A man stands at the center of a dance floor.
Music fills every crevice of the room. He holds his newlywed bride between his arms. It’s their first dance as husband and wife. But this is no ordinary dance. Because there is a storm brewing. The dance floor is the eye of the storm. As with the eye of every storm, all seems so calm, lovey-dovey, and shit.
All eyes are on this two. Mathew and Joanna. Husband and wife. Some will even call them lovebirds. They found love, didn’t they? The wife looks perfect too, doesn’t she? Wearing a smile on top of that elegant white gown? How can she not? Her eyes tell a different story, but who’s listening to that story when there’s this other more interesting ooey-gooey story of happily ever after? Her fury is bubbling under, right? But it’s no cause for worry, is it? If anyone can handle anything, isn’t it Joanna? She has her fury in control. You want to know why? Because aren’t smiles made for marriage situations like this one right here? Aren’t her lips and teeth made for this her marriage?
She thinks they are.
So she smiles.
With that smile, she says, “Look. My dream is coming true.”
The smile does what it’s meant to do. It makes fools of those around her. But not her husband. He has so many questions. She can see the questions stumbling out of his ears. Demanding for answers. But this is not the time. Right now, it’s time to dance. It’s time to wallow in her happily ever after. And they’ll get through this dance if it kills her.
They’d been engaged for five months. They’d dated for two years. They’d loved each other through hectic college classes, unbearable tarmacking. They’d loved each other through new jobs, new beginnings, a new house with no furniture, a newish house with new furniture. They’d made promises to each other. Some they’d kept, others they’d broken. They’d loved each other through breakups, boyfriends and girlfriends that came and went, and a fair share of affairs too. But hey, who is perfect, right? No one, right?
Joanna thought so too.
So Joanna puts her head on Mathew’s chest and they dance. She takes a deep breathe in and out. In and out. In and out. Just as Patricia had taught her to.
Mathew brings both his arms around her to hold her even tighter. He sways along with her. He wants to kiss her but her head stays on his chest for some time. When she’s ready, she raises her head. He lowers his head and places his cheek on hers.
And the music plays. And they sway to the music.
I’m sorry. Mathew whispers.
Don’t be. Joanna replies.
She remembers the last affair he had. How he had sworn he was sorry. How it had almost killed her. How she had promised herself not to be that woman who almost dies of a broken heart again. It sucked to be the woman waiting for your man to break your heart and ask for your forgiveness.
Today, she dances. She is not that woman. No tears are flowing from her. There’s no broken heart to see on this dance floor. Because she knew this moment was coming and she prepared for it.
If her husband was going to cheat, she was going to decide with whom. This is made easy when your husband is the type to chase after anything in a skirt. Patricia had agreed to do this for her. Mainly because she saw what the last affair did to her. And because Patricia had been the one to nurse Joanna back to health. Patricia paraded her skirt-wearing behind on Facebook. Mathew walked into the trap a little too eagerly. While Peter Pete, a mutual friend, a pseudo account created by Joanna, watched from a distance as an affair unfolded between her soon-to-be husband and her girlfriend.
Mathew can see that Joanna is lost in thought. He moves even closer to her than is necessary.
Why is she here? Who is she to you?
Joanna laughs. What a happy couple they are. Dancing and sharing jokes on the dance floor. Why is she here, Joanna? Mathew asks again.
You make it sound like she doesn’t belong here.
Hehe. I’m listening. Baby.
I was going to end it. In fact, I had ended it.
No, you were not.
Joanna will not get into this discussion right now right here when she’s enjoying her wedding dance. She pulls her husband’s face to hers and kisses him on the lips.
She then pulls away, leans back to have a good look at her husband while holding both sides of his face with her hands. She never forgets to smile.
Mathew closes the gap between them by pulling her by the waist and crashing her hips to his. His hand rests firmly on the small of her back.
Talk to me. He pleads. Tell me what’s going on.
I’m thinking how handsome you look right now.
Can we go somewhere and talk?
The bridesmaids and bridesmen have joined them on the dance floor. Patricia keeps looking over to where Joanna is dancing inside her husband’s arms. She sees her defiant smile. She returns it.
Joanna has to give it to Patricia. She deserved a pat on the back for a plan that never went wrong.
Mathew looks at her bride as if for the first time. Joanna really is enjoying herself. He can feel her hips swaying beneath his hand. His wife and his mistress share a knowing look. His heart drops.
Smile for the camera, baby. Joanna is saying, as she brings her face to his for a passing cameraman to take a picture.
When the cameraman moves along, Joanna moves closer to Mathew. She puts both her hands around his neck and keeps swaying. Mathew sways along with her.
What’s going on here, Joanna?
We just got married. Just as we planned in college. I look perfect. You do too, tux and all. Now our happily ever after awaits us.
Mathew can’t bring himself to dance anymore. What’s going on, Joanna?
Let’s just say that you have your mistress, and I have mine.