CHAPTER 1 | APRIL 14, 1952
“Pumpkin...that sounds far too dangerous.”
Felix pushed a stray hair out of my eyes and traced his fingers along my jaw. His intense green-eyed stare was enough to make every dancer in the room melt into a pile of goo. But despite being surrounded by gorgeous girls in skimpy costumes, his right hand caressed my face while his left held onto my waist. And more importantly, my own hand wore his promise ring. It was not an engagement ring, he made a point of that, and at 29 I felt like such a failure of a woman that I was still unwed. The resentment had made me sick, and now his discouragement for me to move for the summer and take a new position just soured things worse.
Normally, his touch made me sing, but in that moment his touch disgusted me, and his voice had never sounded so vile. How could he demean me like this?
My voice shook in silent anger, afflicted by my utter shy nature, even in the presence of the man I loved for 2 years now.
“...I can do this. I must do this. Don’t you believe in me?”
“But pumpkin” He chuckled and shook his head “You are a beautiful unmarried woman, and I won’t have some small town bird dog in swim trunks stealing my girl.”
My cheeks grew hot and I scrunched up my face in the adorable way I knew he could not resist. I put on a show of both looking mad and sweet, but it was no use as I was truly growing angrier.
“I am unmarried because my no good beau won’t commit to me! If you can not commit, and you can not support my endeavors because you don’t trust me or feel I am capable then…”
“Evelyn.” His voice was firm and served as a warning.
It was time to stand up for myself.
“...Then I am afraid it’s over.”
I shook as I took off my ring and held it out while staring straight at him. Felix looked furious - on the outside. But despite how condescending and rude he could be, deep down I knew he was a prideful and sensitive man. His eyes just barely showed signs of shining with tears, but he blinked furiously and argued and pleaded with me. I didn’t listen. I strode over to the wall, my dance shoes speaking back for me as they clicked on the worn out old floor, and picked up my bag. Swiveling to face him but keeping my distance, I offered a sad smile.
“I’m sorry. But it’s time I take my own life into my hands.”
And with that I turned and walked away, ignoring his pleas and calls for me, and feeling the shocked penetrating burn of the 30 something girls all watching me walk out the door.
New York City congratulated me with it’s rush of spring winds and bustling ambience. I hastily left Pearson’s Dance Academy in my dust, and the thought bounced around in my head that I would have to go back at some point. I was after all still employed as a dancer and taught the occasional class to starry eyed young girls who dreamed of being a chorus line dancer just as I had. Success had found me, and still I felt empty. My ambitions were strong for a woman, that was what Felix always told me. I had thought that was what made him fall and choose me over the gaggle of girls I danced alongside. Now it was what tore us apart.
But I mustn’t let reality get in the way of my dramatic breakup and walk away. Really, I was rather pleased with myself and the strength and poise I had shown. I found myself smiling as I reveled in the feeling. It was a good way to push down the panic and sadness that festered below, and would certainly come to surface eventually. For now though, I was a wickedly wonderful woman.
Auburn lay on the floor of our tiny apartment with her feet up on the couch and her ankles crossed as she read a book. Her eyes shifted to me as I walked in and took off my coat and sighed.
“Did you tell him?”
She looked back to her book and I stood very still in silence, dropping my bag to the floor. My whole trip home I had felt empowered and strong but hearing those words broke me. The tears rushed from my eyes and I nervously wrung my hands as I sobbed. Auburn shot upright and dropped her book. I saw a flash across her face that no doubt was superiority for being right about him. But she quickly took on the fierce yet caring face I loved and rushed over to pull me in for a hug.
“It didn’t go well did it?” She cooed as she pet my hair.
I shook my head and tried to stop crying so hard. She pulled away from me and held my head in her hands.
“I’m going to fix us some tea, and you get changed and tell me all about it okay?”
Dancing was my passion and it had been that way since I was just a child. I had taken classes for as long as I could remember, and against my mother and father’s wishes moved to NYC to make it big. It wasn’t too much of a reach as I was from a small town only a few hours away, but it was still regarded as risky and foolish for a 20 year old unwed woman to move to the big city. Auburn surprised me by informing my parents, before me even, that she would be joining me and become my roommate. We had grown up together all through school, and she was just as restless as I. They gave in, but wore lingering disappointment on their faces.
