Teen-Angsty ballerina/paedophilia/teen-love-pentagon story. Langauge (as in, bad langauge). 4000-ish words. Unsure if its worth a damn. |
Here’s To Us, Kid:
Ballet, ruptures, bruises and kiddie porn.
Or ode from Girl #1 to Boy #1.
If the world was to end in a holocaust-bloom-H-bomb, we’d be there, mouths sutured together; silhouettes burnt to a crisp but our shadows maintained forever, burnt into a rock face, everlastingly entangled. That was the problem with you and me; too together, too devoted. It freaked them all out – Luke, Ti, Ella, West. All those assholes who pressed us up against them and asked us to feel their pulses; taste their black blood.
God, here’s to them: those bastards that made us cry and tried to rupture us apart. Here’s to the boy that dipped me on the dance floor and almost made me believe he could be the new you. Here’s to the girl who murmured her love for you. And here’s to you: your escapist, Whiskey ways; your pretty, filthy smell; the burnt, broken, greedy look that owned me all those years… And will always.
I was raised in a society based thoroughly on dichotomous discontent. Love forever; leave the fucker today. Be yourself; be who we want you to be. Don’t fuck; don’t be a prude. Don’t be dumb; don’t be too smart. Love your parents; fucking rebel. Be an individual, but only in the same way everyone else is… I was fed Disney for nourishment – the fainting female, the bird wilting, wings broken – the prince, crown and all, sauntering in stage left – kiss, cure – marriage, kids, castle, fade to black. I was told Old Wives’ Tales every noon when my ma was gone by the talk show hosts: never take back a cheater; there’s a dick hiding under every skirt; there’s men waiting to steal your kid, house, car, credit cards, identity, spouse…
Him: the boy next door, to coin a credible cliché. He saw me practicing ballet, pretty little arcs, my limbs twisted into, my toga riding up, falling – I was going to be a minute Helen of Troy in Mdme. Genevieve’s original ballet. As I recall, Ella was there with me – she didn’t do ballet, but the little cunt was a self-proclaimed expert on everything, and was lecturing me (“Your legs just don’t look right.”). We didn’t realize you were sitting there on the concrete divider between your backyard and mine until you casually threw in, “It’s perfect, actually. Beyond it. Classic arabesque.”
We both jumped; Ella, naturally, got flustered and recovered by shrieking at the top of her lungs, “Paedophile! Paedophile!”
Even back then, such a pretty thing. Brown hair was falling into burnt umber eyes; sneer a perpetual façade, only slipping when you caught me smiling at you. Your mother was a ballet instructor – after a casual conversation exchanged by parents, I was wrenched from my own dance school and put into yours. You and I, dance partners at eleven. Your unmanly hands coming to clasp my unwomanly hips.
Pubescent exchange of breath and press of lip at a school dance. You smelt like soap, gunpowder, something sinewy and sugary – in the background, strobe lights, a manifold selection of various pubescents – insufferable Justin Timberlake playing! – Yet you and I, centre stage: quiet and serene. I could hear your every inhalation; feel every feather-light-tickle of fingertip brushing cheekbone, temple, earlobe, hair. It was curious to experience an entirely new feeling after thirteen years: lust.
West, my dance partner the year after that. You didn’t like that. Ella hated you ‘to death and Hell and the sun and all the way back’. We were twelve, and you were beginning to get the reputation of a ‘troubled child’. My parents forbade me to hang around you – as if we’d listen. No, we shimmied down the pipes outside our houses and kissed under the sycamore, under the pinpricks of stars, the milky moon. Your body – only skin and heat, really – made me on several occasions faint, sigh, moan… Every once in a while, cry… You got used to that. You always asked why – did you hurt me or something? No, you never did. I don’t know why I cried when I kissed you. I still don’t.
One night under the tree, you told me with lethal seriousness, “I’m going to kill West.” You shimmied around the front of your pants; I laughed nervously, assuming you were finally ‘bringing it out’ – as the older girls in the bathroom had warned me you might – but you pulled out a switchblade, flicked it open… You nicked my thumb; I nicked yours. We pressed the blood together. Blood brothers? Blood brethren? You frowned at me, “No. Blood love.”
Movie the next day during school; some ballet shit – I’d grown tired of the dance; it offered nothing new. West sat beside me, blonde hair sparking in midday sun, which slid through blinds to form lines like prison bars around us. Movies – this generations opiate to the populace. (Well, you know us teenagers: we need to be contained, maintained, restrained, entertained.) You, behind West. West tried to grab my hand a couple of times – once managed to get a pretty good grasp of my wrist, but I yanked it away. When the lights dimmed for the dramatic climax (our teacher was a theatrical, pedantic, shallow ‘artiste’), you managed to scratch him on the neck with your blade. He let out a short yelp and exclaimed, “What the Hell was that?!” You soaked back into darkness, incognito. The first attempted murder is always the hardest, kiddo.
