I scanned through my my e-mail. Everything at the fabric store is 30% off, Mrs. Holland needs pies for the school bake sale, Susan plans on dropping by around 8:30am to have coffee and chat a while. Good, I thought. I could use a chat.
I reached for the toy pirate that one of the kids had left next to the mouse. I rubbed my fingers over it, not really feeling it or looking at it. My mind had already wandered off. The honorable pirate, pillaging the king's ships so that he can support the poor outer settlements, while wooing the governer's daughter! A quick wedding with the local priest and honeymooning on a tropical island with hidden pirate gold and gorgeous waterfalls. She's wearing a white lacey thing...
“About that coffee?”
I turned to see Susan standing a few feet behind my office chair. I replaced the pirate on the desk and slunk to the kitchen, Susan close behind.
“I'll make a new pot,” I muttered over my shoulder. “I see you've been carrying my spare key.”
She shrugged. “You didn't answer the door. You said you heart heart problems in your family. I thought maybe something was wrong. I hope you don't mind.”
“That's why you have it!” I said, trying to sound chipper.
Susan found a place at the kitchen table and babbled about her new office with it's huge window and all the various kinds of tropical plants she was using to decorate.
“Uh-huh,” I said at proper intervals.
“Marshmallows,” she blurted.
“I didn't think you were listening,” she said. “Is something wrong?”
“I don't know, I guess I'm kind of bored. I mean, I love my life, but my imagination has been going wild. I feel like I need to do something, but not sure what.”
She hummed and drummed her fingers on the table. “Well, being a housewife and stay-at-home-mom can take it out of you.”
I whirled to face her. “There is nothing wrong with what I do! I chose this life! I wanted it! It was what was best for me and my family at the time. Do you know how hard it is? To dedicate your life to other people? Can you possibly understand the work or the rewards, Little Miss Career Woman?”
“Hey, hey!” Susan said, throwing her hands up in surrender. “I wasn't being sarcastic, Ella. I know what you do is hard. I've never questioned your choice, as you've never questioned mine. Wow, you really are wound up today. What's going on?”
“Oh, I don't know,” I said, sinking down in the adjoining chair. “I feel restless, I guess. Nothing is really wrong, but for some reason I just feel like doing something crazy and different.”
“That doesn't sound like you,” she said. “But for the sake of argument, how crazy are we talking here?”
“I don't know. Something fun and exciting. Maybe tightrope walking lessons.”
Susan laughed and stood up. “I'll get the mugs.” She poured the coffee and brought the cups back to the table. “Tightrope walking, huh? How about something just as fun but more realistic.”
“I take belly dancing on Wednesdays. There's a beginner class on Mondays. I'll go with you.”
“Belly dancing?” I questioned. “Like hip shaking, midriffs and sex? That kind of belly dancing?”
Susan laughed and slapped her hands on the table. “Well, sort of, I guess. Think of it this way. It's dancing. It improves your balance, posture, and grace, not to mention the extra calories you burn.”
“Did you just call me fat?”
“Stay focused. I think you should go. I think it will do you good.”
“I don't know...” I replied. My hands rubbed over my belly and hips. I didn't think I was sexy shakin' material. I thought of my three sisters. Tall, sexy, gorgeous. I could see them belly dancing. But me? I wasn't short, but shorter than them, and definitely rounder. Even my thin hair couldn't compare to their thick curls. What would people think if they saw me doing such a thing? I imagined tripping over my own feet and the other students pointing and whispering about my stomach.
“I'll tell you what. Come for three weeks. I'll go to every class with you. If you don't like it after that, then you never have to do it again. But really I think you'll love it.”
That evening, the kids were bathed and in bed, the dishes were done, and I sat with my husband listening to the storm growing outside.
“I'm taking a class with Susan on Mondays,” I said.
“What kind of class?” he asked.
“A dance class.”
“Oh,” he replied with raised eyebrows.
“Nothing. Really, I have nothing but respect for Susan. I know she's a good friend of yours. It's just that you two are so different. Your hobbies generally don't coincide.”
“She mentioned it to me and it sounds like fun. But you would have to put the kids to bed on Mondays.”
“That's fine with me.”
* * *