The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Shoes
By Steve Button
She’d almost broken her neck outside.
Now she was tucked away in the corner, as far away as possible from the rest, stretching her legs.
The dance studio was a bare, mirrored space with frosted windows and a barre at the far end where some of the slender girls were loosening up. They seemed to defy both gravity and anatomy with the shapes they could make. Others were still straggling in out of the cold, wrapped up like precious parcels, dropped off by brash parents who always seemed to be in the middle of some kind of grown up conversation with their children.
Sally always made a point of arriving alone and early, making sure her mum was never seen by this feral troupe. She was out of her league, and the other girls always made a point of making sure she knew it. They were like swans, gliding across the floor and she was the duckling tagging along behind, out of place and looking for scraps in their wake.
And here came princess on her impossibly long legs, and a smug expression that invited a good slap.
‘Look at you,’ she seethed. Sally ignored her.
‘I said, look at you.’
‘Just leave me alone,’ Sally mumbled, keeping her head down.
‘You really are ridiculous, aren’t you?’ princess smirked. Across the studio, the other girls had picked up the signal on their febrile antennae. They looked over at her with a mixture of spite and relief that it wasn’t them in the eye of the gathering storm. Princess was buoyed by the mood of the room.
‘Quite ridiculous!’ she hissed.
‘Be careful,’ Sally said in a low voice. For a moment princess seemed taken aback, then her eyes drilled into Sally’s face with barely subdued fury. She leaned down so her face was now inches away from Sally’s.
‘Excuse me?’ The room was suddenly still, as if awaiting violence, even though nobody could hear a word. ‘Did you say something, you little twerp?’
Sally sniggered quietly. These girls, they couldn’t even swear properly. Who said twerp these days?
‘What’s so funny?’
‘Nothing.’ Sally felt empowered. ‘I just said, be careful, that’s all.’ she looked up into princess’ eyes and saw a hint of fear suddenly flicker deep within. ‘When you leave…’ Sally said darkly
Princess hesitated as if preparing a snappy response that wouldn’t come, then turned back to her friends. She walked across the studio floor with slightly less poise, it seemed to Sally.
She smiled to herself as she fastened her ballet shoes.
The loose paving stone outside had nearly broken her neck. Nearly.
She wasn’t going to tell anyone. Let them find out for themselves. If they went over, that was their lookout.