She placed one hand on the chair, feeling the cold wood under her fingers. it wasn't a barre, but it was better than nothing. After all, this was a cell - she couldn't expect full length mirrors and a sprung floor for a member of the resistance. A member. She liked that. It sounded good.
She hadn't been to class in two years, it was true, but that didn't mean she had forgotten the exercises. Not a day had gone past when Elena hadn't practised, her bed as a barre. Now she gave in to the one thing she could do in this empty room - she danced. Plié and rise, tendu... It wasn't the stuff of glittering tutus; rather, it was the foundation, the building blocks.
A long while later, when she was shaking with exhaustion and sweat dripped from her forehead, the door opened. She did not hear it, concentrating entirely on the movements with their language humming through her brain. I need music to do this properly, she thought to herself.
"What are you doing?" Caught unawares, she spun around and saw that it was the servant who had spoken.
"I am dancing," she replied. "Well, I've nothing else to do." They had brought her food, which she wolfed down eagerly, even though the dry rice was little better than the bread she had been given earlier. "Have you never seen somebody dance before?" she added as she handed back her bowl.
"They said that the dance was lost with the music." Now the servant was frowning, but he didn't seem to be angry, just a little confused.
"Oh, no, it is alive and well," Elena promised him. "From what I have heard, to dance with music would have been the greatest of glories. But it is not to be. I can't even imagine how music actually sounds..."
The servant made a sound like a snort. "The master will be hearing about this, mark my words.
He turned to leave. "Wait!" said Elena frantically. "Who is your master? Can't you tell me his name?" At l east that would give her some idea whether she was still in the house they'd tried to break into.
"Like you don't know already," he said and left her alone in her cell once more, with nothing to do. Of course, she could have danced some more, but her muscles ached with fatigue and she knew she had to rest. It was too long since she had danced like that - she would hurt herself if she didn't build it up slowly.
Her clothes were sweaty. It would have been nice to change out of them ... idly, Elena wondered if it was safe to go to sleep wearing just her underwear, but decided against it. She sat down on the shelf, feeling how hard it was against her back.
I won't sleep, she thought to herself. I've woken up in a prison cell, I'm a member of the resistance, I don't know what's going to happen to me but I'll probably be tortured, even killed - I won't be able to sleep tonight.
She lay down, staring at the ceiling. Will they come back for me? But of course they wouldn't. They never did - that was the rule. You leave people behind, or they'll drag you down with them.
Her mind was so full it was as though she had an entire crowd talking to her at once. So she was surprised to find that as soon as she closed her eyes she was drifting away.
And she slept.
And slept some more ...