Laurentina’s Home for Lost Girls was famed for the decorum of its young orphan girls. Thistled children were whisked off the streets to the halfway house where they were pressed, scolded, and starched into charming rose buds. The day she had become one of them, Catherine had thanked her lucky stars.
Laurentina’s girls were deemed the epitome of youth and poise, characteristics they displayed with pride at the Home’s monthly ballet performance. The girls practiced tirelessly throughout the month, preparing for the day they would step on stage, dressed all in white, for the entire town to see.
Catherine was the oldest of Laurentina’s pupils, the lead dancer and the star of the show. As she danced, she dreamt of wilder things, darker places, and the next performance. To the crowd she looked as if she floated across the stage, her toes barely touching, propelled by her imaginings.
Her friend Jane had been the eldest once too. Jane had danced with youthful beauty, and despite her tendency to dance off beat, setting new rhythms and often changing the dance altogether, she had been the gem of Laurentina’s halls. But, as Catherine knew well, it was not acceptable to be the eldest for long.
Unbeknownst to the town’s folk, the real performance began hours after they left. It was a secret affair known only to a select few, and the occasional little girl who wandered Laurentina’s corridors, imagining new worlds and stumbling upon old nightmares.
When the afternoon performance ended, and the other girls returned to their dorms, Catherine hid behind a curtain and waited. Guests departed, the doors of the hall closed, but a quiet murmuring in the hall’s theatre remained.
Catherine crept swiftly along a corridor, through a half open door and up to the back of the theatre. While the room was no longer packed, the front four rows were filled with people. Their features were hidden in shadows, but Catherine heard their excited grunts. They stared at the stage, though a black veil covered its performers. A light tinkling could be heard before music started up.
Catherine watched with glee as they pulled back the black veil to reveal a row of faultless dancers. Laurentina’s skeletons were forever young, forever poised, the perfect performers, and Catherine dreamt about the day she would join their illustrious ranks.
I wrote this as part of Anna Mead‘s flash contest “Behind the Curtain”. You can read more “Behind the Curtain” stories here:
To my regular Stuffed Olive readers, you wonderful things: do let me know if you don’t want to read my flash pieces here. I’m a little addicted, but many of the flash games require you to post on your blog. However, I can easily make a separate blog for them. I realise this wasn’t very Stuffed Olivey, though I hope some of you enjoy my little tongue in cheek Gothic. I figure I haven’t posted a rant for a while (though, no doubt unfortunately for you, I have one currently developing in the workings of my twisted mind), so perhaps consider my flash a reprieve from having to read quite so many of my mad thoughts and rants.