Sharing a previously unpublished short from my vault. Enjoy.
The Ballerina by Damian A. Scott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Written by Ashly Damon
The ribbons grooved between the spaces of each toe, tugging and twisting as the big red ribbon did in the Ballerina’s hand. The act she had been performing had long since been about art and more about sating a base urge…the hunger of the audience.
Upon that cold stage were the remains of a once populous world, made to please and to suffer with a kick or two.
The Ballerina took no comfort in doing this thing alone, her pained art. Without a partner she had no grace to bounce off, no eyes to cast her from this reality and no warmth to protect her as she once knew.
Her face ached terribly, her lips had been pinched together for so long that they hurt to release the expression and her eyes were now abundant in crow’s feet and crusty makeup.
Her only comfort was the crimson silk she was wrapped in, it felt like a second layer to her skin now. More ribbons bounced behind her neck as she swept about in a mechanical motion. This pleased the audience, watching her struggle in her frailty yet refusing to break and tumble and admit defeat.
The air had grown cold long ago and it was now the ribbons that kept her warm.
She took her bow and the fated red curtain lowered in front of her.
Behind the velvet guillotine lay a darker scene. Tally marks were etched on every surface almost like paint due to its vast quantity. One tally marked one completed routine. The Ballerina’s makeup station was ruined in tally marks, as were the surrounding solid brick walls.
Weary as ever, the Ballerina lipsticked a tally with her nub of a lipstick pen.
She examined her features in the gaps between the marks, what was once considered a great beauty was now broken and neglected. No tears, no anguish, no anger. It was simply what her life had become. In a way she thought herself to be grateful to be alive.
Insatiable, the audience growled and screeched for more.
Heavy thoughts clung to her mind.
How many more could she do?
Why was she alive?
This was not a worthy life, the Ballerina thought to herself.
The weariness set in over her as she looked at her hands, tightening the ribbons around them.
She could put it off no longer, this thing, lest she be punished.
The curtain rose behind her forcefully.
In the reflection of her tally-marked mirror she caught a glimpse of them, the mass of dripping teeth and tongues – her audience.
With weary eyes and an honest frown she approached her patrons.
No more, she would not let herself be consumed any longer!
It was then that it called out to her. A rhythm in her heart she had long thought dead.
The instruments started playing without her, wonderful music flowing into her ears.
This performance was for her alone.
Warm blood rushed through her with each excited tap against the centre of the stage. Soon came the clapping of her hands, wriggling and shaking in a joyous rhythm. She remembered this song from childhood, dancing carelessly with her parents.
An old friend returned to her, her lovely wide smile.
The big red ribbon in her hand was now a thing of happiness as it twirled and danced with her, her silk wraps coming loose and breaking her chains. She was free!
Of course the audience did not care for such a happy thing, they growled and spat as per usual, demanding only monotonous art. To hell with the audience she grinned fearlessly to herself, hands shaking imaginary tambourines high above her head.
Warmth engulfed her in that final moment. To the side of the stage she could hear her giggling parents remarking on how “groovy” her dance was, it reaffirmed her decision.
Every pain she had ever known was released in this final act, her lively steps and deserving laughter a worthy closing theme to her life.
The Ballerina locked her arms together and twirled on one foot until the broken world around her became a dizzy mass in her spin. The moment was here, the end to this dragging act! It seemed that for all of her training and ever-honed skill, this one defiant leap was all it took to truly liberate her in her art.
The Ballerina launched herself off her toes and flew through the air, free at last, straight into the dripping jaws of the audience.