We made all those other dancers jealous, didn’t we Margaret? You were a dream in pale pink. Not many ladies in their fifties can pull off that color; but you make it sophisticated and elegant. And dancers’ outfits can be a bit revealing.
Remember when we met? You were 16.
“Dad, can you just sit down here please so we can work?”
“I don’t like what’s going on. Everything’s in an uproar. It makes me nervous.”
“I know, but remember we came to help you move today. That’s why there are boxes all over the place. You won’t have to take care of this big house anymore all by yourself.”
“Can I make you something to eat?”
“That’s ok, Dad. We got take-out food, remember? Have something to eat. Are you excited?”
“I can’t eat. Dancing on a full stomach is a bad idea. Competition season is just around the corner.”
“Come on Dad, stop being silly.”
Margaret, I’m sorry I used to rush you out the door. You always had to look your very best. I was so proud of you. Remember our last ballroom tour? We had the best foxtrot and waltz.
It was like a second honeymoon. You never went cold on me like some wives do. Well it’s true! I hear men talk. I’m wearing my dancing shoes, the ones you bought me for my seventieth. Remember Diane’s reaction when I opened the box? Dancing shoes? Mom, really?
“Daddy, where are the loafers we bought you? Those are your old dance shoes, you can’t wear those.”
“Yes I can. They’re still good.”
“If you insist.”
“I insist, Diane.”
I was mad when you cut your hair short, Madge, Honey. But then you’re so stylish and when you went blonde, it was like having a new woman in my arms. I loved it. I really did.
“Dad, what are you doing in Mom’s room? We already went through this stuff.”
“You can’t get rid of these. These are her competition dresses, her good ones; she needs these.”
“Daddy, Mom’s gone, remember?”
“Maybe you can wear them. Are you still taking dance lessons?”
“No. Dad, give me this. They’re already packed.”
“This is my favorite picture of her, taken before we were married. That rose on her lapel looks white because it’s black and white; but it’s actually pale pink—her color. We could have gone pro you know.”
“I know, Dad.”
“So like I was saying, after lunch, they have social hour, a little music, or some crafts. Some drift back to their room until dinner time.”
“Some of the staff is buzzing about a sparkly pink dress they saw in his drawer. Could Herbie be a cross-dresser?”
“I doubt it. Sometime the Alzheimer’s makes them steal things. They don’t mean it.”
“Oh, how sad.”
“Stay here long enough and you’ll see it all. Just keep the families happy, that’s the main thing.”
“What about the sparkly pink dress?”
“Discreetly ask around. If it doesn’t belong to any of the staff, just throw it away.”
Margaret, they’re taking everything from me …
“Hi everyone. Remember Herbert? It’s his second day with us so let’s make him feel welcome. Herbert why don’t you sit next to Betty? Can you say hello to Betty?”
“Hello. You came just in time. Today, the piano player is coming.”
“Do you like to dance?”
“When I was a girl, they called me Jitterbug-Betty.”
“Is that so? Well by-golly, you’ll never guess what they use to call me!”
Nightwriters By Martha Raymond
Martha Raymond is a bus driver by day and a writer by night. She earned a BA in Literature from Cal Poly, and one day hopes to be a published novelist. Martha is a member of SLO NightWriters, for writers at all levels in all genres. Find them online at slonightwriters.org.