In a crowded dressing room, surrounded by stiff tutus and roses and ribbons, Delilah DeMarco looked at herself in the mirror and imagined the ocean. Tying the pink satin ribbons on her pointe shoes, she imagined the rain. She imagined it soaking through her clothes and her hair and the way it looked on the water. Pinning up her long brown hair, she imagined the wind, the salt on the air as it rushed by. Out on a stage, dancing Swan Lake, she imagined doing pirouettes on the wooden deck of a steam ship. She imagined stretching in the early morning hours and performing for an adoring crew in the late night hours. She imagined applause and whistles and the nickname kleiner tänzer spoken in a fond German accent. She imagined spreading her arms and seeing her boy at the end of her fingertips, watching from the other end of the deck as she danced. She imagined when he kissed her, and when he traced his rough, calloused fingers over the sensitive skin of her stomach. She imagined an accordian, and white party lights strung up about a ship.
When the show was finished, Delilah changed back into her flowing rose colored dress and her brown boots, her hair still in its tight ballerina bun. She left through the stage door with her tutu and her bag over the same shoulder and walked down the still busy New York City sidewalks imagining the stars reflected on the black surface of the ocean.
With these thoughts in mind, she took a sudden detour down an alley way and headed towards the docks.
When she finally got there, she was faced with ships of every shape and size lined up and down the dock, but she immediately found the one she was looking for; she would never forget it. She imagined she was on it nearly every single day.
Delilah walked up the the SS Venture in her dress and her boots with her tutu over her shoulder and her hair in a bun and she yelled through the lamp-lit darkness to the only crew member she knew would still be awake at such a late hour.
Sure enough, a mop of light brown hair peeked out from over the top of the lookout, where Jimmy sometimes went to look up at the stars when he couldn't sleep.
"Delilah?" Jimmy called back down, disbelief laced through his voice.
"The one and only," Delilah replied with a smile. She waited until Jimmy had climbed down from the lookout before she made her way up the ramp and through the starboard gate that he had unlocked and opened for her.
"So," Jimmy started once Delilah was standing on the deck and the gate was closed and locked, once again blending in with the side of the ship. "What are you doing here?"
Delilah shrugged. "I don't know, really," she said. Jimmy didn't reply, but took this time instead to merely stop and look at Delilah.
He was still much taller than she was, and while she'd always been small, he noticed that she'd gotten skinnier; he could see the sharp bones of her shoulders and her elbows and her clavicle. There were angles on her body where there'd never been angles before. Gazing upon her stunning face, her dark hair, her skinny knees, Jimmy realized that he missed Delilah much more than he thought he did.
He missed the way she used to dance on the deck for the crew and the way she used to dance on the deck just for him. He missed when they had lookout duties together, and he missed the way she used to prance around his cabin in nothing but her skivies. He missed the methodical way she would tie the ribbons on her pointe shoes, the cat-like way she would stretch before dancing, and the way her long hair would play on the wind or on her shoulders or on his pillows when she slept. He missed waking up to find her dancing naked in his cabin at four in the morning. There was just something about a gorgeous girl doing fouette turns with no clothes on that made life that much easier to endure.
He missed her big grey eyes, and her tiny breasts, and her childlike curiosity for everything, and he realized that he just missed her, so her took her in his arms and kissed that beautiful mouth as he had done so many times before, and he forgot about everything he'd been thinking about and simply focused on what they were at that moment; together.