Steps to the Edge by Amanda Saint

Pushing open the door to the Brazilia bar Marcia licks her chapped lips, tasting already the Caipirinhas’ sweet sugar and sour lime luring her into the kick of Cachaças. She needs the booze and the beat of the samba to fill her head and banish the thoughts about Lucas that she really doesn’t want to think anymore. Cheesy as it is, this place always dulls her homesickness too and she’s been craving home ever since Lucas— No, she won’t think about that. 

Inside, it’s completely silent. A tousled-haired man wearing scuffed white go-go-boots over cerise skinny jeans, and a black suede jacket with tassels hanging down to his knees, stands alone at the end of the bar. There are no other customers and no bar staff, just a distant smell of burnt toast. A giant Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak argue in a bell tower on the cinema screen on the back wall.

Marcia grips the door, head swimming. Where is everyone? Maybe she should just go home. But there’s nothing to distract her there. The music will start soon. She needs to eat. And drink. The bartender will be back any moment. 

At the buffet, she spots teardrop shaped coxinhas, inhales the spicy seaside tang of home wafting up from the Bolinho de bacalhau. She reaches out to grab a plate.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ the man at the bar approaches her. Young blue eyes gleam out at her from an ancient craggy face. 

‘I thought—’

He shakes his head. ‘This food is only for the square dancers.’ 

Holding his hand out towards her, he slowly taps one white go-go booted foot on the sandy floor. 

Behind him Kim Novak falls from the tower, leaving Jimmy Stewart to stare, horrified, at the empty space left behind. 

The ground lurches as the vivid imaginings of what happened to Lucas, of his final moments, flood Marcia’s mind again.

She shakes her head. 

Reaches out and grasps the man’s hand. 

Matching her toe-tapping to his, she lets him lead her into the dance. 

The beat that only the two of them can hear, now the only thing in her head.

Biography: Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fictions have been widely published and placed and listed in lots of international prizes. Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing an online writing community, competitions and courses; the award-winning Retreat West Books indie press; and the WestWord literary journal.