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    Carrie Birdsong
    Participant

    Dance of Clementine

    By: Amber Rose (a.k.a Carrie Birdsong)

    The human statues stand around her, in rows. They are of many colors and many sizes and many faces. In their unconsciousness, however, they are family. The nothing in their collective eyes and collective faces make them the same. They are crowd. They are the ruined ones.

    She stands out amidst their solidarity like a flaming rose in a field of daisies. It is not the way she stands mute and stiff. It is not in the set of her lips which are sealed in what seems an infinite silence. It is her eyes. In her eyes, we see a vacancy as in the others, but deep in the abyss of the mind, we see a tiny spark.

    Following the tiny spark into a dark abyss, we see that although she is as a corpse even on her feet, she is dancing. Behind the blank, yet somehow sorrowful eyes, there is a girl who bears the eyes of her older self. As she twirls in a dress of flowing whites, we see the smile on her young mouth. In her reverie, she is dancing.

    She is six and small. In this dilapidated barn, with the oiled dirt floor, her black shiny shoes make no sound. The bow in her hair holds her deep brown locks in a single pony tail. Her eyes are filled with innocence and pure happiness. In her celebration of her freedom, she twirls and she feels as if she is floating.

    This one has never seen the darkness found in the gritty, unkempt corners of this world. She has never felt the hard hand of a beastly man groping up her skirt. In her reverie, she is still new. The world holds only beauty as sunlit beams of gold light her solitary dance.

    Then she is grown and her flowing whites are gone. Instead she is in a black infinite ocean. The black ocean is her gown and her buoyancy. For a while, she floats. In this black ocean are many shadows. They flit across the peace of her calm like intruders. She sees the little girl crying and her dress is dirty. Her bow has come undone.

    She sees herself in an ocean of black silks. The little girl is grown and a man who first slaps her then takes her as a dog does a bitch. Then she is in the ocean of black. She sees a burning prairie and blurred figures calling to smoke-filled skies in howling curses. Then she is in the ocean.

    In the storage, where she is imprisoned. She has been chained to others in her row at the wrist. Her ankles have been shackled to the cement floor. These are new elements added by those she can not remember. But in her mind, in the ocean of silks, as memories only partly forgotten flash across her peace, she begins to thrash. In the ocean of black silks, she is fighting against the peace of the water.

    For a moment, she is dancing with a man she barely knows. She remembers his eyes and all she sees in them is pride of creation. As he gently twirls her in her silken gown of black, she is twirled back into the ocean. As the water falls from her in rivulets of sunset hues, her gown is revealed to be a part of her and not the ocean. As she begins to spin, arms outstretched, eyes coming to a close, the ocean begins to whirlpool.

    As, in her mind, she spins in the eye of the whirlpool, yet against it, in the warehouse, is her physical self. This physical self first closes the vacant, yet sad eyes then begins to tremble, seizure-like in its chains. In her mind, she lifts out of the whirlpool with great waves, in the storage room, her head thrusts back violently. Her eyes move relentlessly behind their lids, while her body trembles with such vigor, the arms of the statues she is chained to tremble with her.

    Breaking away from the water, she spins freely from the air, as, in her chains, her body begins to jerk in the first movements of twirling. Her arms begin to thrash back and forth, as those she is chained to sway on stiffened legs. The muscles flex and flex and move in their binds as the link between the shackles and the pin in the concrete shows signs of great strain.

    In her mind she is spinning in a cyclone of ocean, but, sometimes, she is also dancing with the man she barely knows. He is… he is…

    Her maker.

    He lets go of her hand and she spins. Spins in the cyclone and away from it and when she thinks she will burst through some unknown, invisible membrane, her body breaks away from the ankle shackles and spins. It spins with such fury, the bodies in her row of chains lift from the floor, and fly. She does not feel the shackles biting into her wrists as the weight of the bodies and the forces acting on them pull at her arms.

    Her eyes are still closed and in the eye of her tornado of bodies, there is only the peace of the small girl dancing in the barn. As a smile gently turns up the corners of her mouth, the link between her shackles and the bodies attached breaks. Each of the five bodies on each side of her, still chained together, fly through the remaining rows of living mannequins and into the steel enforced concrete walls on each side of her.

    She sinks to her knees, hands first covering her face, then slowly moving away as she opens her eyes. In her eyes, we see something new. Something… feral. Rising to her feet, she follows the beam of light coming from the crack of a partly opened doorway. Feeling around for the handle, she finds it. For a moment, she pauses, clenched hand wrapped around the cold steel handle. Then she squints slightly as she flings open the door and walks out into the white.

    In the shadows, in her wake, the first of the ruined ones begins to tremble.

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