Author's Note: The idea for this story came out of an interview I saw with Mary where she was asked what Laura might have done in her later years. She said Laura would probably have gone into teaching dance, possibly w/ disabled children. That sparked something in my brain, and it literally wouldn't go away. This resulted. I know I'm not finished, and I do have ideas for Chapter 2! :)
Laura checked her watch. "Well, that's about enough for this week," she said. "We'll work more on this next time." Immediately, the young girls in her dance class took off running. Most went to find their parents, but a couple came up to hug Laura before leaving.
"Thank you, Mrs. Petrie. Class was really fun!"
Laura loved the feel of a small pair of arms around her waist. It almost made her remember when Richie was small. But now he was a grown man, a well-known TV director. When he'd begun to reach his teen years, Laura knew her role as a mother was changing. She understood that he had to go and live his life. But it left her feeling very empty.
By this time, Rob had retired. He'd decided that the stress of working on a weekly TV show just wasn't worth it. His life now revolved around fishing trips with Jerry Helper, bridge games, and playing the occasional round of golf. But Laura knew she needed something more. She thought back over her life, and besides Rob and their son, the one thing she'd loved was dance. Knowing that, she visited a few dance schools, and soon found herself hired. Now she was the one commuting to the city every week. It was tough, but it made her happy in ways that being a wife and mother never could have.
Laura's mind was brought back to the present when she noticed a woman standing in the doorway. "Can I help you?"
The woman smiled nervously. This was a long shot, she knew. Coming here was probably a waste of time, but it was too late to back out now. "Are you in charge of this dance school?"
"No," Laura said, walking over to her. "I'm just one of the instructors. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about our programs."
"I do have a question, but I'm not sure what you're going to say. If you don't want to do it, just say so. I completely understand."
"I can't tell you if I'll do it until I know what it is," Laura said with a laugh.
"Well, my daughter's been dying to take ballet lessons. Lately, it's all she talks about. I promised her I'd see what I could do, but…."
"Has she had lessons before? If not, we do have a beginner's class. That was the class that just ended. I love working with the little kids. It takes me back to when my son was little."
"That's very kind of you, but there's something you should know about my daughter. She's a bit….slow. Not mentally, mind you, but she does have some difficulty with walking, running, that sort of thing. I don't know how she'll do in dance, but as I said, she's talking about it non-stop."
Laura smiled. This would be a challenge, but she didn't mind. "Why don't you bring her in here one day, and I'll see how she does? We can decide from there what's best."
"Really? You'd do that? I figured you'd say no. She might need a lot of extra help. Like I said, I'll understand if you can't do it."
"It's no trouble," Laura said. "She might surprise you. Maybe she's better than you think."
Laura thought about the conversation as she made the drive back to New Rochelle. It was something she'd never thought of doing before, yet she knew without a doubt she wanted to try it. She'd known that teaching dance would not only help her, but others too. Still, there was no way she could've foreseen this.
When Laura arrived at home, Rob was there to greet her with a kiss. It reminded her strongly of the years when she'd greeted him after he returned from his job at Alan Brady. Times certainly had changed.
"How was class today?" Rob asked. He enjoyed being the one to ask the question. At first, he wasn't sure about the idea of Laura taking a job. But he found it made her happy, and so it made him happy. Simply put, he liked seeing her smile.
"Good. The kids are so adorable, Rob."
"I bet they all love you, don't they?" Rob couldn't imagine anyone not loving Laura.
"Well, a couple of the girls did hug me as they left." Laura shrugged in embarrassment.
Rob merely waited. He had the feeling there was something on Laura's mind.
"After my class ended, I talked to a woman who wants to sign her daughter up for lessons."
"That's great," Rob said. She was getting quite a bit of business through word-of-mouth.
"Well, I'm not so sure," Laura admitted. "The mother said she has some physical problems. She's not even sure her daughter can do it. But I told her to bring the girl to the studio. I'll at least give her a chance."
Rob was touched. Of course Laura was willing to give a child with a disability a chance to try. "With you helping her, I'll bet she'll be a top ballerina one day."
Laura kissed him. He believed in her, totally and completely. Though she was still uncertain about this whole thing, his words made her feel a sense of optimism. Maybe this would work out. Suddenly, she could hardly wait to get back to the dance school.