Alyson Mosquera Dutemple

“Curtain No. 1,” Anastasia Duchess

Open the Window, Let in the Cool Air

The aging chorus girl is supposed to take dance lessons, but instead she takes a lover. The aging chorus girl is supposed to move left-right-left, but instead she shimmies up to a fellow resident to make her intentions known. It’s Cha-Cha Night in the common room, and her fella’s dance steps are all over the place, but the aging chorus girl doesn’t mind taking the lead.

The aging chorus girl’s been lonely since moving into the residence. Her room, with its monolithic twin bed, is always too hot, even when the windows are open. When her new lover takes a seat on her monolith, there is too large an expanse of flowered comforter between them, and the aging chorus girl feels cheated. The lover doesn’t move closer, doesn’t nuzzle. The aging chorus girl doesn’t have a lot of experience with lovers, but she knows a thing or two, and she knows that lovers are supposed to nuzzle. Is it too hot for nuzzling in her room? Her lover wears a thin shirt, no tie, no jacket, but the aging chorus girl tries not to sweat it. The aging chorus girl is 89, impatient. She finds it hard to sit still. She shifts on the bed, crossing and uncrossing her legs till her kneecaps ache.

A long time ago, when the aging chorus girl was just a chorus girl, she fell in love with a cab driver who was always on the clock. Always moving around the city. Even on his nights off, he’d take the aging chorus girl driving, let her practice her vocal warm-ups on the way to some audition or another. Open the window! the aging chorus girl would enunciate to the lamp posts, Let in the cool air!

Lately, the aging chorus girl has begun to dream more frequently about those frenetic early days with her cab driver, the quick tumbles on the mattress, the stop and go of their arguments, and the rhythm of these dreams tick with her heart when she wakens.

On the bed, the aging chorus girl grabs her new lover’s hand. She tells him about the night she met her driver. How he had picked her up outside a dance hall. The place was said to be frequented by casting directors, and the aging chorus girl had been hoping to meet important people there. She was dressed to the nines. Layers upon layers of finery. It was all a little more fun when there were more things to remove, wasn’t it? The aging chorus girl wills her new lover to understand. A glove slowly peeled, or a stocking rolled at the knee. The driver had ended up in the backseat with the aging chorus girl that night, but all she can remember of her first tryst is trying very hard not to muss her hair.

Because she had gone and eloped with her driver the very next day, he didn’t last as a lover for very long, and neither, for that matter, did her career in show biz. Whoever heard of a married hoofer! But all these years later, the aging chorus girl has no regrets. What she does have: the memory of the brim of her husband’s hat, felty-soft in her fingertips, the knowledge that nothing lasts forever.

Her new lover has yet to make a move, and so the aging chorus girl waits for the clock over her bed to chime. Down the hall the dance lessons are breaking up. Soon, the home’s aides will come around looking for the man on her comforter with eyes fluttered shut, napping. The aging chorus girl wonders if the warmth of the room is to blame. She listens for footsteps coming down the hall. She counts them off in her head, a dance beat. When they come to rouse the man, maybe she will ask for them to open her window wider, though she knows that they will stop after only an inch. One of these days, the aging chorus girl knows she will have to take matters into her own hands. In the night, she will glide graceful to the glass and push with all her might. She will hurry the breeze in. She will let it lift her hair by its roots.

Alyson Mosquera Dutemple’s work has appeared in Colorado Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Passages North, DIAGRAM, The Journal, and Wigleaf, among others, and her short story manuscript was recently named a runner-up for the 2022 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She works as an editor and creative writing instructor in New Jersey. Find her on socials @swellspoken and at

On Pleasure: “I was interested in exploring connections between time, memory, and pleasure in this story. Are the simple pleasures the ones we remember the longest? Or the profound pleasures? How does time distort or bring into sharper focus pleasures long gone? The aging chorus girl — the “hoofer” in this story, a word that brings me great pleasure to write — was a delight to discover, so I’m glad she found a home in this themed issue.”