Flawless Performance

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.

19 thoughts on “Flawless Performance

  1. I love this. Black Swan eat your heart out. At first I thought he was just some children’s school teacher with a jumped up view of himself and his show – you know what some of them can be like – but this direction was entirely unpredictable. I could see it working really well as a short film. Wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! As a matter of fact, I always visualize my stories as film scenes when writing them. It makes them come alive.

      I also love that you thought he was a pompous school teacher. As the writer, I know exactly where the story’s going, so in my mind, he’s a creepy lunatic from the first word. It’s pretty exciting to me when a reader approaches the story from a different perspective and gets caught off-guard by the conclusion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s one thing I love about the feedback on here, that you get to hear first-hand what readers take from your stories. Often it’s something you’ve never even considered as you were writing. How funny, I do exactly the same, I’d quite like to be a screenplay writer one day, I used to dream of directing… so I often think of my stories as filmic moments too. I find it’s the best way to approach being really descriptive… after all, how can you paint a picture with words if you can’t see it yourself?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s just one of those jobs where you have to take the rough with the smooth. I worked on film sets for a few years before I became a writer full time. There were lots of monotonous moments, but the magical ones made it all worth it. I’m just hoping I can sit on set as a writer one day… You should try it, if it’s something you’ve dreamed of.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That might be a direction to consider. I might just make a little short in the near future.

        I’ve also been quite fascinated with character actors, and all those who play villains and oddballs. Perhaps I could gain a few pounds and play Mr. Whitaker.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Character actors are so much fun to watch, there are some fantastic ones here in England. Ooh I’d love to be able to act. I did it lots at school but I’m pretty sure I’d be awful now. You should do it, have your fill of donuts and cheeseburgers, write the script, shoot it, act in it, direct it… the world is your oyster! haha

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh my God…so many favorites…

        Toby Jones, Jonathan Pryce, Michael Gambon, Ian Macshane, Alan Rickman…

        I’ll watch anything, no matter how bad, if it has any of these fantastic gentlemen in it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliantly dark. I really like how the story starts in one place and then turns a corner into creepy land. And “teasing the room with the promise of light” is a wonderful line. Great stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!

      As I was saying to Laura Feasey, the story never took a turn for me. I started off with an image of the creepy pianist in mind and continued on from there.

      Looking back on it after both those comments, I can see how it all seems innocuous at first. That’s pretty awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

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