Lolly felt his thumbs on the flesh just below her breasts. They were changing- her breasts, not his hands. Once hard and knobby, they were now softening, becoming heavier, shapely. At least he hadn’t said anything, as when she’d first began shaving her legs.
“Mmm, smooth,” he’d said, running his hand down her shin. They’d laughed, but later that night, she’d rubbed her legs together and felt like a strnger to herself. She didn’t know how her legs had felt before then, but now they were so soft. They were strange legs.
She bent back at her waist before him, her arms swirling slowly like two pale snakes that had just shed their skin. His hands tightened under her and his thumbs moved closer to the small undercurve of her breasts. Blood rushed to her temples. She thought of the orange and four crackers sitting in her stomach. When she ate them she’d pretended they were a burger and fries. Slowly she lifted her body towards him. It all felt rough.
“Lolly, be here for goodness’ sake,” Ms. Elizabeth said. “Let’s take a break.”
They all exited the stage. Her partner said, “You feel tense, tight. Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.”
She hated herself so much. Fourteen and getting soft in places she was supposed to be hard. Her cheeks were irritated and bumpy. And there was all that eye contact with her partner. She felt confused when he looked at her, but hadn’t he been looking at her like that for two years? She wasn’t sure; she couldn’t remember. All she knew is that she kept dreaming about him, and thinking about him when she was supposed to be doing homework.
It began when she’d lifted her leg high and straight in her last performance. She’d smiled out on the audience and noticed men and boys, even women and girls, were not looking at her face, but somewhere lower. She realized with horror that they were looking at her legs and crotch, which were exposed. Lolly asked Ms. Elizabeth why ballerina’s had to wear little tiny tutus?
“Because. It is lovely. A ballerina is a fairytale. A ballerina is a piece of art. Her legs are controlled, moving muscle and that is part of the art. That’s why.”
It hadn’t felt that way. It felt scary and a little exciting in a way she could not describe. She felt anxious and afraid but hadn’t known why. Then there had been her partner’s hand, gently cupping her calf. She later imagined that hand sliding up- under her knee, up her thigh, and she could picture no more. She tried, but her mind wouldn’t allow the picture to form.
Ms. Elizabeth clapped her hands. “Back to work children!”
a ballerina (469 words)
C A Hughes (Copyright 2010)