• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 03
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The Silent Dancer Redux

“You want to take my picture? Put me in a frame, remember me forever!”

As she did every time she looked at the photograph, framed just as she had promised him those few short years ago, she recalled in vivid detail the boy as he had responded to her offer to take his picture.

He had been glorious, standing with his hands on his hips and giving his best dazzling smile. His shorts were grimy, his feet bare. His too-old awareness of the world and the need to survive in it had been on display most of the afternoon as he cajoled and wheedled the tourists into allowing him to carry, fetch or show, but now that layer of burden had fallen away and he was a boy-elf with no responsibilities or cares.

The photographer held out her hand, offering him the colourful pile of ragged little notes. To her, inconsequential, like colourful fragments of the wrapping paper from a pass the parcel game; to him, the prize itself.

She laughed as he started to dance along the boards, moving his scrawny arms and legs to an internal tempo so pulsating that she could feel it in her own body. She moved along with the beat, her body unconsciously mirroring his sways and leaps. He posed every few seconds, offering a tableaux as he held a beat within his heart-song, elongated a move with a natural flair for where the highlight should be.

A sudden jarring note insinuated itself into the previously joyous composition, as she felt a surge of unease in this exercise of her power over him. The command of the money; the muscle of her whiteness.

But he was still dancing; like a bird, now a fish, and then a whirling top. His eyes fixed on her, grinning, he danced with total commitment along the boards and she allowed herself to fall into the counterpoint they made together, she providing the more sombre melody.


The Silent Dancer Redux

The sunshades, seeming to hover above the makeshift theatre, and stirred by the slight breeze from the water, were flustering gently, providing a murmuring chorus line. Observing, accepting the roles and the players, guiding the cares of each into the enormous violet sky.

She took one or two shots and suddenly he stopped. His arms high, his tiny, gangly figure a silhouette in her viewfinder, she held her breath as the silent music ceased. She caught the picture as he dropped into a theatrical bow towards the water.

She had the photos developed, for that was what happened in those days, and the image of the small bowing sprite child with the hovering figures as his supporting cast had, as he had insisted it would, seized an instant that she would remember forever.