Dancing With Her Daughter

Submitted into Contest #254 in response to: Write a story where an important conversation takes place during a dance.... view prompt

24 comments

Fiction

The gentle waves lapped against the ship as it slowly pulled away from the port of Livorno. Holding the stem of her delicate wineglass, she watched the sunlight’s reflection shimmer and swirl on the surface of the wine and the sea simultaneously.


She reminded herself to be grateful for their recent harvest. The years of hard work had finally restored their vineyard back to the successful business it had been for generations. That knowledge made her first sip of the fruity wine that much sweeter.   


Looking out over the water, she watched the terra cotta homes nestled in the mountains retreat peacefully into the background. The details of each residence gradually became a mere suggestion rather than the overwhelming burden of reality.


Mirabelle stood on the balcony letting the warm breeze sweep past her. A seagull playfully dipped and swirled putting on a show as if for her personal entertainment. A solo performance to an audience of one.


“Caw, caw,” she called out on automatic, channeling her past self as a young mother. The lone bird disappeared into the blue skies returning with friends, their outstretched wings gliding past her. A small smile appeared in response to their showing off, the moment of joy catching her off guard in its unfamiliarity.


Mesmerized by the ocean’s rhythm, she was lulled into a perfect state of relaxation. Lost in thought and memory, she was startled when the door to her cabin opened.


“Mama, come dance with me,” Daniela appeared simultaneously to the music turning on.


“I would adore that. We should wait until the wedding, no?”


“Why, mama? Life is short, let’s enjoy our mother-daughter dance now.”


Mirabelle took another sip of the intoxicating red wine and slipped her feet into their dancing shoes. She took her daughter’s hand and admired her beauty.  


“You’re looking stunning on your big day. Are you ready to get married?” 


“I am,” Daniela answered, her eyes sparkling as they did when her inner joy reached them.


“Remember that day at the park when you were a little girl?” Mirabelle asked as she took her first dance step in time with the slow music that filled the cabin.


“The day of the picnic?” Daniela questioned, her eyes locking into her mother's as she followed her lead.


“Yes. You were only six years old and so precocious. It feels like yesterday when I tried to give you life’s advice.”


Daniela did her imitation of her mother’s voice. “Remember to be brave and to listen to your heart,” she said, taking the lead in their dance.


Mirabelle laughed and in turn imitated her daughter’s childish voice from years gone by. “Listen to my heart? But it doesn’t speak, it just beats thump, thump, thump.”


The women laughed, a strong hearty laugh, so similar in tone and rhythm it could have been but one. 


Mirabelle spun her daughter around to the music, enjoying their trip down memory lane. She continued their conversation from years gone by as she took back the lead. “My darling, when you will need it to speak to you it will. It will be a feeling, an intuition. You will know that is your heart telling you what to do. You will remember that I told you to follow that little voice.”


“My heart has a little voice!”  Daniela laughed continuing the script from the past, her laughter like musical notes on a sunny day. 


“Thank you for reminding me how good it feels to laugh.” Mirabelle smiled endearingly at her daughter.


“Have you forgotten to laugh lately, Mama?”


“Yes, I think I might have.”


“I’m glad I’m here to remind you.” She rested her head on her mother’s shoulder allowing Mirabelle to stroke her hair as she had done so often in the past.


Feeling suddenly fearful, Mirabelle held her daughter closer while they gently swayed to the music. She circled her arms around her small waist and clasped her hands together behind her, enveloping her child in the embrace. Feeling the joy radiating from Daniela into herself, their hearts began to beat as one.


After taking turns leading and following in both conversation and dance steps, they fell into a perfect rhythm and a comfortable silence. Their mutual love for one another was overwhelming, and the tiny cabin overflowed with emotion.


Mirabelle was the first to pull away and break the spell. She became serious as she looked into her daughter’s eyes.


“I’ve missed you. You don’t visit often anymore,” she confessed what she had been thinking.


“I’m here now,” Daniela whispered.


As the tempo of the music picked up, Daniela’s grin widened mischievously. Mother and daughter unabashedly sang along to the old favorite tunes, remembering every word of the lyrics. 


Grabbing Mirabelle’s hands, Daniela spun her mother around the tiny cabin haphazardly until dizzy.   


“Do you think about that day often, Mama?” Daniela asked as they collapsed breathlessly onto the plush chairs.


“What day, my love? Mirabelle answered, her cheeks pink, her hair curling around her neck having escaped the carefully coiffed updo.


“You know,” she whispered, “The day of the picnic.”


Mirabelle’s smile abruptly slipped away as she rose from her seat. 


“I do, Daniela. All the time. It’s more than I can bear.” She stepped back out onto the balcony, turning away from her daughter. The tears shimmered in the moonlight as they slid down her cheeks.


***


Startled by the cabin door opening, Mirabelle jumped, her hands flying up to wipe the tears.


