The Ballerina

by Bryan Ranney

The railway yard is all grey pebbles and rust until a yellow-orange engine lumbers by, loaded down with coal hoppers and something in a tanker. Carrie walks on the sidewalk, parallel to the track, toward the strip mall, past the edge of the industrial court. On these walks, the weeds are footlights, the concrete a stage, the passing traffic her audience.  She walks with grace and cannot help but smile at her own cleverness, this subtle dance. She is the ballerina. Earlier, in her basement, she scratched her yellow pencil on a notebook, rehearsed her choreography in secret. She watched the girl in the mirror spin. Now, arriving at the dime store, she heads straight for the children’s costumes. She rubs the coarse, pink, plastic netting of a tutu between her thumb and index finger. She closes her eyes and raises her arms, posing. She remembers a church mission to the delta, after the storm. Muscles burning from the strain of holding plywood over her head, the sound of the nail gun as they patched the hole. Here, through the ceiling, some woman and her children had escaped onto the roof and waved to helicopters that would lift them to safety.  On their way home, the pastor, Robinson, hums a tune, steers the bus with his muscular arms, dirt under his fingernails. When they stop to twirl in the gas station parking lot, she catches a glance of their reflection in the driver-side door of a Cadillac. The vision recedes and Carrie exits the aisle, the store, the strip mall, heading home past the railway yard and back to her quiet basement.

1 comment

  • Jamie Burwell

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