The dancer begins her routine, tip-toeing across the floor.

Ever since she was a child, she had always been that one child. The one who tried to make things right when everything had been wrong. The one who ended up being there for everyone else when they fell apart. Marshall was the rational, calm-headed one, almost detached. And then, when she needed a strong maternal figure the most, she got fractured pieces of a maternal figure instead. Maybe if she put them together, the rough, jagged edges of Buck, the smooth, rounded edges of Alice, T and all of her angles, and the frayed fringe of the mother she knew and still loved, she'd get what she was seeking. But it's almost too much to ask. She's still much too young, and still has much to learn about the world.

The dancer begins spinning, her arms above her head.

Once her mother went off the meds, she was cast into the shadows, given a supporting role in her own life. Everything became about how Tara would react. Can't stress her out, can't do this, can't do that. What is a girl supposed to do? It's improbable that a young girl of her age would take to convent life very well, and yet, that would be the best way to prevent anything unseemly from happening. She's not sure if it's directed more at her or at her mother.

The dancer's spins pick up speed, her hands clasped together.

She began to seek out behaviors that if she had had a more stable force in her life, probably would have not sought out. She quickly gained a boyfriend, and not too long after had lost her virginity in a haze of cheap beer and roaming hands. It was exhilarating, freeing, to know that she had slipped beyond what her parents expected their little Katie to do. Probably why it had been such a shock to her mother to find the birth control pills slipped inside her monkey backpack. Mothers always think of their little girls as being innocent and pure, even with the evidence increasingly pointing to the contrary.

The dancer's spins begin to lose control, her expression never wavering.

She lost focus, she lost her way. She found her way to a small paycheck – nothing much, but a measure of independence that her parents couldn't pry from her grasp – serving people who desired cheap, chain seafood. It became her salvation, a way out from the hassles of being at home. But as she spent more and more time with Gene and at work, she was beginning to feel almost as she was living two lives. And as she drove away from her house, leaving him behind, able to do who-knows-what to her and her family's possessions, she knew that in her life, she had just hit bottom. The only way up was through clinging to her family.

The dancer veers out of control, skittering across the floor, eyes wide open in shock.

Seeking solace is a hard, hard thing to do. It becomes even harder when everyone else needs solace as well – someone has to put their needs last. Someone has to suck it up and take one for the team. But she's too far gone, she can't play the role she's being urged to play. She faded into the background and let her mother take the lead, control the tempo and flow of the music.

It was how things needed to be, but she was too far gone to see that.

The dancer collapses in a heap on the floor, broken and bruised.

-fini-