I took an unintended break from posting this story-in-progress. There was getting my editor (N) to peruse, and then Summer. I wanted to post “carrots” but I realized I was one behind, so tomorrow and then a long piece, “winter and werewolf.” I don’t like “a dancer” as much, but I didn’t want to exclude it as it works towards some things that I do like—cryptic I know.
Celeste Matilda Wyatt had always dreamed of being a dancer. It was her dream, not Cinda’s–whom when she first knew that she would dance in a production of The Sleeping Beautywas only five years old and didn’t know what she would do with her life. She only knew that she liked moving her body and emotions to sound and music same as most her age and culture.
When Celeste would allow it, if Cinda could be good and invisible, Cinda would sometimes go with Celeste to her lessons.
Celeste Matilda Wyatt had always dreamed of being a dancer. This was the despair of her mother who had been gifted the modicum of grace a woman was expected. There was an additional complication: her mother had very little respect for women who made a profession by dancing on stage.
Moira Weaver had a small studio in the small suburb of Cinnamon. Her establishment had produced principal dancers in many a city’s premiere companies. After meeting with Celeste (age 12), Moira Weaver agreed to take her on as a student. After meeting Celeste’s mother (age 39), she had a new student, deposits made, schedules outlined, and rules printed in neat lines front and back.
Moira Weaver spoke philosophy and spoke discipline, and it didn’t hurt that there was a reputable All-Girl’s Preparatory School on the same city block. Celeste was enrolled there, too, and given a room in the dormitory. Celeste’s mother no longer had to remember to worry about her only daughter’s misspent youth, living with her Father amongst the unstructured and uncouth whenever shewas pursuing research and international travel via important name-dropping conferences.
Celeste Matilda Wyatt had always dreamed of being a dancer. Her cousin Felice Lark had dreamed of costuming for the stage. Ten years Celeste’s elder, Felice had begun sewing costumes for Celeste five years later. They continued in this relationship, even as Felice had seen her dream realized and began designing for the prestigious theatre company Le Prestige. It helped that Felice lived in the urban center for which Cinnamon substituted itself. She would come and fetch Celeste for certain events, or come see her for a fitting or for a friendly evening meal.
“I’m sorry Cinda-doll, but I can’t make a costume for you,” Felice replied with a polite look of regret. Even at six, Cinda could guess why. Celeste had told their cousin not to.
Even still she persisted, “But I need a Sleeping Beauty costume.”
Celeste came up to them then, glistening with the sweat of an intense session in preparation for a major audition. “What do you need a Felice Lark original for?”
Cinda was loathe to share what she knew. Celeste had never been particularly warm to her. Celeste leaned very close, her breathe cold on Cinda’s face, “Dance is mine.”
Celeste Matilda Wyatt had always dreamed of being a dancer. There was not room for another in the family. Even Grandmother Sylvia’s brief forays had been forced into an obscured history. She was a songstress, and–,” Celeste halted, and then continued after much was left unspoken, “There is a difference.”
When Cinda was in a certain mood, she would put on one of Sylvia’s gowns, hitch it up and then twirl it in a fearsome example of grace and athleticism. For full effect, it was necessary to have Celeste in the audience when she did this.
Father had begun to ban Cinda from the visiting Celeste in Cinnamon; which Cinda didn’t mind until she realized that taking lessons from Willow Anrep and Karev, both associated with their clan most months of the year, might not be all the preparation needed for her eventual role in The Sleeping Beauty. There was something to this rigor, this cool precision Celeste praised time and again, echoed in the performances of all the Premiere Companies she’d witnessed on the small stages erected for Summer Faires during their abbreviated attempts to share culture with the masses.
“We are giving you the same lessons all Ballerinas receive, Cinda-bird,” Willow assured her. When Celeste wouldn’t let her watch a practice, Cinda would sneak down the hall to where the beginners were. She felt like she had a reason to worry. “It looks different.”
“How serious do you wish to take this?” Karev asked the young Cinda Wyatt. She told him what she knew.
“I have to be ready, don’t I?” Dreams were not the only thing that required work, preparation. “But we’ll have to keep this quiet,” Cinda added aloud; to herself: I’ll have to behave. She needed to attend Celeste’s school once in a while, to at least measure her own progress. And perhaps she should get a costume for the Lilac Fairy while she was at it. As well as Carabosse. She wanted to be prepared.
by Leslie Hill Darnell