Curtain Call

She feels it. Deep, vested. It's in her core. It's her.

He looms over her like she's a carrion feast. She can't breathe. The air, the sounds, it's disjointed. Fuddled, muddy.

She hears steps.

She hears the thump. Beat, drip: the heart stops. Her blood's been poisoned. A leaded needle, an arsenic reprise.

He tells her it'll be okay. The ambulance is coming. She just needs to hang on, a few more seconds, soon.

Her skin crawls. Rip, strip, it peels off in striped ribbons. There are feathers plastered to her back, matted from explosive sweat. She groans as they lift her onto the stretcher. Thomas holds her hand. She sees fear in his eyes.

He can't afford to lose his best dancer.

The crowd is still clapping and chanting. They call for her. They are ceaseless, tireless in their admiration.

She is flattered.

She fades into oblivion.

It will be all right. It will be perfect.