TUBE, Draft 1, Chapter 15 (excerpt).
(So this is happening in a freight carriage with an open door. The train is speeding through the mountains. Remember I posted a video on the last day of Amtrak Residency? Yeah, that. This is the scene of a ballerina's death.)
The horn blew a volley of strident whistles that penetrated bones. With a sudden jolt the train lurched around a bend, careening inward. Inga’s foot slipped on an old leaf that somehow made its way inside, or maybe it has been sitting there since fall. The heel of her flat scraped the edge and hung over the rushing nothingness spread below.
“Careful!” Cried Olesya.
“Don’t touch me!” Screamed Inga, clutching to the handle and righting her foot. Unable to withstand the shaming gaze of Alla Borisovna, she directed her wrath and despair on the usual scapegoat. “It’s you! It’s your work. First Nastya, then Larisa, now me? Is that your plan? Well, good luck with that.”
Olesya stopped listening. Blood roared in her ears. Her racing heart shook her entire ribcage. With one hand she gripped the closing bolt that protruded from the doorframe above her, with another she grasped Inga by the wrist, pulling her in.
Inga, shrieking obscenities, twisted to shake Olesya off and hung onto the handle, gripping it with both hands. She lifted her legs and kicked Olesya in the stomach, sending her sprawling to the floor.
Staring with loathing at Alla Borisovna’s face, like a child carrying out the forbidden folly in spite of impending punishment, Inga raised her left leg, pricked empty air with a pointed foot, elegant, strong, extended it in a tendu and arched to a perfect arabesque. The striking beauty and deathly horror of her dare, the treacherous footing that could betray her any moment, made Alla Borisovna cover her mouth.
“Fire me, go ahead!” Shouted Inga, curving her other foot outward and standing up on her toes. “Can your Milena do this? Can she? She wouldn’t have the guts, that cowardly whore!”
Alla Borisovna stood immobile, witnessing the unfolding scene with distaste and conviction that this was foul play on Inga’s part, the type of suicidal scare to make her revert her decision.
Just as Olesya scrambled to standing, Mitya swiped at Inga’s waist to scoop her up and was a second too late.
First a tremor of a mechanical breath, then an electrical current surged through the steel body of the carriage, making the lights flicker and go out. The breaks squealed, and the train came to a shuddering stop. Carried forth by inertia, the director, Olesya, and Mitya toppled to the floor.
And Inga let go of the handle.
Powerful momentum wrenched it out of her hands. Her extended leg upset the balance, and she flew out of the car as if ejected by it, her mouth opened in a perfectly round surprised O, her lips stained with leftover vermillion lipstick and a darker mauve shade from the red wine she was drinking, making her face appear as that of a confused matryoshka doll, wooden, permanently frozen in shocked disbelief.
She didn’t make a single noise, not a scream, not even a gasp. She simply fell, her arms swinging in circles, her skirt ballooning, her slender legs extended in an airborne relevé, the last tribute to ballet before her figure sunk into oblivion, crushing through the tips of pines, bouncing, and rolling to her death below.
(Photo by talented @laurazalenga.)