|"Come on, Rose! Why not?"Gina's voice had taken on the pleading tone that
she had successfully plied on Rose before, and Rose found her resistance melting.
"I just don't want to, is
"You know it'll be fun. Just
Rose and Gina had been going out
together quite frequently. Some nights, Gina would be working and Rose would sit quietly
in the corner, nursing a drink and enjoying the show. Anthony would accompany them on
other occasions, and still others would find the two women going out alone to a tavern or
a café, and now, if Gina had her way, they would be going dancing. But not unaccompanied;
Gina wanted Rose to ask Thomas to join them.
"Why don't you just ask him
yourself?" Rose asked.
Gina sat back, assuming an
"Now, you know very well a
LADY doesn't do such a thing!" she said, peering down her nose.
"You sound like my mother,
Gina! Come to think of it, you LOOK like her, too."
"Well, listen to your mother,
then! There's a new rage of dances we need to learn."
The dog days of August had padded
into New York and they seemed inclined to sit for a spell, making the rains of July seem
like ancient memories. To Rose, the month had thus far been one endless, hot, sleepless
night spent secluded in her stuffy apartment, and she thought the chance to be out sounded
quite inviting. Still
"It's not proper, Gina!"
"NOW who sounds like your
mother? Anyway, I've heard that it's okay if it's a boy you know."
Rose laughed at Gina's logic.
"Oh, all right! I'll ask him
tonight. Is it Saturday, then?"
"Great! Thanks. Saturday it
I guess I've been elected
matchmaker for those two, Rose mused. Chaperone as well.
Thomas and Cora were perched on
the steps to the apartments, trying to cool off in the meager early evening breeze, as
Rose arrived from window shopping after work. Cora spotted her first, as usual.
Rose neared the stoop and
exchanged greetings, fanning herself after her walk. Her clothes clung to her in places
and she could feel beads of perspiration dotting her brow. She glanced at the cloudless
ceiling overhead and at the motionless leaves in the trees fronting the apartments.
"Not much better out here, it
seems," she said.
"The frying pan is just a
slower death than the fire tonight, is all," Thomas offered. He motioned for Rose to
sit with them.
They chatted a bit about the
weather, Cora's day, and about Red.
"Your exploits saving that
horse were the talk of the neighborhood. Mr. Carson already has you canonized,"
Thomas said, and Rose found herself blushing. "I hear you're learning to ride
"He's putting up with me is
more like it," Rose replied with a laugh. "I've just started this past week,
"A newspaper man wanted to
take Rosie's picture but she told him no," Cora chimed in.
Thomas looked quizzically at Rose.
"Why not? That was quite
something. You should be proud of what you did," he said.
"I am, but I just
I like to keep my life simple."
Rose expected to have to explain
herself, but Thomas surprised her by simply nodding.
"Still, that was
something," he repeated.
Rose took a deep breath, trying to
calm her nerves.
Gina should be doing this,
she thought. She is much more comfortable in these situations; I'm not used to being so
forward. Oh, well, this is as good a time as any.
"Thomas, Gina and I would
like you to accompany us to the Pavilion on Saturday night," she said
matter-of-factly, but she felt her face reddening again, undermining her nonchalance.
"Well, it's about time! I'll
be going back to university soon," Thomas replied.
"What do you mean 'about
"Gina and I talked about this
back on July 4th. It took you two this long to decide on a day?"
"Well, me, actually. Gina was
ready to go long ago. I'm not much for that sort of thing."
Cora had been occupied chasing the
late-summer fireflies that had been gathering under nearby tree branches, flashing like
stars. She had been listening to the conversation with one ear.
"What's the Pavilion?"
"A place where people go to
dance," her brother informed her. Before Cora could ask the inevitable question,
Thomas added, "And, no, you can't go along. This is for grown-ups only."
Cora frowned only for a second as
that patent explanation was often used and always expected.
"Oh, Rosie's gonna be
kangaroo! Rosie's gonna be a kangaroo!" Cora sang in refrain, skipping in a circle
around the nearest tree.
"What?" Rose asked,
thinking she had missed part of the conversation.
"The 'Kangaroo Dip'. You
haven't heard of it?" Thomas asked.
"No. Is that a dance?"
