Ella brushed a third layer of Fire-Engine-Red across her lips, then glanced in the mirror of the vanity and giggled. I shifted in the hard seat and twirled a loose string from my shirt.
“Are you sure you won’t join me at the dance tonight?” she said from her stool, her heavily mascaraed eyes on her own reflection.
“I… we’ll see.” My teeth nibbled the inside of my cheek, a skip of my heart at the half-truth.
She ran the brush through her blonde hair as the waves fell back into place. “You really should tag along. Dylan and Tom will be there. The boys you met at my house last week?”
Heat crept across my chest. “No. I’ve never met them –“
“Sure you have.” Her body circled in her seat, a cock to her head that said not to argue with her. “I remember quite vividly. You were over for a swim when the two came calling.” She fanned herself and looked off into the memory. “I was beside myself with the whole thing. The house wasn’t properly dressed for two such gentlemen and my swimsuit entirely inappropriate for a young man to see. Thank God I had my robe.”
My lip twisted in and I nibbled once more.
She gave me a glare. “Honestly, Sylvie. Can’t you entertain the idea of a night out? This is the biggest dance of the year. How do you expect to marry if you stay cooped up inside?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but caught the hope in her eye.
“Just think about it.” She stood, excitement on her face. “A whole evening with nothing to do but dance!” She held her arms out as she spun, her nightgown in a flutter with each turn.
“Ella, I –“
“Oh, pfft!” She stomped her foot. “Just because you’re a fuddy-duddy doesn’t mean I have to be! I don’t care what daddy says! I want to go!” She flopped back onto her chair. “Now come help me with my hair before it gets too late.”
In obedience, I crossed the room, my fingers hesitant on her golden locks. The comb parted her hair with precision and my belly ached at the sight of the inch-long white roots. Time to re-dye.
Without warning, her shoulders drooped and her chin bobbed. “On second thought, maybe I should take a nap first.”
One hand under her arm, the other across her back, I helped her shuffle to bed. Tingles filled my hands and toes when I kissed her goodnight and clicked off the lamp.
I stopped by her dressing table and glanced at the tattered invitation as I ran my fingers across the letterhead dated sixty-years-ago.
“Goodnight. I’ll be back to visit tomorrow,” I whispered.
Then I left my grandmother to slumber in the nursing home with dreams of a dance from her youth.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016