Shadow Dancer

January 3, 2008
By Priya Mae Chakravarti, Lutherville, MD

Shadow Dancer

She was once a dancer. Young and carefree, wearing sparkling sandals and tank tops with beads that jangled when she walked. She put love on a pedestal and held it close to her heart. It was this unattainable dream that she fantasized about, laughing, crying, wishing, dreaming, waiting. Slipping in and out, a dizzy blur of people and places. She tried to hold on, gripping with the tightest of holds, but they always got away; sometimes glancing back, sometimes just disappearing into pale gray unknown.

She did love to learn. School was a haven where faces were colorful and happy and she smiled and waved, safe in the concrete walls. Then one day they threw her into the world but what they did not know is that she was scared; they didn’t notice because she smiled over the scream of fear. They left her standing in a courtyard of bricks and glass and she watched them until they became a speck on the horizon. No one cared if she danced anymore and when she did it was all hard edges and fast, slicked in the dizziness of this strange new way. It made her stumble to her room too late with not enough clothes to keep her warm and there was no concrete to keep her safe. She was all shadows, dark corners, black bottles, and white cigarettes with blue smoke.

Her soul shattered and they sent her back but everything was different and she lost her blankets. She was always cold, shivering through nights with icy air blowing everywhere making it too loud for her to fall asleep. There was still the pedestal of love and she held onto it with desperation; she touched it and it gave her a glimpse of happiness. It burned through them- boy and girl- burned them up until nothing was left, but even then there was more.

She wants to break through the phantom cage. Break free and find the sun and dance through the rays, spinning around and around until she can’t breathe. Maybe one day it will be sunshine and pirouettes. One day when she bursts out of the thick forest and with relief finds the road again; shielding her eyes from the rush of metal, glass and rubber. It will be like coming up from air after being in the water world where she only vaguely heard everyone’s muffled voices from inside her dark and cold little world. Finally she will hear what they’re saying and will form the words to say how she feels again. Her heart beats again. And again.

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