She danced from one room to the next. Picking up a dress. Then putting down a shoe. Sitting down for a moment. The desk in front of her covered in make-up. Her laptop open with a new song. She was writing her life. And creating herself every day.
Jane was an artist. Her work was in demand. A show on Broadway ended last week. Now she sat far away in London. This was the life she dreamed about as a child. She would put on her best dress. Then sing to her parents. And sometimes she would sing at church.
Picking up lip stick she puckered her lips. Thick and red the color went on her lips. She smiled to make sure it wasn’t on her teeth. Today was not a day for having lipstick on her teeth. Her cellphone rattled in her bag. But she didn’t notice.
Today was her the first day she would rehearse with Elton John. They were working together on a show for charity. She was a Gemini, so while she wanted to help others. Details were not her thing. Which group was the charity for? She knew and she didn’t remember. But Elton had told her it was a good cause.
There were many charity shows she did over the years. And at times she wondered about where the money went. She didn’t want to end up like Cat Stephens. He couldn’t even fly into the U.S. anymore.
Looking up at the mirror she checked her progress. Then down she looked at the song. The words were coming along one at a time. Like reluctant children. You know in the end they will come. But you just wish they could be more behaved. The words just didn’t want to listen to her. They fought her. And she pushed back into the void against them.
Her pen was stuck between her teeth. With a firm focus she searched for the next word. But she knew it was a problem. Like trying to fall asleep. The more you try the harder it is. She needed a moment away. And her phone started to flash and vibrate again. This time she picked up the call.
“Charles,” she answered.
“Jane,” he said. “What will I do?”
Being in the theater Jane knew about drama. But no one did drama like her brother. Once he called about a snow storm. Where would he find three months worth of food he asked her. He misunderstood the news. It was a three day storm. And they said it would be a cold winter. He flew into a panic.
She looked at her watch. The party didn’t start for two hours. But now she wanted an excuse to get off the phone already. She loved her dear brother. He was the eternal support in her play growing up. When ever she needed a leading man. Or someone to play a horse. Or anything she asked of him. But in some ways he had never grown up himself. And while she was about the world with her own play. He stayed at the family home with his old toys.
“How’s the old car running?” she asked.
“I started it last night,” he offered. “But, I didn’t drive it so it wouldn’t get wet. It might rain today. The weather man said there was a chance.”
It was the driest month of the year, August. But she figured it wasn’t worth the discussion. If he didn’t want to drive, it was okay with her. But she still felt like it would be a step which would help him get off the farm. A step she felt like he needed. Her life was so full of life. And their other sister was so on the edge. But Charles waited like a hurt puppy about his feeding dish.
“Listen Charles…” she started. But it was too late. The finger had been pulled from the dike. Now the ocean was flooding in on her. She could hear his tears through the phone. He was sobbing in a deep stress.
“You don’t have time?” he whispered.
“No… I mean yes,” she vacillated. “What dear brother is the problem?”
The “dear brother” came out sarcastic and she felt it. But, he never listened to the tone of her words. And he didn’t today.
“They’re going to get dust on my cattle,” Charles blurted into the phone.
“Wait, our cattle?” her tone changed to alarm. She may mock the farm and her brother. But it supported her lifestyle in no small degree. Even the powerful attorney sister needed the resources of the farm at times.
“My cattle,” Charles firmly stated. For the last five years he was the only family member on the farm. So he felt like the livestock were his. He would share the income, but they were his.
“Yes, Charles,” she relented. “Tell me the story.”
Over the next three hours she tried to stay awake. But it wasn’t clear what the weather last week had to do with the neighbors. And what was this about the county commissioners. She listened with the polite yeses and nos until he stopped crying. Now she was late for the party.
“Have you called New York,” she tried to push him off on their other sister. The ram of the family.
But just listening was calming to Charles. He was breathing normal. He could form his words without sounding like a drunk. And it was time for Jane to let him go. It was late where he was and she was late.
“I have a party to go to Charles,” Jane inserted into the discussion. “One of the princes are going to be there.”
“You always understand me Jane,” Charles emoted. “Thank you for listening.”
But she hadn’t listened, and now she felt bad. She explained to her brother neither of the princes of England could help him. Then wished him a goodnight’s rest.
Charles sat down. Put the phone down on the cradle. It was nearly dead now. And he was exhausted. It wasn’t like him to spend hours on the phone. However, he felt like his very life was in danger. They’ll get dust on my cattle, he thought to himself. Walking into the kitchen for a glass of water.
Jane rushed to the party which was just starting.
“Am I late dears,” she asked strolling through the door. She imagined it to be fashionable late.
“Late,” a friend replied. “You are like a whole group of friends in one person. We could never really start the party without you.”