between two lungs//florence + the machine
salt skin//ellie goulding

***

Today was the big day. The day Clarissa announces the leads for the winter performance. I was checking people out at the till, simply going through the motions with a fake smile plastered on my lips. I was just so anxious. I wanted to know now so my body could relax. All of this needed to stop, because I wasn't sure how much longer my body could take it.

"Is something up, Alice," Celia asked while pressing buttons on her till.

"She announces the leads today," I said anxiously. 

Celia rolled her eyes while passing change to her customer. "Alice, you seriously need to stop worrying about it because you're a brilliant dancer. I've seen you myself," she said.

"Thanks, Cel. To be honest, I really just want to get it over with and find out already," I said releasing a large breath.

Once the line slowed, I went to the back to grab my bag. Looking around, I sat down at the break table and took in a long, deep breath. There's no need for me to feel this nervous, I said to myself. I'm a good dancer, just as good as Milly, I thought. 

I deserve it.

---

My pace slowed as the studio came into vision. There was a reflex occurring subconsciously, as if my body didn't want me to go in. But I had to. I had to know.

I opened the door to the studio and everyone was crowded around the list taped to the back mirror. My feet pushed me slowly to the back of the room. The room was getting bigger, my feet couldn't bring me to the list.

"Alice!" Milly said running towards me, engulfing me in her long thin arms, "I am so happy for you! You completely deserve it! You're going to do absolutely brilliant!"

I pushed my body back from hers. "You mean I got it?" I whispered.

"Of course you got it, Alice! I knew you would, because you're one of the most graceful dancers in the company. You're going to make the perfect swan, Alice!" she said rapidly.

I pushed my way up to the list, reading the first line.

'Odette/Odile - Alice Britton'

 "Holy f.ck," I whispered.

"Congrats, Alice," I heard everyone say around me. 

I couldn't believe it. I seriously thought that Clarissa was going to choose Milly. My dancing was nothing compared to hers. It made no sense to me. 

"Alice, congrats!" Duke said picking me up and twirling me around, "I knew you'd land it! Now we get to be partners!"

"You got Prince Siegfried, Duke," I asked excited.

"Yep," I said twirling me around once more.

Clarissa clapped her hands, signaling for class to begin. We walked over and stood along the barre, practicing our usual exercises.

"Plie," Clarissa said.

"Tendu."

"Ron de Jambe."

"Developpe."

"Frappe."

"Petit Battement."

"Grand Battement."

She repeated these for about the next thirty minutes, which is usual for class. Barre exercises helped calm me greatly. It was a routine, the same movements every time. Clarissa didn't need to speak, for everyone in the room had heard the order hundreds of times. 

"Alice, stand in the corner of the room," Clarissa said, "and Duke in the other."

We followed her orders. I stood ready to dance as I had anticipated she would ask. 

"I need you, Alice, to evoke Odile. But, I want you to dance like it's your last. I want to feel it, Alice," she said motioning with her delicate hands. 

I nodded.

My feet were gliding across the floor, but in the usual way. They were moving quickly and harshly in allegro. Twirling out of anger and spite. My arms were reaching and reaching for Duke. I lusted him. He was mine. My eyes tightened as I stared at him. Breaking my stare, I fouetted rapidly. Holding my arms tightly, I spun and spun and spun. I stepped forward, performing a grand jete and falling into Duke's arms. The expression on my face torn.

I was becoming Odile.

Clarissa clapped her hands. "Good, good. But when you begin, I want you to hold your arms in third position."

I stepped back from Duke. He whispered, "You're doing wonderful."

I smiled wide while walking back over to the opposite end of the room. I help my arms as Clarissa wished, and repeated the strong emotion and ferocity I had displayed just moments before.

Class went on. Duke and I practicing most of our choreography in the back studio room, trying to work on our chemistry. Chemistry wasn't hard for us thought, since we've been close mates for ages. We were mostly practicing my Odile scenes, for Odile was going to be the most challenging part for me. I wasn't a evil and conniving person.

As we were walking back into the main studio, Duke wrapped his arm around me tightly. "You're doing brilliant, Alice," he whispered. 

I was still untying my pointe shoes when the studio was empty, except for Clarissa. I stood up, placed my pointe shoes in my bag, and walked over to Clarissa.

"Can I ask you a question," I said weakly. 

"Why yes of course, Alice," she said with a smile across her lips.

"Why did you choose me?" I said. 

Clarissa smiled even wider, placing her hands on my shoulders. "Oh, Alice. I knew you'd be a beautiful Odette, but an even more beautiful Odile. You know why? Because you're the most passionate dance here, Alice. Whenever you lift those graceful feet of yours, you become a different person. A girl who feels each step. I want the audience to feel every moment in this performance, and I just knew that you'd be able to make them feel it."

---

I fell onto my bed, with Fizzy wrapped in my arms. All of this anxiety for the past few weeks has drained me. All I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep for eternity. 

I grabbed my mobile and phoned the one person who didn't know, and needed to.

"Ello, sweet cheeks," he said groggily.

"Did I wake you," I giggled.

"Uh, yeah," he said hesitantly.

"Well, sorry 'bout that," I giggled.

He paused before speaking, "You woke me up from my deep, wonderful sleep because..."

"I got it," I said simply with a wide grin.

"I told you, Alice," he practically shouted in excitement, "I'm so proud of you! You're going to be the best Swan Queen on the planet."

My face was burning red. "Aw, thanks, Hunt," I giggled. Fizzy was all over me at this point, obviously trying to further my embarrassment. 

"Get some sleep, love," he laughed, "I'll chat with you in the morning, alright? I have some news myself to tell you."

"Goodnight, Hunt," I said.

"Don't let the bed bugs bite," he laughed.

xx, alice
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