One Summer In France – Episode 14

Malik arrived back early evening and insisted she ordered some food from room service – and the obligatory bottle of champagne.

“I’m hardly celebrating,” Suzette snapped at him.

“This is medicinal champagne, to make you feel better,” Malik answered, handing her a glass.

As she picked at the smoked salmon and salad she’d ordered, Malik said, “I can’t stay long. Suzette.” He hesitated before continuing. “I’m sorry about this, but I’ve given the role to Donna. She’s rehearsing right now with Zac. I have to get back down there.”

“Every understudy’s dream,” Suzette said. “The show must go on.” She pushed her meal away. “I can be back before the show ends. My ankle will be fine in a couple of days.”

Malik shook his head.

“I can’t take the risk.”

“No, I suppose not. Wish her luck from me,” Suzette said.

“You’ve got everything you need?” Malik asked, clearly relieved she’d taken the news so well.

Suzette nodded. Of course she had everything she needed – except a functioning ankle.

As Malik closed the door behind him, Suzette collapsed on to the bed and switched on the TV and began to flick through the channels. She sat up, suddenly interested, when she recognised the talk show she had been on.

The camera moved around the various guests and Suzette saw herself on screen, watched herself uttering the words, “Sometimes I wish I could just be me.”

Thoughtfully Suzette muted the TV sound. Had this latest accident just granted her unacknowledged wish? She looked down at her legs. Her knee was showing signs of a big colourful bruise, while her ankle was two or three times its normal size.

Suzette sighed. She’d been here so many times in the last few years she could tell that these latest injuries were going to take at least two or three weeks to heal properly. But with the understudy now dancing in her place she didn’t have to rush getting fit. This Monaco show had been her only engagement of the year until Malik’s Paris show in the autumn.

Malik. Would he still want her to dance in view of this recent catastrophe? Would he take the risk with her again? He’d already agreed with her that “Swan Lake” in Paris would probably be her own swan song from the world of ballet. She couldn’t bear it if he cancelled her contract, saying she wasn’t fit enough to dance, thus denying her a final performance and all the accolades usually given to a retiring dancer.

Suzette straightened her shoulders. There was a whole summer before then, which was more than enough time to recuperate from these injuries and get completely fit again.

Carefully she stood up and reached for the walking stick that someone in the theatre had handed her as she left. Leaning heavily on it, she made her way across the room, picked up the phone and asked for room service.

“I will need some help tomorrow morning, please,” she said. “About ten o’clock. Thank you.”

Replacing the receiver, Suzette began to make plans for the following day. Malik would be busy giving Donna extra coaching, and then there was the dress rehearsal in the afternoon, so she doubted she’d see him before dinner tomorrow evening. A fact which suited her well in view of the decision she’d just come to.

She sat down at the small desk, found a pen and took a piece of the hotel stationery.

Dear Malik, I felt it best if I left. Hope the show is a huge success. See you in Paris. Love Suzette.

She’d ask reception to give it to him tomorrow evening when he returned. She knew if she stayed to tell him personally he would try to persuade her otherwise. It was best if she just left Monaco.



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.