American Contemporary Fiction

“You do realize that is a superpower?” Milo said casually.

I shook my head no and continued sipping my coffee. 

“It is. Everyone has one and that is most certainly yours.”

I rolled my eyes and relaxed back into the café chair. There were talented people all around me. The guitar guy, playing his instrument in the corner with no regard for anyone else, was strumming intently and seemed to be transported beyond his corner table to wherever his music was taking him. There was also the girl sitting two tables over who had been drawing since we walked in. She had a stack of napkins and small papers with elaborate designs covering every inch of the small scraps. Even the barista was singing Billie Holiday tunes effortlessly as people waited for their drinks and tapping away on their phones.

“I would concede that a superpower does not need to be equated to something in comic books,” I finally offered, “But I fail to see where any of my abilities fall into play.”

Milo put down his sketch pad and I noticed he was working on another pastel of a new mythical creature. His imagination soared continuously and his ability to conceptualize his own detailed imagination was truly inspiring. The scales alone on the back of the creature made you think you were looking at a dragon, snake, lizard, and chimera all at once. The creature also looked as if it would turn to you at any second, beckon for your hand and pull you straight into its world for a time. I smiled at the drawing hoping to make a good impression, but Milo’s voice broke my stare.

“You see into the music,” Milo said picking up his latte for the first time. He smelled the beverage, smiled as the vanilla wafted into his senses, and then took a drink.

“No. I am commissioned to put movement to music. I adequately make the body fit into beats, rhythms, and melodies I didn’t create or choose. I complete someone else’s vision…every time.”

“That is incredibly cynical,” Milo replied and looked around the café.

“I am not trying to be. It is a logical analysis,” I said and shrugged slightly. I wasn’t trying to get him to bolster my ego. I didn’t need his flattery or convincing. I wasn’t sure what I needed anymore. Age has played funny tricks on my imagination and inspiration. Here I was at mid-life feeling less like an artist and more like businesswoman.

“Since when have you analyzed dance so directly?” Milo asked with a raised eyebrow behind his mug. He always hid behind his mug after a poignant question. In fact, that was probably why he always demanded we drink in the café. He wanted that mug and not some paper cup for his conversational life arguments.

I raised my mug and sipped the caramel coffee slowly.

“It’s become more about the desire to keep dancing and less about the dance,” I said at length, “No one wants to see normal people be artistic. They want to see artistic people with extraordinary abilities.”

“How do you mean?” Milo asked genuinely interested.

“People want to see mind-blowing flexibility, perfected balance, and weightlessness. They do not see the beauty in…” I paused to look for examples in the room, “The poise of the arm before the strum, the hovering pencil of a thinker dreaming about the next line on a paper, or the rhythmic graces of a multi-tasking soulful singer at her day job.”

The smirk on Milo’s face was unmistakable.

“What?” I asked mildly perturbed, “What is so funny?”

“It is not funny, just ironic,” Milo responded while setting down his coffee, “When you do choreography, how do you choose the movements?”

I thought it might be a trick question, but Milo knew me better than anyone and already knew my answer to this. So, I decided to play along.

“I listen to the music and let my mind wander about until movements start stringing themselves together.”

“What happens when you have to make up the choreography before you meet the dancer or dancers?”

“I keep the movements basic and then as the dancers try them out, I either choose to keep them or change them as needed.”

“So, you see what the dancers are capable of and then form the dance to fuse with them.”

“Essentially, yes.”

“See? It is your superpower.”

“What?! That makes no sense, Milo.”

“Sure it does. You see into music. To most people, songs are just notes or voices connected together until the song ends. Some people find meaning and connection in the lyrics, but you even see beyond that to find the movement. Then you mold that movement to make others feel confidence, happiness, romance, etc. You may not be performing for others, but you make others perform parts of themselves. The fact that people choose the music for you further proves you have an ability that surpasses the rest of us. When I create, I leave part of myself on the canvas. I can return to it and be repeatedly inspired by it, but you use what others give you to create. Then they take your creation away. You are not invested in the original, but you always invest in the person.”

I wanted to argue, but I couldn’t. 

“And now it is time for you to dance,” Milo said and looked around.

The café was almost empty now. The guitar guy was drinking coffee and looking out of the widow, the sketch girl was shuffling her pictures around on the table, and the barista was humming a Boys2Men song while cleaning her station.

“Dance?” I was extremely confused.

“Yes. Right here. Right now. For you.”

“No,” I said defiantly “There’s no music.”

“There doesn’t need to be music.”

Again, I couldn’t argue. 

“These people will think I am crazy if I just stand up and dance in the middle of semi-empty café.”

“Maybe. Maybe they will start dancing with you.”

This was also a compelling thought. Crazy or not, they would all certainly remember this Thursday rainy afternoon when a middle-aged woman danced in the middle of the café.

I slowly stood from my chair and Milo leaned back into his. His coffee mug was at his lips again and his eyebrow was raised.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My mind started racing to think of song or even a type of music, but that overwhelmed me and made me want to collapse back down onto my chair. So, I just started moving. My right arm glided up to my shoulder and then down. My left arm followed. I opened my eyes just enough to see the tables and then turned around one to slide into an empty chair at the next table. I moved around the café starting and stopping at tables imagining the people who were sitting in here earlier. I could hear a guitar behind me and the soft humming of a singer as I continued to flow around the room. Before I knew it, I was back to my own table with Milo who had risen and taken my hand. He spun me lightly once and then directed me slowly into my chair. My hands rested gently on the table and my breath began to even itself out. It was as if every pore of my skin was shooting energy out in all directions.

When I opened my eyes completely, I saw a napkin between my hands. There was a sketch of a figure tossed by wind scrawled across the paper. I looked over to the young girl, but she was gone.

The guitar guy was scribbling furiously on a notepad, and the barista was gracefully reaching for items as she continued her cleaning.

“You made them see the movement,” Milo said triumphantly.

“What do you mean?”

“They all joined you.”

“You mean the guitar I heard and the humming were real?”

“Absolutely. You created a piece in the moment here. It was super powerful.”

I smiled gently and then looked over at Milo.

“I still don’t think it’s a superpower, but you made your point.”

August 11, 2021 16:56

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