Copyright is held by the author.
SHE SAT quietly at the linen covered table watching her older sister dance. It was dark and steamy in the room. Her silk fitted dress was starting to cling to her back.
“Oh God!” She hoped there weren’t any stains under her arms. That would be more embarrassment than she could bear.
Soon it would be her turn to join her sister on the dance floor. Sylvia looked beautiful in her strapless white satin brocade gown, encrusted with tiny pearls. Angela on the other hand was sporting a little sapphire number that the sales lady had assured her made her skin and eyes sparkle. It was true, the contrast between the dark, short hair and the piercing blue eyes was startling.
The band was playing the music that they had rehearsed to last night. She wiped her hands on the bottom edge of the tablecloth, hoping that no one would notice. What if no one asked her to dance? More importantly, what if he didn’t ask her? Look at that pig Natalia, flitting around the room, making eyes at all the men. Her Mother would have a fit if she acted like that. “Oh no, not Angela, no. Angela wouldn’t do anything like that, Angela is a good girl”. She had heard her mother talk like that to her friends when she thought she wasn’t listening. The truth was that she hadn’t ever had the chance to do any thing like that. Her leash was tied so tightly there were times that she thought she might choke.
Last night. The very mention of the words made parts of her body that good girls didn’t mention in public, perspire.
The first time that he had kissed her she had been six, and he had been eight. A precocious six, but six none the less. That was ten years ago. They had been in the attic at her grandfather’s playing. It wasn’t like the attic was a den of iniquity, that was just where the kids played. The adults on the first floor, the kids on the third, with the well-timed intrusion of one of the mothers to make sure everyone was behaving.
They had been playing spin the bottle, at the insistence of one of the older cousins. Of course, everyone knew where they wanted it to land, and with a little gentle persuasion, it was possible to have it arrive there most of the time. It was always boy/girl, naturally, even the older cousins weren’t sophisticated or worldly enough to know of any other pairings. She forgot which aunt had managed to sneak up on them without being heard. One look was all it took; they were separated into boy girl groups all right. Boys, on the third floor. Girls, on the second. That day had been forgotten, until yesterday.
Yesterday, the day of the rehearsal party and dinner. She had been paired off with Sandro as members of the wedding party had moved to the table to eat. The wedding of her sister. Her parents had been so busy last night with the preparations for the event, that they had not noticed her disappearance. It really wasn’t for that long, but under normal circumstances there would have been 50 questions. Especially if they had noticed her cousin Sandro’s disappearance at the same time.
They had just walked out on the balcony for a few minutes to escape the heat of the room. Well, to be completely honest to escape the incessant babble of the adult’s conversation. He wasn’t really her cousin in the strictest sense of the word. In Italy, his grandmother had been the second cousin of her grandfather. Of course, in Canada the families respected this tie. She had not seen him for years. His parents had moved away a number of years ago, but of course this was a wedding. The whole family was invited.
She had never been kissed like that before. Of course, she had had boyfriends, but innocent boys, those pubescent creatures who were even more sexually nervous and confused than she was. Her parents had seen to that. She had never been allowed to go out with a boy on her own.
They had been standing out on the balcony, laughing about the frenetic pace that was going on inside. Everyone talking, laughing, and waving their arms at once. Suddenly he had bent and kissed her. Gently, but with the assurance that only eighteen years of practice could give you. She had felt reactions in parts of her virginal sixteen-year-old body that she barely knew existed. Not just twinges, but exquisite stabs of pain. Even now she could feel the softness of his skin next to hers. The insistence of his tongue against her lips, her inability to breathe.
She was shaken from her reverie by the sight of Sandro walking toward her. Her heart was making little wounded bird jumps in her chest. Her mouth was so dry she could barely smile. “May I? “He said, as he bowed to her, those full luscious lips forming a shy smile, his dark brown eyes like pools of chocolate boring into her. She could feel the tremor in her chest as her cheeks flushed. She gazed up breathlessly and let her smile be her assent. Angela stood and melted into his arms as he swept her onto the dance floor to join the wedding party in the “first dance”
Nonna watched from the shadows as her little Angela made that first step toward womanhood. The little face with those intense eyes turned upward, with such innocence and trust toward Sandro. Oh, how the memory of Nonna’s first dance was burned into her mind. Things were different then. Girls had to protect themselves to be able to get a good husband. Her mother or older sister had accompanied her on all of the outings that she had had with her dear husband, before their marriage, God rest his soul, Antonio. To this day she still missed the touch of his hand on her face, and although she was too proper to admit it, other places too. She sighed contentedly. Thanks be to God that she had been spared long enough to watch this moment. Those two children had had a special bond since infancy. Angela would be fine. She was a good girl.