Submitted Date 02/25/2019

She turned the corner sharply, pedaling with the fervor of the young. The soles of her faded orange flip-flops were ratty and indented with the shape of the pedals. As usual, the center of the street was her domain; she followed the yellow line as if it could lead her out of the dusty Kansas town.

Hair streamed behind her in corn silk waves, fanning softly outward as her legs pumped in harsh time with the pedals.

Anna should have known better than to ride her bike in a dress, but she was still young enough that modesty was not yet a structured state. She could flash the world her dark blue panties without shame. Dressed in a simple and shapeless long t-shirt, it swirled with bright careless patterns

Backpack bouncing on her spine, Anna spun through the streets much like sunlight twirling between petals. The sun was low in the sky, not yet resting against the horizon but certainly far-adrift.

It was with great trepidation that Anna approached the old house.

The structure stood against the sun like some defiant tombstone. Vines streamed from windows as if it were weeping secrets green with envy, long torturous strands of tears that would never stop falling.

The shrubbery of a garden was distressingly overgrown, creeping from the bottom upward to meet the vines. Leaves and branches clung to each other and the windows, leaving no room for small feet to pass. Anna didn’t let that stop her, she never did. She pushed forward through spindly bushes like a fearless knight until her foot found cobbled path.

Anna danced along the length with careful feet, hand turning rusted doorknob with easy familiarity. Anna stirred up the dust as she skipped down the hall and it floated against the light of the half covered windows. It sparkled iridescently like specks of glitter.

The room at the end of the hall was her destination.

Large and imposing, it took up much of the first floor, leaving just enough space for the kitchen and tiny living room at the front of the house. Whoever had owned this building prior, before abandoning it to the whims of nature, had taught dance classes in this room. At least, Anna suspected as much. The room was mirrored on all four sides with long, sturdy wooden barres nailed in at two of them.

The coral light of the setting sun fell from two separate skylights in the ceiling, combining together to form one interwoven beam of light falling center in the room. In the left corner there was an old record player that Anna had lugged over from her grandfather’s garage. Shrugging off her backpack, Anna rummaged inside to pull out a pair of pockmarked ballet shoes.

Anna shifted off her oversized shirt to reveal a sheer white leotard so thin and filmy that the peach of her skin shown through. She tugged on her old ballet shoes, the palest shade of shell pink. They were well-worn and pointe.

With trembling fingers Anna laced them tightly to her ankles with the glossy satin ribbons. For four years now she’d been dancing, two with a trainer and two on her own in this old abandoned house. Day after day she came and danced, practiced hour after hour, correcting herself, but she’d always been afraid to attempt to go en pointe.

Anna stood up tall and straight, staring at herself in the mirror. Her wild green eyes were reflected back, long blonde hair spilling over her body to her waist. She’d forgotten a hair tie, so she’d have to do without. Narrow from shoulders to hips, Anna’s legs stood out as strong and able. The cords in her neck twisted as she turned her head to study her profile, satisfied.

The record she put onto the player was well-worn. Of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Winter was her favorite. It started off slow and smooth before escalating quickly in speed and sound. It was a temperamental piece of music that was thrilling to dance to.

As the beginning strings sounded, she took position of the arms. Arms stretched out before her, perfectly poised, she bent her knees and began.

En avant,” Anna mumbled before taking short, quick steps forward. As the music quickened suddenly she pliéd gracefully multiple times before pulling a neat jete’, spinning once more as it slowed again.

Anna felt the music inside of her like nothing else before, the rhythm beating itself in tune with her heart, the bow pulling notes from her heartstrings. Her body attached itself to the sounds, flowed through and around her like water and pulled her smoothly into it.

She danced as she breathed: as if she would die without it.

The song grew sweeter and deeper until she was the music.

She was winter. She was the soft down of freshly fallen snow, the bitter wind and swarm of a blizzard, the sharp yet delicate filigree of the snowflake.

She was the cold and the light and the exhilarating.

At the very end, that final crescendo, she danced so fast she must have been a blur. At that last swell, her legs and toes bent first en demi-pointe, and then slowly rose for the first time en pointe, toes flat and sure as her determined green eyes.

Then she was pirouetting furiously, whirling and twirling with perfect form over and over as if she’d never known anything else but this movement, but this dance, but this song. And when it stopped she stopped, breathing heavily. Sweat poured over her body as she shook with exhaustion. Never before had she danced with such animation or skill.

She lowered herself to the floor as trembling and slowly as newly fallen snow.

Eyes shining, Anna stared into the mirror behind the barre as Vivaldi’s Spring began its first pure notes. Her long blonde hair clung to her body like strands of seaweed and her legs ached from the effort she had extended. But she’d done it. At age eleven, without much formal training, she’d gone en pointe for the first time; nothing could compare to the music she had become.

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