Throughout the summer I’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance and pining over the ability to dance like that. Well, the combination of that and my lack of any dance classes led me to write this short story-ish thing. I’m not sure what I think of it, but I figure I may as well finally publish it. Let me know what you think!
In the dim light of early morning, the tights that she rolled over her legs were like a second skin. Something she had shed much too long ago. Those tights clung gently to the muscles that had begun to relax from their lack of use. Accentuating the length of each leg and the muscles that still held on. Finally she was ready. The auditorium smelled the same as it had the last time she danced. Like dust and old fabric. Dance shoes and floor polish. And on this morning, a bit like cleaning supplies. Closing her eyes, she filled her lungs with that air, unfurling like the sails of a boat. Filling every fiber of her being, she began to move.
Slowly lifting her arms to the ceiling still shrouded in shadow, she stretched up. Up into her full height and onto her toes. Allowing herself to grow up through those feet, through her calves and back. Every vertebrae reaching upward. Exhaling, her arms fell to the right, stretching muscles that had long been ignored and left to their own devices. Now pulling herself over to the other side, back crackling along the way. A smile pulled at her lips, oh how she missed that feeling. That release. Straightening back to the center, she positioned one foot slightly behind her. Preparing to turn. Sinking into a plie’, the pirrouette came back flawlessly. As she pulled in her arms, spinning faster, she felt the joy come rushing back. Why had she given this up? This abandon and freedom had always been what grounded her. Remembering the recitals and the practices. The costumes and the movement of every dance. This was what had been missing all along.
Slowly stopping and feeling her body plant itself back into the floor, it was as if she had never stopped. Now she shifted her weight to her left leg, stretching her right one out behind her and lifting…lifting. The muscles in her lower back and legs protesting at this forgotten strain, she continued to lift. Relishing in the slight pain. This was what she loved. Making her body do things it protested to, but at the same time feeling so refreshingly free. Her muscles straining and working under a flawless facade. That was the trick, to never let it show how hard you’re working. Lowering her leg back to earth, she took a deep breath. Refilling her lungs and basking in the emotions that were flooding her. Stepping quickly to the side of the stage, before she lost her courage, she pressed the play button on an ancient CD player.
Music quietly filled the room. Echoing into the rafters and filling her with its sweet notes. With another deep breath, she began to dance. It was like nothing else she had ever done. This dance was all her own. Her own struggles and joys. Tears and laughter. All of it expressed in the movement of her body. Her own experiences propelling her ever higher. This was what she loved. What she needed. Dance lifted her soul, expressed all the hurt that had led up to this point. It was all behind her now. The past no longer mattered, it no longer overshadowed her. Here in this moment, in this place where so much had begun, nothing else mattered.
As the music continued to build, she threw herself into the air and onto the floor with increasing abandon. Scenes of the past two years flashing in front of her. The red pick-up pulling out of her driveway. And the pain in her bare feet as she ran after it. The sea of black at a funeral everyone had sworn they had learned to expect. Tears soaking her face that had supposedly been cried months ago. Packing up the boxes with her memories. Clearing out the old house and moving on. But never unpacking that last box. Full of pictures and worn out dance shoes. Thinking of her dance shoes, she realized she hadn’t bothered to put any on. Laughing out loud, she continued to dance. Somehow the knowledge that she had not bothered to put on the worn dance shoes lifted her spirits even more. She had broken out of even this most familiar routine. She didn’t need the protection those shoes offered. She had built up her own callouses now, she could protect herself. Every single hurt she had felt, every loss, was being resurfaced and wiped clean. She was creating herself anew, but maybe adding in a bit of the old. The her before the tail lights of the truck driving away down her street for the last time. The her before the back-stabbing. Before the sea of black filing into the church and before the white headstone. Prior to all of that she had been happy, content, peaceful. And now she was finally, finally finding that again. It had been hiding in every leap, every time she soared through the air. It was all going to be ok.
The music slowing and winding to its end in the background, she fell to the ground. Breathing hard and her head still spinning, she smiled. Smiled like she hadn’t in ages. She had found hope of a better something. Perhaps not a perfect life without pain or struggle, but at least a feeling that everything would be alright.