A little ballerina and her dysfunctional family.
| Here comes Daddy's little girl. She's spinning and spinning, the ruffles on her sparkling pixie dress are flying around her, and her toes are in perfect points. The girl could be a ballerina, she's so good. She is but a blur, soaring around the room. Daddy beams at his drinking buddies. He's so proud of his little girl.
"She's gonna be famous some day," he says, still smiling. His voice is thick with a southern accent, and he sounds drunk. Alexandria smiles as she spins.
He's not drunk, she tells herself. He hasn't had a drink in months.
The girl makes her way into the kitchen. When she gets to the sink, she stops and snatches a plastic cup from the dish drain. As the cold water fills the cup, Alexandria looks out the window directly in front of her. It is a clear day, not a cloud in the sky. The green grass and blue sky looks like something from a movie or an old picture, something that use to be real, but doesn't exist anymore.
The cool liquid glides slowly down Alexandria's throat. She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, then begins spinning again, leaving the kitchen behind and going back into the living room. All three men look over when she enters, and a smile creeps upon each face.
"That's my girl," says Daddy as he takes a drink of his coffee. He sounds happy enough, happier than he has been in years. There's something hiding in his voice, though, something that scares Alexandria. As she twirls, her hands straight out and her beautiful voice humming a song she heard on the radio, she catches a glimpse of Momma. She is sitting in a recliner, across the room from Daddy.
"Watch me, Momma!" Alexandria cries. She jumps while spinning, a move she is sure has a fancy name.
"Way to go, Alex," says Momma, but her voice is sad. She has a cup of tea in one hand, and stirring the drink with her index finger.
An annoyed expression consumes Daddy's face.
"She said to watch her, Gloria! Would you at least try to pretend to be happy?" Daddy's voice is loud, and Alexandria feels the floor shake against her bare toes. She imagines windows shattering, the house crumbling to dust from the explosion of his voice.
Alexandria ignores the outburst. She keeps right on dancing, a perfect display of childhood innocence. She is singing now, the latest pop hit MTV was broadcasting. In the background, Daddy is screaming at Momma, telling her that maybe she should try to be a little bit nicer around their daughter. That maybe she should at least try to make the little girl happy, at least try to give the little girl what she wants.
Then Momma is yelling back, saying that the little girl is happy enough and that she doesn't have to put up with all of this.
Alexandria stops spinning. She can see Daddy's friends sneaking out the door, and gives them a small wave. As soon as the men are out the door, she sits down in the middle of the floor. A few minutes pass of incoherent arguing before the attention turns to Alexandria. She smiles, and her eyes gleam with wisdom beyond that which they thought her capable of.
"What is it, baby girl?" Daddy's voice is suddenly gentle, and Alexandria feels his warmth. She is Daddy's little girl. Momma could care less about her.
"Why are you fighting?" Her voice is soft and sweet and holds the kind of innocence people laugh about at work on Monday. The question is simple yet complex, like asking where babies come from.
Momma and Daddy exchange a worried look. Daddy kneels before the girl as Momma walks outside, digging in her pocket for a pack of cigarettes that had been hidden there in case she couldn't kick the habit.
Daddy's arms wrap around Alexandria, holding her head against his chest. "Mommy and Daddy are just having a rough time, baby. Things will get better, I promise."
Alexandria looks up at him, her eyes wide and looking slightly dazed. "Do you pinky promise?"
Her father smiles down at her and wraps his littlest finger around his daughter's. "I pinky promise, sweetheart."
A brilliant smile on her face, Alexandria jumps to her feet and starts dancing again. The door slams behind Momma, and she throws a manila envelope on the dining room table. In thick Sharpie across the middle reads "Divorce" in block letters. A contemptuous look covers Momma's face and she storms into her bedroom. The smell of smoke follows her in the room.
Daddy holds the envelope to his chest, watching his little girl dance. "Baby, it is beautiful outside. Why don't you go dance in the backyard?" Alexandria nods eagerly and takes off out the back door. Daddy gets his cup of coffee and sits at the table, carefully reading over the contents of the envelope and signing where he needs to. When he is finished, he replaces the papers in the envelope and slides it under the bedroom door. After putting his coffee mug in the sink, he goes outside with Alexandria. The two dance late into the night as the world they both know crumbles and falls around them.