Something old I wrote a long time ago….I’m thinking of bringing it back up for a revision.
This was a simple ballet, nothing more, nothing spectacular. No reason to be nervous. But her belly swirled with so much nervous energy she could run a flying circus with all that was going on in there.
Nerves didn’t belong here tonight, but tonight was a monumental step—for her. Going out alone was something she’d never done. Not a social creature, long nights with two, or maybe three chick-flicks, and a tub of popcorn, maybe a half a bottle of wine, was what she called a successful night out—or in, technically it was in.
Now, her husband on the other hand had been the social butterfly. He craved the pulse of the crowd and had that magnetic ability to pull everyone in a room around him, to rotate in orbit around him—the life of the party. She had merely been his satellite, present and accounted for, an integral part of his life, and by extension of being his lovely wife became a part of the party. Otherwise, she would have faded into the background.
His love for her blazed so strong. She had loved attending parties with him. So comforting to be held by such a loving man. He needed her as much as she depended on him, and there wasn’t a single person in the room who didn’t know she belonged to him.
By herself, Sally Crestwood was a nobody, a plane-Jane, who stumbled awkwardly through social situations. Tomas changed all that. Through whatever quirk of fate, he took one look at her and fell over the brink and into the abyss that was true love. For nine years, she had lived in bliss, waking every day to the miracle that was her life and to the one man in the world who loved her with his every breath. It worked well, up and until the day he died leaving her a widow two days before her thirtieth birthday.
He took care of her in death just as well as he had done in life. Insurance paid all his outstanding medical bills, the over-extended mortgage on their home, and all their debt, even left her with a sizable nest egg. However, the one thing he hadn’t been able to cure was her social phobias and utter lack of social skills.
Which was why she found tonight, the most courageous thing she had ever attempted.
Five long years she grieved. Chick flicks, popcorn, and countless bottles of wine had been the extent of her dating scene. Tonight was her New Years resolution, and a birthday gift to herself. Life was not meant to be spent in mourning.
So, she shelled out two hundred dollars for a single box seat, front row center, and dolled herself up, all to watch Swan Lake, performed by the San Francisco Ballet Company.
She came alone. Drove alone. She left her car in the over priced parking garage with garage attendants. But she stepped along with the crowd, surrounded by people. Even clutching her purse protectively to her side, avoiding the beggars camped out on the streets, people swelled around her and it was wonderful to not be alone. The hum of the city vibrated the very currents of the air. Traffic whizzed by, horns honking, brakes screeching. People were everywhere.
The rudeness of the crowds didn’t pull down her buoyant mood. She refused to be affected and instead let the crowds carry her into the theater and to her date with the ballet. She was dressed to kill, and even though alone, this was all hers. Tonight was an extravagant indulgence, wonderful, and a dream she always had.
Finally, she was at the ballet. Beautiful women and their beautiful dresses swirled around her accompanied by their escorts in black and white tuxes or dark suits and ties. Children huddled close to their parents, dressed in their very best, if not on their best behavior. A general hubbub of excited voices filled the grand lobby while eager audience members bought program guides and queued up to find their seats.
She watched old couples holding hands. Young couples sneaking kisses. Families ushering in their brood of children already looking beleaguered by the task of keeping the young ones behaved. She envied them their familial bonds.
But romance wasn’t what she wanted. No man would ever compare to the love Thomas had flooded her life with and her heart still bled with his loss. It wouldn’t be fair to ask a man to compete with Tomas’s memory.
What she wanted, was to breathe again. To live. To feel. To take a breath and not have it hurt. To sit and to cry and to rejoice in living. She wanted to taste the flavor of life and to experience the richness in the colors of the world. She wanted to dip her hand into the river of life and dangle her fingers in the cool waters of this world and not cry. The heaviness on her chest, that lump in her throat—her constant companion for the past five years—she wanted that gone.
She wanted to cry tears of joy, not tears of grief.
She would always love Thomas, but he wasn’t here to comfort her anymore. She couldn’t walk across a crowded room to find shelter in his arms. He had taken care of her, financially, but socially he’d left her a cripple, exposed and defenseless. Her social phobias crippled her and tired of living as a widow, she’d determined she wouldn’t go to her grave as the crazy cat lady. Not that she had cats or even liked the furry critters. They made her sneeze and they smelled, no matter how cute or furry they looked.
In many ways, she wanted Thomas gone.
She moved through the crowds to the elevators. The elevator opened, revealing a red velvet paneled interior. The rich marble floor reflected the soft glow of the recessed lighting back onto her light complexion. At the back, the mirrored glass reflected her image and she examined what it revealed. A radiant, confident woman stared back with eyes layered in complex emotions. A stranger would never know how incredibly nervous and unsure she felt inside. She faced front, and pressed the button for the second floor with her gloved finger.