She had gone and got a bag to put the record in and a card for her dad. She knew that he already had his and her mom’s song downloaded… but her dad always said the best way to listen to a song was on vinyl. She walked into the house, not shouting out that she was home, now knowing that her mother could be resting, and looked around. The house was quiet. There was no one in the kitchen, front room, or the bedrooms, and then went over to her dad’s man cave/ converted mom’s new room, and then she saw them. Her dad’s recliner was sitting right next to her mom’s hospice bed. Her mom was sleeping, holding her dad’s hand that was upon the mattress tightly in both hers. Her dad had a football game on with the TV on mute.
Standing there, just watching the two of them made her eyes well up. She knew that her parents were from two totally different worlds when they got together. Her dad in a band, her mom into singing. Her mom was training to be an opera singer, and her dad was the long-haired lead singer in a band that he and uncle Larry had started up. Whenever Jojo saw photos of her dad and Uncle Larry with ratted out hair and eyeliner, she couldn’t help but laugh. But now, she could see just how much her father loved her mother. There was no sound, he wasn’t doing anything more, but letting her hold onto his hand like it was a tether to life. But the way she saw his thumb caress her hand and the look on his face told her everything. If she thought losing her mom was going to be hard, she knew it was going to destroy her father to the point that he might not be able to come back.
She went back to her bedroom, not really knowing if she was ready to head out and go party. She wanted a love like her parents. But couldn’t help and wonder if that was a stupid notion to have nowadays. People don’t get married and stay together forever. If there was one thing she’d learned, it was that everyone wants to trade up. That’s what Vasily did. He didn’t want just some ballerina who had potential, he wanted a ballerina that was already famous, to make him famous. The things she let him talk her into, the lies she believed that came from his mouth. Even after all that, she still wanted to find someone to love her and love her back for who she was, not the status, or the lack thereof, she could give them. She sat down at her dresser and looked at herself.
For over a year, she wore so much makeup it felt like a mask. When she was off stage, she liked her face clean and fresh and not being slathered in foundation, eye-shadow, mascara, false lashes, and lipstick. Moisturizer and lip gloss was all she needed, and she never cared what anyone else thought. But then again, most of the women who she danced with felt the same way and wore no makeup. But when she thought about seeing Owen… she didn’t want him to see her as homely, but at the same time, she wanted to be herself. She leaned onto the dresser getting close to the mirror. “Geesh Jo, you don’t have to look like you’re going on stage or anything, and it isn’t like it’s the first time that you’ve gotten dressed up…” She murmured, remembering the dates with Vasily. “You just need to put it all behind you, everything. If you don’t, you won’t be able to move on.”
She took out her make up bag and dug into it and saw her red lipstick. As a dancer, red lipstick was not worn because under the harsh lights, the red looked orange. But tonight, she was going to wear red! She had made her decision to leave the company, and Russia and everything she had worked for. Might as well go big or go home. She settled for no foundation, no blush, or fake lashes. But instead some beige eyeshadow, a thin line of black eyeliner on the lid, and her bright red lipstick. She put her hair in hot rollers and bushed it out with her fingers, then went to go get dressed.
She was just fixing the jet-black stockings when her cell rang and smiled. “Hey, Vivi. I’m almost ready.” She said, straightening her skirt and then the clear straps under the spaghetti straps to her tank top and push up bra. “Are you already here?”
“No, I’m on my way. But I wanted to know if you have any heels?”
“Heels… well, no. But I do have a pair of flats that match what I’m wearing.” She said, checking over her makeup in the mirror.
“What are you wearing?”
“Just tell me.”
“Well, a short black tutu skirt, a black silk tank top, and black tights.” She shrugged.
“Oh, my, gosh… you sound like you’re covered from head to toe. You know you’re supposed to be showing some skin to get the guys drooling?”
Her eyes went wide and then frowned. “I’m not covered up. I have a tank top on Viv.”