Cora stopped circling and, taking
an exaggerated breath, addressed Rose.
"Oh, Rosie! Really!" she
scolded, exhaling loudly on the last word.
Cora's imitation of a
child-exasperated adult was too perfect, and Rose and Thomas chuckled in delight.
"You don't go dancing often,
I guess," Thomas ventured.
"Why do you say that?"
Rose asked, a bit affronted by his assumption, however true.
"Oh, it's just that you don't
seem comfortable with a lot of people around. You take long walks alone, run three-legged
races, save horses from rivers and them ride them
..you seem more of the outdoor
Oh, my God! Rose thought,
and she laughed so long and hard that she started to cry from the effort. Thomas and Cora
eyed her like she was some sort of exotic hyena.
Rose slowly regained her
composure, wiping the tears from her face with both hands while still laughing in spurts;
in the end a few tears of sorrow were mixed in as well. She shook her head at her two
understand," was all she would offer by way of an explanation.
Jack, that one's for you!
Rose thought, and she could almost hear him laughing loudly as well at the irony of it
A bit later, after Rose and Thomas
had finalized the details for their night out, Thomas shepherded his sister in to bed.
Rose sat alone on the stoop, trying to trick her mind with thoughts of cool breezes.
Occasional pedestrians strolled by, trying to put off the dreaded return to their own
personal ovens for as long as possible, and Rose nodded greetings. For the most part there
was no traffic; the street was quiet save for the sound of crickets chirping their rapid
rhythm and the faint snippets of conversations drifting down from the lighted windows
Rose smiled in the darkness.
Well, Jack, I wonder if you'd
even want me anymore, me being an 'outside' girl and all! I really hadn't thought how much
you'd influenced me until Thomas said that. I suppose I really HAVE changed a lot; Rose
Dawson seems cut from a different cloth than Rose Bukater was. Or maybe the old Rose never
had the chance to discover what she was really made of
Rose's reverie was broken by a
muffled cough from down the dark street. She tried to locate the sound but couldn't see
anyone on the sidewalk.
There! A slight motion in the lee
of an elm across the way and half a block down. Rose couldn't make out clearly, but she
thought she saw a figure standing in the shadows, staring back at her.
It made her shiver.
"Hello!" she called,
challenging the shadows. The phantom turned abruptly and walked rapidly down the street,
away from her. Avoiding the glare of the streetlights, it disappeared around the corner
without a backward glance.
There's something strangely
familiar about the way that person walks, Rose thought, though she couldn't place it,
and she shivered again.
Thomas knocked on Rose's door at
precisely eight o'clock on Saturday evening.
Punctual, she thought, as
she let him in. She wasn't quite set to go.
Rose had been proud of herself as
she was prepared to depart more than a half-hour earlier, but then she had sat at her
desk, lights off, having second thoughts about the evening ahead.
I'm not really comfortable
being the third member of this duet, she thought. Why do they need me to go along?
Still, perhaps Thomas will be good for Gina. It's long overdue, and I really wish her the
best. I'm sure I'll get to be the maid of honor at the wedding!
So when Thomas arrived, Rose had
to hurry to finish dressing and Thomas stood politely in the doorway, trying not to appear
"We're meeting Gina outside
the Pavilion?" he asked.
He's doesn't want to let that
on he's eager to see her, Rose thought.
"Yes, Thomas. Don't fret, I'm
sure she'll be there waiting," she teased him.
Thomas ran his fingers around the
brim of his hat while Rose examined her appearance in the mirror over the wash basin. Her
thick hair had grown back quite a bit in four short months, and was almost to the point of
needing styling. She loosely tied on her hat, tilting her head to see it from various
angles. Satisfied, she turned to check Thomas' choice of clothes. He was dressed casually
in dark blue, and was neat as a pin.
Trying to impress her, Rose
thought, suppressing a smile.
Rose had bowed to the heat,
choosing a lightweight, loose lavender skirt and shirtwaist and a small, simple hat.
Perfect for dancing
.Or chaperoning, she thought.
"All right, I'm ready,"
"You look nice, Rose. How do
"You'll do," Rose
replied with a chuckle.
