I entered the auditorium, eager and ready. My hair was just so, my dress beautiful, my make-up perfect. Anticipation filled me as I walked through the door.
I spotted him across the floor. He was breathtakingly handsome. His suit fit perfectly, his smile was amazing, and although I was too far away to be sure … I just knew his smell would be heavenly. We hadn’t been introduced, but I knew his name, everyone did. He was Happiness – and I was about to dance with him.
As I took my first step onto the floor, a hand grabbed my arm. Alarmed I turned, only to find a complete stranger staring down at me. Not attractive in the least, this man wore soiled clothes and was frightening in his overbearing ways. He forced my hand in his, hissed out his name, and before I could speak, Loss and I were dancing – an awful, macabre version of what I had originally planned.
Loss swung me round and round. At each turn, I frantically looked for Happiness, hoping he would save me from this horrible mistake. I saw him in the distance, always with a multitude of new dance partners … I tried to call out, but found my voice was missing.
Over time, the dance became less frightening. Our moves were more coordinated, and I found that there was a certain familiarity to Loss that I couldn’t discount. I still longed to dance with Happiness, but he seemed unaware of my presence, and Loss, well, at least he was comfortable.
I watched as other girls entered the dance, eyes only for Happiness. Some managed to catch his eye, but others were caught up by others like Loss – Grief and Death among them. Although I knew they didn’t want to dance with their partners any more than me, I found I was able to teach them a few steps, show them how to make the most of this new and unfamiliar dance. Most of all, we were comforted to know that not every girl got Happiness, and were able to share in that together.
Resigned to my dance partner Loss, I was stunned when I felt a touch on my shoulder. I turned, nearly giddy with excitement to see Happiness offer me his hand. Without a look back, I left Loss alone on the floor.
To my surprise, I found dancing with Happiness was not exactly as I expected. He was wonderful no doubt, but the moves were new, the unfamiliar unsettling. Despite the awkwardness, I nestled into Happiness’s shoulder, drank in his smell, and let him lead me in this new dance. He was everything I had anticipated, and so much more. He overwhelmed me with his mere presence.
Before long, I felt as though Happiness and I had been dancing forever, Loss soundly put in his place. But as we rounded a bend in the dance floor, a familiar face loomed at me from the dark. With no time to resist, Loss claimed me for another dance.
Ever the gentleman, Happiness stepped to the side, unwilling to claim what Loss thought was rightfully his. He whispered in my ear that he wasn’t leaving forever, only gone for a short time. I clung to this as Loss and I again took to the floor.
As Loss led me across the room, I kept my eyes peeled for Happiness, longing for his return. Although familiar, Loss wasn’t any less appealing than when we first met. And I got the sinking feeling that he had been following Happiness and I around, waiting for his chance to reappear.
Thankfully, within minutes, Happiness reappeared. I gratefully let go of Loss, and while his grip was strong, Happiness’s was stronger. Again wrapped in his arms, I let all thoughts of Loss disappear. Happiness whispered, “you’re mine” in my ear.
As I snuggled in, I was dismayed to see a familiar figure lurking behind my hero. A deep sigh escaped me as I realized that while Happiness had claimed me as his own, Loss would never disappear. And as a gentleman, Happiness would let him have a dance – occasionally yes, but a dance none the less.
And I then knew, us three – myself, Loss and Happiness – we would forever be locked in our strange, three-way dance.