“Ugh… fine. But I’m bringing you some heels to wear. I’ll be there in ten.” Vivi said, then hung up. She sighed, putting on some perfume and then walking out to say goodbye to her mother… if she was awake.
She walked over to the game room and saw that her father was gone then noticed that her mom was awake. She stepped in, and her mom’s head turned and saw her standing there. “Jojo, sweetie, don’t you look beautiful.” Her mother gushed.
“Thanks. Vivi said she thinks I might be overdressed.” She smiled, sitting on the side of the bed.
Her mom took her hand and smiled back. “Don’t let anyone change who you are, Josephine. You have your own style and your own likes and dislikes. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, it won’t matter what your wearing.” Jojo bit her lip and nodded. “What’s going on with you? Why are do you look so sad.” Her mother asked to get a “Are you’re kidding me” Look. “Well, besides what’s going on with me. I know my girl, and something more is going on then me just being sick… so tell me.”
“I don’t want to bother you with my problems when you already have so much on your plate mom. That’s just selfish.”
Her mom squeezed her hand until she looked up. “I might be sick, Jojo, but I’m your mother, and it’s my job to take care of my baby, regardless. Please don’t take that away from me. Let me help you while I still can.”
Looking into her mom’s eyes, she nodded and took a deep breath. “I was stupid, mom, so stupid. Vasily told me he loved me. He even said that he wanted to marry me, and…”
“And what sweetie.” Her mom asked. “You can tell me anything; you know that, right.”
“Yes, I do. But I’m afraid that you’ll hate me if I tell you. But I need to get it off my chest as well.” She admitted.
“I would never hate you, on any matter.”
“Okay, well, a couple months ago, I found out I was pregnant. It was right in the middle of the program, and I told Vasily.” She whispered as her eyes dropped to her holding her mom’s hands. “I thought he would be excited, or at least happy about it, but he wasn’t.” She shook her head and glanced up at her mom. “He’d told me so many times that he loved me, that he wanted a family. I didn’t get pregnant on purpose; it was an accident. It was the last thing on my mind actually… but everything he said about loving me, wanting to get married, it was all a lie.”
“Go on, sweetie. I know what happened, but get it off your chest.”
She nodded. “Vasily told me it wasn’t the right time for us to start a family or to get married. He said that we were in the biggest show of our life, and after the Nutcracker was done, that I should try out for the Black Swan. Then he told me that I should get an abortion, that we had plenty of time for a baby, but now was the best time for the opportunity to get higher in the company. That’s when he said that I should have an abortion.” She whispered holding back the tears. “I didn’t want one, I wanted to have the baby, but he was very convincing that it was the best thing for both of us and our careers. So, I agreed…”
“And now you regret it.” Her mom said softly.
She nodded. “Not only do I regret it, but it’s also killing me. I thought he was thinking of me and my career, of us. But instead, the day that I get the procedure done, he announces that he’s marrying Katerina Zemin! That bastard said all that to me so I would abort the baby so he could marry a lead ballerina.” She hissed taking the tissue from her mom. “It kills me, mom, it’s just killing me. I was nothing but a screw to him, and I believed him when he told me all of those lies… I’m so stupid!”
Her mom sat up and lifted her chin, so they were eye to eye. “Baby, men always say things that women want to hear so they can have their way. It happens all the time, to a lot of people. It’s hard to find a real man of worth, and we all make mistakes, we can’t help ourselves, we’re only human. Now you listen to me, what’s done is done, you can’t take it back. But you do need to learn from it, that’s all you can do.”
“How can I trust any guy after something like this? There’s a part of me that just wants to hide away in a room and crawl myself into a ball and never be seen again.”
“To live with a mistake is the hardest thing, sweetheart, I know. I have made many of them myself, and no, I’m not going to tell you what they are. But let me say this, it was just as bad if not worse and I live with it everyday. If it was something easy to get through, it wouldn’t be called a mistake.” Her mom said with a small smile. “But I did, and I do, and you will do the same. In time the deep pain will pass, but it will be something you’ll never forget either.”
