This week sees the combination of two writing exercises, my own Fortune Cookie Friday and Laura Feasey’s Literary Lion. Her prompt this week is dance, mine you’ll see below. The culmination of the two follows thereafter. Enjoy.
A great pleasure in life is doing what others say you can’t.
In my head is an image, a pink figure lit from above, encircled in blinding white, surrounded by invisible dark, pirouetting, perfectly spinning, forever.
The image stays with me. It’s always at the back of my mind. Even as I sit here, waiting, waiting for nothing, the image of the beautiful girl hovers in the back of my mind. I feel, sometimes, when I have trouble remembering names, or when I stutter, when the familiar pieces of life suddenly feel strange, or alien, that that beautiful image has taken up a permanent space in my head, and in so doing has pushed out the little pieces of what makes normal life possible.
It’s all right, I never wanted to be normal. Banal. Dull. I wanted to be extraordinary.
The ballerina, she was extraordinary. Lithe, small, fluid, poised. Beautiful. Not sexy, nothing lurid or disgusting like that. Men, the men who sit on street corners and holler after a set of large tits or a bulging ass, would have no use for a body like that. Real men, men as beautiful, as sensitive, as discerning, who’d never cat call or reach an unwanted hand toward an unguarded hip, those men would smile and spread their arms and let her come to them.
But I never would. Only once.
Men make you slow, stupid. Ultimately they make you fat and house-ridden. I never wanted that, this.
A ballerina at fifteen, no mere danzatrice, while my classmates were taking long rides and coming back drunk on lies they called love. While they got fat, while their breasts grew monstrous and then their bellies and I, I stayed perfect and small.
Chased and chaste. They taunted it.
Not so. I had my thoughts, but more powerfully, I had my fears. I had my love, my dance. What did I need with groping, sweaty, biting nails? What could I get that I couldn’t get better from myself?
In my head, she spins, I spin, never having given in to curiosity. Never sneaking out, never ruining herself. In my head, she is ageless and graceful and loved by her audience, loved by herself, smiled for, longed for, but never sullied.
In my head she’s there still, always there, even while I sit, waiting for time to reverse, for it to give me another chance, waiting for something I know to be impossible, waiting for nothing.
I think the idea for this came primarily from the spirit of the fortune, that of an inviolate rule set being violated. Rather than having it be someone else’s, I had the primary character create her own rigid, fearful, and inflexible conditions. She can’t bear to grow up, can’t bear to age, or to face normal human sexuality. To her, maturity is the visible process of mortality, of sullying the perfection of youth with the frailty of age. The stupidity of which is that she has created an impossible set of standards for herself. She can’t remain ageless. She can’t avoid attraction or sexuality.
Had I had my normal five-hundred words I think it would have gotten even darker. My original thought for her not being able to dance any longer was that she’d been crippled in a car accident and literally couldn’t dance any longer. Under that circumstance, she wouldn’t so much be prideful as cognitively dissonant, the inability to do what she had built her whole life around causing an internal split.
I suppose aging her and making her miserable is bleak enough. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the piece.
I’m somewhat amazed that this came out all in one go. The only editing I did was to work on the final sentence, something with which I’m still not entirely happy. It doesn’t bear quite the finality I wanted.
Ah, well, final sentences are hard.
Have a good weekend, all.