They rode the El north for the
quick ride to Times Square. It was only a short walk from the train platform to Seventh
Avenue, and as they approached their destination Rose was dazzled by a kaleidoscope of
saloons, theaters, restaurants, nightclubs and dance halls, all packed so tightly in the
square that they seemed to be trying to climb over one another for attention.
The myriad lights of the buildings
brought an almost false-daylight to the square, and the dense throngs strolling the
sidewalks were made all the more compact by those that were just out and about, fleeing
the wrath of summer. Barkers hawked the specialties of each establishment, trying to sell
the sizzle of their shows to an audience more inclined to spend the night outdoors. The
noise level was like that of the busiest market district at the height of a weekday
The Pavilion looked from the
outside like a giant barn, but one made, incongruously, from red brick. A string of lights
ran along the arc of the front of the building, framing a central marquee that announced
"Dancing Tonite" in oversized lettering befitting a Times Square establishment.
Rose followed Thomas' lead through
the crowds, feeling once again uneasy at being the odd woman out.
They spotted Gina standing just
outside the entrance to the hall, and she waved a greeting to them as they approached.
great!" Gina said brightly.
Thomas shook her hand, bowing
"Nice to see you again,
"And you, Thomas."
Rose already felt invisible.
"We can go in in a
minute," Gina continued.
Thomas turned and gazed out over
square, taking in the riotous scene.
"Have you been here
before?" he asked of Gina.
"Oh, yes, I would
Gina's gaze moved off Thomas and
fixed on the hall entrance behind Rose's back.
"How many times do you think
we've been here?" she asked.
Anthony stepped forward, just
emerged from interior of the hall.
"At least a dozen, I'm
sure," he answered. "Hello, Rose."
Rose was so surprised to see him
that she couldn't speak. Her first reaction was to expect friction between Anthony and
Thomas, but neither of them seemed at all surprised to see the other and they shook hands
following Gina's introductions. Thomas turned away from Rose, engaged in conversation with
Anthony, and Gina seemed to engross herself in their words, trying her best to avoid
looking at Rose. Rose fixed a stare at her friend.
Finally, Gina tried to steal a
quick glance at Rose and her eyes were pinned like a butterfly's wings by the directness
of Rose's gaze. Gina feigned a combination of innocence and relief, but she wasn't a
convincing enough actress, and Rose began to realize she had been set up. She reached for
Gina's arm, excused them both, and pulled her aside.
"You knew Anthony would be
here!" she accused.
"Of course. Why shouldn't he
Gina's innocent veneer began to
"I thought you and
Gina smiled and leaned towards
her, speaking softly.
"Oh, Thomas isn't my type.
you needed to go out on a date; a real date."
"That should've been MY
choice, shouldnt it?" Rose replied, irritation rising in her voice.
"Oh, Rose! Live a little!
Thomas seems nice
just enjoy yourself."
Anthony beckoned them and he led
the way into the building. Thomas noticed the annoyed look on Rose's face and lagged
behind the others to speak to her.
"Anything wrong?" he
"You and Gina schemed to get
me here," she responded.
And I DON'T like anyone telling
me what to do.
"Sorry Rose, but I wanted to
have a chance to get to know you better and Gina agreed to help. I knew you wouldn't go
out with just me, even though I'm really a nice guy
once you get past my saloon
Rose wasn't inclined to smile at
"You should have just asked
me yourself," she huffed, feeling manipulated.
"And your answer would have
Rose was silent for a few seconds
as they walked, and then she relaxed her face a little.
"Touche," she replied.
The Pavilion's interior was laid
out to be as simply functional as possible: a vast open dance floor surrounded by tables
lining all the walls. A waiter led the four of them across the room, their shoes clapping
against the boards of the polished wooden floor. Thomas ordered drinks and they sat down
around their table.
As the others engaged in small
talk, waiting for the music to begin, Rose examined the room.
Recessed in one wall was a cave of
sorts in which the band sat, warming up with their instruments. A row of large windows
ringed the walls, their panes thrown open to the night, and overhead the largest ceiling
fan Rose had ever seen whirred busily, trying to circulate the thick air. Despite the
daunting heat the room was nearly full, and abuzz in anticipation.