“What will you do?” I had asked her later as we sat at the soda fountain counter sipping shirley temples.
“Well...I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. What better a place to pursue it, right?”
I looked into Auburn’s fiery hazel eyes and smiled.
“Nothing is going to get in the way of Evelyn Augusta Finn and Auburn Aria Wessexx!” She yelled.
I burst into giggles and we began singing “New York, New York” as the clerk gave us a raised eyebrow and grin.
I changed into my favorite gingham house dress and plopped down onto the teal colored couch. Auburn set up the tea on the coffee table and sat next to me.
“So start from the beginning.”
I frowned as I stared out of the room at the acceptance letter on the fridge.
“I very excitedly told Felix that I was accepted as the nightly singer for the summer season in a lovely restaurant. Before I could even tell him it was in New Jersey, he began sputtering at me. Asking why I would leave Pearson’s for the summer, asking why I had never told him I auditioned, and even having the nerve to question if I was a good enough singer!”
“Oh that good for nothing-”
“Auburn. Please. He’s a lovely man, but….he told me it was too dangerous for me to go alone! Because I’m unmarried. The audacity. From a man who refuses to propose to me and be held down because of his career. And then I told him it was in Cape May and he lost it. So...I ended it.”
“He is not a lovely man, Evelyn. He’s a good for nothing so and so. You’re better off without him!”
She moved her hands wildly as hot tea threatened to slosh out of her cup. I had barely touched my own.
“I love him despite his shortcomings.” I murmured looking down at my lap. My hands were so bare now.
“I know sweetie, your heart is not as smart as your head. We are all guilty of that.” She placed her cup down and looked straight at me
“I think it’s just wonderful that you’re pursuing yet another road you excel at. You’re really something, Evelyn. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
I felt so warmed by her support and full of excitement for my next venture. The pain from losing Felix was real, but at least I had my own joys to help me heal.
My thoughts were interrupted as a knock beckoned from the front door. My throat clenched up in fear as I worried it was Felix. But Auburn rushed to open the door and reveal her close friend Frieda. They had met at Auburn’s job at the paper. Frieda was a photographer and Auburn a writer, so the two worked together a lot and soon became best friends. I had admittedly, become a bit jealous of the closeness they held, but I was usually too busy with my work and previously held boyfriend to notice these petty feelings. I had always thought their friendship seemed almost too close, in a way I couldn’t quite place my finger.
Frieda held a bottle of wine and wore a cheeky grin on her face. She wrapped her free arm around Auburn’s waist and my eyes widened in shock at such an intimate expression. Auburn laughed loudly pulling away and called my name. Frieda’s eyes landed on me and her mouth gaped open slightly.
“Evelyn...hello.” She sounded disappointed as she walked into the room and Auburn quickly closed the door. “I thought you were leaving for New Jersey?”
“Oh, tomorrow afternoon. Did...you two have plans?” My eyes danced between the two. Something was suspicious here.
Frieda looked to Auburn as if for an answer and Auburn looked at me with a very pointed expression. It was a face that told me I should already know whatever she was keeping from me. But I was at a total loss. I stood and smiled at them.
“Well I’m going to go and pack now I suppose.”
The two awkwardly stood there and Auburn quickly announced they were going out for dinner. I nodded in confusion at the odd behavior as I watched them leave.
The next day was a hard one to face. I slunk into my heels and looked in the mirror as I fussed at my hair. Throughout the night I had awoken many times unable to sleep, and made the decision that I needed to leave Pearson’s for good. I loved my job, but there was no way I could comfortably work at a place run by my ex-boyfriend’s father, where my ex-boyfriend worked. A part of me felt it unfair to leave such a wonderful job simply because of the breakup, but I had spent many years there and was excited about my new singing venture. I always landed on my feet.
I had just a few hours until I boarded the train with my belongings, so I had to be quick. I briskly walked through the theater door and the sound of a piano sung to me sweetly. A class was being held and who was teaching? Why, Felix of course. I stood in the back of the auditorium watching as he barked orders and at least half the girls kept their eyes on him with an intensity far stronger than a student. I’m sure word of our split had traveled far and wide already.
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Kirsten AnnWrite a Review