“How do I find a good man mom, because I thought Vasily was a good man.”
“A good man is someone who thinks of you before himself. He’ll cherish you and be proud to have you by his side. He isn’t mean to you, and something I always wanted was a man who made me feel safe and protected when he was near me.” Her mom smiled. “I don’t even know if that is something girls your age find attractive anymore. But let me tell you something when a man thinks of you as something so important to him that he’d walk through fire to get to you… there is nothing sexier.”
“So, in other words, I have to just feel it out.” She sighed.
“I’m sorry to say, that is precisely what you’re going to have to do, sweetie. Men are human too, and no crystal ball will tell you what you want to know.”
“How about a magic eight ball? I still have one of those in my room.”
“No, not even one of those.” She laughed, then coughed.
Her dad came running in, and Vivian was right behind. “Charlotte, you okay, baby?” He asked, taking deep, huffing breaths.
“Yes, Frank, I’m fine. Josephine and I were just having a long mother-daughter chat. Right sweetie?”
Jojo smiled, kissed her mom’s hand, and got up from the hospital bed. “Yes, and I feel much better now.”
Vivi came over and kissed her mom on the forehead and then handed a pair of black heels to Jojo. “Here, put these on.” She ordered and then looked her over. “You look beautiful… a little too classy for the club we’re going to, but what the hell you are class.” Then turned around. “Now uncle Frank, don’t go all psycho if I don’t drop Jojo off at home tonight, okay? The last thing I need is you and Jagger going all overprotective on us and having the police out scouting for us and then knocking on dad’s door. She’ll be over at my place, not some guys car, not a hotel, she won’t be kidnapped, just over at my place.” Then Vivi gave him a smile that makes her look angelic.
Jojo rolled her eyes, knowing that smile only meant the exact opposite of what Vivian was thinking. The only thing she could hope for was that there was no kidnapping scenario going on. She walked over to her dad and kissed his cheek laughing.“It’s Vivi dad, I’ll be fine. She’s like the little gangster boss of Bayside… she knows everyone, and everyone knows not to mess with her.”
Vivian winked at her dad and then pulled on Jojo’s arm so they could leave. When they got to the car, Vivi she smiled over the roof. “We are going to have so much fun tonight my darling cousin! And oh my gosh, you are going to put some class into the Stone tonight. I swear the guys are going to be flocking to you like crazy!” She laughed but stopped before getting in. “But tomorrow, we go shopping to get you some clubbing clothes.” She winked and then got in.
Jojo shook her head, feeling the skirt she loved and wondered if it was really going to be out of place. When they pulled up to the night club, and she saw how all the other girls were dressed in tight little dress, leaving nothing to the imagination, and wanted to groan... she was going to look so out of place.
Everyone looked like they were out to look sexy, she looked like she was on the way to an opera. “Just great.” She sighed under her breath as a woman walked by in a neon pink dress with her big boobs pushed up to her neck, laced up one side of her body, and so short she didn’t even have to bend over to expose herself. She walked over to Vivi and frowned. “I do look like I’m covered from head to toe.”
Vivian wrapped her arm around Jojo’s. “Don’t frown, that’s not sexy. You can pout, but never frown.” Vivi whispered. “You look gorgeous, Jo. These women look like total sluts, where you and I look sexy and have some class.”
“You look sexy, I look out of place. Maybe I should go home?”
“Oh, hell, no! You are having some fun tonight like any other twenty-three-year-old woman. Besides, could you imagine what Jagger would do if you walked into the club flaunting your coochie around? He would lose his mind! This way, you’re safe, and maybe you can find a hot stud to have some fun with… just make sure Jagger or Axle doesn’t see you leave, or the guy.”
“Perfect.” She sighed, walking past the bouncer as Vivi pulled her inside the blaring club.