A former dancer revisits the exhilaration of performance.

Claudie sits in her chair near the window, doing her best to keep out of the way. She hates Wednesdays and the intrusion it brings.

"Oopsie doodle there!" says the one with the curly hair, talking to Claudie like she might be a child. Or a poodle. Claudie says nothing. It will be over soon and they will go.

The aides chatter and giggle like teenagers about silly pranks they’ve played on the janitor or who’s picking them up from work that night. Claudie watches the swaying branches of the willow tree outside her window. It’s autumn now and it won’t be long before all the leaves have fallen to the ground. Bare trees in the wind, she thinks. Just like us.

"All done! Bye bye, Mrs. Pinsent," Curly says in her kitten voice. Claudie nods, smiling her thanks. There’s nothing to be gained by being rude to fools. She rises from the chair and shuffles toward the door where she engages the privacy lock.

Today she will do her exercises as usual, using the window sill for her barre. She will close her eyes and hear the music and she will dance. Even after so many years have passed, she still feels the shiver of exhilaration when she stretches her arms over her head. Then, rising to her toes, holding steady, she is poised to run leaping into a partner’s waiting arms.

Only there is no partner. And she knows she isn’t pretty anymore.

The End

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