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Bit 4

Gail went to enjoy the dancing in the common house while Parker was busy elsewhere. She was glad to escape from the politics; Parker might be able to discuss it all endlessly, but there was only so much she could deal with. She’d practically run down the hall and across the atrium to the common house on the off chance Parker would change his mind and ask her to stay.

Although there were glass walls and doors on the common house, Gail wasn’t able to see the dancing until she entered, too many things in the way. When she pulled open the large white doors inset with glass, her ears were immediately buffeted with the noise of music, and people. Stomps, cheers, and singing, both on and off key, mingled with the sounds of musicians she couldn’t yet see. A stout middle-aged woman in a large flower print skirt smiled and walked towards Gail.

“Hello,” she chirped, “my name’s Aggie. I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before?” It wasn’t quite a statement, in that quintessentially polite fashion. Aggie’s grey curls bounced as she cocked her head inquisitively.

“No, you haven’t,” Gail replied. “I’ve just come over with my boyfriend. He’s talking to Mr. Kin about some CommBloc business, but this sounded more interesting.” Gail smiled nervously at the woman, unsure who the people of import were in this CommBloc. Windsong was the center of things, and she didn’t want to step on any toes.

Aggie nodded, “Was that the young fellow I talked to over the intercom? Parker something, from Strawberry Hill?”

“Yes,” Gail said, “that’s him.” Uncertain what to say next, she looked around the room. There were groups of four spinning and dancing around in circles, some older than Aggie, some younger than Gail’s little cousin Beatrice. She thought she saw Czajka in the far corner, but everyone was moving so quickly it was difficult to know for sure. “Umm, is there any way I could join in?” Gail asked.

Aggie beamed, “Oh certainly dear. You just wait till the next pause and we’ll go up to the stage and introduce you. Folks will find you somewhere to dance, for certain.” Aggie walked along the open wall that bordered the kitchen. There was a counter there with drinks and snacks, but Aggie moved right past it and around a slight bend. As Gail followed with her eyes, she saw the edge of the stage and a man leaning over to talk to Aggie. Aggie whispered something in his ear and he looked towards Gail then nodded.

Gail sighed and returned to watching the dancing. They were now doing something more intricate involving two of the groups of four joined together and weaving in and out. She watched as Czajka twirled with one woman, then passed across to another three times before returning to the original woman and bowing as the music flourished to an end.

Aggie nodded at Gail and held out her hand beckoning. Gail stepped forward, following Aggie to the small wooden stage, more of a raised floor than an actual stage. The fellow Aggie had been speaking to offered Gail his hand, and pulled her up. “Now, what’s your name, girl?” the fellow asked.

“Gail,” she replied.

Nodding, the man turned towards the dancers and clapped his hands twice, loudly. “Alright, folks, we’ve got a newcomer here who’d like a turn. This,” he gestured toward her, “is Gail. She’s visiting from Strawb’rry Hill, so let’s give her a warm WindSong welcome, shall we?” He grinned at the audience and began to clap. As the audience joined in the clapping, he turned his infectious grin on Gail. Smiling sheepishly, Gail waved at the audience, who began clapping louder.

“Here, Gail, come join us!” Czajka called above the din. Blushing, Gail jumped down and waded through the friendly crowd to Czajka. “Marcy was just going to sit down for a bit, anyways,” he said. Marcy, a white haired lady with a puffy green dress, shook Gail’s hand briefly then moved through the crowd to a side room where some people were sitting and watching the festivities.

“Ok,” Gail smiled at Czajka, the dark haired woman beside him, and the teenage boy who made up the group, “what do I do now?”

Czajka glanced at the woman beside him, who nodded. “How ‘bout you partner with me, and Shuhjeet can dance with Alice? That way you’ll only step on friendly toes.” Gail chuckled along with Czajka, as Alice and Shuhjeet smiled. Gail took Alice’s place beside Czajka, and he linked his arm through hers just as the band started up again. “Just follow me,” Czajka shouted over the music.

It wasn’t quite that easy, as Gail had to switch off partners, both with Alice and Shuhjeet, as well as with other groups. She managed to do it without too much damage to toes, friendly or otherwise, and after the third song started to understand the odd lingo the singer was using to tell people what moves to do next. After that all toes were safe, and time went whizzing by.

A dozen songs later the band stopped for a break, and everyone went to get refreshments. Gail joined the line, between Czajka and Alice, and Shuhjeet. Shuhjeet smiled awkwardly at her. “Hi,” he said, “so what brings you out to WindSong? It’s a long way to come for just a dance.” Shuhjeet’s hands were stuffed so deeply into his pockets that his shoulders slouched.

“Czajka brought Parker and I,” Gail replied, then looked around perturbed. “Actually, I would’ve thought he’d be done and come to find me by now.” She turned her quizzical expression on Czajka and Alice who shrugged. Gail looked to see if she could find Aggie, or spot Jonah Kin. She did see Aggie, who was just inside the kitchen making sure the counter stayed filled with refreshments. “I’ll ask Aggie when we get to the front,” Gail said, jerking her head to gesture to Aggie.

Czajka chuckled. “No need. Speak of the devil and ye shall see his horns. Or some such.” He raised a hand and waved towards the doorway. Gail turned to see Parker, Jonah Kin, another older man, and two teenage boys entering. Parker glanced around, saw Czajka’s waving hand, and walked over.

“Hello,” Parker said, snaking an arm around Gail’s waist, “what have you been up to?” Gail cocked an eyebrow at Parker’s unusual display of affection, but didn’t complain. She put an arm up on his shoulder and leaned over comfortably.

“Dancing with these fine gentlemen,” Gail gestured, sweeping across both Czajka, who bowed eyes twinkling, and Shuhjeet, who turned beet red and stared at the floor.

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