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Fiction

The curtain went down after the final act of the night, Jessica sat down wearily, took off her dance shoes and rubbed her aching feet, her hair tied up tightly sweat soaking the bandana she wore as part of her costume. It had been four months now, the tour was going well, city to city as the troupe danced and performed in the musical "Gypsy", which had become an overnight success after its first opening.

"We leave first thing tomorrow for Washington." Olga announced, coming in with more flowers, placing them in vases provided by the theatre, the room was starting to feel like a church now, flowers were pouring in, Jessica was too tired to care. "More flowers, wonder what they do with them after we leave here." She murmured - looking at them with tired eyes and a weary head, she just wanted sleep. And a long hot soak, neither of which were probable considering their bus had no bathtubs, just tiny shower stalls, and minutes to wash, while the person waiting needed their turn.

"I believe they get donated - to local Parishers or wherever they can donate them to." Monica told her, brushing against her as she walked by the over crowded dressing room. This was part of being on tour de ville, as the expression went. Gone were the nights reading a good book in bed, or enjoying a nice movie and popcorn with a friend. Eating? Ha, good luck with that, the dancers were scorned if they so much as had a hamburger while on tour.

"Boy, would i give to have a month off and just eat and do whatever i like, alone in a fancy hotel room." Jessica sighed, as she waited for her turn in the shower, confiding in her bestie Sally, a country girl who danced all her life, this being her first big show, the dream she waited for. "No, not me," she said, "I wouldnt give this up for the world, i just love the excitement of being on stage." Sally finished. And so, the show must go on, and the bus leaving for another city, another audience.

Jessica proved worthy of her performances however, and she never faltered or showed her pain or tiredness. The money was good enough so she could rest after this contract ended next year, 17 months from now.

Jessica was born a dancer since she was 5 years old, her mother had seen somethiing special in her at that age, and provided ballet lessons, tap dance lessons, and Jessica flourished in them, becoming always the top student in her class. Her extraordinary dark beauty, tall figure, and dancing legs gave her power when she walked into a room, she made heads turn.

"Well, i would love to have some time to myself, i am so tired lately. My right foot hurts so bad now, i am afraid to say anything to Raeol.", She breathed quietly, afraid and not wanting anyone to hear her, Sally wouldnt tell, they became friends fast and needed each other to confide in. She trusted Sally. Or so she thought, until one morning, three cities later, Raol approached her, they had two nights off and Jessica was so grateful, even though she was confined to her bunk in the bus with the others, she was grateful to be able to rest her foot.

"I hear your having trouble with your feet? We cant have an injured dancer in our troupe, if something happened to you during a show, well - i need to not go further. I want you to see the doctor right away." Raol made her go and get x-rays. Now, Jessica was fuming, if she got cut from this contract no other troupe would ever hire her. What she wished for and what she had to do were opposite entities, and now, the only one to blame was Sally.

"It's fine Raol, really, i can handle this, please, no doctors." Jessica pleaded and whined. But the boss wouldnt have it - he made her go.

Jessica walked into the doctors room several hours later, where they made her lie on a cold table, covering her foot so the stuffy x-ray tech could do what he had to do. Afterwards, she went back solemnly to the bus, her foot aching to no end now. She could not deny the pain and agony it was causing her, making her exhausted to the point of shaking at the end of each show in the last two weeks alone, and now swelling and bruising were evident. Jessica felt so defeated.

"Mom i know, i couldnt help it, he made me go to the doctor's." She cried to her mother, who was worried about her now. "I couldnt get out of it at all." And Jessica was furious with Sally, who had been avoiding her all that week.

"Someone tipped him off mom, and i know who it is." She replied angrily, and then saw Sally walking by her, head down, going to her bunk.

"Sally, i want to talk to you right now." Jesica had hung up the phone and went up behinid Sally fast enough for the small woman to not escape. "So what, did you tell Raol about my foot then? I told you in confidence, i thought you were my friend. Perhaps you want my part now and only pretended to be my friend?" Jessica huffed out, the accusation strong in the air, so much so Sally was taken back by her abruptness. "N..no, i did not say anything, i dont know how he found out, I dont appreciate these accusations." Sally retaliated, holding her head up in defiance, her blond curls spread out like Shirley Temple across her forehead.

"I do know one thing, one more week and you wont be able to stand an hour on that foot though, and that is an honest opinion." She told Jessica boldly, Jessica knew that was true. The bus was now quieting down, radio's being turned off, the troupe getting ready for the next morning, lights turned out, it was nine pm only, but to them it was midnight, four am another early start on the road. "Well we shall see what the doctor says then, before making assumptions, its my body, i can dance no matter, its what i do." Jessica scoffed back still angry and would no longer confide in Sally.

And so, the results came back several days later. Jessica had already been replaced by her second up, a chunky but strong gal who worked on a farm most of her life and danced when she could. Jessica couldnt figure how she got in even as a backup, but whatever, that wasnt her problem.

"Okay, here's the deal, you have torn tendons in each toe, your heel is severely damaged, and you have swelling in your ankle. We need to do more MRI and you need to stay off your feet for awhile, i am sorry, but if you continue to dance, well, you will not able to walk again." The doctor gave her the grim news, she had no idea things were this serious. Even the pain killers she got from other dancers had long stopped doing their magic, she already developed an addiction to those - another dreary tale of a lot of performers who toured like she did. Jessica slumped back into the chair now, tears streaming down her mascarad face, she didnt care about that, as the thick makeup ran under her eyes. Home, she would go home now, whether she really wanted that or not, now she had no choice, next time, she thought, be careful what you wish for.

December 18, 2020 18:53

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5 comments

Ari Berri
12:00 Dec 24, 2020

This story is awesome! There were a couple of places where you put i instead of I, but otherwise, nice job! Keep writing!

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M. M.
18:40 Dec 24, 2020

Thanks for the feedback, I will work to improve that!!! Glad you liked the story.

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Ari Berri
18:59 Dec 24, 2020

No problem.

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Kathleen `Woods
09:40 Jul 30, 2021

Well that was tragic. I feel like I'm reading into it but a dancer on tour getting a devastating injury while performing a musical named for a historically nomadic community fits a bit too well. That and the flowers/homesickness in the beginning really does match well with the end. Thanks for writing!

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M. M.
17:28 Jul 30, 2021

Thanks for reading and commenting on my stuff, unfortunately dancer's do get a lot of injuries, I wanted to "bring life" to her, and how hard and tiring a dancer's life can be, glad you enjoyed it. cheers

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