Author: Guede Mazaka
The hall is big and floating with shadows, light dappling over top like oil paints. Every single beam of yellow catches dancing swirls of dust.
He walks through clouds and clouds of them, yet they don't blear his eyes, sting his nose. He's beyond that now, he supposes. Too transparent, seeing everything from end to beginning and beginning to end. Or perhaps too solid for such ethereal specks, transmuted earth still echoing along the worn floorboards. They're faintly patterned in dark scuffs, traces of all the multitudes that have tread before him.
It's a little daunting, the thought of that. His feet do not fit in the marks, and now he cannot fool himself that that may be for the better. He is chastened, remembering how far he's strayed from example and word, and he fears that the doors awaiting him will not open.
For a moment, he halts before their huge panels and lays a palm on one, feeling the delicate vibrations of the music that filter through it. The tune is something light, almost frivolous but for the way it arcs through the memories of life. Half-caught melody on the march, new uniform collar cutting red into his neck. A fascinating jewel, deigning to speak and then leave with him. And in the end-remembering hers, not his-notes shading dark and long, a day of rain.
But…black eyes. Some peasant by the clothing, but still holding some frisson. Fragment of song cutting across the thunder of mourning and startling him into a closer glance. No time, however; they were gone so fast, as she had gone, and he had forgotten about it. He wonders why he recalls it now.
The doors part before him, soundless so as not to interrupt, and he no longer wonders.
"I've been waiting," she says, familiar coyness curving her lips.
"This can't be my dance," he stammers in reply. The two before him are like the halves of an arch, precision fit and miraculous balance sustaining their glide together. Or candle and mirror, reflecting her brilliance better than he had ever done. How could there be space for him in that? "How I lived after you died-what I did and didn't do-"
But they separate and reform around him, somehow, and his feet cannot help but follow the passes and spirals over the smooth floor. He moves through warmed air now, smells skin and hair, feels the graze of fingertips and eyes. His breath catches and his mind calms into a languorous haze.
"There is," say the black eyes, "Something to be said for the effort, if not the result. And if nothing else, you altered human lives. That alone earns you a place."
"And your love for me earns you the dance," she adds, putting a hand on his shoulder. Slowly, like motes of light drawn into the sun, they lead him to rest.