West: pretty much an All-American, tanned, square-jawed, well-adjusted version of you. He was one of the only guys who wouldn’t become homosexual at our school. ‘Become’… Not ‘become’. But I don’t like to classify kids gay too young; I like to think we’re all pretty asexual in those formative, murky years… asexual as in we’re truly bisexual… I first kissed a girl when I was five, and continued kissing them until I met you… It was experimentation; true, dreamy, hopeful innocence. They tasted like the candy we had gorged ourselves on earlier within the sleepover; their lips were always sticky, and it was never much fun. Anywho, West: the richest boy in the school. All the neurotic little ballerinas already were fancying being wed to him. His life was never an easier one – the burden of his heritage…
West attempted a kiss on the school steps one day, when both our parents were late. I feinted out of it and punched him in the chest. He gasped, winded. I laughed. You never started a thing. You never tried anything on me, you know; I always advanced things.
The next year – thirteen, our final transcendence into adolescence. Sweat, sex, cigarettes… We danced under a spotlight to help raise funds for your mother’s school – I mastered the fouetté rond de jambe en tournant, you lifted me – we stood, frozen through the applause, smiling painted on beams and pretending to be proud. My cheeks hurt after. You kissed them better, and I helped you out of your tights. You made me turn around afterwards, though, and I heard you rustling hastily into your clothes. You kissed the top of my spine; I walked outside, pissed.
If you had have kissed me, had have let me watch, we wouldn’t be here. Not that I blame you; it’s just a simple observation.
Outside – Ti and Luke. The pariahs of our school. They were wearing leather jackets over their respective tutu and tights, smoking, their identical (from the back) blonde heads rose to stare at an advertisement on the billboard quite visible from where we stood. The air was cold and their grey cigarette smoke looked blue. The advertisement: in yellow and red, the words ‘DO YOU WANT LONGER LASTING SEX?’ The word ‘sex’ was thrice as big as any of the other text. Quietly, they were guffawing to each other, those lovely twins that would ruin both our lives so perfectly. For a moment – a thankful, reverent moment – I could stare at them in their natural habitat, completely at ease, free of disguises or roles – but then the door behind me closed with a resounding boom!, they glanced back and smiled at me widely.
Ti, “The star of the show, here, in the flesh! Do you not feel privileged, Lucas?”
Lucas, loftily, “I do not.”
Ti, “You must be simply insane, simply batty, because darling, have you not seen how well this girl can execute a chassé? How effectively she may execute a grand jeté? A pas de poisson?”
Lucas, “If by execute,” (and here he paused for dramatic effect), “you mean in the sense of ‘annihilation’, then yes, no one is more effective in executing the art of ballet as she.”
I raised an eyebrow, “Hmm. It must be bitter back in the chorus line.”
They both seemed surprised; both let out in unison barking, astonished laughs.
Ti, “She has a brain! It lives, free!”
Lucas and Ti Abigail – I have never since encountered such vindictive, charming people. They were never themselves; constantly playing characters. Winningly naïve children to be coddled; embittered, angst-ridden teenagers to be respected, or to commiserate with; horrid bastards ready to rip your throat out. I never saw nor found any evidence of parental involvement in their lives. They were incestuous often. Drunk, they would pet each other, mince about, French each other in plain view. To cut a screed, they were the anti-heroes Marquis de Sade would have adored as his children.
Ella, of course, hated them. West warned me against the Abigail Twins. You began a cozy friendship with Ti, mainly based on her availability to drugs and booze. You became addicted; you and Ti, lurching through an evening, as Lucas and I picked up after you. Ti called me ‘le cadette de notre famille’; kissed my cheek. When I slept over, every once in awhile I’d awake to find myself spooned by her, a curtain of her blonde hair tickling my cheek. Twice, in those nine months before disaster, I wakened to find her cupping my breasts; accidental exploration?
You kissed me, but it wasn’t the same. Gone was the taste of childlike innocence – a nectar indescribable and almost undetectable until it has left. You tasted like whiskey and cigarettes – you smelt like you, but it was a more watered, diluted version. You’d come to our sycamore with bloodshot eyes, swaying. I asked you the matter; you’d ask me the time. We fumbled, but still you persisted in my chastity; I, brave explorer, pioneer, etc., reached up your shirt at fourteen, my hand trembling with the holy weight of what I was touching – you were perfect, you were a temple, a chapel unto yourself, a religious experience, my love held on my lips as you pushed my hand away just as it managed to caress the base of your ribcage. You wiped your mouth; your eyes smoldered, only just discernable in porch light from your house. One word; one refusal, “Don’t.” I began to snuffle; you saw the signs, knew I was on the verge of crying. You sighed, shuffled your feet, “Look, I love you. A lot. But don’t. I don’t want to.” And, as you watched me looking at you with stinging rejection, offered me a look of such burdened pain, shouldered misery, that I didn’t call after you when you jumped the fence without another word; nor did I hold it against you.
