story teller: the bruised dancer

blue bubble calamity clean

The Bruised Dancer

angst. heartbreak. guilt and grieving. hopelessness and loss. ambivalent. surviving and lingering.

The shank underneath the wobbly plank of wood as the bridge hangs over the rapid river, but it has become summer again and the hurdling water has gone to sleep, flowing quietly like a stream. He sang her lullabies, she recalls, and the nights were cold but beautiful like the asterisks the snow fell onto them. The blanket of fluff and white. Now the nights are humid and mosquito-filled, the sweat that drenches her body, but she has enough of the dancing and the pressure to be beautiful and glide like the majestic and the gentle. Her feet have begun to hurt. The bruises that cannot be washed away with salt and vinegar. The scabs on her face multiply by day and she knows life is simpler in a fall. The air that lifts your body for a second and the gravity that pulls it down without a doubt, but it’s that moment of freedom to rest her hands on her hips and bow. The performance has ended with applause, a noise of clapping hands and that is all she can hear now. Noise, it’s not the beautiful music that it once was. Noise, crippling noise of pressure and perfection. “Thank you. Thank you,” as the flowers mounted in her arms but she didn’t care, only the wet grass wakes her from the nightmare, and she brushes her toes along the green blades, swinging her legs like a ballerina she is, long and musically.

The skin, she picks on it, leaving another mark, another engraving of her neurosis before the scabs heal.

“Toss it,” Jeremiah’s voice quivered in the cold, but he handed her the frostbitten flat pebble and she tossed it across the ice, watching it slid across the river hitting the bank of the other side. “Another,” his smile resembling the horizon as the sun breaks in the morning dew. His lips always tasted like honey, but that was before the automobile turned over and the blood washed over the steering wheel. She shook his shoulder but he didn’t wake and the sirens in the distance fluttered like the butterflies abandoning their cocoon defeated and ravaged by their spiteful predators. She knew at that instance, that Jeremiah has gone and everything has gone to silence, everything blurred, and nothing made sense.

Ice, “Let’s skate,” Jeremiah’s unpredictable suggestions and their boots touched the ice and they both struggled to stand upright, laughing. But, then the spring came and the pebbles cracked the weak sheet falling through, sinking into the cold and Jeremiah and she didn’t skate anymore. The laughter faded and as the drinks spilled to the floor, she grabbed the keys, Jeremiah followed spinning her back to him. But, she shoved him and threw the keys at his chest. “You drive!” She shouted.

But before the winter transforms to rebirth of the spring, its bitter remanence can still leave the road frozen and dangerous, and as he lost control over the vehicle, the silence of their tantrums turned to screams and her anger that filled her mind deflated to fear.

The fortress of her heart, damaged. The gate wide open, flooding her with guilt. If she only didn’t yell at him. If she only had left without him. If she only allowed him to be. Dance has left its joyous right. Her feet all tangled and cut. The life she leaves behind to run along the spikes and thorns of branches, twigs, and roses scorn.

That shank; that blade of prisoner’s cry, as she reaches for it. It’s been hidden since the blood oath between her and him. Now, with love that escaped from her clutches, the bitterness, and the loathing of her sticks for arms. But, the blade from her clumsy grasp plunges below into the quiet of the river, lost and sinking to the pebbles they once tossed onto the ice. She slumps to sit, looking as the river takes her and bridge for a ride, captured by the enchantment of its soothing tug. Her fingers curl around the plank, as her feet hang over, and her forehead and chin pressed to the guardrails, grieving the loss.

Jeremiah. His smile, the warmth that made her keep going as her body relevé and her feet bourrée. Now, gaunt with her skin picked like a toad with incurable spots, her twigs of arms like a heroin addict, capable only to spit after the knife that plunged to the water below. Anger once more lifting her feet to stomp into the wet grass and mud, trailing with a revelation, maybe today isn’t her day to reprieve the oath they once have taken.

© Jacob Greb — 2019

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