A retiring ballet dancer gives the performance of her life.
|Cold sweat dripped from her chin and splashed onto the polished wooden floor below with an audible wet slap that was too loud in the still silence of the auditorium. Marisol’s arms ached, her feet screamed, and her spine creaked as she stretched into the final position, demanding more and more from a body that was at its limit. A trembling had begun somewhere deep inside her, slowly working its way through every muscle in her willowy frame. But she could not let them see her weakness, could not admit defeat.
The silence turned to thunder, deafening and sudden, a wave of sound that threatened to topple her precarious perch en-pointe. Don’t pay any attention to them, her inner voice whispered furiously. Aging eyes blinded by the glaring lights, she turned and moved one last time, leaping through the air as if to defy not only gravity but all the detractors who said she was too old to dance again. The music faded into a crashing tide of applause, her name on the lips of thousands; it was the last time she would bask in the adoration of the spellbound crowd.
Marisol knew it was perfect. Even as the curtain closed on her final performance and she felt herself begin to collapse, felt her strained heart flailing in her ribcage like a dying bird, her smile was one of triumph. She had shown them all, even if it killed her.
(word count – 240)