Rose studied the faces of the
young couples, their emotions on their sleeves, so much in love. The scattered older
couples were not nearly so impetuous, not nearly so overt, but their closeness obvious
One young woman in particular
captured Rose's attention. She sat, her eyes lit like diamonds as she listened to her
companion speak, and it was almost as though she commanded her own spotlight; she seemed
surrounded by an aura of happiness and fulfillment.
Rose felt a tightness in her
chest, an emptiness, and she forced in a deep breath. After four months of maintaining
walls, the emotion she had so well kept at bay suddenly welled up inside her.
I miss feeling like she does,
Rose thought. Feeling a part of something magical, something wonderful, knowing that,
whatever might happen in the rest of the day, it will still be there. I miss the coziness
that comes after the novelty wears off, the special shoulder to lean on; believing in one
person, knowing him, trusting him.
Jack, that's something we were
never given the time to reach, and I'll forever regret that. We never had the time to
really live our love. But I'm sure you understand my feelings now.
.what about you
Rose?" Gina was addressing her.
Lost in her thoughts, Rose had
failed to notice the band begin to play, and couples were filtering out onto the dance
floor. Gina and Anthony stood at the head of the table, looking down at her.
"Are you going to
dance?" Gina asked again.
"In a bit," Rose
replied, and the couple left for the floor. Rose glanced at Thomas, who returned her gaze
expectantly but said nothing.
The idea of a night out dancing
had sounded appealing, but now that she was face-to-face with the reality, Rose wasn't
sure she was up to it.
I havent danced with a
that night, below decks
She could recall Jack's touch, his
voice, the smell of his hair, what he had been wearing. She knew that room had been
brimming with people but she only remembered him and her and the music that filled their
Can that really be four months
ago? Rose wondered. It seems like yesterday.
That night had been magical, but
she knew she needed to loosen its grip on her. Her heart cried to go back, but needed to
She shook herself slightly and
returned her attention to Thomas, who sat quietly watching her without judgement.
"I know I've been quite
reserved around you, Thomas, maybe even rude. Why would you want to get to know me
"I wonder that myself
sometimes. I guess I can't shake the feeling that there is a lot more to Rose Dawson then
you let on, and some of the things you say and do make me very curious."
"You remember the curious
cat, don't you?"
Thomas laughed. He waited for her
She so much wanted to really trust
someone; to know and to be known, completely.
"Thomas, what do you want out
He was obviously surprised at her
question and sat back, his hands clasped on the table before him, considering his reply.
"Oh, the same as everyone I
guess. Wife, children, house, career."
"Well, sure, that goes
without saying. What's marriage or a family without love?"
"You men always say 'it goes
Rose studied Thomas' face. She
wasn't sure why she had started this line of conversation with him, and she felt like a
blind person, feeling her way along.
"Have you ever been in
love?" she asked him.
He seemed a bit uncomfortable with
the question, squirming slightly in his chair.
"No chit chat on a Saturday
night for you, huh? Okay
I'm game. Close a few times but
no, not really."
"And that doesnt bother
you, that you haven't been in love?"
"Everything in its time,
Rose. I haven't been in Pittsburgh, either."
"Now you're making fun of
"No, I'm not. It's
this is an awfully serious discussion for so early on a Saturday night. What
brought this to your mind now?"
Rose didn't reply, thinking Thomas
wouldn't be likely to empathize with the emotions that filled her as she watched the happy
couples. She longed to be like them, but she wasn't sure if those feelings lived inside
her still. Thomas waited for her to answer, but when none was forthcoming he shrugged his
"Well, what about you, what
do YOU want out of life?" he asked.
"Six months ago, I would've
answered just as you did, but now I want more than what one career, one passion, one city
could ever offer. I want
"So, it's out there,
somewhere," Thomas said, sweeping his arm in a wide arc. "Not here in New
Rose's eyes followed a dancing
couple but her mind was miles away, considering his question. She hadn't really faced that
prospect directly before, but his query seemed to flip a switch in her mind and she
realized she had known the answer for some time.
I don't think so. My
future is not here in this city."
"No, not truly that.
Travelling is nice but it's more complicated than that. I want to really LIVE."
"We all feel that way, Rose.
It's not always easy to keep focused on it, though. For myself, I would like to get away
from the city after I graduate, settle down somewhere quiet with a family of my own. I
guess that sounds too tame to you."
