One Summer In France – Episode 09

After the performance, it was nearly eleven o’clock before they were shown to a secluded table in the bistro and she was able to begin to voice her worries and fears about what the future might hold for her.

“I can’t believe I said that line about just wanting to be me on live TV,” she said, laughing at the absurdity of it.

Malik, when she looked at him, wasn’t laughing.

“It must be all this thinking about retiring getting to me.” She sighed. “The truth please, Malik. Do you think my inevitable retirement from dancing is getting closer?” she asked as he poured their champagne.

Carefully he put the bottle in the ice bucket, handed her a glass, picked up his own and took a sip before answering her.

“You still dance beautifully and you’re rated as one of the top ballerinas in the world, but I think the injuries are mounting up, which is a problem for you.”

Suzette sighed and waited. He was confirming what she already knew.

“After Monaco the only date you have is the short season here in town with me for ‘Swan Lake’ at the Paris Opera, no?”

Suzette nodded.

“I’ve not even been asked to do ‘The Nutcracker’ this Christmas.”

Malik reached across the table and took her hand in his.

“I think after Paris, ma chérie, you would be advised to think about taking a new direction. Perhaps teach? Choreography? Maybe I take you on as my assistant. That way you have a new career and I need not worry about the competition.”

Suzette shook her head at him before taking a sip of her champagne.

“So it seems that ‘Swan Lake’ will be my personal swan song.”

“Non! You will have a new beginning,” Malik said. “Look at me. I thought it was the end of my world when I had to retire but I love my new career. You will, too.”

“Doing what, Malik? I don’t think I want to go down the choreography route. And I’m not at all sure I’ve the patience for teaching. I still remember how horrible my friends and I were to our teachers.” She drained her champagne glass before continuing. “As for dealing with all the parents who are convinced their little darling is going to be the star of the decade . . .” She shook her head.

Suzette watched as the waiter placed their meals in front of them.

“That’s another thing. One day I want to be able to eat without worrying about carbs and grams of fat.”

“If it will make you feel better, have a frite,” Malik said, piercing one on to his fork.

“Thank you.” Suzette chewed the frite slowly, making it last. “Life would be a lot simpler if only I had a family and a husband waiting in the wings to whisk me away to live a normal life.”

“Who wants a normal life anyway? Something will turn up, you’ll see. ‘Swan Lake’ is months away yet. You’ve got plenty of time to think and make decisions.”

Bleakly Suzette smiled at him. The trouble was, she realised with a pang, she was beginning to desperately want a husband and a normal family life.

“Have you truly never wanted to marry? Have a family?” she asked.

Malik shook his head.

“I’ve told you before – my home life wasn’t great. I didn’t see the need to recreate a stressful situation that I was happier without. But then I don’t have a biological clock ticking away.”

“No, you don’t,” Suzette said. “And you have at least been true to yourself. Whereas I . . .” she paused “. . . have danced my life away, never really listening to the ticking of that clock. Perhaps retiring at the end of the year will be a good thing.”

She’d certainly have all the time in the world to just be herself – whether she liked it or not.


Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.