feral. carnal. high on the lows. there is no need to worry. nothing is real other than what one feels.

Mixed signals.

Nina's body signals stagnation in her stagnating routine. Routine is no longer mere routine. Each attempt: different. Each reaction: one. Thomas is disappointed. Thomas is glad. The other girls watch Nina's every move. Nina is not as fluid as her errors as the black swan. What she does not achieve helps her to secure her role as the Swan Queen. She practices precision and never achieves it. She bites the lips that feed her and never achieves them. Neither affect her—neither the precision she once believed in, nor Thomas' lips. She considers herself…

Formalities hide informalities. Talks of success wash away in the alcohol. Threats of demise brainwash Nina. The old prima ballerina presents forewarning. Venturing to Thomas' home unsettles her. Nina is not aware of her mother, not like before. Nina wonders if she makes up the image of a flower, a Lily, with the sensuality of the black swan. The scratching, the worrying. Her mother worries more than ever.

Masturbation presents an enigma. Nina did not feel before, for there was no gain in learning her own body. She feels now, due to the suggestion. There is dryness in softness, in such small spaces. There is velvet, there is unknown. Black objectivity blinds her. Nina instead searches in the white light of pleasure soaking her lungs and throat. Soaking it enough to leave a shallow pool. Shallow breaths, increasing. She feels, she feels naught. She feels, she tunes it out. Concentration cannot co-exist in this moment.

In thinking to let go, she moves her hand as if to stop. Fingers roam in protest. Rebellion spurs her. She thinks of no one, except Thomas. Thomas will be sure to notice the difference in her routine should she do this. Lily will notice. Nina's body notices the extraneous strangeness of this act.

A crown, engorged, wet, being probed and stroked. A Swan Queen must stroke her crown with the pirouettes of self-seduction in dance. Her crown is wet from fluids not unlike sweat from the lights, from the crowd—from the morning light, from the stuffed animals. Probed by the presence of others in the world, she continues, unabashed. Stroked and stroked, she strokes again to remember the repetition. Flowing blood throbs, aches—Nina cannot remember that her hand moves.

Arching is natural. This must be natural. This must be what she lacks. This, this nothing, this void. Void of worries, void of troubles. The Void is light, it is dark, it is her body. Nina rises to a full capacity of being. She rises on the ramp, stares beyond the crowd; sees herself dying. The small death is the act of falling—the interpretation is over.

The dream is over. Nina is still in her room.

A new dream must begin. Her mother sleeps on a chair in the same room.