Nothing else can take Beauty Blue. Not if she can take beauty.
Her thoughts are focused as they were when her body danced. A dance of beauty, of twisting rhythms and flowing movements. She continues her walk in this way, though the cold rain. Her hips sway as she threads her way through the sidewalk crowds. Whistles and cat calls pass her by.
She pays them no mind for they are but background to the music she hears. For five years this path has been hers. Two blocks down, left, three blocks up, pass two doors, then up five floors. She is soaked. Rivulets of water run from her gossamer dress and plaited hair. Hair that is destined to be left behind.
Beauty climbs the steps counting each one, dancing ever upwards. Her dance changes as she reaches the landing.
"And again," she hears Teresa's voice echo in her head as she begins to ascend the second flight of stairs.
The fifth floor is reached at last and she stands, position perfect before her door. Reaching into her bag, her hand searches for the key. A door creaks open to her left.
"Good practice today Beauty?" A gnome's head juts from the open door.
"Teresa clapped," is all she says as her key clicks in lock.
The door closes behind her and she drops her bag by the barre that extends along the wall. She flicks on no lights. The rain light from the wall of windows is adequate for her. She sees her reflection, a puddle forming at her feet. Nonplussed, Beauty moves to the kitchen bar, her reflection following, and presses play on the stereo.
Music wells up to fill the empty space. She moves to the barre, hips undulating. She stretches and then, with the next music change, she begins her routine. One, two, stop; the fabric, now wet, clings to her legs hindering her movement. The braid too, leaden with the weight of rain, disrupts her dance.
Beauty stops; she remembers her resolve. With deliberate steps she walks to the kitchen bar and opens a drawer. A pair of long silver scissors awaits her, the drawer's only occupant. Picking them up, she holds them reverently. They chill her fingers with their metallic weight.
Striding to the corner where the mirror meets the window she stops. There the murky light is brightest. Looking in the mirror her vision blurs. She sees Theresa; her hardened stare, always demanding more. Yet today she had clapped.
Taking a firm grip upon her hair, Beauty poses, scissors at the ready. The light dims, as if the rain is suddenly increasing. Too late she realizes she is fainting, open scissors in hand.
He is in love. In love with the idea of Beauty. He follows her like a faithful hound, though he is twice her age. He has seen her every show since he first saw her in the Nutcracker some twenty years ago. Now his apartment is next to hers, filled with the song of her movement.
He cannot see her, but in his mind her twisting and enchanting body controls the rhythms. A thud interrupts his visions.
"Beauty never falls," he mutters to himself, then thinks aloud, "perhaps she dropped something."
He listens as the music crescendos and fades. It rises again and Marvin Glaston pushes himself away from the wall to eat. She would be eating soon too, he knows. He's lived next door to her for two years now. He knows the flow of her life, her comings and goings. He has tickets to every one of her upcoming performances.
Beauty Blue is his lost child and his soul mate. A single word from her is like a dozen roses in full bloom to him. Her darkened skin reminding him of days stationed on tropical islands with the Navy. On stage she dances for him and him alone.
He eats and returns to listen. The music still plays, it loops yet again. It has been looping since she pressed play.
"Something is not right," his thought is spoken.
She is precision, his Beauty. With the opening night still two weeks away she has been practicing each piece to perfection, stopping and starting over again and again. It is not until a mere two days before the first performance that she will dance all the way through without stopping.
"Why is the music endlessly playing Act I over and over?" his thoughts verbalized themselves.
Something has happened to his Beauty.
He hesitates listening, pressed against the wall. A flute sounds, discordant with the music. It is her phone, but she does not answer. It rings and rings and rings until at last it stops. Still Marvin hesitates. To step inside her humble abode would be like desecrating a temple. Yet if something has happened to her, he would not forgive himself for not investigating.
Resolve takes hold and bravely Marvin exits to stand before her door.