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Ever since I was four years old, I would put on some cheap, pink, ballet slippers, an old, tattered tutu, and some gross, torn, tights I had. I looked like a mess, but that didn't stop me. I would climb onto my little chair and put my mother's Tchaikovsky record on the turntable with the volume all the way up and dance.
After years of training in Classical Ballet, I received my first pair of Pointe shoes. Excited and overjoyed for this accomplishment, my parents took me out to a fancy restaurant. The way there was grueling. The road overlooked a short cliff and raging river and the entire way, I looked out my window toward the water, hoping we wouldn't slip and die. When we arrived, valet took our car and we stepped inside. I only saw walls of white with dark green patterns printed on them, and golden trim; it was beautiful. We sat at table number thirty-three and talked aimlessly about ballet. I ordered pasta and we got a basket of bread; neither of us knew this was going to be our last meal together. As we cut around the bend, a truck with it's blinding headlights came ripping towards us and Dad swerved over the rail-less edge of the cliff.
Mom and Dad didn't survive the crash, and after a painful experience in the hospital, I went home with my aunt.
When I turned fourteen, I started having flashbacks. I would see running water stained red, doors ripped off of a blue Volvo, and shredded tires. I'd hear what I assumed was the accident - nothing and then everything. I could see my mother turning her head towards me, trying to yell but finding only silence. I could see my father, with his hands on the wheel and his face in complete shock from what he'd done. The only sound of the crash was the car rolling, acting as a meat grinder with everything in it smashing and tearing everything inside, and then the heavy splash as the Volvo collided with the raging water.
As the car began to tumble in the water, I unbuckled myself and crawled out. When I jumped out of the broken window, I felt the sharp glass mark me and I smashed into a rock. I was hauled violently by the river into more rocks, scraping my arms and fracturing my leg. I was finally able to reach the bank and pull myself to safety after a current pushed me into a pool. I expected my parents to crawl out just the same; I ran with the car, screaming for them, but as the car kept rolling and crashing, I knew that they were gone. There were holes in the back, the doors were ripped off, and the car slowly sunk to the bottom when the river became smooth. I stood there in shock, tears rolling down my face, pain in my tonsils from screaming, and then I crashed on the grass below me, and blacked out.
I'm nineteen now and I've been dancing a lot. After I got out of the hospital with a fractured leg, torn wrist, and terrible wounds, I went to physical training and started dancing as soon as I could. I am in a company in New York and this year we are performing Swan Lake. Because I am the Swan Queen, I get to go to the theater and rehearse on stage by myself whenever I would like to.
I strolled out of bed at 11 o' clock at night and cruised to the theater. I made my way backstage into my dressing room and dressed myself in my White Swan costume. As I walked into the wings, I saw dancers and assuming it was the other girls practicing, I joined in on my queue. I closed my eyes and let the music carry me. As I opened my eyes to see where I was on the stage, I noticed the dancers were not the other girls. There was something wrong in the way they moved, and they all faced away from me. They moved almost like skeletons, their bones rattling every time they made a change in position. Their hair was gross; thin and unattractive, and as I started to bourée, they all turned combatively towards me and I realized I was surrounded by corpses.
Each of them did a different disturbing move towards me in sync. When they were all close enough to touch me, they clawed at me, hunched over, with long, boney, fingers. I was covered in bloody scratches and finally they stopped. They stood up straight and spun in a circle around me. Every three turns, they'd lean in and dig into my skin again, each one more painful than the last. Suddenly, after I cried for them to stop, another came out from the wings and they all disappeared into the darkness. The new corpse danced an extraordinary solo and lifted me up into the air with extreme force. I screamed and became paralyzed. I was now staring at my own Mother's animated corpse. Enormous black feathers began to grow out of her dry bones, forming into wings. She began to thrash us around, taking us higher and higher into the air. She looked at me with what seemed like a terrified look, and dropped me onto the hard stage.
The other corpses came rushing out of the darkness and began to feed on my bloody, cold, and broken body. As I was screaming for help, I heard a theater door open. The crack of light from the lobby came through for only a second and it vanished. It seemed to be the only light I'd seen in days. As I tried to push the corpses off, more of them came, torturing me, marking me with their devilish bones. All of them started to grow wings just like Mom, one by one, they flew fifty feet up and then dropped, breaking and vanishing in a cloud of dust and then re-appearing somewhere in the distance, only to come bolting at me again. I can remember their razor sharp teeth coming at me, as if they could chew me up like a meat-grinder; like my parents in the car.
I looked up at my mother who was now flying above me, her wings beating softly, her dry bones crumbling, and as she took one last look at me, her feathers abandoned her body, one by one, until she fell on top of me leaving only a cloud of dust. I closed my eyes and lay there with tears rolling down my face. I could feel the blood slowly dripping off of my body. Then my death was interrupted by an uproar of applause and cheering. As I got up and looked to see who was there, it was my choreographer, clapping, his smile beaming at me, just like my fathers. And then he turned gray, his hair going from a dark brown to red, to white and then thinning. His teeth sharpening into triangle-shaped razors, his skin shedding from his bones, I screamed and screamed and the theater lit up.
In every chair, a corpse sat, smiling at me with their gruesome teeth, blood on their boney hands. I tried to run, but my legs became exposed bones, my arms, too. My hair began to fall at my side, my eyes sinking in and falling out, I was done. I could cry no more, my tearducts collapsed and vanished. I felt pain all over my body but I couldn't scream. I finally found enough strength to get up and run to my dressing room backstage.
I saw the silhouette of my choreographer and other ballerinas, and as I turned to run away again, they grabbed me. The room lit up and they were normal. I looked in the mirror and staring back at me was flesh, my flesh. My brown hair up in a tight bun, my eyes blue as ever, and my legs and arms their natural peach color. I collapsed in my chair and began to cry and they saw the marks on me where the feathers came out of my back. They huddled around me and asked what happened but I could only cry more, so they all cuddled me. Eventually, when I stopped crying and screaming, and they had reassured me it would be alright, I looked up at them, their smiles beaming at me, with razor sharp teeth.