Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Starry Starry Night This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Velvet black night shines through the skylight, sprinkled with a dusting of stars. The pinpoints of light glimmer in their serene constellations like tiny angels. They gleam far, far away from the chaos below.
Behind a storm of hair spray and false eyelashes and frilly skirts, one mouse-brown teenage girl takes refuge at the back of the room. Ornate columns swoop above her, and the linoleum floor shines beneath her feet, speckled with flakes of glitter and errant barrettes. Beyond her downcast eyes, stick-thin ballerinas mill around like butterflies. They squeak and chatter frantically, lugging pink bags that are bigger than they are, their eyes flickering through the crowd in search of their families. The precise, perfect movements that the dancers executed on stage have disintegrated in the aftermath of the recital. Now they swirl and scream like a rainbow that has crashed down to Earth. Their shrieks could break glass.
It wouldn’t be that hard to lose one unglamorous teenage girl in the midst of the sequins and fish net tights. Hayley stares at her folded hands, her curly hair swinging forward to cover her face, every now and then glancing up peremptorily through the rainbow of dancers. Her simple gray dress pales beside the flouncing tutus and belly-baring shirts. Her eyes narrow as if to shut out the thundering noise.
All around her, little girls flutter with excitement as they jump into the arms of their crooning parents. One by one each baby bird finds her match, and the crowd thins. Now only the older dancers remain, slouching against the posts and texting furiously. Hayley scuffs her plain black ballet flats across the sticky floor and gnaws at her fingernails, anything so as not to have meet the lacquered, false gaze of the performers. She takes a quick look at her watch, then at the night that oozes across the skylight. The stars reflect on her glasses. She sighs.
A sudden screech parts the tides of dancers as a small, bumbling child barrels out of the far door and careens through the crowd. Unlike the other girls, Annie loses all semblance of coordination when she leaves the stage, but retains her enthusiasm. Hayley’s gaze flicks up immediately to see her sister, whose curls have come undone from their prim ballet bun. At the sight of Hayley, Annie trips over the train of her pastel skirt, slides along the rainbow tiles, and immediately skips to her feet again. Her eyes, ringed in heavy coats of mascara and shadow, glimmer brilliantly, and her mouth stretches into a shark-toothed smile that eclipses the lower half of her face. Her wispy tutu, dotted with embroidered pink and purple flowers, floats around her like a cloud.
Hayley hesitantly steps outside the safety of her alcove like a night creature, opening her arms half-heartedly to receive her younger sister. She murmurs a brief congratulations, smiles into her sister’s hair, and just as quickly retreats back into the darkness, wearied from a long and sparkly night. Annie bounces up and down and ricochets out of Hayley’s hug to assault another adoring family member, nearly vibrating with the energy of a post-show appearance. Hayley sinks against the pole and rubs her eyes as if Annie’s excitement has drawn the very life out of her body. If her dignity would let her, she would curl up into a ball on the floor and forget the shrieking stage lights, the fawning parents with bouquets of roses, and most of all, the slim ballerinas who strut and preen like peacocks.
“Pictures, everyone, pictures!” somebody shouts, yanking Hayley rudely from her sanctuary and dragging her into the piercing light. “Let’s get one of you two!” The same somebody tosses a star-struck Annie into Hayley’s arms, uttering that achingly time-worn phrase,
“Come on, girls! Act like you like each other!”
Annie slings an arm around Hayley’s waist, scattering periwinkle sequins over the back of the silky fabric, and Hayley slowly loops an arm around Annie. Her hand falls timidly on the pale, freckled, shoulder, her fingers slipping under the tulle as if afraid to be captured in memories. Annie’s smile, emblazoned in fire-engine red lipstick, welcomes the whole world into her happiness; Hayley’s comes so softly that you might not notice it at all.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback