A month ago, she had decided to give up on her true love, “a love affair that had been woven and integrated into her life since the age of four” and head back to the one place she had known as home for the most part of her life.
Dance was meant to be fun, eloquent, uplifting, and joyful, a rush of adrenaline that runs through the veins setting the blood on fire but something was missing—it had become depressing, and a chore. An unbearable and distasteful medicine she had to swallow every time she danced.
As she stood there looking at the empty apartment, she wondered how and where she was going to start over. Her whole life had been about dance—spending endless amounts of time at the dance studio with aunt Melina even though Uncle Edward always said her proper place was at his side at the company.
At thirty years, dancing, regrettably, was sucking the living day light out of her. Dance reminded her too much of her mother, of Eric and Linda, and the bond they’d shared together. Closing the apartment door behind her, she hesitantly closed her last chapter to dancing and headed outside for the taxi.
She had loved the art truly when her mother had been alive but after her death, she thought she had lost it forever until that love had been revived by Eric and Linda Sheppard coming into her life. After their deaths, she had used dance as a means of escape from the world of love, building a wall around her.
Six hours…six hours of unbearable flight back to Calgary Canada and to an unforetold future, she thought as the car headed for the airport. In six hours, her whole world was about to change—either for the best or worst “only time could tell if it would be for the best”. A whole lot of mending and catching up was the new itinerary she was carrying.
The desire to dance was no more what it used to be and of late, it had become a chore rather than the love of her life; but who could blame her…
At age eight, losing her mother was one thing but to have to lose another set of parents at age eleven was enough to bruise a child. Going through such an ordeal had been mind-shattering, an experience she could never get over.
She’d had a fruitful and successful life as a dancer and was sought after by some of the best and most popular dance companies around the world. She’d danced for the “American Ballet Theater, the Houston Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada…and the list went on.
Her dancing had put her on cover magazines, describing her as the best of her time—It had been described as graceful, captivating and heart-warming. It had given her the lifestyle she’d dreamt of as a child; not that she needed that lifestyle anymore but it had given her an attention she would not have dreamt of.
But things were changing; her last review hadn’t been the best and her last dance recruitment had not gone so well.
She could still hear Master Noel calling for everyone to get back on the stage—“ok people let’s go. We have a lot to do and so little time”. She could feel the stares bearing down her back as she approached the stage again. “The day, she thought, was going to be a long one”.
Annalise! “The sharp mention of her name piercing through her and spiralling her to a childhood she had vowed never to relieve again”. Benjamin came into the house in his drunken stupor ready to rain his routine of abuse on her. Her mother had stepped in sustaining bruises that had been meant for her. She was the child who had messed up everything, he would normally say—“A bad omen in his life”.
Annalise…Annalise…Yes! She answered a bit irritated. “I want you to take it from the top and this time, please…please try to keep up and stay on track,” master Noel said in a condescending tone.
They had been rehearsing for weeks and going late into the night without much break and working their butts off to make the production a great one. But her once beautiful, charming and alluring techniques were not what it used to be. It had become rigid, distant, like a zombie moving through the whispers of the wind.
It was a miracle she had made it that far with her dancing career but Master Noel was not one to condone nonsense or be fooled.
A few lines into the routine, she heard Master Noel shout out in his perfect French accent—
“No! No! No! No! No!
Anna, what are you doing?
You’re going about this all wrong. Where are the emotions, the passion, and the technique?
Where are the extensions? “Stretching out his hands to mimic a stretch above his head”
It’s supposed to be a sad piece with a happy ending. It has to pull at the audience for them to believe.
Do you even understand what this piece is about?
Of course she replied in exasperation.
“Then, play the part well Miss Sheppard”. He shouted in annoyance and stop wasting everyone’s time”.
Standing on the stage she coaxed herself saying “you’ve done this so many times before. It’s not that hard; you just pretend your way through the number and come out a star”. But pretense had run its course.
“The truth was she couldn’t let anyone see who the true Annalise Bella Nobleman Sheppard was. The exposure of her nakedness was one she wasn’t ready to show the world.
Somehow in her whirl wind of career turnout, she had lost herself and so began the endless cycle of asking and questioning “who she was”.
For years she’d managed to keep her wall up and protected. But that very wall she had built around her for so long was now crumbling in her face and weighing her down.
How was she going to handle this she thought?”
Who was she in this life she had managed to create for herself and yet felt so lost in it?
In the end, to save her sanity, she had given it all up and moved back to Calgary.
“Stop wasting everyone’s time.” Those were the last words she remembered from New York City as she sat on the red eye flight back home.
Copyright © 2017
If you enjoyed this Read Chapter II here