Now Uncle Edward was dead, gone forever, and aunt Melina was in Ghana. She had been so afraid of losing her uncle and her aunt, that, she had been so distant from them—Edward and Melina tried so many times to get her closer to them, to open up, but somewhere, deep in her thoughts a little voice would always remind her saying, “you don’t want to lose them, you don’t want to lose them too”.
Uncle Edward had tried teaching her about the family business—the first thing you would need to know about any business is the economy, he’d said. You need to understand the meaning of inflation, depreciation, cost control, and the list went on.
On some days, she’d found herself reading the financial column of the papers or financial magazines. Other days she found herself listening to BNN news—at least that had worked to some degree.
He and Melina had taken her horseback riding, on picnics, boat rides, there was always a flicker of interest but once they got back it was back to square one.
After all else had failed, they finally sent her to a boarding school hoping it would help her overcome her shyness and fears—help break from her shell, and eventually open up to experience the love surrounding her.
Her life hadn’t been the most perfect neither had it been glamorous with a fairy tale ending but she’d done okay. Her best times had been spent with her mother—Alexis Nobleman—she had worked two jobs and still found a way to put her into dance school. She could still remember her full smile—warmed every heart that came in touch with her. And her sweet perfume—Miss Dior—as they were imbedded deep in her mind.
She still remembered the small two bedroom apartment up on Center Street where they’d stayed until the unfortunate incident. It hadn’t been the best place, but mama had made it cozy enough—she had changed those god awful broken blinds in the living room and bedrooms, and put up some lovely white floral curtains to help brighten the place and bring out the colour of the walls, although it didn’t do much as the red wall colour was pretty ugly, peeling, and gave the place a gloomy look. Occasionally, she would buy some flowers to liven up the apartment, and polish her little ballerina figurines, displaying them on the center table when papa was not around. Add that to the scent of her perfume and it was heaven—at least in her books.
Tears welled up in her eyes, she slowly drifted back to reality—it was a cold and frigid late Friday afternoon with a temperature of -24 degrees Celsius. Outside, the snow fell swiftly, covering everything in its path. The T.V. in the kitchen was blaring out with Mike Hanson on giving an update on the weather forecast–“Happy winter people, we’re looking at a very frosty December week so you would want to stay bundled up as much as you can. We advise you only go out if necessary. This weather will go on past next week so brace your selves. We are looking at more flurries today and tomorrow which could go as high as eight inches with a frigid temperature of -26”… her thoughts drifted back in time again.
She remembered the nights she and mama had stayed up late dancing to the wonderful and melodic tunes of Beethoven, Vivaldi, Liszt,….and the list went on in her mind. She had always made it to every one of her dance recitals even when she’d said she was working late.
There were days they would dance round the whole apartment gracefully twirling and leaping up high in the air pretending they were performing a big ballet number to a packed audience at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and the crowd loved every bit of it. After their big number, they would celebrate with a plate of pancakes slathered in maple syrup and topped with some fruits—“best ever pancakes” they would say after.
Dance had been her life. It took away the sting of not seeing or having her father around. There were nights she had stayed up late just so she could show him her new dance move and give him a hug. Other days she had hoped he would acknowledge her existence in the apartment, but that never happened.
Dancing gave her peace; a place to vanish to whenever her father came home in his drunken stupor—raining abuse and profanities at both her mother and herself.
On those days, she would close her mind to the outside world and pretend she was a famous dancer, and choreographer, living a lavish life with her mother by her side.
Her father! The thought of calling him father, was revolting to her. It made her upset, angry and overwhelmed. In her books, the man should never have existed in her world. He was the last person she wanted to set her eyes on, ever again. She just could not forgive him for destroying her life, her world.
Dance had drawn her closer to her mother, creating a bond that had been inseparable. Each day had given her the chance to pick up some dance tips from her and know her better as a mother and her best friend.
She would always tell her “I want to be the best ballet dancer like you mama”. Her mother would smile down at her and say in her mother tongue, “Pratique ma Chère, la pratique”.
Every so often she would come back to reality as the memories were too overwhelming.
Sinking her toes deep into the soft luxurious white carpet in the study room, she welcomed the heat of the warmed house as the heater blasted at full power to take away the icy cold temperature in the house.
“I better get back to packing” she told herself even though she stayed glued to the sofa still reminiscing about her past life.
As she sat there deep in thoughts, the doorbell rang. She wondered who it could be—she had spoken to Uncle Edwards’s lawyer earlier in the day and was not expecting him for a few more hours.
On the second sound of the bell, she rushed to answer the door and found a pretty young lady dressed in a thick black jacket standing at the door.
May I help you?
Yes, I am looking for Annalise Sheppard.
May I know who is asking?
Yes, I’m sorry, my name is Veronica Wells and I was hoping to talk to Miss Sheppard if she is available.
I am Annalise Sheppard but I don’t remember booking an appointment with you.
Yes that’s true said Veronica but I wouldn’t take much of your time her guest was saying but the truck coming up the drive way caught her attention.
Actually it’s Miss! She said trying to reposition the glasses sitting on the bridge of her nose.
Miss Wells, if it’s okay by you, can we do this on Monday? Right now won’t be possible as I have an appointment coming up but I should be freed up to sit with you and talk about your concerns on Monday.
Sure! “That sounds good to me”. “What time Monday do you want me by?”
“Noon should be fine”.
Thank you for your time and see you on Monday.
Veronica made her way down the stairs passing by the parking truck and headed down the driveway.
Annalise watched as Veronica turned the corner away from the house and drew her attention back to the driver of the truck.