This story is about a dancer.


1. Steps

With perpetual rhythm, the ballerina dances. Her arms sway gracefully to the sound of the orchestral piece while beads of sweat drip down her forehead. Four casting directors sit at a table, marking constant notes of the performance, marking judgments, marking placements, marking futures, marking careers.

Her legs weave intricate patterns like a spiderweb. Her arms gambol like leaves in the wind. Her body moves with ease as the music guides her through the wooden­floored room.

Butterflies beat around in her stomach as she continues the dance. She’s been training for this moment since her parents first saw her potential. The youngest dancer to audition for the Broadway revival of Cinderella, she knew she only had one chance to impress. She couldn’t betray her parents’ trust now.

She draws deep breaths through her nostrils, trying to not let her implacable nerves consume her. There was one move that she was sure she could do with regal ease: the triple pirouette.

Perfectly on the beat she spins her body around, and around, and...

It happens. The one slip that ruins a dance. Her one misplaced toe, just one microscopic mistake that sends her falling. And as she falls to the ground, she falls with grace and beauty, with elegant glamor.

Her heart pounds as her mind fills with thoughts of despair and failure. An audible gasp comes from one of the female casters as the ballerina’s eyes begin to water, clouding her vision.

This is it... She thinks in anguish. Is this how I am going to be remembered?

Denial consumes her as the music abandons her, leaves her practically dead on the frigid wood floor.

NO! Screams everything about her, every single fiber of her being not anywhere near ready to let her fail like this. She knows this dance in its entirety by heart, she knows every mark that the percussion makes, she knows every trumpet blast, she knows every step. She has devoted countless hours of her life to this one piece.

She picks herself back up. She weaves herself back into the rhythm and continues the dances as if nothing had ever happened. As if the web were never broken, she glides on the pale wooden floor. She performs adagio movements designed to allure any audience. She glows like an ember, warms everyone with the glimmer. Captivates her audience of four and draws them to her side, winning their votes.

And even as the music stops she still shines. She is an ember, but not one that’s near death. She can still be fanned into full flame. 

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