A Dose of Reality
Bev Vines-Haines
I slammed the book closed.  The best of times?  The worst of times?  Says who?  Took two weeks to read this sucker and the ending was horrible.  At least to me.  I’d always longed for the best of everything.  No Jackals.  No starving.  No trouble.  What the heck was wrong with that?

I gazed out my streaked apartment window, seeing the familiar skyline of Cincinnati and the open space that was the Ohio River.  Beyond, I could see my old Kentucky home.  I was instantly depressed.  Tomorrow I would celebrate 61 years on this earth.  And that meant it had been 43 years since I walked out of my raggedy childhood home, shook the dust from my feet and headed north for fame and fortune.

Not so bad.  Made it over the river and into a crappy tenement and it only took four decades.  I smiled with little humor, remembering how I danced and sang and thought I was better than anyone else in Cynthiana, Kentucky.  At my house we didn’t even have our own TV until I was in high school but I sure found plenty of sets to watch.  We’d had a Federated store in the mid-sixties and watching their model sets for hours I became addicted to talent, variety shows and life as an actress/singer/dancer.  I wanted Hollywood, of course.  Every girl dreamed about that.  But I thought my chances in New York, the theater district, would be the best launching pad. 

I imagined a great Broadway role, kind of like Babe in The Pajama Game.  I would be so popular they would beg me to do the movie.  Have to admit I sold out a few friends and stepped on other thespians as I became the darling of my high school shows. 

They never taught us a thing about little fish in big ponds and big fish in little ponds when I was a girl.  I thought I was America’s Sweetheart and life was waiting to swoon at my feet.  So I skipped college, packed a bag and headed for New York.  I only had twenty dollars after I bought my bus ticket.  So I stopped in Cincinnati, got a job at a diner and started building up some cash. 

Then came a boy.  And then another.  Soon they were men.  Full of promises and lies, distractions every one.    One day, in the midst of my dreaming, I saw my reflection in a mirror.  What happened?  When had I gotten so haggard?  So old?

I wrote my own tombstone that day.  Here she lies.  Maisy Stewart.  Cocky dreamer.  Watch her dance and sing on her own grave every night at the stroke of midnight.

First published: August, 2013
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