"No, I want that
it's hard to explain. I used to think that was ALL I wanted, but then my
eyes were opened and I realized I needed to break free of the expectations everyone else
had for me; to make my OWN destiny."
"What changed you?"
Rose considered how best to reply.
She looked at the brightness in Thomas' eyes and thought he would understand.
"I fell in love."
Thomas leaned forward, his
forearms resting fully on the tabletop. He paused before continuing, watching her closely.
"I'll understand if you tell
me to mind my own business, Rose, but
Rose closed her eyes. She so much
wanted to tell Thomas, to tell someone, to share the burden
. but she knew that, for
her, Jack was a book that had to remain sealed forever.
"It ended," was all she
Rose was startled by the sound of
chairs being drawn back very nearby, and opened her eyes to find Gina and Anthony had
"Are you two still sitting
here like logs?" Gina kidded. "What have you been talking about?"
"Oh, Rose was telling me that
she'd like to have ten children and I was just asking what their names will be,"
They all laughed and sat back to
relax, sipping their drinks. An emcee walked to the front of the bandstand and signaled
.it's time for everyone to become
A cheer arose and, en masse,
couples streamed out onto the floor. Thomas stood, offering Rose his hand.
Rose lifted her glass and took two
long swigs of the beer. I'll have to face this sometime, she thought.
Standing, she let Thomas guide her
onto the floor, Anthony and Gina by their side.
"I don't know any of these
dances," she confessed to Thomas.
"Actually, neither do
I," he replied with a grin. "We'll just watch the others for a bit and follow
The music started and the emcee
called out the "Camel Amble". A fairly slow number ensued and the couples leaned
forward and walked side-by-side in exaggerated steps, pausing every few strides to lift
their heads and look slowly from right to left. Rose and Thomas watched briefly and then
dropped into step with the others, Rose laughing at how much like a real camel Thomas
looked when he scanned the horizon for trouble.
Rose's anxiety at dancing was
reduced by the novelty of the steps and the distance the dances dictated between partners.
There was no time to think about the past.
The "Bunny Hug" and the
"Lame Duck" followed, both danced to a much faster Ragtime beat. Rose found them
more challenging, requiring acrobatic steps to be performed on the alternating downbeats,
but she learned quickly. Finally, the "Kangaroo Dip" commenced. The partners
started together, forward hands clasped, and they stepped forward with the music. As the
music hit the downbeat, the dancers hopped a step and then dipped deeply forward, as
though foraging for food.
At first, Rose fought off waves of
embarrassment, feeling out of place. She felt ridiculous doing the hops but, then,
everyone around them looked equally silly, and as the effects of the beer and the heat
drained her tensions she began to enjoy the rhythm and motion of the dance.
It feels so free out here, Rose
thought. So unstructured. No rigid pinkie, no constantly thinking about what is
She and Thomas laughed as they
danced, and they nearly collided with Anthony and Gina during one particularly deep
hop-and-lean. The four retired to their table for a rest when the number ended, feeling
lightheaded from all the dips.
Gina wiped the perspiration from
her brow with her handkerchief.
"I need to use the ladies
room," she said. "Will you go with me, Anthony?"
grumbled, as he uncoiled from his chair to escort her across the floor. Thomas and Rose
sat sipping their drinks, surveying the room as they cooled off.
He glanced over at Rose, silent,
but his face still held questions about their earlier conversation.
"No more deep talk for
tonight, Thomas, I promise. Let's just dance," Rose said.
"It's all right if you need
to talk," he said, but his face seemed to brighten considerably at her words.
He smiled his crooked grin at her,
and when the orchestra resumed with more traditional dances they returned to the floor for
"Finally, all my years in
finishing school will pay off," Thomas said as they took positions.
replied with an audible sigh, and then she laughed and Thomas followed suit.
Rose felt the gentle pressure of
Thomas' fingers against the small of her back, the strength of his hand clasping hers, the
nearness of his body, the warmth of his smile, and she was a little confused, unsteady,
unsure if what she was feeling was right, of what was allowed, of what she wanted, but she
decided she didn't want to care or worry or think, and she closed her eyes and surrounded
herself with the soft music and Thomas' touch and just let herself be carried away.