Shadow Dancing

Shadow Dancing

by Louise Meriwether

Paperback(1 ED)

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Acclaimed author of Daddy Was a Numbers Runner and the historical novel Fragments of the Ark, Louise Meriwether now gives us this resonant and revealing contemporary story about the struggle to love in the shadow of our fears. . .

A successful writer for BlackSpeak magazine, Glenda Jackson is gifted, dynamic, and respected in her field. She's determined to take control of her emotional life. While reviewing a new play at Harlem's innovative Aldridge Ensemble, she meets the enigmatic director, Mark Abbitt, the driving force behind a renaissance in black theater.

The charismatic director proves to be as complex as one of his dramas. Haunted by memories of Vietnam, blind to the manipulations of his ex-wife, Mark is determined to be a good father to his four-year-old son. If Glenda's not to be eclipsed by Mark's powerful presence, she must confront her own deep fear of intimacy to find out if love is enough to heal a damaged soul. Yet against all the odds, these two remarkable people step into each other's shadow . . .and begin to dance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345425959
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2000
Edition description: 1 ED
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.55(w) x 8.33(h) x 0.71(d)

Read an Excerpt

JUNE 1981

The walls were white. She could see them through the mist, slowly
dissolving to let her through. And that blaze of light was the sun beaming
through a curtainless window and glistening on the metallic table beneath
it. Glenda did not own a white metallic table nor the gismo she was hooked
up to that was dripping fluid into her arm. I'm in a hospital, she
realized, and felt a thudding pain in her chest. There was also a nasty
taste in her mouth as if she were having her period. Menstruation always
made her mouth taste slimy. She stared at her other arm not hooked up to
the IV. It was bandaged, lying limply on the blanket as though it did not
belong to her. Weakly she tried to wiggle her fingers but couldn't. And
her head felt pinched as if it also was swathed in bandages. Dear God,
what's happened to me? Where am I?

Jagged images raced through her mind, a kaleidoscope of the Earth moving,
but before she could piece the images together they disappeared, her mind
a blackboard wiped clean by an eraser. A brooding shadow seated at her
bedside moved, became concrete and spoke.

"Glenda, sweetheart, are you awake?"

Focusing hard to keep his figure from flying dizzily off into space, she
stared at his handsome, night-dark face. His shirt was open at the neck, a
familiar sign. He always wore sport shirts or a dashiki, never a tie.
Questioning reality, she whispered his name. "Mark?"

He did not disappear like the figures in her head but leaned over her, his
black presence filling her vision, a blessed sight.

"I'm so glad you're finally awake." He flinched involuntarily, as though
thesight of her pained him. She had been reduced to a defenseless lump
beneath the sheet, her curly head wrapped in bandages. Swollen bruises
purpled her brown face, making it darker. Her eyes were bloodshot.

"Where are we?" Glenda whispered. Her voice circling around the pain in
her chest did not sound familiar to her.

"Columbia Medical Center."

"In Manhattan? For a minute I thought I was back in L.A."

"No. You're here in the Big Apple, baby. With me."

Mark's voice was husky, tender, as he lightly brushed his lips against her

Ordinarily when he called her baby like that, such an innocent little word
that defined her as his own, it made Glenda melt. She didn't like to be
called "mamma" or "bitch," which some men thought was so endearing at the
height of passion. "Fuck me, bitch," she had once been ordered in the heat
of the moment, and she had done so, galvanized and sweating. That had been
fucking, not making love. But when Mark called her baby, with that tender
catch in his throat, it released something within her that she routinely
kept hidden, and she had to touch him, fleeting pilfered touches. On the
pretence of getting her deodorant, she would enter the bathroom mornings
while he was showering, but really it was to feast her eyes on the breadth
of his chest, the fullness of his butt, the taut beauty of his thighs. Or
when he bid her good-bye at night, which always bruised her because he
wouldn't stay over, she still had to touch him, to discreetly whisk an
imaginary speck of dust off his shoulder. He was so masculine and
self-contained that she had to conceal from him her consuming passion,
afraid that to reveal her feelings would be a weakness he could exploit.

"Mark," she wailed now, "I don't remember what happened. Why can't I—"

"Don't sweat it," he soothed, her panic obvious. "The doctor said you
might have a temporary loss of memory. You've suffered a nasty concussion."

And what else? Glenda wondered. Again she tried to move her legs and her
arm, the one not hooked up to the I.V., but couldn't make them budge. It
was terrible, this sense of total vulnerability, of having no control.
"Mark. Am I paralyzed?"

He shook his head. "No, put that out of your mind. You have several
contusions, and they've loaded you with painkillers. That's the rule of
thumb these days. If you're not a dope addict when you come in here,
you'll be one by the time they cut you loose."

Glenda wanted desperately to believe him. No bullshit, please. He was
still leaning over her, his broad shoulders blocking out the light, as she
searched his face to ferret out the truth. He was a burnished black, with
sienna tones, and his features were sculptured, especially the long, clean
lines of his mouth. She loved his mouth, particularly when a half smile
lurked in its corners. His eyes, too, had a humorous glint, as though he
were privy to a cosmic truth he would willingly share if you cared to
laugh with him at life's absurdities. Mark was not smiling now and did not
avoid Glenda's scrutiny; instead, he looked at her with total attention as
if nothing else in the world mattered at the moment.

"All right," Glenda murmured, believing him. "So tell me, what happened?"
She felt terribly exhausted but had to know.

Mark cleared his throat, and the rasping noise seemed to reverberate
inside her skull, disturbing the images that came out of hiding. A hazy
form evolved into a panting dog. Then a man's face took shape, Mark's
face, twisted with anger. Slowly the images faded, and from deep within
the well of herself Glenda heard Mark speak, his voice mournful and
muffled at her bedside.

"I blame myself. It was terrible . . ." he began.

And it was terrible, that sudden rush of blood to her head, which exploded
like a clap of thunder, cutting out all other sound. The room trembled,
and Glenda lay there shivering, her body in acute distress. Every bone in
her chest felt shattered. Every nerve ending screamed with pain. I hurt,
she whimpered silently, and wondered if she had ever told Mark those two
simple words: I hurt. The walls began to shimmer out of shape, Mark
disintegrating along with them. It was as though her mind, not ready to
relive the incident, had decided to shut down. Evasively, as she had done
so often before, she ran inside herself and slammed the door.

Glenda's eyes drifted shut, darkness claiming her once again.

The pert, blond nurse Mark summoned assured him that Glenda was not in
crisis. Before entering the room, she had checked her patient's vital
signs on the monitor at her station. She replaced the empty bottle of
glucose on the IV stand and adjusted the needle taped to Glenda's arm.
Then she looked at Mark pointedly, sizing him up, and waited with an air
of expectation.

"I'm going to stay here for another few minutes," he said, adding
politely, "that is, if it's all right with you."

The nurse headed toward the door. "Don't stay too late. Visiting hours are
almost over."

What People are Saying About This

Maya Angelou

Lusty and gutsy and sexy and true. Louise Meriwether has written a woman's book which will knock men's socks off. We will all enjoy Shadow Dancing.

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Shadow Dancing 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read everything that Louise Meriwether has written, and I am never disappointed. She cares about people, and she draws the reader in to care deeply, too. She knows how to weave a story that won't let you stop reading. The background of this novel is a modern love affair, and who can't identify with that? The insights and information about the history of Black theater is a big plus.