Alexandra dipped her head down, circled it first to the right, and then to the left. She puffed her chest out, set her shoulders back and continued typing, her fingers flying over the keyboard as she followed the words on the microcassette recorder. She had one ear fully covered by the noise cancelling cushion of the headphones, the other ear partially exposed, half-cocked to the rest of the world.
Alex, as she preferred to be called, was transcribing medico-legal reports dictated by lawyers at Hamilton and Associates. As she typed, her ear caught the faraway sound of salsa music down the street, and as the beat thumped its way into her aparment, her left foot started tapping, following the rhythm of the faint music. Her right foot lifted off the pedal of the transcriber and the drone of the lawyer’s voice detailing his client’s head injuries ceased for the moment.
Alex leaned back, closed her eyes and gave herself up to the music. In her mind, she was in an off-the shoulder floral midriff paired with hot pink skinny jeans. Her shoulders rose above the stretched neckline, her washboard abs playing peek-a-boo with the hem of her top. Her hastily swept up hair was restrained by an elastic headband, messy brown-black curls escaping and spilling to the side of her neck. She was barefoot.
Alex stood, eyes still shut, bent her right knee, slightly pushing her right hip to the side as she straightened the knee out again. She alternated with the left knee, swaying her hips left then right, and then left and right over and over again. She raised both arms slowly on a path from her thighs to her hips, past her chest, her shoulders, her neck, till they were straight up over her head, palms facing the sky. Her head turned side to side, her cheek caressing a shoulder in synchrony to the throw of her hips but in opposition to the point of her toes as they brushed the carpet bringing her into a slow circular spin.
The music segued into a louder, quick-paced tempo and Alex’s heartbeat followed suit. She threw her head back, her long hair slipping out of the band, whipping down her lower back. Alex swiftly brought her hands down to her side, and gave a sudden gasp as a small hand slipped into hers.
“Looks like you’re done working mom!” Michaela’s tiny voice floated up to Alex. “You promised we could dance some more if I put all my toys away and take a nap.”
Alex opened her eyes and looked down into the same brown eyes that she saw in her mirror every morning. She bent down and sat cross-legged on the carpet, pulling Michaela onto her lap. She enclosed her daughter’s small frame within her arms and buried her face into the sweet, strawberry scent of Michaela’s soft hair. “Yup, I’m done work, honey,” Alex decided on the spot and stood up, Michaela still in her arms. “ Do you remember the steps, Mikey?” asked Alex, setting Michaela on the floor, facing her but keeping both her hands in hers. “Come on, left foot forward, right foot back, then feet together and stomp right- left- right! “That’s good Mikey, right foot backward, left foot front, then feet together, and cha-cha-cha!”
Michaela was giggling and stomping away and Alex thought, how precious the sound of her daughter’s laughter was, how adorable the tiny wrinkle in the middle of her forehead as she concentrated on mastering the steps.
“Im ready for the spin, Mommy! Let go of my hand, please,” panted Michaela. “Watch me spin away from you! Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha!”
Alex released Michaela’s hand and spun her slowly to the right and almost immediately tugged her back in to her side. “Nope, you’re not spinning away from me yet,” Alex thought, then brushed Michaela’s hair away from her face and kissed the top of her head.
“One more time, Michaela” urged Alex. “Do the steps without me. Left foot forward, right foot back, then feet together, cha-cha-cha, aaaaaand spin!” Alex knelt down on the carpet and nodded to Michaela. “Always follow the rhythm of the music, ” she said quietly, and almost in a whisper, she added, “follow it back to your mother’s arms.”
Regina Olaso Gallardo came to Canada 27 years ago from the Philippines. She has been scribbling away since she was a teenager and she writes when she’s mad or sad, and when she’s glad. Regina loves rhythm and rhyme and composes poetry to celebrate family. Recently, she just found out that she can actually write a decent short story when challenged by Brian.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.