Writing Prompt: You Remember


not this bus but one just like it

You remember the time in Ferrara, a town you only know because it’s the last stop in Veneto and because it has a theatre but no ballet company. If it did, you’d have auditioned here on your way to look for more stable work. Now it’s just a stop on the tour. The bus to Reggio Emilia is parked right outside the piazza and you know that in the daytime, it’s a pretty average piazza. If this were a smaller company, the poorly-managed kind without a lot of money, you’d mingle outside the stage doors waiting for the rest of the cast, smoking a cigarette under the “No Fumare” sign and then the group would wobble into town and eat at some local trattoria.

But this time you are with a more prestigious company and so there is no time to explore the town you’ve just performed in. The bus leaves 30 minutes after the last curtain call, the only vehicle in the whole boot of Italy that is punctual. You won’t eat until you get back to Reggio Emilia, and then not you make the final trek back to your tiny apartment. Not only will all the restaurants and trattorias be closed when the bus arrives, but you don’t earn enough to eat out after every performance. (Part of the reason that poorly-managed company never has any money is because they always treat the dancers to dinner.) But here at your new job, you’ll have to eat something at home, and with all the touring this week, there’s scarcely been time to go to the grocery store. There’s probably a bit of proscuitto and there’s always pasta and olive oil, if nothing else.

In a way, it’s no different than the bus that waited to take you from Uvalde, Texas back to El Paso when you were in 8th grade. Except perhaps, that you weren’t smoking then.

4 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: You Remember

  1. You, a smoker? Well, at least not until after eighth grade, thank God! I love the image of you lighting up under the “No Fumare” sign. And I love how you capture the way an unrelated moment cascades us back into memory.

    BTW, I remember passing through Ferrara while in Italy. We may have even walked around a bit, dragging our suitcases while waiting for the next bus. You didn’t miss much.

    • Ha! Thanks, Lorrie. Yeah, cigarettes and pointe shoes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or maybe cigarettes and Italians go together like peanut butter and jelly. Except that Italians would never put peanut butter and jelly together.

      I wasn’t the only person smoking under the “No Fumare” signs. The firemen, who were always required to be at performances of the old theatres were always smoking right next to me.

  2. Phoebe Bode

    Dancers seem so glamorous on stage, so famous, living an exciting life. We forget: if they are on tour, they have to hurry and get back on the bus. Nice juxtaposition of what we know just happened–dancing before an audience and after the show is over. Very vivid images. Ahh–proscuitto–something no one in your home knew of when you were a kid but part of your kids’ vocabulary. Nice.

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