A petite young girl with dirty blonde hair yanked tightly in a small spiral bun at the nape of her neck, pushes the heavy dirt spotted, metal door closed behind her. She stares at the worn, graying wooden floor and bites her pink, swollen, tattered lips. She immediately tastes hard copper and makes a sour face as dark red blood flows past her lips. Her rose red tongue flicks out and cleans them. She runs her fingertips over her bun to secure loose tendrils of gold hair. A few loose hairs stick up at the top of her forehead as she tries desperately to lay them down. She gives up with an exasperated huff of air.
Her hands shake as she places her size 6, custom crafted, pale pink ballet slippers next to an ancient off white folding chair. The dull chair moans and groans as she rests herself upon the antique. She tucks a few lose wayward strands of hair behind her left ear. She wipes her small hands on the thighs of her tights as she leans forward. She rolls her head back on her shoulders, stretching the muscles in her long, lean neck. She rolls and shrugs her tiny shoulders forward and back. She drums her fingernails lightly, almost reverently, against the bottom of her seat. She closes her eyes and slowly smiles to herself.
The girl stretches her left leg out gracefully in front of the shining mirror. She points her callused toes and starts to twist her ankle from left to right. She slips on the left slipper than the right slipper. She wraps the pink ribbons tightly around each sore, purple ankle. Her face twists in pain as she ties the ribbons into small bows. She leans forward breathing heavy. She closes her eyes and rises slowly from her creaking seat. Her ankles start to shake before she falls to the floor like an abandoned rag doll. Her torn red lips tremble as she once again rises.
She dips the toes of her ballet slippers in chalky, white rosin powder before continuing to the middle of the floor. She makes an arch above her head, stretching her arms high and wide. She tries to pirouette, goes for a turn and spins straight down to the floor. She pounds her clenched fists on the wooden...