Please note: This is 1000% fiction! Don’t mistake me for the narrator, I am only the writer.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.
Who would want to spend their whole life doing something they hate. Being a ballerina was never my dream. It was only ever a passion. I want to be someone useful. I want to study. I want to do something constructive to help the world instead of standing on my tippy-toes all day in a tutu and tights. But no, my life has to be in ballet.
“Alright, everybody, line up!” My mother calls. She is my coach first and then my mother, as she instructed me the day I joined her dance troupe. “Don’t call me mom, call me Coach.”
My parents are first-generation immigrants from Russia. They had me a couple years after they settled in the suburbs of New York. My mother was a ballerina while my father was a gymnast but after I was born, they both retired to dedicate their time to raising me.
“Alright, everybody, take a bag of rainbow powder and sprinkle all over yourself, then we’ll take the number from the top.” Coach claps her hands, “Come on everybody, our show’s tonight.”
Rainbow powder, she calls it. I call it weird tie dye powder. Once it gets on your skin, it’d take days to wash it off. You literally have to scrub until your skin turns red. Reluctantly, I pour the powder onto my hand and softly pat it over my outfit. I can endure with rainbow hands but I’m not okay with a rainbow face.
Coach claps her hands again, “Alright everybody, let’s take it from the top.”
My first interaction with ballet was when I was five. My parents took me to the MET, to an opera that consisted mostly of ballet numbers. I don’t remember the title but the final number was so good and excited that I quietly clapped along. I was five, I didn’t know any better.
My parents were delighted and next thing I knew, they signed me up for my first ballet class. “You can do this,” my mother said the first day, “it’s in your blood.”
A month of lessons turned to two and then six months and then a year. Before long, I was doing ballet full-time while being home-schooled by my mother. I was having fun then. Honestly, I don’t know what happened.
After my first performance, my parents took me to the beach. I ran frightfully to and away from the water, as if the water was going to swallow me whole. After I exhausted myself, I began to walk alongside the water, collecting shells. The shells were so colorful and came in so many shapes. I spotted a heart-shaped shell which I still have it hidden in my bedroom. I went to the beach several times after that but not with my parents, always alone.
As I grew older, they became more and more obsessed with my future career in ballet. I never said I want to dance for life. It was their dream, not mine.
“Hey hey, Lydia, what are you doing?” I look around. Coach and everyone else are looking at me, her brow arched, wondering what the hell I’m thinking. I’ve screw up my routine. Embarrassed, face red, I step back.
I am tired and exhausted. We’ve been rehearsing non-stop for a week straight. I’ve been barely sneaking in two or three hours of sleep. This isn’t what I’ve signed up for. I can’t do this. Not anymore. “All right, let’s take five.” Coach says, “Apparently, some of us need to take a breather.” Not some of us, I think, all of us. “Lydia, can I talk to you?”
“You don’t have to say anything, Coach. I know what this conversation is about. I was distracted and I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” I say, a little hostile.
Coach’s face softens, she lead me off stage by the arm. “Are you okay, sweetheart?” I nod. “It’s just you seem tired. Have you been sleeping?” She puts the back of her hand to my head to check if I was sick.
I move my head away. “I am fine. I just need some air.” Just like that, I walk out of the theater.
The moment I get to my car is the moment everything hit me at once. The pain, the tears, the hunger and the vomit. I keep shaking my head. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this anymore.
From the glove compartment, I pull out my pack of cigarette, stick one in my mouth and light it. Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go.
I sigh, maybe it’s time for me to let go. I pop open the trunk, inside is a wooden ammunition box, it belonged to my grandfather. My father brought it over when he came. I don’t know why I stole it but I did.
I opened the box, inside are some bullets, grenades, and a pistol. I load the pistol with bullets and feel it in my hand. I’ve thought about doing this for a while. Maybe now’s the time. I closed my eyes. Time to let go.