The Dance, Episode 4 of Claire’s Story

Episode 4 of a flash fiction series. Find previous episodes at Claire’s Story – Flash Fiction Series.

Claire’s knee-length wedding dress rustled as she moved gently on the patio floor. She looked up into her father’s face. Vince held his head high against the blue afternoon sky. A smile lit his face as he led her through the dance steps. Warmth flushed from her heart to her neck and cheeks. Vince’s eyes glistened and a tear streaked his cheek.

“Dad, don’t cry.” Claire smiled gently. “You’ll make me cry. I want this to be a happy day.”

Her father chuckled. “It’s not what you think. I’m not thinking about that.” He drew in a deep breath and pursed his lips. “It’s just . . . well, I’ve thought of this moment for years.”

Claire cocked her head and narrowed her gaze. “You’ve thought about my wedding?”  She blinked and shook her head slightly. “I thought only mothers dreamed of their daughter’s wedding.”

Vince grinned and turned them back toward the middle of the floor. “Your mother has dreamed of your wedding.” He lifted an eyebrow. “Believe me. She had all kinds of plans. But not me.”

“Oh, so what did you think about?” Her eyes teased him above a slight smile.

He shrugged a shoulder. “I just wanted you to have a nice wedding. I didn’t care too much about the details. I really wanted you to marry a good man.”  Vince glanced across the patio at Bart dancing with Claire’s mother, Adelle. “And you have.”

Claire closed her eyes and a smile parted her lips. She felt as light as the clouds drifting overhead. Her father’s words filled her with confidence. Her eyes drifted to Bart smiling at her mother. She loved his smile. His eyes caught hers and his smile grew brighter.

Vince’s voice caught as he said, “This isn’t the first time we’ve danced.” 

Claire cocked her head. “Oh?”

“Don’t you remember? You used to don a princess dress and demand I dance at your ball. You’d stand on my feet and I’d spin you around the room.”

Her eyes lit with the memory. “I remember.” She shook her head. “Dad I was only five.”

“My princess is dancing.” His eyes sparkled and he turned her swiftly.

Claire’s eye grew wide. “Dad, not so fast.” She blushed and looked at his tie. “I’m not as light as I used to be. If I step on your foot, you’ll realize that.” His eyes gazed down at her. “I’m not a little girl anymore.”

Vince sighed. “You’ll always be my little girl.” Huskiness filled his voice. “And now you face a fight.”

The final notes of the song played and Vince stepped back from Claire. He turned to Bart and Adelle who stopped alongside. Claire’s breath caught as her father pursed his lips and offered his hand to Bart, then drew him into a hug. Everything faded from her attention except the two men. One had been the rock in her life since princess dreams filled her head. The other had just pledged to care for her in sickness and in health.  Her jaw trembled remembering her cancer treatment began in two days. As tears streamed down her face, the small audience of wedding guests applauded.

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