The Red Shoes
A poetry piece about dance, war and immortal life.
Once, there was a ballerina.
She had no name, no past. And she did what ballerinas do best; she danced.
She danced with vigor, never resting in her battle of twirling limbs and spins.
She bore a white skirt, the color of snow. The color of everything else she wore, save her shoes.
Once, her shoes had been white.
Then one day, they were not.
One day, she looked down upon her shoes and realized that they were not white, but red.
She was not surprised, for she knew this red well.
It was the color that stained the grounds on which she danced.
Sometimes, it sprayed in all directions, or stained those who fought.
They always fought. She couldn’t remember when they didn’t. She did not know why.
In fact, she did not know anything except dance, and battle.
She danced, people fought. They always had, so the ballerina came to a point where she no longer noticed the carnage around her.
She would dance to her music, one made of screams and gunshots.
Once it had been rocks, then blades, now it was bullets.
She was not bothered, she simply lifted her arms higher and danced.
She danced over crimson sands. She twirled on bloody grass and pirouetted past bodies the color of her shoes.
So unaffected by massacres was she, that she never stopped dancing, not once in her life.
Did she have a life? She did not know, for she had seen civilizations rise and fall.
Then again, the lives of the fighters were so short in comparison to her dance that she pushed it out.
For what was a life thrown away so callously compared to a dance, treated so caringly?
Then one day, she stopped dancing.
It all happened so quickly, she did not know why she stopped.
In fact, she was quite confused.
Why had she stopped? She did not know how to do anything else, after all.
But she found that she could not dance, for in her chest a strange feeling was quickly spreading to the rest of her body.
She looked down.
Her beautiful skirt was now the color of her shoes.
The change in color for her shoes had not hindered her, so she tried to continue dancing.
But once again, that strange feeling thwarted her.
Her graceful body swayed unsteadily, then fell.
Her fall seemed to last forever, as endless as her dance.
When at last her body hit the ground, she did not feel pain.
For someone helped her up.
She could not see their face, it was hidden by a cloak.
Their hand was icy against her feverish one, and she took it hesitantly, a strange feeling taking over her senses.
She had the vague idea it was supposed to be fear.
But then again, she knew nothing, so it could have been anything.
The hooded figure led her down a dark path into a ground that had not been there before.
As they walked, the ballerina began to feel many things she had not ever felt.
What happened to her?
She did not know. But she remembered falling, and she thought of all the times she had seen soldiers falling, covered in that strange red.
Was she like them now?
She would have asked the stranger, but she did not know how to speak.
She looked at the stranger in surprise, another new emotion.
No one had spoken to her before, and she was vaguely certain she had not shared her feelings. Yet her thoughts where read.
“You’ve died, like them. But your fate is not the same as theirs.”
What was that supposed to mean?
But she received no answer.
They walked more until they reached a room.
How did the Ballerina know it was a room? She had never been in one.
And yet… this felt familiar.
A room with walls of dark smoke and a floor of hardened abyss.
Had she been here before? She couldn’t have.
And yet…something tugged at her mind from all directions. Out of reach, tantalizingly close.
They sat down on chairs that had not been there before, made of night.
The Ballerina sat, her legs strangely out of use for the moment, her body thrumming with the desire to dance, to move, to do anything but sit idly.
The hooded one sat too, their shadowed face in her direction.
Why was she dead? She had never died before.
“No. But this time you got unlucky.”
She remembered the bullets that the people fought with. They made red, didn’t they? Was she a soldier now?
“No. You got hit while people fought. Now you are dead.”
Were all the people here too?
Why not? They were dead too.
“They are not here. You are. You are not a person in the war.”
…Why did they fight?
The question seemed to surprise both of them.
“I don’t know. They just do. Humanity has spent all of her existence fighting herself.”
The ballerina felt a lump in her throat.
What was she supposed to do now?
The figure tilted their head. “You could dance.”
Tears began to stream down her face.
She didn’t even have any music to dance to.
The stranger stood up and lifted their hands. Music swelled and played a glorious song.
Death offered the Ballerina their hand.
She took it.
This was inspired by a video I watched and a piece I read. I wrote this in a few sittings.
Yasmin Sadeh Brosh is a high school freshman who loves creative writing, fantasy, and the environment. She hopes to one day publish the books she has written.