Wednesday, January 4, 2012


She used to be so happy. Her life was full of dreams, of promise. She came alive on stage. It was the only place where she felt truly herself, the only place where she felt free. She loved the rigour of her daily practice sessions. Never did she mind sacrificing a social life for her practice. Ballet was her social life.
When did she stop being happy? Her life was still the same. So what changed?
She couldn't answer that herself. She didn't even accept it herself until now, standing at the edge of the world alone, separated from it all. If she jumped off this wall, she thought, would she float back to safety. Or would it all just end with a crash? She could not float back to safety; that much she knew. She was beginning to see, to understand, to question.
Auditions for 'Sleeping Beauty' were coming up in a few weeks. All she felt like doing now was sleeping. She knew she could get the part. But she didn't care.
They say silence is golden. But silence isn't golden. It's just silence. It doesn't have a colour. And if silence did have a colour, it wouldn't be golden, like the warm sun, like melting butterscotch. like the plush, cotton wool clouds as night begins to fall. No. Silence would be red, like fire, like a matador's cloak luring the innocent bull to fatality, like blood.
Silence, to her, had become dangerous. She began to feel her aloneness in the world. And that felt scary. Silence is what happened in her sessions with Claire. She didn't want to be there, so she would sit sullenly, arms folded, as Claire awaited some response to a question:
'You've not been showing up for ballet practice after school for the last few weeks. Would you like to tell me about that?'
'Are you nervous about the rehearsals coming up? Or is there something else?'
Silence. Awkward shuffle to try to squirm further into the leather armchair.
'What made you stop loving ballet, Sarah?' leaning forward in her seat, urging her to answer.
Tears. Unexpected. Rubs her cheeks with the back of her hand.
More tears.
'What are the tears about, Sarah?'. Gentle voice, barely audible.
'I don't know'. A whisper.
Claire just sat there, let her cry. But would then follow the silence with another difficult question. And more silence would ensue, during which Sarah's dark heart would speak, either making her feel empty and sad. Or making her burn with rage. But these feelings were vague and elusive. Not precise and defined like the steps she used to practice so committedly at the barre. And so Sarah would continue to sit,in silence, alone with herself and this other, who in turn was alone with herself. And who eventually would ask another question or make another observation. And so on.
Standing here, above the city, she could see things more clearly. She could see that none of it really mattered. She felt like an angel, an observer from on high. She knew that Shane would have moved onto the next girl by now. And that Lisa would have moved away to the other part of the world. And that she was a little lost right now. And that a hundred years from now they would all be dead. And a hundred years ago, three kids had problems, no less important. But time ravaged them, as time tends to do.
Up here, in the silence of her heart, she feels her nothingness. She wonders at the point of life. She doesn't feel happy, safe or free. She doubts she will ever feel for ballet what she so strongly felt in the past. She feels anger towards Shane, who can now tick her off his list of exploits. She feels tired.
But she feels. She is real.