling the city sounds and making everything eerily quiet. I would never have left my apartment if I didn’t absolutely have to, but I got back from my parents’ early this morning and the fridge was empty. My choice was either starve to death or brave the weather, and my stomach had been growling angrily at me for hours already.
I hurried along the empty streets with my shoulders pulled up to my ears and my head down to avoid getting whirling snowflakes in my nose. Shivers racked my body: I needed to save up to a warm coat if this was an indication of the winter to come. I was deep in thought and if I hadn’t looked up at that exact moment, I would have missed him.
About to cross the street, I raised my head and did a double take when I noticed him. Poised in the middle of the road with one arm reaching for the heavens and a booted foot stretched into a point, was a man fully dressed for the weather. He had a scarf wound around a long neck, leather gloves on his hands, and wore an unzipped parka. Bulky clothing, worn with surprising grace.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he held his pose for a second or two before starting to move. It was small at first, his hand shifted in a way that could have been accidental, but it soon became clear it wasn’t. The movements became more flourishing and spread to his arm and the rest of his body until there was no mistaking what he was doing.
And oh my God, he moved like he didn’t have a bone in his body. Like he was liquid.
I drew a quick breath and my mouth filled with snowflakes, but I ignored them. The flurry from the sky and the freezing temperature faded into something insignificant as he moved. His limbs flowed seamlessly from one position to the next, his arms and legs stretched and seemed impossibly long. He held his head high and his feet moved rapidly to a melody only he could hear.
It was mesmerizing.
Without warning, he leaped up and for what seemed like forever he was suspended in the air. Defying gravity with legs split wide, chin raised, arms arched over his head, and every muscle taut.
I couldn’t breathe. My heart stuttered to a halt as I waited for him to return to earth. When his booted feet landed with a thump and continued their routine, I expelled all the nervous air from my lungs in a rush, unaware that I’d been afraid he would slip and fall.
He continued his dancing for a little while longer and ended in a magnificent pirouette, spinning around his own axis with one leg bent at the knee.
My hand flew to my mouth at the sight and I gasped. How could he do that with such devastating grace wearing those clumsy boots?
Just as abruptly as he’d started, he sat down his foot and stopped, spreading his arms wide as if he was embracing the world. With a heaving chest, he leaned his head back and let the snowflakes land on his upturned face. He didn’t move, just stood like that as if the snow didn’t bother him at all.
Had that just happened? I rubbed my eyes with stiff fingers, but he was still holding his position when I opened them again. He wasn’t a cold-induced hallucination. He’d actually done that. Danced. In the snow. In the middle of the street.
It was weird. I’d never seen anything more beautiful in my life.
It was magical.
“Wow.” The word slipped out of me.
His head jerked up and he looked in my direction. Redness crept up his neck and stained his cheeks, and he bit his lip.
“That was…amazing,” I said. I didn’t want him to be ashamed of something so glorious.
“Yeah?” One corner of his mouth twitched, as if he wanted to smile but didn’t allow himself.
“Yes,” I exclaimed and nodded for emphasis.
Now that the man had stopped dancing I became very aware of the snow and quivered. “I should…” I said and pointed my thumb in the direction I’d been headed.
“Sure.” He averted his eyes and brushed away the snow gathering on his shoulders. I took the opportunity to really look at him. His chocolate brown hair was dotted with huge snowflakes. His beard was neatly trimmed, and his eyebrows were like black slashes across his face. He was very handsome.
I took a couple of steps, but something about him pulled at me. “I’m Josh, by the way,” I said, reluctant to leave.
He smiled at me then. It was shy and reserved, but his eyes glittered as he let his gaze rove over my body. “I’m Tom.” A pink tongue darted out and licked his lips and sent a tingle down my spine. The way his eyes lingered on my chest and face made the decision for me.
“I, uh, was gonna grab a bite to eat. You busy?”
He tilted his head to the side. “You asking me out on a date, Josh?” His voice was breathy.
“I guess I am.”
I shrugged. How could I tell him that watching him dance in the heavy snowfall in the abandoned streets of the city was the most unexpected and beautiful thing I’d ever experienced in my life? That it had warmed my heart, even though my body was cold? “I loved your dancing,” was all I said. I looked away.
Why had I even asked? Of course, he wouldn’t want to go with a complete stranger. Which sane person would? For all he knew, I could be a serial killer.
I was just about to apologize when his warm fingers nudged mine. It was the lightest touch, but enough to send a buzz through my body.
“Okay,” he whispered.
I glanced up and he smiled at me. A real smile—the shyness from earlier completely forgotten—and it transformed his face, lighting him up from the inside. Making him irresistible.
“I never could resist when someone as cute as you compliment my dancing.”
I shot him a grin. “You think I’m cute?”
“Don’t fish for compliments, it’s not attractive.” He winked at me.
“I apologize.” My smile grew wider. I wanted to reach out and touch him. To trace his eyebrows with a finger. Warm his cheeks with my hands. Kiss away the snowflake that had the audacity to land on his lower lip.
I did none of those things. Instead, I held out my arm to him in the manner of an old-fashioned gentleman and he took it without hesitation. We started walking and even though I could feel the snowflakes land on my exposed skin, I didn’t care.
All I cared about in that moment was his arm linked with mine.