Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Plié Plea - Friday Flash
The girls were too young for it to be dubbed an audition, but indubitably that’s what they were. And she was never selected either in the coryphee or for a duet. Or perish the thought, for a solo.
She was also too callow to be able to put it down to her ballerina’s costume. She knew it didn’t match those bespoke shop-bought ones sported by all the other nymphs, being more peach than pink. Her mother had fashioned it for her from an old bridesmaid’s dress she herself had worn in those days when she too yearned to be picked.
As she trudged back home after another fruitless audition, she barely raised the soles of her ballet shoes from the pavement. A far cry from the swoops and whisks she had so recently performed at the barre. But then she was stopped dead in her tracks by a sight in somebody’s front lawn…
She ran rather than skipped home. She tugged at her mother’s apron as she stood over the sink lathering dishes. “Mum, can we go visit the zoo?”
“Sure, I think I’m free this weekend”
“No now. It has to be now? Can’t you leave the dishes?”
“Well okay, I guess… But don’t you want to go change out of your ballet things?”
Her daughter shook her head vigorously and started to tug at the apron strings to encourage her mother to prepare her own array.
Her mother paid the entrance fee, silently crossing off some other activities as she balanced the budget in her mind. As she put the change back in her purse, her daughter was already studying the map laying out the animal displays around the park. The well-trodden earth at the foot of the map had turned to dust and already her mother was seething at the folly of standing there in the delicate peach fabric of ballet shoes. “Shall we start with the monkey house? They’re always entertaining?”
Her daughter grabbed her hand and marched them both off determinedly. “Where are we going?” but she received no reply from the firm set of her daughter’s countenance. The passed the monkeys and the reptiles. They wafted by the giraffes at ground level and the big cat enclosure behind the fiercest of metal bars. They slowed their gait at the sea lion pool but continued beyond them.
And then they were, stopped in front of the pond with a variety of wading birds. Her daughter dropped her mother’s hand and gripped the railing with both of hers like a prison inmate. She pressed one of her cheeks through the bars which distorted her features in a discomfiting manner.
Her mother was about to pull her back, when her hand was stayed as her daughter raised one foot off the ground and bent it to abut her knee. She released one hand from the railing and brought it up straight pointing towards the sky above her head. She recalled the position from her own stunted ballet days. Her daughter was executing a passé relevé, using the railing as an impromptu barre.
Then it struck her, she was echoing the stance of the flamingos on one leg with their gracefully curved necks. And surprisingly their colour was none too divergent from that of her daughter’s peach tutu. She had always assumed flamingos were a shocking shade of pink. Ballerina pink. But not these specimens. She espied a keeper and asked him why their colour was not the expected pink. He explained that it was due to them being in captivity, that there was no way to replicate their natural diet with its high levels of carotene that coloured their plumage. The mother didn’t notice her daughter nod agreement on the word ‘captivity’.