In no time at all, Sharon started taking notice of another basketball player. She began showing him off like she used to do with Roderick and all the others she’d ever dated. Cleo was still friends with both Sharon and Roderick, but she no longer had to play messenger between the two, because they rarely communicated anymore.
The monthly masked ball drew near. Sharon, of course, was going with her new boyfriend. Cleo declined. Roderick decided to go after all, if only to watch people dance or to meet new people.
On the night of the masked ball, everyone arrived knowing only one other person–their partners. Others could not be recognized. Furthermore, everybody arrived with a partner. It seemed to Roderick that he was the only one who came on his own. When he entered, a girl put a rose in his chest pocket. He nodded his thanks.
Not far away, he glimpsed a wad of blond spiral curls. Judging from the way she moved on the dance floor, Roderick knew it had to be Sharon.
Tonight, something felt different. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
On another part of the dance floor, he found the answer.
“Wow,” he exclaimed quietly.
A girl wearing a carmine-colored dress was jazz-dancing on her own. She wore her brown hair in loose curls–a bit on the imperfect side, unlike Sharon’s flawless ones–and she had black gloves on. Her lips were painted a fiery red. Her every move was filled with feeling, sensation, and energy. A crowd of males were gathered all around her. From time to time, she would pull a random guy into her dance, spin around him, and let him get back out flustered. Near the end of her dance, she curved her lips into a seductive smirk and beckoned at Roderick.
He pointed at himself, mouthing, “Me?”
He stepped in and started dancing with her. Roderick was never a poor dancer, even though he’d always liked basketball better. The mysterious jazz girl kept him longer than the others, probably because they both enjoyed dancing together. By the time the music ended, they were both smiling.
The crowd began to scatter when the dance was over. Roderick stayed and asked, “What’s your name?”
The girl put a finger on her throat and shook her head.
“You can’t talk?” Roderick guessed.
She nodded, mouthing the word “mute”.
He then offered the back of his hand. “Write your name down, please.” She took his hand and wrote.
She nodded again.
“I’m Roderick. Nice to meet you.” Roderick was about to stick his hand out for a formal handshake, but Rella took the rose from his chest pocket, waved it under his nose, and strolled away with a smile.