This was the first time Rita had felt totally at peace since the accident, so calm, so poised, so in control. She felt the warm evening sea breeze stroke her face and still she kept her balance in the Dancer Pose. Her daily yoga routine had never been as important to her as it was now – now she was pregnant. She felt her muscles stretching as she calmly kept her gaze steady, following her outstretched arm. She looked along it and through her fingertips at the spot she was focusing on. Their beach house or what was left of it after the fire.
She came out of the pose and walked up the beach towards the house. Why did she keep doing this to herself – torturing herself every day? She felt the sand under her toes, so soft and warm. She remembered their walks together, how he teased her about her nail varnish peeling off or the fact that her toe nails needed cutting. He loved her feet. She closed her eyes and relished the memory of them laying on the porch swing, how he would stroke her feet, kiss them, massage them. ‘No!’ She admonished herself, ‘I mustn’t keep torturing myself!’
She reached the porch and what was left of the swing, and then wandered round to the back, to the dance studio. She peered in at the blackened walls and broken mirrors, the buckled barre. She pictured him stretching as he had done every morning. He was so graceful, the most beautiful dancer she had ever seen – but no more! She looked away, the usual tears finally breaking her – again – when was she going to stop crying? She turned to the sea and caught sight of a man running along the surf. For a moment she caught her breath – it looked like Ricardo! The man waved at her when he saw her looking at him. She waved back and managed a weak smile. She looked down, embarrassed he had seen her like this. It was that handsome film star that lived further down the beach. She always saw a similarity between him and Ricky. ‘Ricky, my Ricky’ she said to herself, ‘you could run faster than any athlete!’
She sighed and decided it was time to go home. The new house was just a few yards further up the beach. It was so much bigger than the old one, large bright rooms, wrap around porch, gym – and all on one level. But then this house was only ever supposed to be a holiday home. She didn’t need to be in the city anymore, she couldn’t dance after the accident. It seemed healthier to retire here somehow, the best place to get well again, the doctor had said.
The house was all lit up and as she approached the beach patio door she caught sight of the painting in the studio, the art studio that had replaced the dance studio. It was a beautiful picture of her, in the dancer pose. She laughed. Ricky had been spying on her the whole time. She ran in to her husband’s studio and saw him smiling at her as he put the finishing touches to his masterpiece, the binoculars lying abandoned on the window sill, his spy equipment. He used it to spy on everyone on the beach – nobody was safe from his artistic eyes! He had such vision and could see the beauty in everything!
He put down his brush and manoeuvred his wheel chair round his easel to meet her at the door. They embraced warmly as they always did and he put his hand over her slightly swollen belly. She laughed and looked at the picture, “Artistic licence?” She asked shaking her head at the exaggerated baby bump and flawless complexion on her portrait. He took her hands in his and brought them up to kiss them.
“My darling you are more beautiful every day.” She frowned and looked at the ugly burn scars on her face in the mirror. Why did he keep telling her she was beautiful when ninety per cent of her body was scarred? He however was just as handsome as ever, even without his legs! She turned once more to look at the glorious sunset and tried not to cry again.
“Shall we go in for dinner darling?” She asked quietly.