I lean against the wall outside Mariinsky theatre reading “Sherlock’s Holmes: The Sheppard on Horseback” and listening to The B-52’s.

It’s an uncomfortable combination.

I close my kindle and slip it into my pocket. The sun hides behind a cloud. It begins to hail. I light a cigarette and watch. The ballet starts in fifteen minutes, Swan Lake.

I’ve been to Mariinsky before, never a ballet. My mother always says the ballet makes her cry. I wonder if I’ll cry as I walk up to the third tier. The babushka at the coat-check hands me some opera glasses.

I take my seat. It is hard. I use the opera glasses to look around for nose-pickers, no luck. Everyone sits, stoic. Except a little boy, across the way, second tier, riffling through his mother’s purse.

The lights dim, then go out. An obese Chinese woman with warm thighs sits next to me. The music melts the hall into silence, then the story begins. Toes become violins, hands, trumpets; one back, a cello.

They dance.

The lead dancer is made of firm meat. I briefly wonder what it’d feel like to have him hold me, just for a moment, before being distracted by the rest of the dancers. It progresses, I lose time, lose myself.

I can’t feel my body, my face, the thigh sweat soaking into my left leg.

The scene changes.

Swans pass over the stage. Then Odette begins to dance. As she does a silence falls, a deep penetrating silence that if asked could–but wouldn’t–tell you all about eternity.

It is as though someone just handed out a thousand cough drops to a thousand nuns.

Then, two seats away, a girl–poor girl–can’t be more than sixteen, pulls out her phone. She doesn’t stand a chance. The babushka beside her tears her to bloody bits in a single silent second.

An ear with a fake pearl in it lands on my foot. No one notices. Odette twirls twice, the gravity in the room shifts, it becomes impossible to do anything but watch.

The scene closes. The curtain comes down. Act I has ended. The lights come on. I kick the ear off my foot and lean back. Someone sniffles to my left. I turn. The Chinese woman is weeping.

I smile at her, jealous.





Author Benjamin Davis and artist Nikita Klimov created one story and one picture each day for one year. In May 2018 they published their first book, The King of FU

11 Comment on “Blood, Thigh Sweat, and Tears at the Ballet

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