I Always Wanted to Dance (Alice aged 21)

I always wanted to dance. I wanted to be like the other girls. I wanted to worry about the colour of my leotard; about how I would do my hair for the next competition and about what colour eye shadow I would wear. I wanted to worry about who would be centre front in the performance and what I should eat before I danced. I wanted to be part of the conversation and I wanted to be part of the dance.

But that was not what I worried about. Instead I worried about why my mother would brag that “at least he doesn’t hit the kids.” He would punch my doll, break my Christmas presents on Christmas Day, hit the wall behind my mother’s head, ruin everything that was precious to me…but at least he didn’t hit us! He would leave my mother locked in her bedroom and me in the laundry keeping my little sister quiet while he rampaged around the house…but at least he didn’t hit us! 

I worried about why my mother stayed with him and I worried about what would happen if she ever did leave him. I worried about what I needed to do so that he would not need to punish me. I worried about what I had to do so that he would not be angry with my mother. My mother always said that she would step in if it got “too bad”. So I worried what “too bad” would actually be like. I worried and I worried and I worried.

I worried silently and with stillness. I worried in the antithesis of what I wanted to be. I wanted to dance. I wanted to loose myself in the music and the movement. I wanted to be like the other girls, I wanted to to worry about the colour of my leotard and the shade of my eyeshadow. I did not want to worry in stillness, too afraid to move, too afraid to make a noise.

I am twenty-one now and every week I spend $7 and 90 minutes and now I dance. I have learnt to worry about where I place my hands and if my toes are pointed. I have learnt to worry about the colour of my leotard and the shade of my eyeshadow and I am learning; very gradually, not to worry in stillness, not hide in fear.

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Kate Bricknell