She loved to dance.  Since she’d been a little girl, it was her love of dancing that made her believe there was more to life than playing in the broken streets of East London.  She dreamed romantic dreams.  By her teens, she’d danced her way onto the London stage before finding greater success and notoriety in the Italian movie houses and glamour magazines.  She danced and sang the songs of the day, the music stirring her from the inside out.  She became the heart’s desire of countless Italian men, young and old.

Through her fortunate career she met the man who became her husband.  She shared her time between Rome and London and was prepared to dance happily ever after with her leading man and young son.  With that much love in her life, the steadfast orchestra swelled and soared toward infinity.

Years later her husband died, her son grew up and moved out.  She was just getting used to the new normal when, alone in her flat one morning, normal took on an entirely new definition.  She was about to climb into the bath when she heard a frightening crash from above.  Before she had the chance to look up, the water tank that was housed in the empty space above the room she was in, fell through the ceiling and landed on her, pinning her to the floor.  Water gushed from the ruptured plumbing, live electrical cables dangled from the opening in the shredded ceiling.  She thought she’d certainly be electrocuted.  She wasn’t strong enough to push the heavy tank off her trapped legs.  After an hour of shouting for help, a neighbour finally heard her and came to her rescue.  She hadn’t been electrocuted.  But her lower spine had been crushed.

She still lives in both cities.  When she’s in her London flat – doors just wide enough to accommodate her wheelchair – she often employs the services of a local handyman whom she trusts.  Over the years he has tiled her bath, replaced taps, refinished the floors, built shelves, painted her walls, repaired furniture to name just a few of the jobs.  In appreciation she gives him tea and biscuits and usually offers her thanks with an unaffectedly maternal ‘Good boy.’  But he can’t put everything right.

The streets she’d once strutted down with her long, muscular dancer’s legs now fill her with anxiety.  The once confident showgirl of Italian cinema is trapped within her own vulnerability.  She won’t venture outside unless accompanied.  Occasionally her reliable handyman takes her out of her tiny flat and pushes her down the road to the local pub where they share stories and lunch.  Their mutual interests in film, writing, history and families pepper the unremitting conversation until they finish their pints.  Then he takes her back home where the television is a constant companion and the phone a rare lifeline.

She loved to dance.  Then her legs were taken from her.  The once unending music, timeless and immortal, has dimmed and given way to her tangible thoughts.

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