Marie took her time unwrapping the ribbon around her ankles and absorbed herself in the simple task until the dressing room behind the stage was deserted.
"That was a great performance today." Marie looked upward startled at the presence of someone else.
"Thank you, Madame. Merci beaucoup. I practiced," she said. "Every day. Tous les jours."
"I saw." Madame Marseille turned and walked away but not before giving Marie a satisfied smile. "Don't forget to keep an eye out for Monsieur. You'll be studying ballet en Russie in no time."
Marie didn't dare let her hopes up. She knew what would happen if she was selected: a new home, a new beginning, and dare she think it, money. She could rebuild her life dancing ballet. Her hope. Her dream. Her life.
"I know. Je le sais." With more bounce in her arms, Marie finished untying the ribbons, folded them over neatly, and placed them back in their respective pointe.
"Until next time. Jusqu'à la prochaine fois," Marie said to her pointes and walked outside.
A welcoming, brisk breeze met her as she shoved the door open. She tightened her grip on her overcoat which was poorly sewn together by both her and her mother. She took the self-made trail from the community performing center to her house. It was very calming, being alone with her thoughts.
Today, they wandered in dangerous territory. She envisioned herself being the lucky dancer and getting the coveted phone call from the recruiter. She could hear the mousy man now.
"Congratulations! You have won! Félicitations! Vous avez gagné!"
Except when she thought about it again, she realized the recruiter wouldn't be familiar with French, and he would most likely be speaking Russian. A dam broke inside her and sent, not water, but fear circulating her body. She didn't know Russian except for the one or two words. How would she understand a whole phone conversation?
She mentally kicked herself for not asking the man if he knew French.
Unlucky, malchanceux, she thought. She knew there was no going back. She'd come this far. And for what? A language barrier.
She rounded her small house which resided on the outskirts of town. It was one of the furthest houses from the town center which always meant long walks for anything. But it was peaceful.
Marie's mother burst through the door carrying a large bowl filled with lettuce.
"How was it?Comment était-il?" Diane asked.
"Bon. Good," Marie replied.
Diane looked almost sad. "Only good? No news? Recruiters?"
"No. Not yet. Maybe tonight. Or tomorrow. Or never." At that, Marie left her mother in the kitchen and walked to her room.
It wasn't necessarily a room per se; it was a portion of the livingroom which she, her mother, and younger sister, Arienne, shared. Unfortunately, their father left shortly after her sister's birth nine years ago.
Marie heaved an exhaustive sigh and it felt as if she was dropping the weight of the world off her shoulders and on the floor. She sat criss-crossed and picked at her pointes for lack of something to do.
"Come here. Venir," her mother said. She was mad. Marie sensed it in her voice and was reluctant to obey. At the sound of her mother inhalation, she rushed to her feet and obliged.
"Oui, Maman?" She hadn't called her that since she was six years old and ready to be let loose in the world, but it felt appropriate.
"Marie," she said and was quiet for a minute. "You can't leave home for two days for a ballet show where you may be leaving for Russia, come home, and not tell." She stopped short to catch her breath. "Not tell me what happened." She sobbed for no apparent reason. "I mean. It's Russia. Russie. It's on the other side of the world from where I am."
"Non, maman. It's very close. And you and Arienne can visit me all the time. Even so, I do not know if I've won yet."
"Win, gagner," she scoffed. "What is it that you'll be 'winning' again?"
"A new life, maman. Happiness." She stopped and tried to make eye contact. "Freedom. Liberté."