Friday, September 14, 2012


by: Krystalyn

The spotlight hits my face. I clench my teeth to keep myself from running off stage. I know the audience is out there, waiting, but all I can see is the white, hot light. It fills my vision, blinds me, so if I want to see anything, I have to look inside my soul. But it's wounded, a raw thing too fragile to touch.

The music starts, some fluttery little flute sound, and I push myself up on toes. I turn and I leap. It's all mechanical.

I don't want to dance. Not without him. He was my partner. He cheered me when I was brilliant, and he wasn't afraid to tell me when I sucked. He lifted me up and helped me fly.

But then he got sick. The nasty stuff that doesn't get better with a handful of ibuprofen or a shot of penicillin. When he left, he took my wings with him.

I wear a mask on my face, hoping the audience mistakes it for something real. I've worn it for two weeks now. Maybe three. There was that week I don't remember – the one after I heard the news. They told me I stayed in my room. I only remember the day I folded his memory inside my pocket and emerged with the mask firmly in place.

My friends tell me I shouldn't be afraid of remembering. But that's not it exactly. What if I touch the pain, and it wraps around me and never lets go? What if it breaks me forever?

No, I won't give it that power. All I can do is hope that one day the wound will scab over. I just have to get through this dance, the first one without him.

The music flutters like an anxious hummingbird in my chest. This wasn't supposed to be a solo. We'd been rehearsing for months. This lift. That embrace. All cut from the routine and replaced with movements I'm supposed to be capable of. But my foot slips beneath me.

“You're too far over your toe.” His voice is a remnant in my ear, a note he'd given me in our last rehearsal. I shake my head to clear it, denying him access like I've been doing for weeks. “Come on. Pull your hips back.”

Nausea curls up inside my gut. I fall out of a turn and stumble. A collective gasp rises from the audience. The whispers float to my ears.

“Poor thing doesn't know her left from her right.”

“She has no rhythm.”

I run across the stage, struggling to catch up to the music. Still, I'm a beat behind.

“You're better than this,” he says.

I prepare for another turn. The music tells me I'm wrong, and I pinch my eyes shut. I can't do this. I can't think about you!

“You have to.”

Again, I falter. You're not really here.

“Open your heart. Find me.”

No, it'll hurt too much.

The music intensifies. Violins and cymbals join in. The lightness spins into a frantic pulse. It pulls my body in five different directions.

I leap across the stage, barely leaving the ground. Gravity pulls me down with bony fingers and sharp claws. I pop my leg up in attitude and pirouette, but I'm not floating on air. I'm drowning. I'm spinning down, down, down like a corkscrew.

“Don't let this dance beat you. Not because of me.”

Violins squeal, the pitch growing higher and higher until it reverberates inside of me and I feel like I'm an ice sculpture about to shatter. I rise to my toes, my arms reaching up. I'm sinking, and there's no one there to rescue me. The world comes to a screeching halt.

I stop, frozen in the middle of the stage. I wonder if time has stopped for the audience too, or if I just look like a fool reaching up to the rafters.

I hear his voice echoing in my ear, and he's there on the stage standing in front of me, wearing his perpetual t- shirt and black sweats. His fingertips touch mine, and he lowers my hands to my side. His warmth travels through my body.

“You can do this,” he says. “All you have to do is remember me.”

I don't want to do this without you.

“Then here. One last time.”

He moves behind me, his hands tightly gripping my waist. The touch is both shocking and empowering. A thousand swirls of energy race through my bodice and chase each other down my legs, rippling just beneath my skin.


I prepare and I jump. Energy explodes out through my feet, and the world starts up again.

I'm soaring, just like in that last rehearsal. No, higher.

Drums crash. Thunder rolls through my body and tears streak down my face. Wonderful agony fills my soul. It's like I wrote every memory of him on a million separate pieces of paper. His smile that looked like a tilted moon. The steel in his hands when he held me up. The scar on his chin carved by my pointe shoe on the funniest day ever. He's gone, but these things remain, floating inside of me. Electrifying me like lightning. I dip and swirl, possessed with such raw energy, I feel like I'll never come down.

The music reaches its crescendo, the pain inside me brought to life and thrust out into the world. I turn upstage and plea once more to the heavens. I did it. I remembered. Now heal me.

A wave of light washes over me, knocks me down, and I crash to the stage. My dance is done. My face is slick with tears, and my soul is filled with knowledge. He went away, but his memory will always be there to lift me up.

The audience erupts with applause. I push myself to my feet, take my bow, and leave the stage, more empty and more full than I've ever felt in my life.


 Photo posted with permission by artist, Phoebo Rudomino


  1. Your last lines are killer! Really loved the fight in this piece. Internal mixed with external conflict, really enjoyable.

  2. I think this is one of my favorites of yours, Krystalyn...and it's a CONTEMPORARY! So impressed:-)

  3. Thank you so much, ladies! Yes, there is a small corner of my brain not occupied by ghosts and sea creatures. ;)

  4. Deeply moving. There's a lot of sorrow, but the joy of their love still shines through.