Ti, “You fucked him, or what?”
Me, now in the rhythm of their conversation, “Of whom do we speak?”
“Naturally, Lucas,” Ti said, a veil of shimmering hair, a flash of amused blue eye, “So, you and him – fucked?”
A swallow, “No. He told me not to.”
Ti, a quirk of pink lip screwed into acerbic smile, “Interesting.”
Oh. If only I’d known.
Fourteen, and nearly fully formed. Pink, pale flesh taut over bones, wrapped in black T-Shirt, white, second skin jeans. As usual, Ti, you, Luc, I, whiskey in the park. Orange streetlights our only illumination. Luc sitting beside me, “You realize she’s a shambles, yes?” I reshuffled, repositioned my weight – elbows from resting on my knees to knees hugged to chest, “That’s a leading question, Lucas.” “Allegiance noted,” Luc scoffed. Watching you and her, out of the corner of my eye – you both, sprawled out on a picnic blanket, tear-eyed, giggly drunk. Lucas never joined in – azure eye lolling skywards, “I’m watching my figure.” Me, I just didn’t understand such a destructive form of escapism.
If anyone else said it but me, I’d kill them for corniness, but… I preferred you.
Ella, she sneered as I regaled with tales of your exploits. Always, she’d openly taunt your inhibition, your likeliness to go nowhere – hark, your grades were dropping; there was only so much your mother could do to keep you there. Oh, I didn’t want to believe her, but I knew it was true. Your mother was a fair headmistress, not one for favoritism or flattery, nor mercy. Ella rolled her eyes, “Never bring him near me. I can’t stand him.” I never doubted her hatred.
The eve of the chaos. Parkwards after a major recital – all of us in leather jackets, still in full tights, leotards, ballet slippers. Ti and you reeled ahead of Luc and I; I remember quite clearly Ti, a waif against the darkness – a pale pink vision so contrasted against black, every single groove of that body other ballerinas salivated for heightened and shamelessly blatant. I could hear our feet crunching the grass below us. I could feel the damp in the air. I could hear distant traffic, an insect-whine.
Luc, “O, forgive us Lord. We care not what we do.”
We neared the lake, the moon’s rays reflected in ladders to the shore. My eyes dipped and I leant against a tree. I opened them to see you, entangled with Ti, her pink pale frame standing erect as your dark leather sleeve concealed her shoulder; you held her knotted to you with a kind of desperation, a passion you had never afforded me. For a moment, I stayed rooted as your mouth worked hers, your heads worked in perfect fluency and measure. Luc, behind me, hot breath whispering into my ear, “… And then the pathetic girl realized she had been a pawn all the way along…”
I ran off, stage right, into the suburban enclave that greeted me. Dogs barked; TVs blared; I ran into one or two people, and all I had to answer their “watch it!”s were my own choking sobs. I found myself at Ella’s, and as I bawled in her arms, she confessed, weeping herself, that she loved you too. That summer, we turned fourteen, and I refused to answer you. When you climbed through my window, I pushed you out of my bedroom, into the hall, locked the door. I slept with my window closed every night after, bolted shut – I suffered through the stifling hot air. I ignored the phone calls. The notes. The flowers. Eventually, you gave up.
I was fifteen, and my heart was broken.
West, at a school dance. We danced, most of the fun taken out of it since we knew the techniques back-to-front and appraised each other with a critical, professional eye. I felt as if at any moment, I would simply collapse. My heart physically ached. My joints were tense. I fell against West during a slow song; gently, romantically, he lowered my limp body in a quixotic gesture and slowly kissed me. I could feel your eyes on me. I couldn’t bring myself to kiss back. I never had that kind of venom against you…
Ti, “May I cut in?”
The wry voice like shrapnel through a momentary relief, a numbness achieved by too much pain… West, bemused, let me go, and Ti and I began to waltz to an Arctic Monkey song. Her face, close up, was heart-creakingly beautiful. I had lost you to an object of mythically carnal, beastly beauty. To look at her made tears well in my eyes. I looked away.
“Why cry? He’s gone now.”
Through grit teeth, “Because I loved him. Do you love him? Could you possibly understand?”
