Our Secrets

Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -
Benjamin Franklin


5. Carrie's Secret

I have a secret.

That's what I wrote on that piece of paper today. I have a secret. Secrets. Funny things really. Pieces of information we keep quiet because we don't want people to know the real us. If no one had secrets then everyone would be accepted exactly as they are, because no one would have the right to criticize anybody else. But unfortunately, no one is willing to start the chain reaction.

I sat in front of one of the many mirrors and tied my hair into a bun. I wrapped the loose strands around the band, perfecting my hairstyle. Mademoiselle always said that if you looked messy, you danced messy. I powdered my cheeks, giving a rosy glow to my naturally pale skin. I applied a light line of mascara on my lashes, just for effect. I used the lipstick to give a red tint to my lips. I stared in the mirror. I looked good.

"Are you done yet?" Jackie asked coldly.

"Yeah, sure"

She didn't look at me or say anything else. This was typical competitive dancing. I went to the benches and began tying up my ballet shoes. They were a soft pale pink in a soft material, the most expensive type money could buy. I stood up on my toes, trying out my dance routine steps. The moves came easily, and I performed them with no faults. I just hoped it would be enough.

"Mes filles, vennient chez moi" 

Mademoiselle's words drew the ballerinas around her like electrons circling around an atom. Mademoiselle was our rock, the one person who kept the cattiness to a minimum. Mademoiselle didn't encourage competition, she told us we were a team. Unfortunately, there was no team spirit in the L'Académie d'Hiver de la Danse.

Mademoiselle had impeccable English, but chose to speak French when delivering important news. This would be fine if afterwards Mademoiselle went on to translate what she had just said, but she didn't and swiftly moved on in a babble of French.

"Il y aura des auditions tenues vendredi pour décider les cinq danseurs participant à la routine de 'Swan Lake'"

I spotted Elle whispering rapidly to Jackie, probably translating what Mademoiselle was saying. Elle was half-French, and could speak the language fluently. I had guessed this was half the reason Jackie stayed friends with her, as Elle was all looks. Mademoiselle told me once that the reason Elle could jump so high in dance was because her head was filled with fluff and had no brain weighing her down. Of course, Mademoiselle had said it in a more diplomatic way than that.

"Mademoiselle, no one has a clue what you're on about!" Niamh O' Connell yelled from the back, the only one who could get away with talking to Mademoiselle like that. With red spiral curls and a fiery temper to match, Niamh was Irish out and out. She was the only one who was half-way friendly to the other dancers.

"Oh! Désolé, filles! I was saying that, unfortunately, not all of you can take part in this year's winter recital" There was an intake of breath. We all understood: Auditions.

"Auditions, Friday, six o clock. The best three will be chosen. Now, you may practise mes filles"

The group dispersed, but not without shooting intimidating glances at each other. I got the bane of it from Jackie, my main competitor. Well, at least she thought herself so.

"Wow Carrie, you're so lucky" Jackie said, smiling. "I never get curvier no matter how much I eat. If only I could have your metabolism and get a bit of meat on these bones. Oh well"

She flounced off to her changing area, where Elle was preening herself in the mirror. I flexed my fingers into my palm. I knew she was trying to knock my confidence, misdirect my focus. But still, what if that extra chicken piece showed from last night?

I ran to the bathroom, quickly looking around to see if anyone was there. I narrowed my eyes at the mirror, frowning my at my reflection. My cheeks looked rounder and plumper, the red blush making them look puffy and blotchy. My neck had an extra roll of fat, taunting me as I moved my head up and down. My stomach wasn't flat or toned, which I was reminded of by the bulge in my leotard. My hair stuck to my head limply, emphasising my piggish features. I was ugly. I was fat. How was I supposed to dance with the tornado thighs I had? I know I had been slipping a little on my strict diet but... My stomach rumbled. I groaned in anger. Shut up, shut up. I won't feed you. Its my stomach that got me looking like this...this pig. I thought of the cereal and toast I had that morning and felt sick. I wanted it out of me. Now.

I threw open the door of the cubicle and locked it tightly behind me. I bent down over the toilet, the tears rushing down my cheeks. My piggy, chipmunk cheeks. I wanted to feel pretty again, skinny again. I wanted to feel in control. No one was going to want me in their dance school like this. I stuck my finger down my throat, feeling the gagging sensation. The stench, the tears, the taste in my throat. It was all familiar.

I flushed the toilet, dabbing at my mouth with loo roll. I felt whole again, as I always did after I did it. But I knew what came next, the self-doubt, the lows, rock bottom. I leaned my head against the cubicle door and wiped my cheeks. In a world that expected me to be perfect, I was so imperfect. I left the cubicle and heading to the door, desperately hoping my face wasn't a horrifying state. I left the bathroom, left the mirror, left my secret.


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