The air cooled her face and wisped her hair out of the knot on her head. Her body moved gracefully to the strains of the music, totally absorbed in the freedom of the movements and the lightness of her body. She was young, full of dreams, energetic and her life as a ballerina was just beginning. The lovely smile softened the lines on her face now, as she lay. There seemed a heaviness on her right leg and she slowed her movements and stopped. Then abruptly, she opened her eyes and felt the pain, and the horrible memory became a reality again of the accident and her crushed leg. Her life as a dancer was over. Her days as a teacher in her school were gone. It was the end of the world. A hysterical cry tore at her, as her eyes once again swept over the white hospital room. Just then a nurse came into her room.
"Miss Jones, it's time for another shot." And again the soothing medication began to numb the pain. She closed her swollen eyelids, thankfully shutting out her fear for another few hours.
Stephanie Jones dropped her school books on the kitchen table with a plop. Her small six-year old body had trembled with excitement though-out the long day as she anxiously waited for this moment.
"Mom, mom, can I get dressed now?" she asked breathlessly.
"Yes dear, your outfit is on your bed in your room. Hurry now, we don't want to be late on your first day."
Smiling, the little girl thought, ‘oh mom, I wouldn’t be late. This is the happiest day of my life!’ She hurriedly dropped her dress on the floor, pulled off her socks and shoes. Her hands caressed her new things as she slipped into the pink leotard. Her breath escaped in little gasps of delight as she touched the net "tutu". It reminded of her of a birthday cake, she'd had once. Now she tugged it over her head and ran into her parent’s room and stood in front of a full length mirror. But, she was horrified!
"Mom," she wailed helplessly. Huge tears began as she looked at herself. The beautiful outfit hung and sagged over her thin knees. Her hair hung in unruly strands. She didn't look at all like that girl in the picture that hung over her bed. Heartbroken, she wailed, “I’ll never be a ballerina!”
"What's wrong, angel," her mother said rushing into the room.
"Mom, I look funny.” Her heart-shaped face was tear-stained, her blue eyes sad.
"Now don't worry sweetie, I'll fix you." And her mom brushed the wrinkles out of the tights and leotard, straightened the "tutu." Then arranged her hair into a pony-tail and slipped a pink rosette to hold it in place.
"Now Stephanie, go and take a look." And Stephanie glowed with happiness as she turned her head and watched her hair bob up and down in its secured tail. She sat down on the floor then and put on her ballet shoes. Her hands caressed the smooth warm leather, the suede soles. Standing up now in front of the mirror, she smiled at last. The smile continued to light up her face as they drove to the dance studio even though her stomach jumped with butterflies as she saw the big place. Then a beautiful lady came into the room and Stephanie took in every detail of her; her face, her outfit and her jewelry. She fell in love. This was what she would look like when she got big.
"Girls, my name are Maria," the woman said. "I'll be your teacher. Now will you line up please, and I'll assign you to your places. This space will be yours as you all learn together."
The room was hushed as twenty little girls found their spots. Little Stephanie Jones stood anxiously waiting for instructions as the sounds of "Music Box Dancer" began to fill the room.
"Now we'll start with the five positions," her teacher said. A happy smile glowed on Stephanie’s face as she began. She knew this was just the beginning. Her first recital was nerve-wracking and she loved the attention and the applause. From then on, Monday’s became her special day. She'd rush home from school, excitedly put on her dancing outfit and patiently wait for her ride. When she was ten-years old, her teacher told the class they would be getting toe shoes. Stephanie viewed this with trepidation. How would she ever learn to dance on her toes! And she tried, to no avail.
"But Mom, I have to be ready,” she protested. Her feet had toughened up from blisters and calluses over the years, but now it didn't compare with the pain she had to endure. Her toes bled, her toe-nails turned black but she still danced, her smile wide. She became the darling of studio and danced in the front line. After graduation from high school, she stayed on to become a full time teacher and began to save money to go to New York to study at the famous Julliard School of Dance. Stephanie was nineteen years old. A beautiful girl. Her brunette hair reached her waist and her blue eyes were framed with dark lashes. She'd led a normal life with girl-friends and an occasional date over the years, but her dance always took first priority. The years flew by and she soon had her own studio, and it was called “Stephanie’s Dance.”
Then she met Jesse Albright and her life changed.
"Who is that?" Stephanie asked her best friend Lisa. They had been having lunch in a downtown Chinese restaurant. An excited flush spread over her fair completion. She smoothed her black dress, then her long pony-tail perched high on her head and then took another quick peek at him from under her lashes. The room was crowded with business people and shoppers. The wait people busy with trays of the luscious oriental food and the air was charged.
"Lisa, who is that guy?" Stephanie repeated. Her eyes were drawn to the handsome well-dressed man at the next table that Lisa had waved to as they had been seated.
"Hmm-, his name is Jessie something. I've just seen him around town." Lisa remarked.
"Wow, what a dream," Stephanie murmured as she sipped her green tea. She felt an electric charge between their tables and suddenly, he got up and started over. Her stomach lurched.
"Hello, my name is Jessie Albright," he said extending his hand toward her. His smile dimpled over perfect white teeth.
“Stephanie Jones,” she managed to whisper. And when they shook hands she thought she just might faint right there in the restaurant.
“You’re a dancer aren’t you?” He commented looking her over.
“Yes, but how did you know?” Stephanie asked curiously.
“By your incredible smile and how you walk.” He said
“Do you want to join us,” Her friend ventured seeing the looks exchanged between them.
“Love to,” He said and slid onto a stool at their high table. And that was the beginning of their love story that had bridged a decade.
Now he took her hand and kissed her lightly. Then whispered, “Stephie, just rest now and get well. We’ll get through this and you’ll dance again, I promise.