Ti, simple, earnest look on her face – we sashayed past several couples, cut through a grindline, “Of course, darling. I love you.”
I laughed bitterly, “Love? You know nothing. Friends don’t-”
Ti, laughingly, “Oh, you fucking thick cunt! I love you not like a friend – I don’t want your camaraderie. I don’t want to be your contemporary. I love you – not like an amie, but like an amant.”
I stared blankly.
“In simpler terms, this.”
Her lips closed around mine. Her delicate hand came to the back of my head and held it there. You had been on her. She had been on you. I spat in her mouth and struggled out of her clutch, stumbled away from her, sobbing. West came to my aid; a brisk, “Fuck off!” made him scarce. Through a mess of brick-lined school halls, out the back, behind the boys’ toilets, crying. I hugged my stomach and slid to concrete. And you, you, (ye Gods!) you were there, lighting up a cigarette. You made to leave as you heard me sob, but a step or two away, you stopped, recognized me in my weeping, and asked tentatively, “Is that you?
I laughed bitterly, “Yeah, c’est moi, you bastard. I know everything. It’s all clear now.”
A pause, “You kissed West.”
“West kissed me.”
“Well, it was so entertaining to see you instantly jerk away from him.”
“You have no rights over me,” I spat, “I spoke to Ti. She divulged some illuminating pieces of information to me about the nature of your relationship.”
A tense silence, “Oh yeah?”
I could not see you, only the red mouth of your cigarette, where it bobbed, disembodied, up and down as you took your drags. Faintly, the subwoofer from the gymnasium. To our left, maybe a hundred meters, the sound of a couple, coupling.
Wiping my nose on my sleeve, grunt a, “Yeah.”
Hush falls, and I hear a sound that could be you laughing or crying.
“I suspected she might.”
“You can’t trust her.”
I kept quiet; bemused. Had he known she didn’t love him as well? My heart threatened to rupture – had he chosen lukewarm affection over my utter devotion knowingly?
“She never plays it right. I knew she loved you; and she, somehow, fucking knew about me,” you were sobbing – my innate instinct was to run to you, comfort you; with some effort, I remained firmly fixed to the floor, “And now you know. What are your thoughts?”
Try something vague, “What do you think my thoughts are?”
You let out a breath; I could hear your voice tremble with trepidation and torture, “You think I’m dirty, right? Ever since it happened, that’s all I’ve felt. Like there’s a dark mark on me. A black gunk inside me that’s going to keep me permanently away – from you, my only relief,” you were crying in between words here, “It honestly doesn’t matter that he touched me, or that the police found the pictures. I was twelve and for the first three weeks, that’s what got me through: you. You stopped me from understanding the pain. But then we turned thirteen, and we met Ti, and she told me how I should feel – what it all meant. How disgusting I was, this kiddie porn model. I don’t know how she knew. She asked me if I was going to put the job down on my resume; technically, she sneered, it counted. And when she said I was only hurting you, that I was filtering my sins through you, purging them at your expense, and the only way to save you was to hemorrhage myself completely from you, I… believed her.”
My mind was a blank; to wallow in an old chestnut, I was speechless. Words sprouted in my mind – images of you, my darling, my childhood sweetheart – debauched, ripped away, out of your torn denim jeans and baseball caps; boxers only, turn towards the camera, baby. I heard you breakdown; I heard the Jack Daniels crash to the floor. I, after my heavy moment of contemplation, disregarded it all – and as if compelled by magnets or some outward force – fate, God, anything – I came to you, I hugged you and I told you, “I love you. You couldn’t be dirty. You can’t be. Not to me. I don’t measure you by anyone else. Whatever you are, that’s pure, that’s beauty, that’s perfection. Kill a man, roll in mud, punch me in the eye – test it. I’m yours. Whatever you do, I’ll remain here.”
“You left before,” you sobbed against my shoulder – I had never felt such compassion before… No, not compassion. Your pain chorused through me – I wasn’t apart from it, I was a part of it. I could feel the agonizing ache quaking and quivering through my entire being; I could feel the tangible weight of it on my – our – soul, dragging me down; the heaviness of it all. I kissed the parts of you available to me – earlobe, cheekbone, temple, hair – and whispered, “Only because I thought you didn’t want me.”
And it’s true, darling, it’s true. So here’s to those who tried to rip us apart, whether for own gain or for own love or simple malice. Here’s to Ti, Luc, Ella, West, and us.
Under the moonlight, under the stagelight, under a sycamore, under a bridge, I’m yours.
AN: The ending is NOT a Jason Mraz quote. I began writing this before the song came out. Anyways, I was expirementing with a slightly different writing style here. Not totally sure about it.