The Last Proper Dance
She wakes and discovers the dawn has arrived. There’s a pale light poking itself under the drawn blinds, illuminating of her room to see by.
Usually, she wakes before the first light and waits with impatience for the light to come. She hates the dark but now she can see across the room, and her costume hangs awaiting her for one last time.
The costume stirs a sense of the reality of this day. It’s her last day in the company. Her dance carer is coming to an end.
Her body is grateful the end is here, but her mind is not. Her knees and ankles are well spent unable to maintain the strength and agility she once had in her youth.
Her body has struggled through the last year, and she knows it even though a part of it led by her ego is still in denial.
The past few performances have left her puffing something she never had to contend with. The younger girls with their lithe bodies are hard to keep up with, and she realised she is becoming more of a burden than an asset to them.
As she lays there, she reflects on her career, the many highlights, the performances in front of Royalty and the accolades heaps upon her. In recent times she has been referred to in reviews as the veteran dancer in the troupe, hardly flattering she knows.
She swings herself out of bed. Her feet still small and petite show the rigours of so many years confined in shoes and made to contort and carry her. She promises them today will be the last time they will have to have to be subjected to the torture of her dance.
The weather forecast she sees is for another hot day. Thankfully the theatre is air-conditioned, and she has a summer warm-up outfit, light and cool to work in.
She packs her costume for the last time and heads out the door, a coffee in one hand and in the other a piece of burnt toast smothered in peanut butter, just how she likes it.
It’s a long journey to the theatre in the morning traffic, with so many going in her direction, jostling one another from lane to lane.
Its an hour lost when she arrives at the theatre and finds a few girls already there getting ready for their warmups.
One of the girls upon seeing her comes across and presents her with a small gift along with words of thanks and gratitude for her being so willing to help and teach her when she joined the troupe.
She turns to her locker and upon opening it places the gift along two others she received the previous day preferring to take them home when it’s all over and opening them then.
She’s never been one for idle chit-chat and so quickly organises herself to begin her warm-ups. Her pre-performance time is usually a lot of stretches as her old body needs to stretch a lot if she’s to realise this final dance.
Eventually, the troupe leader arrives and calls for everyone’s attention. She announces that today is the final performance by their esteemed senior member. This brings about cheers and congratulations from all the girls. They make statements about the perceived joys of retirement, the sleeping in, the no diet, the doing whatever you please.
She takes in what they are saying and expresses her thanks and gratitude to them and ends with a word of wisdom, to work hard and enjoy what you do.
Three hours later and it is all over. The curtain comes down and, in that instant, she goes from senior member of the dance troupe to senior member of society.
Then the curtain rises, and the patron of the troupe comes on stage to say a few words on behalf of the viewing public. She finds the speech embarrassing, the Patron remembers so much, she hoped might have been forgotten but she laughs politely with everyone as the tales are told.
Back in the dressing room, the girls are all planning their evening. Which club to go to, which bar to frequent. They want her to come out with them, but she declines saying she’s tired and needs to go home.
At home in her own safe environment, she can look over the cards and gifts and think of the next day. She finds her phone rining and it’s her friend Daisy saying she’ll meet her at home.
It will be good to have Daisy there, someone to share the moment with.
Being alone does bother her, but Daisy has assured her she will be around often for tea and chat.
She closes the locker one last time and leaves inside her costume and dance shoes. She leaves them as a way of telling herself everything is now over.