Paris sat at her vanity table in her dressing room staring into the light-up mirror. Sitting in front her were tubes of lipstick, cover-up, nail polish, and all kinds of moisturizing creams. Mr. Boswick had hired new fresh-looking young girls to star in a sexier show with erotic dancing, which meant, Paris had to retire. Yeah, it wasn’t fair, but after spending 35 years on stage in high heels, wearing barely-there-outfits and 40 to 50 pound headdresses, you begin to long for the day when you can go home, sit in a comfortable chair, prop up your tired and aching legs and feet and relax for longer than a just a few hours. Home? This was Paris’ home. Since the age of twenty, the stage and flamboyancy was all she really knew. Her daughter, Franka, was living in New York City, and it was about time Paris got a chance to go out east and visit her. Franka also was a slave to the stage, but not Vegas show style. Franka’s life revolved around dancing, singing, acting and On and Off-Broadway.

Out in the hallway, the younger girls ran past Paris’ closed door laughing. She thought she heard her name being mentioned. Tonight was the last show Paris performed. She felt, in her heart, that it was the best show she had ever performed during her many years as a Vegas Showgirl.

A quiet knock on the dressing room door woke Paris’ up from her day dreaming. She stood up, barefooted and walked over to the door.

“Yes?” She answered.

“Paris? It’s me, Thom, is it okay if I come in?” the voice said on the other side of the door.

Paris unlocked her door and opened it slowly. Standing in front of her was the only man she had ever fallen in love with. In his arms, he held a bouquet of two dozen long stem red roses. Paris smiled and stepped away from the entrance of the door so Thom could come inside. Once he was in, she closed the door and locked it. Through the years, Thom had changed from being a handsome young man to a balding overweight drunk.

“These are for you,” he said as he handed the bouquet to her.

“Thanks, Thom. They’re absolutely stunning!” She leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. She could smell liquor on his breath. She sighed quietly and went back to her vanity to begin the long process of make-up removal.

Thom sat down across the room on a small settee and watched Paris apply cold cream to her face. He was at a loss for words.

“So, how’d you like the show?” Paris asked him.

“Oh, it was wonderful! You were spectacular, as always! I swear you get more and more beautiful with age and I get uglier and uglier. But let’s not talk about me...when are you leaving for New York?”

“A week from today. I wanted to spend a few days relaxing before heading east to see Franka. She’s got the lead in this new musical. I’m feeling a bit nervous for her, but she tells me not to worry.” She chuckled. “That’s my Franka for you.”

Thom smiled. He always wondered if Franka was his child, but he never bothered taking the responsibility as a father. Instead, he turned into a lousy drunk. As far as he knew, Paris never revealed who Franka’s father was.

Paris stood up went over to her closet full of glitter, silk, satin, and feathered outfits that she had worn throughout the years. This was going to be harder than she thought. She always thought when it was time to give up the whole showgirl thing, it would be easy. But now, looking at her costumes, wigs, headdresses and heels her eyes started tearing. Maybe it wasn’t the retiring part. Maybe it was because she would have to face up to the fact that she was 55 years old. With all her heavy stage make-up on, no one could tell that she was that old. Because of wigs, no one knew her brunette hair was mostly streaked with gray. She was scared. Scared because the only life she knew was being taken away from her. It was almost like being in prison for years and then thrown out onto the streets and told...there, go make it out there on your own now.

Suddenly, she felt Thom’s arms around her. That’s when the tears and hysterical crying began. She turned to face him and held onto him afraid of letting go. Letting go of the glamor and fame. Letting go of her love for Thom. Letting go...letting go...of the fantasy and discovering the reality.

“It’ll be okay, Paris. I’m here for you.”

She held onto him tighter. “Please, don’t leave me, Thom. I need you now more than ever.”

“I promise...I’ll never leave you again.”