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Choreography

She knocks things over—pyramid-stacked cans in the grocery store, books off the shelf at the library, her father’s glasses from atop his nose. She studied ballet in New York. Or at least that’s what she hopes to do.

At night, she glissades across the Swan Lake tromp l’oeil shimmers on her ceiling. She is graceful, lithe, catlike.

In the daytime, she bumps into lamp posts, people on the street, vendors with neat rings of bagels on wooden staves. Her neighbors shake their heads. Her schoolmates laugh behind their hands. Her mother cries herself to sleep.

The doctors warned them when she was a toddler. A dancer she will never be: Her arches pancaked, her toes pigeon’d, her thighs elephantined. Dream another dream, they insisted.

Still she dances. Still she twirls. Still she spins. Stop moving, her mother, brushing her hair, exhorts.

Still she pirouettes. Still she sautés. Still she pliés. Wake up, her father whispers, it’s time to get ready for school.

She keeps her eyes closed. Still she leaps.

Jamie Etheridge’s creative writing has been published or is forthcoming in JMWW Journal, (mac)ro(mic), Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y Lit, Emerge Lit, and Anti-Heroin Chic. She tweets at LeScribbler.

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