Lit Magazine

The Last Day She Ever Danced-Excerpt 

By:Emily Schablik

Background: Mary is debuting as “Juliet” in New York City Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet. She begins to see the younger version of herself around the theater as she prepares for one of the most important nights of her life. Mary begins to wonder if this phantom of her is really existing or if she is just going mad.

“Dance with me!” She bellowed one last time. Her fragile hand slipped out from under mine as she drew away from me. 5…6…7…8… All of the sudden I felt my soul take over my body as I followed her every movement. My heart seemed to be beaming out of my body. I felt my face as my frown grew and raised into an ecstatic smile. My limbs were as free as ever as they guided my body with each delicate movement. I felt the marley stage floor beneath my feet each time my foot made contact with it. The soft “clunk, clunk, clunk” of my pointe shoes was the only sound that filled the stage. I watched as the room spun as I turned round and round with glee. With each inhale, I felt my love for dance fill my heart with joy again. With every exhale, I felt every negative critique I have gotten released into miniscule particles that parted far, far, away from me and into the meaningless air. Wait, where did she go? Panic filled my chest as I attempted to catch each missing breath. 

“Mary! What is the meaning of this?!” The spotlight appeared and targeted me. The deep rays injected into my skin. 

“Ummm… I…” I whispered. 

I felt her grab my hand once again, but this time with force. The pure essence of joy that once filled her eyes was now replaced by red evil and sadistic eyes. No, not only that. She appeared to be drooling! She removed the crown that was seated on her head and stabbed it directly into my heart. I heard the glass shatter beneath me as I felt the worst heartbreak of my entire existence. My black leotard filled with blood, yet you could barely make it out. I dropped to my knees and felt the theater spin. Quicker, and quicker. Until all I saw was red. Black, red, black, red. 

As my eyes began to open my surroundings started to become more clear. 

Wait! Why am I in my Dressing Room? How did I get here?!  My heart started pounding and as a result all I could hear was “thump, thump, thump”. My face began to feel hot as if it was a sunny day, but it wasn’t. I looked up at the clock as it read 5:45 pm. 

My show starts at 6 o’clock! I need to get ready! I should be at the curtain call already! 

I pressed my hands down into the floor and tried to push myself up, but I ultimately failed and collapsed. I looked down at my heart and all I saw was red. I looked around myself and saw red. I tried once again to pull myself up, but failed. I let myself give up for the first time. I tilted my head back and turned to look at myself in the mirror. A monster looked back at me. Filled with anger, defeat, and despair I was disguised as myself. I closed my eyes and let myself drift away. 

I heard the notes of my opening entrance begin to play. The clock read 6:01 pm. All of my rage turned into adrenaline as I found the strength to get myself up and off the ground. With one last glance into the mirror I limped out of the door and into the dark hallway. The music seemed to be coming from all different directions as I looked for where the stage doors were located. Her devious giggles enclosed my head again. 

I hobbled for what seemed like ages until I read the sign that said “STAGE DOOR” in front of me. Her laughter was booming now as I felt blood trickle down my ears as it made its way towards my heart. I pushed my trembling hand through the door and became breathless when seeing what was occurring. 

There she was. But she was all grown up. She was no longer my younger self, but she was me as I am now. But she still had gleeful eyes and a lit up face as she danced. She was wearing my costume along with the crown with which she impaled me. Each movement was as easy going and as fluid as it was when she was dancing earlier as a child. She turned my way and shot me a tricky smile. 

“Bravo! Bravo, Mary!” The audience applauded. All I could think about was how that should have been me! How was she able to make it look so effortless and joyful? As I heard the uproar of the audience my heart fell to my feet and shattered into millions of tiny pieces. A thud filled the stage as I fell to my knees in physical and mental agony. 

That should be me. That should be me. That should be me!

Each of her flawless movements carried on as the stage began to spin for a final time. But this time, I was not the one dancing. All I saw was black and red. Black, red, black, red, black red. Until I stopped resisting. And I felt myself drift into a deep, deep, sleep. Black, red, black, red…

Categories: Lit Magazine