Another writing prompt by the wonderful Laura Feasey. This week’s theme word is ‘dance’.
Mr. Whitaker sighed, slumping against the grand piano. His portly frame, clad in an ill-fitting bone-white tux, made the piano seem small in comparison. It wasn’t good enough, he thought. They weren’t good enough.
Their movements were too stiff. Their timing was completely off. It was a miserable performance, not worthy of his standards at all.
He slammed his fist onto the keys, and the resulting cacophony echoed the unrest that enveloped his mind. The show would begin soon. He could not let his audience down. They would expect nothing short of perfection.
Adjusting his ivory-colored bow tie, he walked into the green room. Once upon a time, it really had been green. Now the walls were a dank brown, covered in gruesome stains. A single light hung from the ceiling, flickering and teasing the room with the promise of light. His little dancers were all there, waiting to be outfitted. They looked up as he entered, staring at him with dark-rimmed eyes. He loved them so very much, which is why he needed them to be perfect. It gave him no pleasure to lock them in here. He hoped they understood that his cruelty was born out of his love for art.
Camilla, the star of the show, sat in one corner. Her hair hung around her face in greasy knots. Glazed blue eyes stared vacantly. As with the others, her hands and feet had been manacled together and her lips sewn shut. Mr. Whitaker smiled down at her, then lifted her over his shoulder and carried her out to the stage. He unshackled her limbs and tied them to the elaborate pulley system he had rigged up in the old music hall. Once she was fixed in place, he did the same with the others. All twenty of them. He went around to each of them in turn, checking their dresses and makeup. Everything had to be perfect.
Satisfied at last, Mr. Whitaker took his place by the piano. It was time for the show. He hoped the girls would make him proud. His chubby white-gloved fingers danced across the keys, activating the pulleys and causing his dancers to jerk like marionettes to the rhythm. The music echoed across the empty auditorium, accompanied by a chorus of rusty hinges and shifting fabric.
Mr. Whitaker beamed. It was the greatest show of his life.