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Music spills down the beach from the party. Stepping outside of the circle of light cast by hanging paper lanterns–a sigh of relief. Slip out of sandals, you wiggle your toes in the cool sand. Move further into darkness. Leave the drunken laughter, heavy-lidded stares, and most importantly–leave behind the plastic smile you’ve had to wear for hours.           

There is tango music behind you. You sway. Further down the beach the air carries the pungent smell of burning driftwood; it’s also cool against bare skin. Shivering, you briskly rub your bare arms; goose bumps and tight skin. Now, the water’s edge, wet sand is cold against your feet.

City lights reflect off of the black mirrored surface of the bay. The music is fainter—words blurred by Spanish guitar. A rhythm catches you, a gentle sway—into slow circles—through the surf. You spin for what feels like an eternity.

 Open your eyes to the star-lit sky.

Pull starlight from the darkness. Salt water laps at your ankles. There is a slow-creeping sense of joy seeps into bones. Finally. Smile. Alone.

The night air takes your hand. You lean in…feel cool air on your skin. With an almost imperceptible shift. You both begin to dance.

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