It was the most gorgeous ballet she had ever seen. Each dancer moved with effortless grace across the stage, in perfect time with the movements of the deep cello, the violent strings, the roll of the drums. They breathed with each pause, and moved with each note, their toes lightly kissing the ground as the dancers moved their arms upward, to the sky, the moon, the sun, the universe, becoming one with life itself.
The dancers had reached the climax of the piece, the reenactment of a terrible murder – the lead dancer in a blood-red leotard, center stage and alone, was spinning and spinning and spinning, so fast she was but a flash of crimson. Then, suddenly, from behind, she was overcome by the other dancers, whirling from all sides, surrounding her, suffocating her, and as they spun she began to falter, and she collapsed, ‘dead’.
The fall was so real, and so poignant, and so beautiful, that as the lights dimmed and the ‘murdered’ dancer was carried off by the angelically off-white leotard-clad others, she stood along with the crowd in a standing ovation, clapping with all her life and soul and weeping for the beautiful dancer. She knew she just had to meet her.
Battling through the crowded hall to backstage, she pricked her arm on a rose thorn as she bumped up against a man holding a bouquet of the red blooms. She groaned in pain as the blood trickled down her arm, and the man mumbled an apology before he disappeared into the crowd. She gazed at the wound, which had mysteriously begun to burn and fester, the blood bubbling like the surface of a witches’ brew.
“Let’s help you clean up, shall we?” a voice said from behind her, crackly, as if from a lifetime of smoking tobacco. She turned, startled, to see an old woman with sagging wrinkles and grey-black beetle’s eyes. She was about to decline the offer, but her voice caught in her throat, and before she knew it, the old woman had secured bony fingers around her wrist and was leading her through a backstage door.
She gazed at the beautiful sight of the dancers winding down from the performance backstage. They were all mechanically undressing and slipping off their nylons, undoing their buns and letting loose their curly tresses, hanging up their leotards. She expected more of a loud, jubilant crowd, but each ballet member was curiously silent, avoiding eye contact with the others and staring at the ground. Their eyes looked cold and glazed over, and she noticed they were all the same color – a light blue, the paralyzing blue of a fresh spring sky.
“You all did wonderful!” she exclaimed, hoping for a response from the lethargic dancers. She smiled at all of them as she passed, but they all ignored her, as if they were incapable of hearing anything at all.
Well that’s impossible, she thought. They dance so perfectly in time to the music, they can’t possibly be deaf. Maybe they all are just very tired and have no energy to respond? Puzzled, but overjoyed at seeing the inside world of the ballet, she let herself be led by the old woman into a dark back room.
The woman flicked on the light, and sitting on a love seat was the lead dancer, the beautiful woman in the red leotard.
The old woman released her grip, but all she could look at was the gorgeous woman sprawled luxuriously on the love seat. The dancer took no notice of the new visitors, staring robotically at the floor as if concentrating very hard on something.
The old woman was digging into file cabinets and finally found a jar of some sort of yellow paste and a long bandage. “Come,” the old woman beckoned. She moved towards her, suspicious of the strange paste.
“It will heal your wound. Come closer.”
The woman used a silver spoon to dollop the paste onto the bandage, and pressed it into her upper arm. It felt like fire, and her blood felt like it was curdling and writing inside of her. Before she could muster a scream, the woman had pressed a cloth against her mouth, and she collapsed before the old woman’s feet. The woman bent down, and with her cold hands, caressed her long, blonde hair, and lifting it upwards in brittle, wrinkled hands, breathed in its lovely scent.
“Ahh. Finally. A blonde one will complete the set.”
The old woman then went to work.
The next night, the ballet’s cast had changed – the lead dancer in the bloody ballet had been replaced overnight, by a beautiful, previously unheard of blonde bombshell, who was said to have danced more beautifully than any other dancer on Earth.