My first bit of fiction in many years. Enjoy!

The small box turned its gears as she danced in eerie silence; she had always wanted to be a ballerina and alone on this night, under the stars, between the dingy yellow and paisley walls and pictures on the wall, she turned and twisted, pliéd and attempted glissade, alone this night, alone with the silence of the gears spinning in the box, her mother would be so proud.

“I know you see…” she whispered to herself as she turned, “I know you see…”

Meanwhile, down the stairs in the room just below her, her father sat in solitude. He danced his own dance, a tortured gravitas; a bent broken man, he. His life had never been the same—his anguish, his sorrow, his bereavement—unending —what sadness he felt. All the while his young daughter danced in silence right above him, her dress flowing like cotton beauty, a flounce of softness whisping in the wind.

 “I know you see me…” she would repeat, followed by a few ballet terms she could remember, “Adagio…” as she twirled.

“Batterie…” as she lifted her leg to meet her bedframe.

She hardly matched the term to the movement, but in her mind she was on the grandest Russian stage imaginable, dressed exquisitely from head to toe in pink… just then, the rain came. She quickly walked to the window and began to close it as she heard the faint sound of her father’s voice from the bottom of the stairs… she froze, anticipating a second sound, and when none came, she continued to close the window…

“Get down here!” he yelled.

“Coming father!” She yelled back, and she turned to open the door, and at once remembered she had not shut her music box. She quickly ran, arms stiff at her side, towards her dresser and carefully shut the box and clasped the lid closed. She heard her bedroom door open behind her.

“What the fuck is the matter with you?” He said.

“I was dancing, daddy…”

“Dancing? To what? You don’t have a record player”

“I don’t need music to dance.”

“Don’t you get insolent with me, you little bitch… now get down stairs and start your chores.”

Nothing had changed. Her father had been the same man since she could remember—biting, cynical, angry; when her sister died, he didn’t even cry. At the memorial service, he had shown up drunk from the night before, dressed like a vagrant, soaked in booze and wet from the rain. He chided the bereaved as he walked by the pews, snarled at his ex-in-laws, and plopped down loudly while the preacher spoke, and he fell asleep—he fell asleep at his own daughter’s funeral. He had been a lot of things since she was young, but when she heard him snoring overtop of the tears, she had remained disgusted with him since then. How could he? Her sister was the glue that kept the family together. She would always be there to help mend her clothes when she played too hard, and clean her cuts when she would fall from a tree or off of her bike. Her sister was older than she; by about 13 years… she never met her mother. Nor ever saw a picture of her. She was just always told the angels took her too soon, and to her, the same was true for her sister.

In the kitchen, she began to pick up plates and bottles her father had left. She rarely ate at home, getting by on a small bit of something she could pick up before school, and her government lunch at about noon while at school. She figured she would continue to eat this way for as long as she could handle, she would sometimes feel hungry at night, but it’s something she figured she would adjust to, and she always had her dancing to distract her.

“Don’t forget to wipe the table, too… last time your stupid little head forgot and when I sat my book down on it, it stuck.” He was always finding fault in everything she did.

“Sorry…” she said quietly.

“Yeah, I’m sure you are,” he shot back, jerking his head and spitting into the trashcan, “and don’t forget to empty the fucking trash…”

She felt the plastic plates between her fingers, how the ridges vibrated up her fingernail and translated into a tiny symphony. She would always lift the plates slowly between the table and the sink, so she could imagine herself dancing; this would usually cause her father to contend that she may be retarded, or that the lack of food in her body slowed her brain down so much that her very own dream world had come true… she ignored him.

On her way to the trashcan, she could see her bedroom and that she had left the light on. She could also see the room that her father and sister shared. The house was only 2 bedrooms so ‘someone has to make a fucking sacrifice’ her father would always say. I suppose he was right, her sister was saintly and would tell her that by sleeping in the room with daddy, she was saving her from his snoring, this would always make her laugh, because he was her father, and always would be, and thinking of him lying in bed, covers up to his face, snoring and dreaming, painted a picture of him that was one of being a human—Something very difficult to imagine for her.

He worked, and did keep ‘a roof over her head,’ and although she chose not to partake in dinner, always scolded her for not eating. There was a pretty good case that he could love her… but that was not something she had ever heard him say, and it didn’t make her sad to think he did not. It was no matter, either way. She planned on becoming a famous dancer someday, and leaving this all behind.

She reentered the house after placing the trash on the curb, passed her father sleeping in his chair, slowly crept back up the stairs, and opened her music box.



~ by Shawn M. Young on September 27, 2011.

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