CROSSHATCHING (excerpt)

 

La Folie de Giselle

Pink blisters bubbled the skin between her toes. Yellow-red blood stained the broken wood inside her point shoes and she dabbed bits of tissue between the hot skins. The stage was dark and silent save the few bright spotlights illuminating the place and she could hear her own tumescent heart beating in her ears. She wrapped her toes, counting the turns of the medical tape so that each end seam was aligned to the left. She tied the ribbons and adjusted her leotard and started again. Ballonné. Ballonné. Pas de basques. Glissade. Jette. She faltered. Again. Ballonné. Ballonné. Pas de basques. Glissade. Jette. Something rustled the dark. Quiet. Glissade. Jette. Pas de basques. A scratching, like a rake over the wooden floor. She could see nothing under the stage lights and felt her heart in her mouth. She crept towards the noise, careful not to clack the wood of her shoes. She peered into the wings. The stage turned to fog and all she could see was a shadow blooming out from the dim work lights. She backed away. She must have screamed. At what? Later, when the company members found her, she would say the heat from the lights had caused her to fall. And she would eventually convince herself that it had happened this way.

 *

Insides

She began to design herself inside.

She wrote: There are no black squirrels in the forest. Only the colorless ones survived.

 *

The Gilded Bat

She gripped the wood, extending her leg high on the bar as the other girls talked in a cluster on the floor, their lavender leotards sparkling with iridescent wings that jutted out from their shoulder blades. Her own gossamer forelimbs felt heavy and limp on her back, but she did not look in the mirror. A rumbling murmur broke out amongst the girls and Posey looked to see the principal dancer cross the other side of the studio in a black-winged tutu, paint cut across her face in startling chiaroscuro fashion. Posey turned into the bar and looked out the window, catching a glimpse of her own washed face in the glass. She pointed her foot harder, felt the strain in her arch like a hot knot. She pointed and pointed and pointed as the burn tore up her muscles and an army of bats ripped through the sky.

 

M.K. Rainey is a writer, teacher, and editor from Little Rock, Arkansas. She is the 2017 Winner of the Bechtel Prize at Teachers & Writers Magazine and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cider Press Review3AM Magazine, The Collagist, Fiction Southeast, and more. She co-hosts the Dead Rabbits Reading Series and lives in Harlem with her dog. Sometimes she writes things the dog likes.