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Task Compose a short story titled “The phobia.” Next Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
T HE P HOBIA NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
I thought I sensed a thin ray of dim light coming from someplace behind me. I was about to leave the building. “I switched off the light, didn’t I?” I wondered, going back to the studio where I had been. Everything was in complete darkness. “Of course it is. There can’t be anyone else here at this time of night. Someone might have forgotten to turn the light off, though.” As I went down the stairs, it became clear that the light was coming from the end of the corridor in the basement. Creeping towards it, I caught a strain of Tchaikovsky, one of the pieces used in the competition which was being held then. “Could anyone still be rehearsing? Who on earth would be as foolish as I am?” NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
I opened the door a crack, and gasped in utter incredulity. It seemed as if I had been shifted to the strand of a limpid lake in a virgin forest. There was a swan floating by. Her plumage was immaculately soignée and her snow ‑ white wings radiated her regal majesty. Still, her countenance of despondency pierced my heart. I had never conceded that a swan could possess such an exquisite sensibility. I was mesmerised. It was as if everything else were embraced in a moment of eternal stasis. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
As she glided across the studio to have a glass of water from the table in the corner, I noticed that the music had stopped. I eased myself through the slim space between the doors. So frightened was she by my presence that she now stiffened, fastening her other ‑ worldly gaze on me. “I am sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. My name is Feodor. How do you do,” I said as gently as I possibly could, moving hesitantly towards her, explaining how I had been invited to that studio. As her tension gradually faded, I felt as if we had already been acquainted somewhere before. “How do you do? I am Irena. I didn’t realise anyone else was in the building. Are you leaving now? I think I am going to rehearse for a few more minutes,” she said with childlike vivacity. “May I be your prince? If you wouldn’t mind... I mean I would like to …” Before I could form a proper sentence, she had agreed with the brightest smile I have ever seen. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
She guided me to the lake and I, the prince, fell in love with the swan princess there and then. Our destinies as dancers always demand that our roles in fantasies be played as if they were real. I was, however, unwillingly to believe that this love was just a mirage. Whereas everyone tried to juxtapose an evil and its victim in this piece, she unveiled the true identity of the evil as weaknesses hidden in every human being. When she was transfigured back to the swan, her weightlessness was breathtaking and planted the fugitive idea of my asking her to dance Giselle next. I almost forgot that we both still had the competition on the very next day. She surpassed any dancers I had seen in every facet, from her technique to a spiritual level of discipline. She was a genuine prima ballerina. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
When we had finished the play, she bowed to me and said, “Thank you very much.” “No, I thank you. I was the one who asked you to dance with me.” “I know but … I feel so ecstatic about having danced with one of the most redoubtable contestants, Mr Feodor Leopoldovich Nikolayev.” “My goodness! Do you remember all the names?” “Of course not. But you are famous around here. I will keep my fingers crossed for you tomorrow,” said she. I was about to ask her what time she was due to perform. “I assume you too are participating?” I paused, waiting for her answer. Her twinkling jet ‑ black eyes showed a trace of wistfulness. “I am only a volunteer here. I long ago withdrew from such a grandiose world. It is too fatiguing to continually fight against my own imperfections. Never mind. Thank you for tonight, though. You have been a tremendous inspiration.” Hardly had she finished her speech, when she evanesced as if she were indeed a fairy. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
I was sceptical about what I had heard. Under no circumstances, could a dancer forsake the ballet shoes they had once worn, let alone my princess. I went back to the office, fortunately unlatched, to look for some clues on the competition's notice board. Nothing. Turning a pile of documents page by page, I finally found a list of volunteers. Irena Konstantinovna Liadovsky. There was no one in the ballet world who did not know the family name of this genius choreographer. A daughter of Konstantin Mikhailovich Liadovsky, a real thorough ‑ bred. I then remembered having briefly read a small article in a local paper while visiting the museum that had exhibited Mr Liadovsky's photographs a few days previous. The article was about the life of a dance teacher at a children’s ballet school. That must have been her, perhaps using her mother's maiden name while teaching. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
I could only imagine what her father meant to her; her expectations of herself achieving artistic supremacy would augment the impalpable pressure to bear whilst performing. It was impossible for me to identify with such trepidation. Furthermore, her conscience was burdened with the onus of not impairing her father's reputation. I was fortunate that I did not have anyone whose existence filled me with such diffidence. Yet, there was one period when I, myself, had struggled for so long to overcome an ethereal force of anxiety. It had been spreading uncontrollably inside me because I had been too demanding on myself, until I finally subjugated it. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
I called her name loudly as if she would hear me, “Irena!” It reverberated back and forth across my mind. I now understood that it was through her passion for ballet that she had found her vocation as a teacher and I admire her strength for that. I wanted to tell her that this very fortitude had already disentangled her from a web of phobia. She would not have, otherwise, projected the enchanting performance which was indelibly impressed upon my memory. “Where shall I escort her to when the competition is over? My favourite Literature Café ( Литературное Кафе )? Or would Metropole ( Метрополь ) be more appropriate?” I thought. Sauntering by the Moyka Canal ( Мойка ), I pledged silently to offer her my reassurance that it was a propitious time for her début. NextPrevious Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
IMAGES: Antique Frames Wallpaper “Swan” “Lismore Tumbler & Carafe” Waterford “Swan Lake” English National Ballet Photo by ROSALIE O'CONNOR “Alessandra Ferri in Jerome Robbins' Other Dances” American Ballet Theatre Photo by MARTY SOUL “Michele Wiles in George Balanchine's Ballet Imperial” American Ballet Theatre Copyright © 2007 June Grandwells. This story is protected by UK Copyright Service registration.
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