By Danielle Smith
The smallest dressing room at the rear of the Palace variety bar had been assigned to Dorothy and five other girls. Dorothy was the eldest of the girls and by far the most glamorous; her porcelain skin complemented her dark eyes and scarlet lips. Dolled up to the nines she was the image of sin and infatuation, she embodied the lust of all the men who frequented the seaside bars looking for a fleeting romance or a naughty fumble. The other girls despite being only one or two years younger looked like children next to Dorothy. They performed as an ensemble three times a day. They all danced and some sung but only Dorothy did it all. She was good at what she did and knew that given the chance she could escape the small dressing rooms and break into the big wide world, she knew that if she pleased the right people and carried on bringing in the audience she would be sent to the tower. The room was hot and crowded, she sat by the open window smoking, she watched the smoke swirl to nothing in the sky .Dorothy tried to smile as the other girls danced around excited for the show but there was also a knot in her stomach that had been building over the past few weeks. Bob Thompson knocked on the door.
'Ten minutes till curtain up my lovelies,' he leered rubbing his palms together.
Some of the younger girls giggled in excitement for each show filled them with pride and a great sense of achievement; whereas to Dorothy the show was just the first rung of the ladder to her childhood dreams of having her name in lights.
'You alright Dorothy? Your Bertie not writing back to you anymore?' asked Mary, a young skinny girl with legs as long as the golden mile.
'Oh, he is, he wants me to stop all this nonsense he says I can’t afford to have such fanciful dreams, he wants me to be his wife soon but he has been saying that for an age,' she replied with a smile.
Mary looked around the room as she searched for something to say.
'You’re lucky Dorothy, but don’t he know how well you’re doing here. You said there’s work coming your way at the tower soon.'
‘He knows,’ Dorothy tried to avoid Mary’s gaze but Mary did not move she sat looking at her with a sense of intrigue and wonderment.
‘He just wants a wife, that’s all. He’s not at all fond of the crowds looking at me the way he did when we met, he wants me at home. He has a hold over me Mary you will understand when you find a man who wants to make you a wife’
‘You could be a kept woman, Dot. Wouldn’t that be good? Isn’t that enough for you?’
‘It used to be enough that he wanted me, but of late I am unsure that it is me he wants.’
Mary laughed. “He wanted you enough the first time he saw you. Couldn’t keep his hand off you I remember the look in his eyes, like a man gone wild”
‘I think he just wants a wife to come home to, but he’s away for so long. I could be his wife whilst he’s here but when he’s gone I’m nothing and I wasn’t born to be nothing Mary.’
’You’re a funny one Dorothy’ Mary smiled and one by one they left the room for the stage door.
Danielle is a writer based in Blackpool. She writes Young Adult Fiction and