The salsa dancer
It was ten o’clock at night, time for the closing performance to begin at the Café Cantante where Catalina and partner were the stars of the night. The Café Cantante was a place where salsa lover’s gathered to see great performances by local and international artists, while enjoying a gourmet meal. After ten years of retirement, in which she pursue a carrier as a theater actress, she made her first appearance. Sadly for Catalina, her acting dreams turn into nightmares, and with a broken heart she threw herself back in the arms of her first love, la salsa.
Catalina looked at herself in the mirror for the last time and smiled proudly. She was stunningly beautiful in her red dress. Time had not been bad to her firm body for it still showed the curves of a Latina dancer. Her face, on other hand, displayed a more mature version of herself. To remediate that, she asked for red lighting so her face could look flawless and young.
A knock on the door startled her, it was Alfonso her dancing partner who came to check on her.
“Ready,” he asked looking at her straight in the eyes.
She nodded smiling. Alfonso step closer and gave her a soft hug. “Is good to have you back,” then he tried to kiss her lips, but Catalina turned away.
“Let’s not go there,” Catalina said in a soft, but serious tone of voice.
“I’ll wait for you outside,” he answered disappointed.
As Alfonso walked out of the room, sadness took over Catalina; tears came to her eyes. Before she went into retirement, Catalina and Alfonso had a romantic relationship. She decided to cut it off knowing that they were not meant for each other. The truth was she wanted more in her life than just the passion for a dance. With Alfonso at her love companion, she was going to have just that: a life revolving around salsa.
Her sadness was not based on a broken relationship, but that her husband was not there to see her perform. Three years before that night, she met him at an opening night party for a play in which she was acting. Catalina fell in love with a ‘gringo’, that’s what her mother called him, who was full of life, but had no swing. Strangely, she never told him she was a professional dancer. Maybe, because he always reminded her she was a disappointing actress and wanted to prove him wrong. At the end of the tiresome journey, he was right. So, Edward was not there that night because she wanted to prove to herself she still got it.
Catalina entered the stage holding the hand of her long time partner and everyone applause. They position themselves in the center of the wooden stage smiling slightly at each other, and looking confident and secure. Ready to start the show, the announcer presented her, “Ladies and gentlemen! The Café Cantante is pleased to present two of the greatest salsa dancers, Alfonso Hernández y Catalina Aragon!”
Seductive and proud, she walked towards the front of the stage one arm in the air, the other join to Alfonso’s. They made a vow and the audience applauded cheerfully at them. Catalina went back to the arms of Alfonso and waited with patience for the music to start. Their eyes connected as those of two lovers in a prelude to a kiss; bodies firm and elegant. Then a trumpet sounded and the song began.
Every inch of their anatomy moved at the rhythm of ‘la salsa gorda’, as the Puerto Rican call the old fashion salsa. Alfonso and Catalina danced like two teenage lovebirds seducing one another. Catalina felt the music rushing threw her veins as she loosened more in every toss and turn. Her hand caressed the outline of her body; her shoulders gave a small, but rapid shake. A smile followed as she felt her old self once again. In one of those turns Catalina’s gaze met the deep black eyes of a man who watch her astonished. A second pass slowly as she looked at him perplexed. Closing her eyes, she went back to the dance forcing a smile in her face. Alfonso noticed her change and murmured, “Concentrate.”
She took a deep breath and did as her partner told her. Catalina block the man that still looked at her with a hunting stare. Nevertheless, the dance had to go on and she was not about to let that night be the end of her career. Her heart pumped harder as she surrendered to the music; Catalina moved like a Caribbean goddess.
The man could not take his eyes away from her; following every danced move. Mesmerized, nothing else mattered for him at that moment. Not the people that surrounded him and their joyful screams, nor the woman at his side holding his hand. Only Catalina deserved his attention.
Catalina kept dancing passionately looking, now and then, at the man. She knew he was looking at her the whole time, for she could feel his gaze in her skin like a sweet caress.
When the song was over the audience in the café stood up and applauded cheerfully. Alfonso and Catalina saluted them with a vow; Alfonso turned to Catalina and kissed her chick. Perplexed, she blushed, smile and exit the stage. The man quickly stood up and went after her backstage, ignoring his companion that looked at him confused and worried. She called to him, “Edward! Where are you going?” not answering, he kept walking.
He opened the door and saw Catalina walking fast, Alfonso in front of her. He speeded up making his way through the narrow corridor. When he finally reached her, he grab her by the arm and pulled her towards him so she could see his face. Catalina, exhausted, looked at him surprised. She pulled back, getting loose from his grip and stared at him in a daring way. For a few seconds none of them said a word, only stared at each other. Edward got closer to Catalina -being a few inches taller than her- she had to elevate her face.
“I didn’t know my wife was a salsa dancer and one of the greatest.” He said ironically. “For almost three years you have lied to me. You were supposed to be in a trip with your mother!”
Catalina looked down and laughed softly as she remembered the wish she made before the performance. She loved him deeply, but was tire of his despotic attitude towards her and the things she was passionate about. What she saw that night was enough for her; it was the begging of new things and the end of others. With a new found strength, she looked at him straight in the eyes and said, “Ironic isn’t it? You swore you were never going to see her again, and here you are by her side.”
Before Edward had a chance to answer, a woman came from the corridor and took his hand. She smiled unaware of what was happening between them.
“My love!” she exclaimed getting closer to him. “It seems the performance made quite an impact on you.”
Alfonso, who witnessed everything, took Catalina’s hand. She went with him, and before entering her dressing room she turned and said smiling dignified, “Good bye my darling husband!” Catalina blew him a kiss, and left her gringo husband and companion in the middle of the corridor in awe.