TUBE, Draft 1, Chapter 14 (excerpt).
(This is a ballet dance scene performed in an empty freight carriage. The image above is from Anna Karenina ballet in Mariinsky.)
They skipped down the steps, through the passage, and burst into an empty freight car. Long, drafty, sheathed with corrugated metal, it was dimply lit by a few light bulbs. The once vivid cobalt paint now peeled revealing pale spots as if the car was affected by vitiligo. A pile of luggage sat by one of the walls, and a heavy industrial gate-like door across it yawned open, either left ajar intentionally or by accident.
The square hole of framed a snowy slope.
Olesya’s skin erupted in goosebumps. She took a step after Mitya and thought she heard a faint piano note click to life. She took another step. Another note. Mesmerized with the type of petrifying awe that seizes one when witnessing something horrific and beautiful at the same time, she raised her eyes at her partner.
He stood in the middle, arms curved, feet in fifth position. “Well, what do you think?” he hopped into the air and rapidly crossed his legs, landing softly, the heels of his shoes clicking out a faint piano accord.
“Is this...did you practice here?” Asked Olesya, watching her every step for anything out of place. The car appeared dead, as dead as a steel car should be, if not for the faint music.
Mitya answered her with a graceful bow and a series of light steps, a glissade to the right, a plié, a glissade to the left. “There isn’t much space here.” He said apologetically, offering her a hand.
Olesya automatically straightened, strung out and tense, yet relaxed and assured of her movements, gliding to him.
“Hold on.” Mitya pulled his phone from the pocket, started the music. The first movement, the chords, the beginning of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. Mitya paused it, scrubbed forward and, satisfied, placed the phone on the naked floor. The violas and violins sounded tinny, but the flat surface and the emptiness of the car amplified the music.
Mitya stood in position.
Olesya, after initial hesitation, taken by the tune almost against her will, tiptoed to him and once his arm rested on her back, arched slightly, her left foot pointed, her right arm on his shoulder, and off they went on their little walk, altering the dance to the restrictions of the space, lifts lower, steps shorter, their synchronicity flawless, fluid.
They swam in this poor rendition of Serenade, harsh and shallow in the echoing carriage. Olesya flushed, her body warming up, her legs singing. Mitya caught her, twirled her, side by side, face to face. In the heat of their rollicking fettle they didn’t notice how the train rolled forward, without a slightest jolt or lurch.
It simply glided off.