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The Scrapbook

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Monte Carlo! The very words were enough to make Victoria Page’s heart sing. And now she was here. She watched as the rest of the company enjoyed the beach, sunbathing, swimming, playing games. Everything was so bright and colourful after the drabness of London. Some of the company called out to her, telling her to join them, but she shook her head, wanting instead to savour the atmosphere, making memories for herself. She felt as if she had a mental scrapbook and had turned the page from greys and browns of drizzle and damp pavements, to begin a new one with sparkling blues of sea and sky, dotted with vibrant colours from the swimming costumes.

As she stepped inside the Monte Carlo Opera House, she felt a frisson of excitement. The gilt on the walls and the deep red velvet were almost overpowering, and she added them to her scrapbook. Then she stood on the stage and felt the power Lermontov had promised her. She would dance the lead role in the Red Shoes and the public would be astounded. In the rehearsals she felt the music Julian had written coursing through her body and she couldn’t wait for the opening night.

Night after night she danced, and the audiences went wild. Victoria turned another page of her scrapbook and mentally glued a red ballet shoe on each side. Around the shoes she stuck some smaller pictures of the company, several small pictures of Julian, with whom she had fallen in love, and a rather larger one of Lermontov, who had given everything to her.

The season came to a close, and they all went to Villefrance-Sur-Mer for the end of season party. This was to be another beautiful page in her scrapbook. It began well, everyone was happy, dancing and pairing up for the night. She and Julian, similarly attired in light coloured striped tops and pale trousers, stood out as contrast to the others and their mixtures of colours. They danced, they were in love, and everything was perfect.

Until Lermontov didn’t like Julian’s latest score and demanded he rewrite it. Julian refused and Lermontov issued his ultimatum. Julian said he was leaving, and Victoria went with him. The smoke from the train they took covered the scrapbook page.

There would be no further pages for some months, the East End and their cheap digs offering nothing beautiful. And when Victoria returned to Monte Carlo, she found that the joy she had originally experienced had been overcome by the pull of the red shoes, and that what she had thought to control was now controlling her. And the mildew from their cheap flat had seeped into the brilliant pages of her mental scrapbook.