Author : M.W. Fowler

She has legs that she keeps up with a regimen of oiling, tensioning checks, and recalculations. She could have downloaded all of her famous dances into them, but somehow, that didn’t seem right. After all, she wasn’t a toy, and she had earned her career through hours of sweaty practices and sweaty stage directors.

The wrong step, the wrong trip or jump, she reminds herself, and it will be given away, this game.

When she was young, her parents knew nothing of her dreams, her true dreams, and they made her dance. Traditional ballet. Neoclassical ballet. Contemporary ballet. And now this. Only the pointe shoes remain. She did not dance at prom. She stopped outside the overly waxed floor, her date’s hands—one on her waist, the other holding the spiked punch—and watched as her classmates danced with the freedom of ignorance to the dance. A freedom she had never known.

“Do you want to?” her date asked her. He was named Steven, and he nodded reluctantly towards the dance floor. “You know, the next song maybe?”

She ran her fingers softly along his at her waist and pulled his hand towards her breast. Steven left the punch on an empty table, and they found a dark spot of the world to park his car.

No. Her parents knew nothing of her dreams to dance the world into its cold, hard end. She would dance at it tomorrow. In front of millions, as they watched their galaxy fall away into an icy darkness that could no longer sustain life, she would dance from the safety of their new mobile planet in space. For them she would dance a dance that would end in the shaped shapeless becoming free.

She knows, though, now, after all of these years, that she was trying to free herself, not the dance. She is trapped inside the dance, inside the machinations of the world around her. They were floating away to their doom. Where were they going? Wherever it was, her legs had carried her there, and when she thought of it like that she began to wonder if she were really in control of the legs or if they had control of her.

She was old. What could they possibly want with her? They were the reason people talked about her age in wonderment: she dances like she is a girl. She was never a girl, she reminds herself, staring at the corner.

“And you,” she says to her legs, “you were never really legs.”

They rest, unmoving in their med-case, waiting for the engineer whose silence she pays handsomely to figure out if the trembling in her last performance was from the end of the world, like a change in the weather, or just the end of her career.


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