The mud flat was alight with several small bonfires. A boom box blared Blind Willie's Cajun Band and crowd moved in time to the music, barefoot, muddy to the knees some of them. A couple of trash cans full of beer and ice did great business. A third trash can overflowed with the empties. Someone brought a washtub full of crawdads and a few timid wall flowers were burning their fingers fishing them out of the boil, breaking them in half and sucking the meat out of the tail shells.
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Jamie was possessed by the music and the moment. She danced close to the boom box and let it take her. She danced with whoever walked up to her. She didn't care who she danced with. She threw her arms up to the darkling skies, spread her fingers among the stars. She was mud all over, that print dress she had bought for a special occasion would never see the light of day again. She fell earlier. She wasn't sure, she couldn't remember, maybe she was pushed down. The hem of the dress was torn. It was ruined for sure.
The music stopped for a moment and she hung suspended in the fire-washed dark. Someone pressed an icy beer into her hand. She took a drink and then let the cold shiver pour down her throat, her dress, wet already, and down her legs into the mud. The music started again just as she saw Ben, the one who pushed her down. She remembered. Jamie remembered and then she smiled a secret smile and moved to the new song. She let the music push her around. She let it lift her arms and she smiled a little smile. Ben didn't see her. He didn't care. He was drunk and didn't know.
She danced to every beat, every note, danced and smiled. A man jumped out of the crowd and danced with her and when he reached for her she moved a way, always just out of his reach. She knew him, Robbie was a nice man, a good man, not at all like Ben.
When Jamie saw the knife over by the crawdads she stopped for a second, just a brief moment of simple awareness of the wholeness of the universe. She stood and looked at that precious gift and then danced for the joy of her good fortune. She didn't know what happened to that can of beer she'd been holding. One moment it and the good man were gone and the knife was in her hand.
She smiled big, no more secrets, she laughed with purest joy. She remembered now, how her dress got ruined and she danced over to the man who had done it.
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