Two Left Feet

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Chapter 4


That was all Mile knew after the first thirty stairs. By fifty his legs were sore, and he was considering stopping to sit down. But Pierre didn’t rest, or even acknowledge the questions Mile had called up to him, so Mile soldiered on. He had no idea how many steps he’d climbed, especially after he’d lost count around sixty.

He was finally at the top, though, bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees. Mile hadn’t realized how absolutely out of shape he was until he’d stopped climbing and could barely breathe.

It took a few minutes to get his breath back and for the stitch in his side to ease, but once he could stand up straight, he looked around for Pierre. It wasn’t hard to find him as it was brighter up here. The last of the sun’s rays was shining through a small open window and reflecting off the inner clock workings.

A beam of it had fallen across Pierre’s face, as the boy looked out the window, revealing the light freckles splashed over his nose, and making his eyes nearly see-through. Mile paused, the breath leaving his lungs again. Pierre turned to look at Mile, and he furrowed his eyebrows as he caught Mile’s expression.

“What?” Pierre asked sharply, defensively.

Mile stumbled forward until he stood about a foot away from Pierre. He took a couple deep breaths until he had recovered.

“It’ You’re stunning.” He managed to say in a soft voice. He had no idea where the words had come from, but the more he thought about them, the truer they seemed.

Pierre shook his head and turned away, but not before Mile saw the soft blush spreading over his cheeks. Pierre leaned back into the windowsill, hiding his face. Mile took this opportunity to look around the small room they were in.

The gears powering the clock took up all four walls, and in one corner there was a mess of patchwork blankets. A couple knapsacks sat beside the pile, one overflowing with clothes and the other empty.

Mile turned back to Pierre, wanting to question his discovery, but he stopped short. Pierre was facing him with his hand outstretched, palm up. Mile was taken aback, until he heard the soft music floating in through the open window. The tune was slow, just perfect for a couple’s dance.

“Will you dance with me?” Pierre asked softly, watching Mile’s face carefully.

“I can’t dance.” Mile replied, starting to draw away.

Pierre took a step forward, closing the gap between them. He reached for Mile’s hand and placed it on his own shoulder. Mile was about to protest again, but Pierre rested his hand on Mile’s waist and tugged him closer. Pierre duplicated the hand positions on Mile’s other side, and now they were just a few inches apart.

“Neither can I.” Pierre whispered before leading them into a simple dance. It wasn’t much, just moving their feet in a box formation. It would’ve been the easiest thing for other people, but for Mile, he was expecting to trip over his own feet any second.

But their dance was nearly perfect. It was the first time in his life he’d ever danced without embarrassing himself or the people around him, and one look at Pierre’s shocked expression told him the experience was mutual.

Feeling confident and giddy, Mile moved closer, wrapping his arms around Pierre’s neck and gazing into his caramel colored eyes. They were so close now that Mile could count Pierre’s freckles without the sun’s help. The soft music transitioned into a different, more upbeat song, but the matching pair didn’t falter or let go of each other as they continued their own little dance.

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