She Used To Be A Dancer

That’s what Josie always says when we go anywhere. We amble through the corridors with me leaning on her, hand on shoulder, steps halting and hitching. Then she extols what I could do before my muscles withered away to a nine year old’s frame on a grown woman. How I danced ballet and jazz. She doesn’t mention that I was less than skilled at tap. It doesn’t come into play here.

At the eye doctor’s office, the assistant smiles brightly at us and says that I must have vision issues because of my dependence on another person to get from place to place. Josie has already told me to let her do the talking. For once, I comply. I’m tired of talking about it. She used to be a dancer, and it’s not her vision. It’s true that without correction I qualify as legally blind. But I am not leaning on her because I’d miss the hallway, I’m gripping for sheer balance. I have become used to the way I see and can manage hallways with aplomb. As I stare into the machines that read my eyes, I hear a litany of my past coming from Josie, who is standing behind me. The assistant hums in agreement. Then she adjusts the knobs and gives me further instruction. Lean in. Next station. Then I proceed to the next part of the exam, limping into the more comfortable chair in the doctor’s domain.

On the hot summer days, I wear the same ensemble when I go out; a black skirt that is as lightweight as possible paired with a gray strappy sleeveless top. It is low cut, too much so, requiring me to wear a shrug or a summer cardigan tied around my shoulders. Josie arranges the cardigan until she is satisfied. Being considerably shorter than me, she first puts on her wedge sandals before fussing with my clothing. I stand there against the door like a life size doll to be rearranged. Josie has put my hair up because even with my new cut to the shoulders, my hair is hot and heavy in hundred degree weather. My specialty of getting ready is, of all things, my eye makeup and lipstick. Today I have held the mirror two inches for my face and dusted shimmery emerald over my lids and lined over it with a lighter shade of mint. I carefully coat my lashes in mascara, but the effort is hidden by the oversize vintage sunglasses that make the glare a little more comfortable. Finding my garnet lipstick by the shape of its square tube, I gingerly apply a slash that stands out against my untanned skin.

After we’ve been to our destination, I ditch the shrug and toss it into the backseat. I can already feel the heat permeating my skin and my head throbs slightly with its oppression. As the sweat starts to glide down the back of my neck despite the updo, I ask Josie how I look. For me, a glance in the mirror is futile. I hear the smile in her voice as she tells me I look like a movie star. It must be the fifties sunglasses.

I shuffle my half-numb feet in their shoes. Flats. I used to wear heels nearly all the time. Now I cannot, but I have not let that break my zeal for cute footwear. My two favorite pairs are bright red and stone with studs. Ironically, ballerina flats. But,then again, I used to be a dancer.

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