I was in unfamiliar territory as I drunk my tea; 1920s New York to be precise. Taking a moment from Jay and Daisy’s drama I was drawn back into a town which felt just as unfamiliar. The lack of dancing flapper girls was made up for by the equal lack of such ego-centrism.
She passed as quickly as a Hitchcock cameo, but drew just as much attention with her class. Her hair streamed behind her, pointing to where she had come from but no one knew where she was headed. Her black shoes has such a heel that she was forced to take calm evenly spaced steps, giving her an air of being at ease; one that did not however carry above the neck.
Her sturdy backpack was the polar opposite of her choice in footwear. It was filled to bursting point so was no surprise that a length of dark fabric made a bid for escape and floated to the ground. As he was passing, a man noticed this and promptly bent down to collect it. Running it thoughtfully through his fingers, he folded it and immediately picked up his pace to have any chance of catching up with her.
She turned sharply as he tapped her on the shoulder. His gentle demeanour and mumbled explanations made her eyes smile as he passed over her scarf, but the rest of her face put an end to this. With as minimal thanks as social protocol dictated she was on her way again. She reprimanded her curt response because in truth she was grateful and relieved that he had returned her headscarf. Her father need not know she didn’t wear it during the day, but to have lost it was a sure fire way for him to find out. She duly replaced it every evening before returning home and would continue to do so for the sake of her father’s peace of mind.
So much of her life was already planned for her so she seized any small liberty she could.
That morning she had pulled on some worn grey canvas shoes; presentable enough, but sure not to draw any attention. She drew the heeled dance shoes from under her bed and admired them before placing them in her rucksack with care.
“You back for dinner tonight?” asked her dad as she came down the stairs.
“No, actually I was thinking of staying late at the library tonight to study for the exam next week. I’ll sort myself.”
She slung her bag casually over her shoulder despite the added weight and kissed him lightly on the cheek. Pride softened his eyes as he shut the door behind her.
No, he didn’t ever need to know how she spent her evenings. He would be mortified to know that the tiredness from studying she feigned was actually from an evening of dance lessons.
She had to make the most of it before even the tiniest freedoms would be stolen from her as of next year…