"Let's run it from the top!" shouted the voice that held so much authority.
So much authority in my life, thought Sadie as she wiped the sweat from her eyes and stretched her pointe shoes this way and that. She flitted back to the center of room, seemingly under control and submissive. She had been submissive for twenty years, they told her to do it differently, she did. They told her to lift her arm just so, not just so, she had done it. She hadn't even thought to think otherwise, they were the ones that held all the power to her dreams. The pianist struck up a melody and Sadie's muscle memory took over, and with it her thoughts left her. She found the inner core of the music and released her emotions into the four-minute solo dance.
"Enough!" the voice was back, "You're not getting it, it has to be perfect." Miss Stanley looked harmless, like ninety-five pounds of nothing, but ballerinas are brutal. Sadie's shoulders slumped, it still wasn't perfect. She slouched to the side of the room as her understudy had a go at it. She watched the girl do the ballet solo that had been choreographed for HER. The younger and improved Sadie was fantastic. She was too young though, she still had to earn her way up in the company, but it wouldn't be long now. Sadie's career was supposed to be longer than this she was only twenty-one. She had only been advanced from the core to a soloist a year ago. Twenty-one was middle aged in ballet years, she had more to give she thought angrily as Miss Stanley gushed happily at her understudy's performance.
Sadie swept her bag up and headed for the door, not bothering take her pointe shoes off or put her street clothes on over her leotard and tights, she moved stealthily though the studio and onto the street. The streets of New York were noisy, of course. As Sadie made her way through the crowd toward a neighboring building with a roof top garden, a little girl stopped and starred at her. "Mommy mommy" she said, "Look a ballerina! I want to be just like her when I grow up!"
Sadie's eyes glossed over as she walked by. That little girl had been her so many years ago, but what neither little girl knew was the hunger. The hunger to be better, in every way possible. It was never good enough, never thin enough, the moves were never perfect enough, there was no such thing as perfection in ballet, it was unobtainable, but try they all did to obtain it. Day in and day out, Sadie tried to reach that perfection.
She remembered the day she had started her ballet lessons, her mother had wanted her to be a great, famous ballerina since before she could remember. And she had tried. Tried to do it so her mother would be happy instead of miserable over Sadie's father leaving them. But even now that she was in the top ballet company her mother seemed no happier. Sadie sighed and realized she had climbed to the top of the building.
She scrambled through the rooftop door. The garden was more of a concrete balcony with a few pots of flowers than a garden. Sadie lit up a cigarette. And another.
"Two at once?" smirked a voice far to her left. "You must be having a bad day, but I'll take one of those off your hands." Sadie hesitated, but then flicked one in his general direction. She eyed him as he picked it up; he was definitely smirking.
He was wearing a suit, a nice one, but he looked out of place in it. He was clean but his hair was a mess of long dark brown strands. And his face; there was something out of sorts with that too. He was handsome though, with sharp features, perhaps they were the features of a country she had never visited before she thought. He rested the cigarette between his lips and leaned against the ledge across from her, and starred hard. She suddenly became very aware that she was still wearing nothing but her leotard and tights, as he must be aware too.
"There's usually an odd bunch of people up here to have a smoke, but their usually dressed uh… a bit more." He was still smirking and she found the urge to slap him very strong as he eyed her half dressed body.
Instead she said, "I'm a ballet-"
"-dancer," He cut her off, "Yeah I know. I've seen your pictures on the posters by the Met. I was going to ask for an autograph but now I see they have a new girl on those posters."
The urge to slap him was almost undeniable now. But instead she did something worse; she started to cry. No, not cry, she started to sob. It was true. It wasn't even that new girls ballet. She was just Sadie's understudy, yet she had captured the photographer's attention and was plastered across New York City.
The boy rushed to her side and looked horror struck and uncertain what to do.
Before she knew it she was spilling her guts to him, "I'm too young to be replaced! All I've ever done is work to get to where I am! All I've ever done! What am I without this? Nothing." The word, nothing, rang in her ears, as she stumbled toward the ledge of the roof, "I have nothing! I am nothing." She made to step off the ledge but his hand caught her arm and pulled her away.
"What the hell, a bit of an overreaction don't you think!" His face hard, and eyes glaring, he still had his hand around her arm. She relaxed her tensed muscles and sighed looking away from him.
"Maybe it was an overreaction," she said softly, "But it's my whole life, and it's becoming unbearable to be trapped in that world."
At her words, his grip loosened and she turned to him again, realizing for the first time how close she was to him, and the spectacular color of his bright blue eyes.
The boy was biting his lip and still looking uncertain, but a different kind of uncertain. "Look, kid, why don't you put some clothes on and we'll go someplace. There's a big universe out there, you might be giving up too quickly."
"You don't even know me, no one will know you were up here with me, just let me go." She said weakly.
"Any other day kid I might, but I have no one to get lunch with, so I really need you to accompany me to get some pizza."
"Pizza? I haven't had pizza since I was twelve." The boy looked taken aback by her response.
"Fuck it, let's get some pizza," she said with a little more life in her voice, "I need some fun."
She moved away from the ledge and rummaged through her bag. She threw on a yellow sundress over her pink tights and left her dance shoes on. Then she plucked out the few pins in her hair and let it fall past her shoulders. She was startled to notice the boy was watching her closely, with an expression she couldn't quite make out. Her mother always told her how nice she looked with her wavy golden brown hair down, and that the color yellow perfectly complimented her lightly tanned olive skin. Perhaps that was why he was starring at her. But when she caught his eye he was put off and turned cold once more. He smirked again, "Well let's go get some pizza."