Hannah was a in her late thirties with two children five and seven. She had everything she needed and nothing she wanted. She loved her children and indeed her husband, but had never wanted the kind of lifestyle that had been thrust upon her by the urban circumstances she found herself in. There were expectations that were upon her and she felt somewhat like she was in a gilded cage. Her house was furnished elegantly but simply. One evening she was stood in her white kitchen leaning against the side of the cupboards with a glass of 1996 french Pinot Grigio. She drank from a tall thin-lipped wine glass and rested it back onto the granite top as she spoke into the white, long-corded phone.
“I´m not sure yet. The kids have just left. Perhaps I´ll take a bath, or maybe I´ll actually go out. No Michael is working late tonight. Yes, I know we don`t get much time together, but he really has to finish this project he is working on....yes, I know...I told him...thanks Ruth, talk to you soon. Take care”
She took another sip of wine and looked at the clock. It was only 18:05. She looked out of the slightly ajar french window and opened it further to breathe in the early summer air. She looked out across the city`s roof tops where a few people had spilled out onto their balconies, chatting and gazing into the evening air full of hope and promise. She decided to go out. She could have a bath anytime, this was her chance to taste the city life in a way that had been off limits to her with children. Suddenly she felt a strange sense of apprehension, as if she were in twenties again, fresh out of college, with nothing to stop her but herself.
The tall buildings reached-up to the deepening blue sky. She´d only been in the gallery ten minutes, before she saw that it was filling up with people that had arrived ready for night. Cheek kisses were exchanged between half-spoken thoughts on the jungle photographs before them. “Joshua, how did you get the contrast and depth of field so clearly in such...ummm...density.”? a tall woman gestured to the 2 meter high photograph in front of them. “First you have to learn how to see those contrasts and second..well, let`s get technical...” Josh launched into his detailed explanation of aperture, his camera type, focusing distance and print techniques. The tall woman deepened her concentration frown and bent her ear towards his.
Hannah turned away from the gathering crowd to a loft like building with large windows just opposite. An all male dance troupe were rehearsing intensively. Their strength, poise and balance began to mesmerise Hannah, who could no longer hear the buzz of chatter from the gallery crowd, only a faint but distinct sound of improvised jazz, like the kind of music where you never really know what is going to happen next.
“Would it be possible to watch a rehearsal”? Hannah asked with a deliberately forced casual tone. The thick black rimmed be-spectacled young man sitting behind his desk looked up from his dance magazine with bored eyes. “The one on the second floor” Hannah let her excitement out a little “I mean...” She realised and went back to her contained tone. “I used to be a dance tour manager....back then...some time ago..”she said trailing off. The bored man looked over at a schedule on the wall and said in a long drawl
“Second floor, Bugsy room, take the steps, then turn to your right, it`s at the end of the corridor”. Hannah smiled impersonally, but sweetly back at the man with a black and white stripy jumper.
She started to run up the stairs, but then caught herself and walked slowly, but with a sense of purpose that she hadn`t felt in a while. Walking down the corridor the sound of jazz wafted towards her. Opening the door she could already smell that familiar scent of sweat generated by graceful bodies working themselves to their limits. She edged her way in and sat on the springy floor.
Jeremy was determined to make it as a dancer, even though all the circumstances seem to conspire against him, he felt like, that only made him want to dance more. His curly red hair hadn`t been cut for a while and was getting wet as he performed the turns again and again across the expansive floor. The music slowly faded and he gradually came to a stop at he end of the room. As he grabbed a towel to wipe his face full of freckles, he heard someone clapping. He turned to see an elegant looking woman with her long legs sprawled out before her smiling with thin lips towards him. He lowered his head slightly, not realising anyone had been watching and walked over toward her. The other dancers in the room were greeting some friends that had entered and were chatting and releasing laughs loudly.
“I´m Jeremy...Jem” he said.
“Hannah” She responded shaking his hand.
“What are you doing here”? He asked noticing a gold band with a small diamonds around her left ring finger.
He was very direct for someone with seemingly such a shy demeanor, she thought.
“I....well, I just wanted to watch....”
Jeremy smiled “Just watch”?
“Well...I was...I mean.. I thought, well, I used to you see...umm be..a part of a group...as a manager...”
She was very shy for someone who had seemingly such a confident exterior.
“A manager...umm...well..” Jem said dryly "Right...welcome” Jem gestured to the studio. Hannah smiled faintly .
“Why do I feel so nervous”, she thought. In her house she was able to answer questions to her husband assertively and accurately as a manager, an organisor; someone who was in control. This was not her realm, she thought, she shouldn`t have come.
“Do you want to try”? Jem asked putting his hand lightly on her back and opening his other arm to the floor before she had chance turn around.
“Oh...” she smiled and looked down “Well, I am not really a dancer...”
“But you tried right? And I bet you love it, right? I mean, why else would you be here”?
Hannah looked down again, unarmed and not knowing what to say.
“Hey Freddy! Can you free up the music”
Before Hannah had chance to protest further, he was taking her across the floor. Jeremy`s hand was guiding her and bringing her arm out in a kind of stretch where she could actually feel she had muscles again. Her back and chest opened up and she followed his moves, as he glided across the floor to the sound of Chopin`s Polonaise No.6. There was a sense that she was on the edge of a cliff and before her was a wide expansive valley, of unexplored and uncharted territory. He lifted her and let her legs scissor, but her arms remained closed to his by her waist and she could feel her torso shaking a little from tension.
“Don`t be afraid” Jeremy whispered in her ear. “Let Go” Letting out a nervous, but gentle sigh, she let go and fell into a moment that seemed to last forever.
They were alone now in the studio and Hannah was resting, breathing heavily and leaning back onto the sloping stage. She felt light and as if her whole body was swirling around the room, still dancing. Jeremy was walking towards her with a towel around his neck and two glasses of water in his hands. He felt like a giddy teenager who couldn`t help laughing inside, making him spill drops all over the floor and be eager to tell her things, many things. Suddenly he heard a noise like a screech and looked outside the large loft window onto the street to see a street cat scuttle away as a trash-can clunked to the floor. He noticed facing opposite him was a wall covered in graffiti that he hadn`t seen before. There were dramatic yellow and blue splashes, bold and bright and the words seemed to be shifting before him, making something for him to read. He squinted his eyes, making out the letters and spilling more water onto the dance floor.
“Respond...Response.....Responsibility check...”He read out. The black letters were swirling and forming the words before then disappearing back into a mix of stark yellow and royal blue. He felt a little puzzled, until he looked towards Hannah. She was shaking her head back to let the fresh night air into her long, dark brown locks. She`d managed to keep her hair glossy and healthy from years of living in comfort and taking the upmost care to appear, as felt she should be, someone who was in command of herself. Jeremy suddenly saw what was beneath the moment and looked back to the wall, in a hope to see some contradictory phrase, only to see vivid spray strokes. He dampened the excited fire inside him and tried to force a sense of respect and indeed, responsibility into his heart. Walking towards Hannah, not spilling a drop, he was thinking that she had no doubt awakened something in him, but it could be his choice how to direct this new feeling. His dancing had taken on a life of its own, beyond his normal self-conscious limits with her, perhaps it was this that she was opening up for him. Yes! He thought, this is how he would look at it, he could control himself. He handed her the glass "Thanks" she said softly, gazing back into his tawny and hazel flecked brown eyes. “Don`t be selfish” he forced the thought into his head, but let a light smile escape back to her before looking quickly back down to study his water.