Her Last Performance
a story by Miles H. Rost
The sway of her foot was the start of everything.
Sandy closed her eyes off from the rest of the audience, as she moved her body to the sound of the music. She wanted this time, this period, to be focused on her and all the good she could do.
Sandy remembered her pain from nine months ago, as she swung her leg around and jumped onto the ball of her right foot. She remembered the stage, and the warning from the front of the house, two seconds too late. She remembered the air below her, the crash onto the metal chairs below in the orchestra pit.
She recalled the pain of the ambulance ride as she twirled once and lept across the stage. The heat and electricity burning up and down her entire right side as she was driven to the hospital she understood well. The words of her doctor, telling her that she would never dance again, and her response of “That never stopped me in the past,” were ringing through her head.
A tear fell down her porcelain face as she remembered the nights of tears into her pillow, and the calls of Psalm 6 from her lips. The cries of being weary, as she worked on walking again; the continued tears as she slept on her bed; the afternoons of crying into the arm of her couch. As she pirouetted in the center of the stage, she saw her friend’s face. She remembered his hands, as they dried her tears and put medicine on her eyes when she had an eye infection as she recovered.
Tonight, though, tonight was it. She was able to make it through, and as she finished with a gentle falling splits, she helped put a cap on the year’s dancing. The crowd cheered loudly at Sandy’s return, the last performance of the year.
She would be back the next year. She would be better than ever.
The sun was setting in the skies off the coast. The bright yellow of the sun sunk below the horizon, the sky starting to turn a firy orange with twinges of red. There were no clouds in the sky, the winds were calm, and the surf was very mild. It was exactly like a picture, frozen in a moment in time.
Paul Bernal sat top a set of rocks close to the ocean’s edge, looking out at the seas. He had come there for solitude, to calm the raging beast within himself. He looked out at the ocean, and felt the soothing splashing of the waves on rocks farther out. This was his place of refuge from the rest of the world. This is where he was able to do all of the things he needed to do. He was along the waterfront, right where he needed to be.
The rocks he stood on had a roughness that was pronounced. However, one spot seemed to be perfectly cut into the rock pile where it was smooth. The rocks formed two cylinders, which allowed for ease of kneeling when praying. And it was in those grooves that Paul put his legs, and knelt in prayer.
As he prayed, he thought about all that had happened in the day and even days as he prayed, the situations recounted in his mind as he brought all those cares up for prayer. The images from the computer screen that triggered his inner beast were being addressed in prayer, and how much he struggled with images that were more erotic and stimulating. While it had been a few days since the last time, he knew that he had to continue being in prayer and putting forth all the things that he could not keep inside.
He lifted up his troubles at work, dealing with all of the stresses of being a financial aid counselor. Hearing the hard luck stories and not being able to do much didn’t help his psyche at all, and lifting those cares up helped ease the pain that he felt.
For nearly 20 minutes, as the sun continued to descend beyond the horizon and twilight started to show it’s beauty, he continued praying. As he finished his prayers, he stood up on the rocks, and climbed down from them. Landing on the soft sand, he looked down and smiled.
“I’ll be back again, tomorrow. Be ready for me, Lord,” he said, staring out into the darkening skies and ocean. He turned and walked back towards his car, ready to head home and face another night alone.
Mike and Chelsie walked into the theatre five hours early, expecting to practice in the silence of the hall without any problem before the big performance that night. Mike was a horn player with his expertise in the trombone, though when asked he could bring out his trumpet and whip up a Herb Alpert production that would put the man himself in awe. For Chelsie, she worked with Mike for many years as his piano accompanist. She was adept on the ivories, and could be brought in for session work for any major band as a pianist or a keyboardist.
When they received the invitation to play the “New Fillmore” theatre in San Francisco, they jumped at the chance. After playing in smaller venues like Missoula, Montana and Boise, Idaho, they were ready to take their chance. Even playing in larger venues like Sacramento and Reno were good, but they weren’t the big spots. They weren’t San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, or even their dream: Los Angeles. When they got to the New Fillmore Theatre, they expected to have the theatre to themselves.
Boy, were they wrong.
As they opened the door, it was pandemonium. In one part of the backstage area, labeled as “Rehearsal Studio D”, there was a loud raucous band of youth attempting to try and perform like the Tijuana Brass. In Mike’s eyes, they weren’t going to even make the Tijuana Prison Brass Band look bad. And down another hallway, it was a dance troupe practicing only what Chelsie could think of as high school grade danceline work.
They walked up to a woman with a clipboard, wearing a dark blue pantsuit and a serious expression.
“I don’t know if we’re in the right place…”
“Then why are you here?” the pantsuit girl turned around to them, with an annoyed, yet serious expression.
“We were invited,” Chelsie responded indignantly.
“Mike Clark and Chelsie Daniels.”
The pantsuit girl leafed through some sheets and scanned the paper.
“Ah, the boner/pianist duet.”
“You make it sound so dirty,” Mike responded.
“Shorthand usually does that. You’re in Rehearsal Studio E.”
“Main stage. We’re really full up in places, and Studio A is booked with the main act.”
“Surprise. Can’t tell you.”
Mike looked at her blankly, wondering just where this woman came off acting in such a way.
“Head to the main stage. Make sure you’re only playing what you’re supposed to play for the show tonight. Any sort of musical hanky-panky will get you removed from the schedule. If you want to play such things…”
The pantsuit girl gave both of them a nasty gaze, as she breathed in.
She suddenly turned away and walked toward another group of people that were not where they were supposed to be.
The duo looked at each other, looked at the programs in their hands, and felt like they were trapped. They knew that even though they didn’t want to have to do this gig, this seemed to be the only time when they could play at a major location and maybe get noticed.
What they didn’t notice was a man, looking at them from a dark wing away from notice. He smirked as he thought about the changes coming.
“These two musicians will work perfectly…” he said to himself, pleased with his choice.