Snowflakes fell like fluttery Parisian meringues. Anna’s thin jacket and
pointe-shoe-pink silk pyjamas held off her shivering for but a moment. Her slippers were soon as wet as the sky.
Christmas gifts scattered after the train’s crash, shiny paper and foppish bows bold against the bleak night. There was no rehearsal for this unexpected performance.No backstage practice. No on-stage marking.
No costume fittings. The other passengers made a briefly captive audience.
Anna took her position on the frozen platform stage and danced to the orchestral train whistles punctuated with rhythmic train track clicks and clacks. The audience drifted at intermission drawn by lovers and children and warm homes. Left alone on the platform, Anna went through each position and movement, marking time. In twelve hours, her feet moved from first to second and back like the eternally-ticking station clock.
Still she danced.
A plie. A jeté. Arms up. Arms down. Toes perfectly pointed. Hands gracefully extended. All in place at the gate’s impromptu barre. She danced even as she choked on sweet snow force-fed by swirling winds. Danced until she couldn’t drag a foot or hand back again. Danced until she couldn’t raise an arm to salute the circling winter birds. Even as they purpled and numbed, her feet danced on, mixing crimson blood with snow to ballet pink.
Still she danced.
Far from the station, her dance finally drew to a close. Her naked feet scissoring into familiar steps, a finale duet with satin bed sheets behind a velvet curtain comforter. Rhythmic last breaths counting each movement.
‘Bring me the swan,’ she whispered.
They brought it to her and she was warmed by the familiar black feathers laid across her lithe body. One last time, she posed, arms extended to heaven. Each breath – a rest, a pause, a measure marker.
And still she danced. A deathbed prima donna. A pale meringue snowflake dancing once more before the stage went dark. Until she flew away on the winter wind.