UPON occasion, I write short stories that I will give out as freebies. At other times, I write articles about the writing craft, as well as other whimsies. And, now and again, I will give you a peek of my WIPs. On this page you will find it all.
I am working on three (yes, three) WIPs at the moment. This one is an excerpt from my Cozy Mystery novella, Rhapsody in Black (part of my Rhapsody series), about a ballerina who finds a dead body. Shooting for a mid-2023 release, God willing (Copyright 2022 by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra)
RHAPSODY IN BLACK
By Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra ©2022
With eyes closed, Elena del Carral sank and rose slowly into her warmup routine. She was alone in studio 4 of the National Terpsichore Ballet in New York City, taking advantage of the forty minutes of personal time before the rehearsal, which was to be followed by the audition.
The role of a lifetime, if chosen as principal.
Or so everyone said.
Elena wasn’t that enthused. She suspected there was more to this invitation to audition than met the eye. Add to that her own personal reluctance and fears about finally disclosing the secret her mother had held close to her vest for more than ten years, and she’d have a problem of major proportions. Well, not a problem, per se. But Elena knew her revelations about Black Rhapsody would not be welcomed or applauded. Uh-uh. After the initial shock, the brokering would be fierce, not to mention the jealousy and bickering that would ensue. Elena simply wasn’t ready for it. Ergo, her reason for dithering during the past five years after her mother’s death whether as to disclose the secret or not.
And yet, this time, they’d forced her hand. Things could not remain as they’d been. And all because of the stubborn arrogance and conceit of Broderick Newsom, Terpsichore’s in-house choreographer cum artistic director.
Warm up. Warm up. Warm up. Ignore everything for the moment.
Elena forced herself to tune out conflicting thoughts and the normal murmurs, piano undertones, thuds from jumps, and the occasional seven, eight, and a one filtering through the walls and closed doors. She needed to warm up to her own music, her own tempo—detach from the world. She must focus on her body and muscles, her form, even when, today, her routine wasn’t going smoothly. She was not at her best, by any measure. Her muscles groaned and protested. Her feet popped. She was stiff and tight. Then again, what the heck did she expect?
She was still jetlagged, pissed, and disturbed. In that order.
Well…no, that wasn’t the order, exactly. Elena sighed. Disturbed and pissed should be the sequence of priority. The lingering jetlag was not an issue. She could handle that at any given day.
FO-CUS, she chided.
Tendu front. Flex. Point. Close fifth. Demi-plié.
Leg movement sequenced into a grand port des bras, stretching her arm and lower back forward until her nose pressed against her knees. She crossed her arms behind her ankles and leaned further into the stretch, her upper body melding into her thighs in a seamless line. Her spine popped in two places. Now that felt good. She feline-stretched out and up, bent waist sideways into the barre, and continued the three-hundred-and-sixty-degree port de bras, assuring an overall lengthening of her deltoids and… Her sudden chuckle bounced around the empty room. Good grief. She was now sprouting jargon like the company’s physical therapist.
Elena studied her form on the wall-to-wall mirror opposite the barre. In the reflected image of the cavernous rehearsal room, she resembled a stick figure bisecting the wall. She squinted, corrected a few things and, a few neck pops later, sus-soused into fifth, lifted her left leg into a high passé, and held her balance for a few seconds. Ever so slowly, she closed on fifth.
She started humming a familiar Chopin piano piece and added more degages, followed with grand plies, and finished the sequence with rond de jambes par terre and en l’air. By the time she reached her développés and grande battements, her entire body was soaked in sweat, her ballet slippers leaving small imprints on the floor as she walked over to her overstuffed bag by the door.
Flopping on the floor, she drank long and hard from her favorite hydration drink mix and blotted her sweat. Scavenging through her ballet bag, she found pointe shoes and rehearsal skirt, and dropped both by her hips. She spread her legs in a final à la seconde split, shifted her split position right and left to maximize stretch, and, finally, lay supine, soaking up more sweat.
She hoped Fredrik Boelens, her colleague from Ballets Etudes and partner for the Gala, would arrive soon. She wanted busy. She wanted light fun. Fred’s cheerfulness was contagious, and his lack of guile was always refreshing. She really didn’t want to think about the audition and what the reveal would entail.
To be continued ...