Tiny Dancer

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The classical music from the boombox reverberated off of the brick walls of the alley, giving the audio effect of a large concert hall. Minnie, with her eyes closed spun and leaped to the sounds of the orchestra. She didn’t know the piece or the composer, but it didn’t matter. She was both the director and choreographer for this performance. Her two close friends sat in the front row of the auditorium, so they could get a better view of the technical perfection of her movements.

When the dee-jay of the classical station would have to play a commercial, she would simply hold the last pose she was in. For her, time had stopped. It would continue when the first strains of the next composer’s work started. As a young girl, she had two years of training in ballet. The rest she taught herself. Minnie knew, if the newspapers were to review her, that all would be amazed at what she had learned on her own, from watching ballet on her small black & white television.

Each day’s perfomance started with the same ritual. She would meticulously clean the alley, first by picking up any trash the drunks may have deposited the night before. Then she would sweep it and finally mop it. Her stage could have no dangers that might disrupt her dance. It was probably the cleanest section of alley in all of Atlanta. Next came the make-up and wardrobe, where she worked to get into character. She anxiously anticipated the five minute curtain call. The alarm clock on her vanity went off, signalling her to hurry with the last of her preparations.

One would think that Minnie would be a very slender woman, with such a rigorous daily regimen, but the only food available cheaply to the poor are pastas and starchy foods. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, corned beef hash, and the out of date cookies she got to bring home from her job as a cashier at Dollar General, clung to her frame like a drowning man to a life raft. It didn’t really matter to her. Her family, comprised of two cats didn’t seem to mind at all. Her social life consisted of saying hello to the other residents of the tenament as she came and went.

The next song started pour from the speakers of the ghetto blaster, as the announcer introduced a live recording of, Dance of the Sugar Plum Faries recorded by London Symphony Orchestra. Minnie took her starting position in the wings, and leaped to center stage as the music started. She threw every ounce of energy into this performance, feeling the gravity pulling at her muscles as she pirouetted. As the music softened, and the crowd started to clap on the radio, Minnie bowed deeply and exited from the stage. Her soul was buoyed by the applause from the audience.