Friday, September 25, 2015

Last Dance

The final leg of the return to Seattle was uneventful. After they got arrived, Emily settled into Mary and Sean’s spare apartment. Mary finally made a visit to the clinic for a pregnancy check-up and evaluation and was found to be in excellent health; her pregnancy was proceeding normally. Sean began using FaceTime to check-in with Þora and their son. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that Þora was a sensible and pragmatic woman with a good sense of humor, especially in light of the bizarre circumstances of their meeting and Vilhjálmur’s conception (Sean learned that in Iceland he could be referred to as Billy’s Kviðmágur.) Þora, with the aid of her uncle Hilmar, was also learning more about the ‘old religion’ and using some of Emily’s spells to help manage her son’s behavior. Hilmar had his hands full with the meteoric rise of the spells app. He spent a good deal of time conferring with Mary. Mary and Emily’s personal relationship grew stronger: they spent several hours each day together, bonding in the trance-state and exchanging knowledge and deepening their understanding of those ancient forces which they shared. Mary’s friend Jo had successfully terminated her relationship with her ex, with some help from the spell app. Molly Berenson’s career in Insurance took a turn for the better—her experiences with the FBI had given her personality a bit of a ‘hard edge’ and a ruthlessness which was not a disadvantage in her profession.

Back in Decorah, Tina and Edwin finally left Edwin’s apartment and moved into an assisted living facility—together (although Edwin still kept his shop open on weekends.) The sale of the Carroll family farm was finalized and the house and the outbuildings were torn down. Everyone involved with The Matriarchy felt a great sense of relief that The Brotherhood had been destroyed.

Emily had some adjustments to make to 21st-century life and culture. She quickly learned to use the internet and used it to find information about her old Greenwich Village friends. She found a surprisingly large number of books about the era and Sean helped her order some of them on-line.  Emily was amazed at how quickly she received them. Television didn’t interest her much (‘So vulgar!’), and she was somewhat alarmed at the appearance of the numerous homeless people that she would encounter when she was out with Mary and Sean (she called them ‘empty souls’). Her accelerated aging continued.  She ‘breezed’ through menopause in less than a month (‘The one positive thing to be said about my rapid aging!’) and her health remained good. She had the appearance of a well-maintained 60-year-old. One day, while out shopping with Mary for things for the baby, she noticed a poster advertising swing dances at The Century Ballroom.

“I’d like to go to that,” she said to Mary, “I love to dance. Did you know that when I first went to New York I worked as a taxi dancer in one of those ‘dime-a-dance’ halls?”

“Really?” said Mary, “I’m not much of a dancer, especially now, but I think Sean is pretty good. That would be a fun thing to do.”

“It’s tomorrow night,” said Emily, “I’ll need a fancy dress, of course.”

“We’ve got your old dresses in our storage unit!” exclaimed Mary, “I would think that any of them will turn some heads. That sounds like a plan!”

When the women returned to the apartment they brought the boxes with the dresses up to Emily’s apartment. As they went through the dresses, Emily told Mary the story behind each of them. At the bottom of the last box was a silk and lace dress. Emily carefully unfolded it and held it up to her body.

“My Schiaparelli,” said Emily, “This is the one. Help me put it on, Mary. I hope it still fits.”

Emily removed her top and skirt while Mary spread the dress out on Emily’s bed.

“It looks to be intact,” said Mary, “My God, it’s absolutely stunning!”

Emily carefully stepped into the dress and Mary zipped up the back.

“It fits! It fits!” Emily said, as she did a little pirouette in front of the dressing mirror, “I’m going to break some hearts tomorrow night.”

“The power of The Matriarchy expressed in haute couture!” said Mary, laughing.

The next night Emily and Mary and Sean went to the swing dance. There was a slight drizzle, so Emily’s outfit was completely covered by one of Sean’s large rain jackets. They entered the ballroom’s crowded lobby unnoticed and went over to the coat check. Sean helped Emily with her wrap and Mary with her coat. They stood for a moment and then began to walk arm in arm, with Sean in the middle, toward the ballroom.  As they walked, the sound of the people’s talking changed. What had been an undifferentiated roar became a murmuring. This change of tone caused another change in the crowd’s behavior. All heads turned toward the trio. Mary and Sean had enjoyed a limited notoriety in the Seattle area, especially in the tech community, but tonight all eyes were on the stunning gray-haired woman on Sean’s arm.

The music began, and Mary gave Sean a nod and looked at Emily. Sean had taken ballroom dancing while in college as a way to meet girls, he was competent but soon realized that he was over-matched. Emily seemed to be floating; anticipating Sean’s every move and adding graceful flourishes to each action. As the couples around them whirled, Sean got the sense that they were checking out the ‘newcomers’ as much as they were enjoying dancing to the music. After the first number ended a distinguished-looking older man, wearing a tux, came over to Emily and Sean and held his hand out to Emily.

“May I have the pleasure of this next dance?” he said.

“Of course,” said Emily, “You don’t mind, do you, Sean?”

Sean smiled and nodded, and Emily and her new partner were off. Sean rejoined Mary who was sitting on the sideline looking at a brochure describing the swing dance program.

“That didn’t take Emily long,” said Mary, pointing to a picture in the brochure, “Marcel DuPage. Her partner is the top dog at this kennel show.”

Marcel had met his match and he knew it. After the second number ended, they danced through the third, and fourth as well. Emily then begged off, although she was far from tired, she knew that by sitting out it would increase the man’s desire.

“Not a bad performance for a little old lady,” Emily said to Mary, “I’ll let him think about it for a while.”

Sean and Mary got up and joined the throng on the dance floor. A few of the other women at the dance came over to where Emily was sitting.

“That was wonderful,” said one of the women, “and your dress, it’s fabulous! Is that vintage? Where did you get it?”

“It has been in the family for a long time.  Schiaparelli,” said Emily, “Are you regulars here?”

“Oh, yes,” said another, “We’ve been coming ever since Mr. DuPage began Swing Night at the Century, but I’ve never seen anyone dance with him the way you have. Are you a professional? You must be new to Seattle.”

“I used to dance professionally in New York City, but that was a long time ago. It’s good to see that younger people are still doing these dances,” said Emily. With a twinkle in her eye, she added: “Tell me, what should I know about Mr. DuPage?”

“A gentleman, but faithless,” said another, “Some might call him a cad. He really is a decent man, excepting the fact that he will never allow himself to be tied down. I’m just giving you fair warning.”

“I see. Thanks for the information,” said Emily, “Now, if you’ll pardon me, it appears that Marcel is coming my way. I’ll be careful.”

And Emily and Marcel danced.

Later on, Sean and Mary went home, without Emily.


By Professor Batty