The Paradise Dancer

When strong, isolated, cold ballerina Cassie O'Shea finds a homeless autistic woman her age, she takes her in. This follows her life. Its based on my good friend I met at a autie group.

“C’mon” I screamed to myself, “you need to get up out of bed! You’re almost late! You CANNOT be late!” The wretched alarm did it’s usual screaming in my ear. Tired, cold, confused, I managed to get out of bed and slip on a leo, tights, and get my hair into the normal tight bun. Over the dance clothes went a tee and a cardigan with sweats. My face felt strange, heavy and my legs felt like weights. My arms were noodles. I felt in no shape to dance, as I felt every morning. So I just ignored those feelings as best I could. Being the principle character in the Rochester Ballet’s rendition of La Bayadere meant being on time every single day, sun or flood.


I walked into the kitchen, dreading cereal for the ten billionth time. I chug it down, aware that my body needs the energy. 


Something crossed my field of view; the La Bayadere ad was in the papers. The dancer in the picture was me, the main character. Then I remembered one of the many reasons I love ballet; I love to dance and feel successful.  I smiled, I laughed, I happily eat the rest of my cereal. After that, I got my bag, went to the car, and drove.


I came up to main road that took me to rehearsal every morning. The city was ghostly; there wasn’t a person in sight. The deep, sleepy fog was smothering the buildings and roads until you felt it was about to caress you like a lover. I kept driving until something caught my eye.


There was a person on the bench in a nearby park, a woman, but no ordinary girl.

InHighland Park, sat a  twenty year old woman on a bench. She wore a purple dress and brown cardigan. Her small, round face was caressed by the long, gangly hair cascading from her red head. The woman was tall for her age and the color of snow.


There she sat, little pieces of rain scattered all over her. it gave her the appearance of two different shades. Soon, she was only one shade as the rain became stronger, harder, more aggressive. But still there was the woman, sitting on the bench.


I don’t know why I stopped or why I was staring at her. She was close enough to see very clearly but must not have noticed me. To anyone else, she might have seemed normal. But to me, there was something lacking in her demeanor. Maybe it was the fact that she was rocking back and forth over and over again. Or it could have been the fact that she was holding some kind of child’s toy like her baby.


Maybe she needed help. I mean, maybe she was lost or something and needed that kind of help?  If not I would just say sorry and leave to where I was supposed to be.


I parked the car, aware that I wasn’t late yet, and walked to the woman.

It was the oddest thing.


By now, the rain had picked became more and more intense. I dreaded it when finally, as if mother nature didn’t have enough, thunder boomed its presence. The woman screamed, she held her hands over her ears and got up from the bench. She ran all over the place; into the tulip bed while destroying them, up on the bench screaming, finally straight on a collision course with the metal canon war memorial in the center of the field. I panicked.


If there is one thing to learn about life; it is to be to precautious and to be more safe than sorry. Being a dancer, wife, sub teacher, you need to know that more than your pas de chat’s or your class schedule or whatever. I ran to the woman, who was still running to the canon, apparently unaware that she might just about extremely injure herself. I grabbed her by the back. Surprised, shocked, afraid, she screamed. She screamed like a lion in a cage, ugly, and loud, and terrifying. The rain stopped, the thunder stopped. It was as if mother nature felt sorry, resentful and gave us back the sun. I let go of the woman. She seemed very confused, who wouldn’t?


“Hi?” I said, nervous. Sure I had potentially saved this woman’s life, but what if I had just made it worse? “My name is Cassie” Smiling a weak, earnest smile, I asked… “what’s your name?”


She said nothing, she only stood there, more confusion pooling up in her eyes. Then the confusion was replaced by tears. She sat on the cold, wet, muddy ground, and sobbed.


I was so confused; what could I have done? If I had let her keep running, she could have hurt herself. But now, as she sat there, her body heaving as her sobs became louder and more wild. Soon, she sounded like a depressed, angry animal more than a human. I sighed, maybe she had a mental illness? I didn’t want to judge like that. But I couldn’t get that thought out of my head.


Suddenly I had remembered something I had to read in high school. It talked about this disease or something like that, Autism. At first I didn’t know what the connection is. But then everything, the sensitivity, the loneliness in her eyes, the way she didn’t notice anything but the thunder, the way she seemed that she thought she would be harmed by the thunder, it was the same as an Autistic person.


It was almost frightening and was also saddening. I knew what I had to do; I had to take this woman, who seemed completely unable to help herself, and find her a loving home.



The End

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