Annie is single, has no siblings and does not own any pets. She works at Glitters, a Nightclub featuring Burlesque acts. You might refer to Annie as a petite woman, due to her childlike stature and features. She has youthful features, heart shaped face and cupid lips. Her eyes as big and soft as a doe’s, a cascade of red hair curls framing her face. Annie is not a dancer at the club where she works, at least not yet.  She spends hours choreographing, in her mind, the most delicious moves, wearing spectacular costumes to mesmerize her audience.

The stage lights are off, Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman starts playing on the massive speaker stacks on either side of the stage. The house lights are dimmed.  A single spot light slowly fades up to reveal a woman dressed in a thin layer of tiny gold sparkles. She greets her audience and leaps onto a Trapeze where she performs an aerial dance. The act concludes itself with her picking up a small gold colored pitcher with a long spout, for watering small potted house plants. She lifts it up high above her head, leans back and slowly pours water down her chest. With her hands she proceeds to wipe away the shimmering gold covering her body, sending clouds of gold dust into different directions. 

“Very original strip tease.” says Annie, turning her head towards John, the bartender.  

“Indeed, first time for everything I guess. In my times, Burlesque performers wore elaborate costumes and actually needed to know how to perform, make people laugh, it wasn’t all about nudity, it was about seduction and well now they come on stage naked, not much left for the imagination, if you ask me.”

John has seen more sunrises than sunsets in his life and has grown old mixing cocktails behind a bar.  He is from the old school of bartending and the old school of gallantry. Tall, thin, high ckeekbones so chiseled his skin is stretched tight and smooth.  In the right light he looks 20 years younger than his actual age. His full head of hair is snow white, his eyes are crystal clear and a vibrant blue. 

It is now time for the Champagne act and Annie’s attention turns back towards the stage. ”Thank you John.” John had been thoughtful, as always, and had sent a waitress to deposit the tray with champagne glass on a small table next to the stage. 

The act has started and the song playing is Big Spender.  Lights spill onto center stage, revealing a giant champagne glass made of plexiglass, filled with bubbles. A step ladder painted pink, leads to the rim of the giant champagne glass, where a girl is reclining with her right leg beckoning attention her way, as she points her toes towards the ceiling.  Her back is arched, with her breasts floating up above the bubbles.  Annie heads over to the ladder, tray in her left hand, her right hand guiding her up the ladder, she moves slowly, as she places her feet on the steps one at a time, careful not to spill any champagne. Once she reaches the top, she extends her arm holding the tray towards the dancer, who is not doing any dancing. Although the dancer could meet Annie halfway, by simply sitting up slightly and extending her right arm towards the glass, but she doesn’t.  Instead she watches as Annie is clearly not able to reach far enough with her arm and keep a steady hold at the same time. 

The dancer makes a brusque move as she reaches for the champagne glass in a sweeping motion, water splashes onto the ladder, catching Annie to lose her footing. One of her shoes lands on the stage a second before she does. Annie notices the heel is broken. These are her favorite shoes.  

To Annie’s horror and dismay, there is laughter coming from the audience, as John the bartender comes to her rescue, whisking her off stage.

“How can I ever show my face again?” Annie is beyond distress, as her lifetime dream is rapidly being drained into a vortex powered by negative forces. “All I want to do is bury my head in a pillow and cry.”

“Let’s make sure nothing is broken first and then it’s either the hospital or straight to bed for you.” Once John is certain that Annie has not broken any of her tiny bones, he drives her home.

“Thank you John, you saved me tonight.” They’ve reached Annie’s apartment, John turns off the engine and turns towards Annie.

“Don’t give it any thought, it’s the least I could do for a pretty maiden who lost her shoe.  I’ll get the other shoe back for you Annie.”  

Annie is touched by John’s kind heart, as she breaks into tears. 

John hands her a tissue. “Annie, Annie, believe in yourself, you are special, unique, talented and beautiful beyond words, so don’t let anyone tell you different.  When God created angels you were amongst his masterpieces on earth” 

“Oh John, what would I ever do without you.” Annie and John say goodnight. John waits till Annie is safely in the building before driving off. 

Annie’s home, is like being backstage at a theater. Racks of costumes, hats, feather boas and sequined dresses.  Everything about Annie, her demeanor, her tastes, her choice of words, are right out of a vintage film.  She places her single red pump down and slips out of her dress to reveal bruises starting to form on her left arm, shoulder and hips, from the fall.  She is wearing a stunning handmade lace bustier with garters, pink and white. She removes this and slips on a loose fitting shimmery silk poncho, with a deep v plunge in front and back.  It is sewn together with hundreds of long teardrops layered one upon the other.

Framed photographs hang on the walls, we see Bettsie Bon Bon & Gypsy Rose Lee, 2 famous Burlesque stars in their time. There are some turn of the century sepia toned pictures that feature a troupe of midget performers from a 1920’s Burlesque act.

Annie slips a tape into a player, she switches off the main light and turns on a Tiffany floor lamp, which gives the room a warm and cozy feel. She slowly begins to sway to a classic 40’s tune. Transported by music, she transforms into a sinuous vixen, swaying one hip at a time, striking poses and playfully, tauntingly, smiling at her invisible audience. She has all the moves down, every glance, every breath and single batting of her eyes, strategically timed. She is limber and willowy as she closes her act in a tourbillon, swallowed in the whirlwind of transparent shimmering silk, practically defying gravity.

The sun would be rising soon. Annie heads towards her bedroom. Her style and grace are ever present even though she hobbles slightly, only when she walks, not when she dances. It is fairly common in people of extremely short stature, to limp a little, especially if the legs are unusually short, as is the case with many Midgets such as Annie. 

Published by Maddalena Di Gregorio

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in” Robert L. Stevenson


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