This story, Master of the Dance, is originally published on My Write Side.
She winced as she caressed her ankle anxiously, the sound of the dance instructor’s voice a hammer in her head.
“Walk it off! This is no time to give in to pain!” He said.
There was never time for pain, for rest, or for anything but dancing. Even when her slippers fell apart at the seams, her toes bloody and bent from constant pointe, he expected her to dance.
“Success doesn’t come to quitters,” he quipped.
She wasn’t a quitter. She was a hater. She no longer wanted to dance, no longer cared about being the Prima Ballerina. She was tired of being swans, of having to set the example and starving herself. She wanted to eat. She wanted to date, get married, have babies, but she was always exhausted.
Today, she hurt her ankle. Her pirouette was perfection, but she’d come down from her brisé volé wrong. Something crackled within her leg. The dance master refused to bring in the doctor.
“You are above this. Pain is your friend,” he said.
Anger colored her vision crimson. No matter how hard she massaged, her ankle refused to move out of the odd angle it had frozen into. She applied pressure, only to collapse on the dance floor. She reached up, anchoring her weight with the barre, and tried to stand. Curses filled the air as her ankle buckled from underneath her.
“Walk it off!” He said.
She grabbed the barre with her other hand and spun on her good leg to face him. “What do you think I’m doing?” she said through clenched teeth. She hobbled toward him. “Did it occur to you that I could, in fact, be hurt?”
He looked her up and down, his eyes lingering momentarily on her ankle. “Nonsense. Take ten and stretch it out. You are better than this.”
Disgust wrinkled her face as he turned back to the three other students in the room. Gingerly, she worked her way down the barre until she reached the bench. Her back on the bench, she propped her ankle on the barre, her foot pointing and relaxing with precision. The pain started to subside. She sat up and stretched her arms to meet her toes, feeling the muscles of her thigh expand. Three more times she stretched until she felt her shin loosen and the pain disappeared. Holding the barre again, she testily flattened her foot to the floor and lifted her other leg behind her. Her ankle trembled but didn’t collapse. A smile lit her face.
“I’m ready,” she said, joining the others in the centre practice.
“Welcome back, Sophia,” he answered, a matching smile on his face. “I knew you could do it.”
Revulsion flickered behind her congealed smile. Her body followed his instructions effortlessly although her mind was elsewhere. Scarlet flashed behind her eyes each time she looked at him. She was finished. Today would be her last dance. He just didn’t know it yet.
Sophia stretched on the barre patiently as she waited for the last student to leave. A ten-pound weight was curled up in her fist.
The Master strode over and stood next to her. “Let’s have a look at that ankle, shall we?”
She dropped her leg to the floor. He bent over, his fingers whispering along the sides of her foot. His touch burned her skin and she swooped down with her fist, the weight making contact with his skull, once, twice, three times until he collapsed on the dance floor.
“Never again will you enslave another. Your time as Master is done. I’m free!” She hissed as her legs, in perfect chassé, moved away from him.
It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.
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