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When No One's Watching

It’s 11:54 when we leave the party.

I have to drag her away; she’s tipsy from sneaking sips of my parents’ champagne and doesn’t see the need to rush. I can’t judge her—I’m not all there myself—but I know we’ll be glad to have made the effort.

We arrive at the house two minutes later, far out of my parents' sight, and the sole light of our porch lamp is dim. I play a song from my phone quietly, letting the stream nearby push against the melody. She smiles, like she always does when I play our song, and pulls me to her by the waist.

We take turns doing the “man's” part when we dance, and today she lets me play the lady, my right hand on her shoulder, my left entwining with hers in the air. The clock warns 11:58, so we start moving, gentle sways and misplaced steps as usual. At one point she spins me, and when I come back we are closer together, almost embracing.

From the direction of the party we hear someone drunkenly start a count far too high (30! 29! 28!). She laughs loudly, and I can barely see her but she is beautiful, she is so, so beautiful. I tell her this and she laughs again and I’m so filled with joy I wonder if I am drunk or in love with her or both. The counting comes louder now, more voices (10! 9!) and in the distance behind her faraway fireworks dot the sky. The music swells (6! 5!) and she's not laughing now, just smiling at me like I am probably smiling at her. She closes the distance between us (3! 2!) and I don’t hear the one because then she is kissing me for the very first time.

Behind the hill hiding us from view people are using their noisemakers to the best of their abilities and she must hear it too because suddenly she is a foot away from me and I am cold. The noise gets louder, approaching, until we can see them, happy, joyous, huddled together for warmth. My parents call us over with gloved fingers, and we walk, her making sure we keep an appropriate distance. My stomach twists at the thought that she might be mad at me, but then everythings ok; under the cheering, she hums our waltz.

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