The Brave

She edged across the room like a herring through a shoal of tuna a slow, nervous approach. Her eyes widened each time someone looked her way, her breaths laboured and shallow, footsteps pitter-pattering across the tiled dance floor. She never once took her eyes off me and that’s why I waited even though it seemed to take forever for her to sidle up beside me, lips twitching, eyelashes blinking, palms sweating. She stood there skittish as a frightened rabbit choosing her words with the care attributable to a doctor broaching bad news.
“W… w… would you dance with me? she asked in the most timorous voice I’d ever heard.
And although everybody pointed, and everybody laughed, I said yes.
“Why?” asked my mates when she’d stuttered away. “Why would you do that with her?”
And all these years, these cruel decades later the answer’s never changed. Because she was the bravest girl I’d ever known, and if I’d said no it would’ve killed her.

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