Stripper's Legacy

in The Ink Well2 years ago

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Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni from Pexels

Fury rippled through her trembling body. Unshed tears filled the tiny cups of her lower lids and threatened to leak over lush lashes. Lifting her eyes to the ceiling, she willed the tears to retreat rather than trickle down her porcelain cheeks. Ebony hair and flawless makeup had been styled to perfection and she refused to stand before that audience, less than regal.

How dare her mother leave this letter for her on a day like this! What exactly did she expect? Protect her sterling reputation, after divulging every salacious detail of the past?

Why? So she could live in shame from this moment on?

Cara crumpled her mother's final letter, and stepped away from the dressing mirror in the green room, backstage. Theatre bulbs surrounding the three mirrors had illuminated all angles of her reflection. She had her mother's deep set eyes and her full mouth, but they were tugged into an angry scowl that better resembled her father's ever-judging scrutiny.

She turned back to the mirror, and allowed her eyes to scan down over her statuesque figure clad in the emerald green evening dress. More gifts from her mother - both the dress and the figure. She imagined her mother beside her, in skimpy lingerie. She clenched her jaw as a new wave of anger assaulted her. What went through her mother's mind while she was "backstage" years ago, preparing to strip for men of all ages with tongues wagging in lustful anticpation?

How could she degrade herself like that, and then later become a woman of society flitting among the very type of men who had seen her naked? Had she not given an ounce of forethought to her future?

Cara roughly smoothed the pages and flipped to the second sheet where her mother proceeded to spew more wretched behavior onto the satiny-smooth ivory paper. The monogrammed stationery was burnished in gold. Cara had always loved her mother's elegant style, but this evening it appeared cheap and tawdry.

The daughter scanned the graceful handwriting, both resistant and ravenous regarding the new knowledge. Unlike other strippers, her mother had never touched alcohol or drugs in order to cope with the groping, fondling and objectification of the men. Instead, she kept a clear head, saving everything she earned. She trained herself, educated herself, and rose above her station. As time passed, she no longer felt lowly and shamed, but held her head high. She had a reason for her actions, but what was their excuse? They had wealth. They had wives and children at home. They were given opportunity. Instead of building a legacy, they were squandering their fortunes on bare breasts and sculpted thighs.

As for her own peace of mind, she wasn't selling sex. She saw herself as an esteemed art curator. Her body was on display for the highest price, and she would happily exchange a few glimpses for the means to elevate her place in this world.

When the time was right, she quit, moved, invested, watched, timed, strategized, loaned, refined, scrutinized, planned, married, birthed, protected, trained, educated and loved.

Cara growled in frustration- she had read enough of this revisionist history!

Tossing her mother's eloquent acceptance speech into the garbage on the way to the stage, she held the damning letter in her hand instead.

The master of ceremony cleared his throat, preparing to introduce Cara to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on her mother's behalf. Cara shoved open the double doors, blazing a path towards the theatre full of her mother's admirers.

"Cara, you are just the vision of loveliness tonight, exactly like your mother!"

Ignoring the compliment, Cara raged forward.

"Your mother was the smartest of us all, Miss!" The judge's laughter was loud and obnoxious. His red face bobbed in a pool of neck rolls, thick as sausages. He lifted his heavy arm and slapped her on the back, like one of the boys. "I could tell you a time or two where she saved my ass- that's for sure!" He waddled past her, out of breath and hurrying as fast as his thick, tree-trunk legs could carry him.

Agitated, but not deterred, Cara marched forth.

"She changed my life, Cara!" The emotional woman clung to Cara's hand, stopping her for a moment. "She was my angel, and I never got to tell her." The woman embraced her angel's daughter briefly before darting to take her seat.

Shivering from the touch, Cara moved onward.

High-pitched giggles hurried up on her right, before passing her. Red curls bounced as the mousy-faced woman twisted towards her. "You know, I never realized this! But you really aren't an only child! Your mom had cared so well for our Mission, those children thought of her as their mother." She giggled again before rushing to the stairs. "So if you ever want to meet your siblings, come stop by!"

Shaken, but no longer fuming, Cara stepped ahead.

"We all knew sides of her, but who could know the fullness of this woman better than her beautiful daughter. Please, Cara, come take the podium and relay the fullness of your mother to us all!"

Applause filled the hall, top to bottom, side to side. It was thunderous, overwhelming and staggering.

Invited to the stage, and astonished, Cara inched along.

Evaluating the beaming faces before her, she saw genuine admiration, love and respect for her extraordinary mother. Shame filled her again- this time for how quickly her own embarrassment had allowed insignificant factors of her mother's story to color her vision.

She realized with regret that her beloved mom's acceptance speech was in the trash, too far to retrieve. She opened the personal letter and once again smoothed the paper. Tracing her fingers over the gold letters of her mother's initials, she felt her throat tighten with emotion.

