Thumb absently rubbing my finger, I watch him moving through the bar. It looks like a game of “Duck Duck Goose,” all the girls with no dates watching him circle, each ready to chase him the moment he singles them out.
But he chooses me.
“Hey,” he says with a cocksure grin, “you want to dance?”
I follow the rules of the game, I rise to follow him while all the rest watch. In that moment, I want nothing more than to feel like a child again, to throw myself headlong into a carefree pursuit.
I want to, but…
“You’re not having a good time,” he notes after a couple songs.
“I’m sorry,” I answer. “It’s not your fault.”
To his credit, he doesn’t look at all wounded by my lack of enthusiasm. He simply gives an understanding nod, then asks, “The tattoo on your finger?”
Once more, my thumb presses into the black ink line on my ring finger where a metal band used to rest. Somehow, I find myself smiling. “Actually, he was a duck all along.”
I leave alone that night. Looking up at the sky, I see the stars for once and not the darkness between.
* * *
A story by Gregory M. Fox