Her skirt was shorter than her mother would have allowed, so, she was lucky she made it out the front door undetected.  As she snuck her way down the quiet sidewalk, she found her feet could not keep up with the excitement brewing in her mind.  She could already imagine the music in the air, the handsome men in sharp suits, and her hopes of finding a dashing dancing partner.  She knew mother would forbid her to visit such a place of ill repute, but she could not keep herself from going back.  Some girls even wore long strands of beads, stockings with garters, and feathers in their carefully coiffed hair!  She did not own such fancy clothing yet, but knew it would not be long before she had a fringed dress of her own. She could already imagine the colors and the way she could spin and twirl to make the fringe skip.  She giggled aloud at her own imagination and she felt more butterflies in her stomach.  She did have a beaded headband she had gotten as a birthday gift when she turned 15, and she wore that in her hair for added sparkle—she thought of it as her princess crown.  Her Walter always called her his princess.  He would smile and tell her how proud he was of her and that she would always be his princess.  Her mood suddenly changed somber when she noticed darkness had begun to fall as she drew further away from home.  She hoped she was close to the speakeasy.   She did not know if the part of town she was in to be a bad neighborhood or not, because frankly, she did not care.   She forced her thoughts back to the music, the lights, and the happiness she would feel when she arrived at her destination. Her imagination kept her entertained as she continued along the sidewalk.  She began to wonder if her dapper black haired gentleman would already be there, waiting and she smiled at the prospect of sharing the dance floor with him.  She thought about her life lately at home and wondered why everything seemed so stifled and sad.  She needed this escape to bring a smile to her troubled heart.  She had difficulty remembering the last time she smiled. As she continued on her way, it was taking longer for her to reach her destination than usual.  She wondered if in her daydreaming she had taken a wrong turn at a crosswalk, yet only briefly thought of stopping.  She was sure she had to be going in the right direction!  Determined, she puffed out her chest and kept walking. As she continued, it became more difficult and she wondered if she would have the energy to dance the night away as she normally did.  She did not recall it being this far before, and her feet were becoming tired in her dancing shoes.   Unexpectedly, headlights shone upon her and she shielded her eyes from the glare.  The brightness hurt and she could not see as confusion took over.  She heard a man’s voice gently calling to her from behind the shining lights, “Ruby, is that you”?  She replied, “Yes, are you my Walter?  I’m lost and can’t find my way to the hall,” she answered feebly.  From behind the lights, a police officer stepped close to Ruby to offer some assistance.  Ruby was dressed in her nightgown and slippers, just as her granddaughter said she would be.  Ruby had slipped out into the late evening, away from the watching eyes of her family.  Her granddaughter explained to the police officer that her grandmother had been trying to sneak out of the house in the still of the evening.  This particular evening, her determination finally rewarded her with a moment to escape.  Ruby kept insisting to everyone that she needed to find her dancing partner.  Her family knew she was speaking of her late husband, Walter, the only man who had brought such an intimate smile to her face.  He was the love of her life and had passed away about a year prior.  Ruby was devastated. Ruby’s health had been failing and her mind had been reverting to an earlier time of joy and enchantment.  She had always loved to dance and that is how she had met her handsome, black haired soul-mate all those years ago.  As a young girl, she would sneak away at least once a month to enjoy the music and excitement of the local dance hall.  She began to imagine lately she was again a young girl stealing away to meet her prince of the dance hall.  She had seen her granddaughter wear a black beaded headband and her eyes lit up when her granddaughter said she could borrow it.  Ruby called it her crown and said she would always be Walter’s princess.  She wore it all the time.  It was one of her only reasons to smile these days.  “Let’s go Ruby; I need to get you home.  Your family is worried about you,” said the cop.  He gently took her hand and led her to his car.  Ruby smiled as her mind wandered to a happier time and for the moment, the warmth of her memories enveloped the cold emptiness that normally filled her chest.  She closed her eyes as the patrol car took her home.    Her mind would remain forever in the bliss of her life with Walter, no matter how her body failed. She hoped it would not be long before she was in his arms again.  This time, it would be forever.    


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