Her gaze followed the perfectly shaped words to the bottom of the page.

"Everything I did was for you, my treasure. My shaded past was for your brilliant future. Always and forever, Mom."

She wanted to cry. She needed to cry, but her mother had trained her better than that. Poise, elegance and grace. "No matter what is happening on the inside, you project poise, elegance and grace, Cara."

Cara inhaled deeply, straightened to her full height, and lifted her head. Scanning the crowd again, she found her equilibrium and flashed a brilliant smile.

"If I live twice as long as my mother, I hope to be even half of the woman she was."

Continuing her impromptu speech, she held every ounce of attention captive in her capable grasp. She discovered balance in the truth of her inherited, new role and recognized the irony of the revelation.

Her mother had removed her clothes and stripped naked as a young girl. As a mature woman, she had removed her fears and stripped herself of barriers. Both had taken determination and strength. To honor her mother's sacrifice, she too would become stripped down, bare, and be on display for others. And one day, Cara hoped that she would leave a stripper's legacy for her daughter to inherit as well.

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Humans are complex creatures (actually, so are dogs, and cats and elephants....). Why do we make certain choices? As this story shows, the motivation may seem obvious to others, but usually it's not even obvious to ourselves. Your story deals with resolution.

How does a daughter reconcile her mother's choices with the daughter's expectations of a 'proper' life? Why does a daughter in the end make some of the same choices her mother made, choices that dismayed the daughter?

You deal with many issue in this story: hypocrisy, love, regret. However, at its heart the story addresses the challenge of living a life with awareness, of understanding our motivation while navigating the tricky waters that await all of us. The subject matter could have veered into the tasteless, or even offensive, but you didn't go there. Thank you for posting this story in the Ink Well community.

Thank you, I usually prefer to tiptoe towards issues and let the reader use their own imagination to delve deeper, if necessary. I find that often, giving just the hint of the subject matter is all that the brain needs to fill in the blanks. This allows the author to provide the structure of the home, but lets the reader choose which paintings to hang.

I didn't know how to end it at first, and then realized where I'd like to take it after reading it over several times. The daughter really was already stripped and laid bare before society. Not physically of course, but emotionally.

She was expected to live her life openly as the daughter of such a well-known, successful philanthropist. Her world waited for glimpses of her mother (and would later expect the same of her) because that is what is always demanded of those in the spotlight.

Strong parents will often thrust themselves into sacrificial situations for the well-being of their child(ren), and Cara realized standing before her mother's admirers, that she would continue in the same path.

Thankfully for her, her mother's diligence in planning for her financial future spared her the difficulty of the one type of "stripping", but she was willing to embrace the other type. Not just for the benefit of her future progeny, but for those in that room that would continue to need someone to fill the void left by her mother.

Your post has been voted as a part of Encouragement program. Keep up the good work!

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You continue to shower this encouragement on me, and I am honored. I gave you my 100% upvote, and happily noticed that this amount has changed from 0.001 to 0.002.

What a lovely surprise! It is still meager, but it is doubled.

Glass half full, half empty? Any clean glass with water in it will quench the thirst, I say. Have a gorgeous day!😅

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Thank you for sharing the story with @discovery-it 😅

This is a charming and well-told story, @stormcharmer. You developed the characters very well. The daughter has every right to feel the complexity of emotions she is battling as she heads for the podium. That last minute transformation, fueled by a better understanding of the reality around her and the lives her mother touched, is what we look for in successful fiction. Nicely done!

Thank you so much @jayna. I have my eye set on another of your prompts this afternoon. I do hope I can do justice to it! I'm very much enjoying this community of yours. I think it was what I missed the first time when I joined last year. This has made a huge difference in the small place I hold here. Thank you once again.


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Thank you for sharing my post and voting on it! 😅

This is a beautiful story @stormchaser. Especially as the narrator comes to see who her mother really is through the eyes of the different people she had touched.
And now, she plans to follow in her mothers footsteps and then leave a legacy for her own daughter.

Yes. She had always held a vision of what her mother was, but it was only part of the truth.
Sacrifice comes with pain and cost, but when its done for love - it is a wonder to behold.
Thankfully, she won't have to follow every bit of her mother's journey - that is not her path. But the baring (of her soul) and the uncovering (of her defenses) will be something that she uses to model before her own daughter.

I really did end up loving this story myself. I wasn't sure if I could do it justice, but the end made me happy.

Very true. And i have to admit i also go through that as well. I would have this great plot in my head, but putting it on paper would seem like an uphill task. Then once it's done you'll be like "whew!"
Until you realise you kinda wrote something of worth and you really like it.
You're not alone in this my friend, the fun is in writing it no matter how you feel you might not write it well.
Once again, good job @stormchaser.

I appreciate your visit @ubani1
Yes, the daughter will even shine brighter than the mother!