“Mama,” Gia reached out to her mother’s face, stroking it gently. “What’s wrong?”


“Gia?” Mirabelle looked confused. “What happened? Where is Daniela?”


“Daniela? Mama…” She paused uncomfortably.


“Yes. Daniela. Where did she go off to? She has to get ready for her wedding. We mustn’t keep the guests waiting.”


“Mama, no. Today is my wedding day. You know that. I’m marrying Luigi. Remember?”


Mirabelle paused, looking out at the mountains which had receded far into the distance. The horizon had become blurred by the darkened night sky, making it difficult to discern between land, sea, and air. Her gaze returned to her older daughter’s beautiful face so filled with concern. Finally noticing the beaded white wedding gown that she wore so elegantly, the circumstances became apparent. It was Gia’s wedding, her special night on the ship. 


“Yes, of course, my love. But tell me, where is your sister? She was here just a moment ago.”


“Mama, that’s not possible. Remember?”


Mirabelle quietly held her breath in anticipation of the heartbreak.


“There was a shooting in the park the day of the picnic,” Gia continued, bringing the words that never changed along with the pain that never dulled. “We survived but Daniela didn’t.”


June 10, 2024 15:45

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24 comments

Kristi Gott
17:42 Jun 15, 2024

The concept of the mother dancing with the daughter was very dreamlike. After a painful loss it is not uncommon for people to comfort themselves by imagining the other person has come back and they are sharing time together. Who knows, perhaps they really are. Very well written and unique!

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Hannah Lynn
19:55 Jun 15, 2024

Thanks, Kristi! There are so many stories of people receiving signs from loved ones or having strong feelings of being visited by them, sensations, dreams etc. it makes you wonder.

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Marshall Gothage
20:48 Jun 17, 2024

Hannah, this was a great story. I liked the imagery in the beginning; it made me feel like I was there. The lines "A seagull playfully dipped and swirled putting on a show as if for her personal entertainment. A solo performance to an audience of one." were masterfully written.

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Hannah Lynn
19:58 Jun 18, 2024

Thank you so much, Marshall! I really appreciate the praise! :)

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Helen A Smith
13:28 Jun 17, 2024

Very beautiful and convincingly written story. It reminds us how important our memories are and how those that have passed continue to live in our hearts. Literally the mother relives her experiences with her daughter through the dance. It feels painfully real.

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Hannah Lynn
19:45 Jun 17, 2024

Thank you so much, Helen!

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Carol Stewart
00:39 Jun 17, 2024

Lovely interaction during the dance, felt the intensity of emotion duly explained in the latter half. Sad but sweet.

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Hannah Lynn
10:30 Jun 17, 2024

Thanks so much, Carol!

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Karen Hope
14:14 Jun 15, 2024

Sad and beautiful. We could feel the bond between mother and daughter, and never suspected the truth. Lovely story!

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Hannah Lynn
14:41 Jun 15, 2024

Thanks so much, Karen! The mother child bond is something indescribable and special …

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Karen Hope
14:53 Jun 15, 2024

I couldn’t agree more!

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Darvico Ulmeli
08:52 Jun 13, 2024

Off, didn't see that coming. Nicely done, Hannah.

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Hannah Lynn
13:54 Jun 15, 2024

Thanks for reading, Darvico! :)

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AnneMarie Miles
13:13 Jun 11, 2024

Oh, poor mama. I can't imagine having to live through the loss of a child and how the grief must interrupt the future happy moments like this one. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

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Hannah Lynn
18:29 Jun 12, 2024

Poor Mama is right! 😥 Thanks for reading, AnneMarie!

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Trudy Jas
11:41 Jun 11, 2024

To have to remember over and over again. A Sisyphean ordeal. I'm in awe of your skill.

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Hannah Lynn
18:28 Jun 12, 2024

I learned a new word! Sisyphean … I had to look it up! Thanks for teaching me that and for your praise! 😊

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Trudy Jas
18:30 Jun 12, 2024

LOL!!!! You are welcome.

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VJ Hamilton
00:49 Jun 11, 2024

This is such a poignant image: "She circled her arms around her small waist and clasped her hands together behind her, enveloping her child in the embrace." Thanks for a cathartic read!

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Hannah Lynn
18:16 Jun 11, 2024

Thanks so much VJ. Yes, that’s one of my favorites lines as well. I appreciate the feedback!

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Alexis Araneta
18:15 Jun 10, 2024

I was waiting for the twist...and it was heartbreaking. :( Splendid work, Hannah. Incredibly evocative !

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Hannah Lynn
18:13 Jun 11, 2024

Thanks Alexis! Yes a lot of my stories do have that twist… you never know if it’s coming or not lol! Thanks for reading!

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Mary Bendickson
17:39 Jun 10, 2024

The title told me this would be heartbreaking.💔

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Hannah Lynn
18:12 Jun 11, 2024

Awww it’s a sad one. Thanks for reading, Mary!

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