“You know what I love about the ballet?” she said.
Snow sank through the lamplight.
“The tight tights?” he said, shoulders hitched near his ears. “The bulging . . . bulges?”
She puffed on her hands, and eyed the auditorium doors.
“Close, but no.”
“I mean, it is called The Nutcracker.”
She jerked her knee towards his groin.
“Christ!” He laughed and shook his head. “You're no Sugarplum Fairy, my dear.”
Her smile spread beneath the scarf. He brushed some snow from her hair.
“No, it’s the passion I love,” she said. “But passion harnessed. And balanced on the tip of a toe.”
His brow knitted.
“But passion isn’t that plotted. Or that surgical.” He threw his chin toward the chattering crowd, some sucking on their nicotine fix. “This is why I don't like ballet. It seems like someone’s idea of passion. Some agreed upon plan that we’re all just going along with. And I’m supposed to engage with it like it’s the real thing?”
The outside lights flickered. Intermission was over.
“Yeah, but if it weren’t so tightly choreographed, there would just be a mess,” she said, taking his arm as they filed toward the door. “And people might get hurt.”
“I can see the honesty in that, at least. It would be a beautiful mess.”
She dragged him away from the line of people trekking inside. Pressed him against the cold stone of the auditorium’s wall. A fused breath melted the snowflakes dropping between their lips.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” he said.
Her hand found someplace warm.
“I like it when you argue with me,” she said.
His arms discovered a waist buried beneath the layers.
“But you’re proving my point,” he said. “Right now. With your very impulsive hand. And my very impulsive. . . you know.”
She stood on her tiptoes, her mouth finding his ear.
“Nope. I've been staging this since the start of Act One.”