February 20, 2024

“Becoming Queen,” A Short Story by Lorraine Parrish

“Becoming Queen,” A Short Story by Lorraine Parrish

*Featured image courtesy of Pexels on Pixabay*

Doubt has a funny way of sneaking into our minds when we least expect it, and all we need is a little encouragement to push past that negative voice. Come along as Lorraine guides us through an elegant performance in “Becoming Queen.”

Inky darkness disguises me among the shifting walls of velvet. 

It calls to me — an energy that ebbs and flows, like blood pumping throughout my veins.  

Come closer. This whir of energy beckons, sighing into my ear — Reveal yourself to me.   

My skin tingles in anticipation as high-pitched whispers dissipate into an atmosphere rife with tension and excitement. Normally light on my feet, I stumble over a wooden block secured to the floor. Their expressions — raised eyebrows, and curled lips—reveal both contempt and perhaps, surprise? Whatever they feel, it is a stark contrast from the earlier display of polite clapping. 

Did It flicker? Does it, too, mock my moment of clumsiness? 

Off balance, I right myself, my arm outstretched as I gather my wits. Their eyes, slits of judgment, neither realize nor care that I struggle to breathe.  

Soon. The hypnotizing whir whispers. Soon, we will be one. 

The bone corset constricts, and I tilt my head to extend my throat toward the heavens, heart thumping a rabbit’s pace, fearing I may faint. Desperate for air, I curl my fingers on the neckline, ready to pull and tug at the garment.  

But I pause. Like hounds seeking the scent of blood, those against me hunger for a sign of weakness, and I must not show any.  

Not now. Not ever. 

A firm grip secures my wrist, pulling me away from the chaos and the painted faces that stare at me, their outlined lips pouting and smirking at my discomfiture. With each step, I further myself from the figures who linger in shadows, the braided trim on their frocks glistening reminders of their presence. 

“Forget them,” the Prince tells me. “You are the Queen.”  

Queen. 

The pressure on my chest releases and my lungs expand despite the constraints of the restrictive bodice. Exhaling a jagged breath, the veiled scene behind me, I swipe slick palms against the stiff upper layer of my skirt. I’m buoyed by layers of tulle that float about my waist in a sequined cloud of satin. With a determined stride, I leave behind the doubt and naysayers. 

It is time.  

The orbs of light brighten and the music pauses. Everyone can see me now, and they stare, anticipating my next move.  

Heat from the spotlight warms my chest and cheeks as my temples pound with each heartbeat. I’m aware of minute details — the hum of voices, the persistent squeak of my shoe, and the pervasive current of chilled air snaking its way up my back. But I’ve been trained to ignore such things.  

Distractions.  

Becoming Queen required sacrifice. Years of subjugation when my voice mattered little or not at all. Lessons and classes under the tutelage of relentless taskmasters who demanded perfect posture and mastery in the art of deception.  

Yes, I learned how to become Queen. 

 And I learned to smile no matter how much it hurt.  

I raise my arms to embrace my people, the audience. No longer a secondary princess, they recognize me as the new sovereign.  

I am the company’s newly appointed prima ballerina — the shining star of the evening and the one they’ve all waited for. 

En pointe, my leg extends beyond my shoulder, as if suspended by strings, its line unbroken. My prince and partner thrusts out his forearm, a formality in our pas-de-deux, as I can balance without the help but I appreciate his encouraging smile.  

The audience murmurs, but as the steps become more intricate and the turns more rapid, so do the sounds of reverence, intermingled with the swish-swish of fluttering taffeta. Beyond the low rumble of oboes and flutes, I hear a crescendo of frantic applause and thunderous cheers. 

With a final flourish I thrust my chest forward to celebrate a perfect performance — a performance worthy of a prima.  
Then like a tulip folding its petals I sink into a deep curtsy, fingertips grazing the wooden stage, brushing aside granules of rosin with an upsweep of the wrist. It’s a graceful maneuver rewarded by more hurrahs.  

The ovation is a tribute to The Black Swan, Giselle, and Sugar Plum — ballerinas the audience yearns for. 

But I am more than these legendary personas of ballet. 

I am the prima. I am the Queen. 

Hail to the Queen.  

As the ovation continues I tilt my head, acknowledging the success of my debut. 

The lights dim and the music lulls, but I hear It before I exit once more into the velvety darkness. 

 Enjoy your reign. For now. 


A former Army officer and nurse practitioner, Lorraine’s writing is inspired by the capriciousness of ER medicine and everyday life. Like any good nurse, she can eat anywhere, but is partial to a bowl of grits. She has previously published in Spillwords and CafeLit. She lurks on Twitter at @LorraineDomain.

#Ballerina#Hypnotizing#Lorraine Parrish#Queen#short story
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