"Screaming" Mimi stood up even as the old man lurched to his seat. She was a short woman, birdlike in more ways than one--so thin you could count her ribs even through the thin blue cloth shirt she wore, and with an enormous nose too much like a beak.
Wer called her screaming Mimi because she hardly ever said a word. Irony? More like sarcasm, I guess. She wore her hair loose, each lock curling slightly inward, darkening as it stretched down her back. She normally wore it tied back in a severe bun. And today, she wore a cerulean blue t-shirt that stood out against her faded red jean jacket.
Her eyes were heavily made-up too, in red and gold, very dramatic. Almost glamorous.
She moved forward more graceful than normal, and laid a hand on Scupper's shoulder. She leaned in close and whispered words. Scupper got up, wordlessly and went to the piano. He sat there, still for a moment, then laid fingers against the ivories, and played a song from another time.
Mimi went to the bar and looked the Franklin straight in the eye. "Bloody Mary." she said.
"You sure?" The Franklin grunted. "Ain't no Shirley--"
"It's for Mary. It fits." Mimi's words were quiet, but the whole bar heard it.
She turned and leaned back too provocatively for one normally so reserved. She raised her leg and leaned her head back, her eyes closing as if she were half asleep or overcome with a sudden passion.
"When I was a girl..." Screaming Mimi started off, "all I ever wanted was to dance."
The Franklin grunted and placed two short glasses behind her on the bar. Mimi reached out, her eyes still closed, and grabbed one of them.
"I used to get up before the sunrise and practice at the barre for hours before breakfast. I got shin-splints and calcium deposits, lactic-acid buildups and charlie-horses the size of Grabby's fists. I had blisters within blisters on my toes. But I knew what I wanted. I wanted fame. I wanted awe."
Mimi pushed herself from the bar and pirouetted into the middle of the floor, drink held high and steady, not spilling a drop. She extending one leg and descending into it with the fluidity of water, the grace of a swan. "When I was thirteen, we moved across the country. I lost my studio, I lost my teachers, I lost all my friends. But I found Mary. And for a while, that was enough.
"Mary was a girl the same age as me. She was black where I was white, she babbled endlessly where I had to be prodded to speak. She was beautiful, while I..." Mimi pulled herself up to a standing position, her clavicle perfectly straight. She held the drink to her chest, like it were a weapon. She looked left; she looked right. She lifted one leg out, and pushed herself onto the top of her toes. "I was what I was."
"We were a pair. Red Mimi and Blue Mary, always together. We danced together, we played together. She was my best friend. I missed Boston, but I wouldn't leave Mary. She made it bearable.
"Then, a woman came to visit the teacher at my new studio. She watched us dance with eyes of gold and fire. I felt her eyes move something in me. Mary didn't like her, said she had devils' eyes. I laughed. I was frightened, because I knew this woman had power. At the same time excited. I knew. I knew she would change everything.
"So, I was lured away. I went to follow a dream. This woman, Alle--" Mimi began to say her name.
Maggie-May-I gasped. The Franklin pounded a beer mug on the top of the counter, making en enormous crash.
Mimi went flat-footed, bringing her leg down and her arms up in a perfect circle, the glass held at the highest point. "She told me I would dance for Lords and Ladies, Kings and Queens. She told me everything I wanted."
Mimi pirouetted again, a lazy turn this time, taking her right to the hearth. "She didn't lie. But they don't tell the whole truth, do they?
"I danced for Lords and Ladies. I danced for Summer and Winter. I danced for Kings and Queens and Vassals and Pixies and Ogres and Trolls and Darklings. I danced for Redcaps and Selkies, Harpies and Dragons--anyone. I danced for anyone who would watch.
I thirsted, but water would not have me until I was done. I hungered, but food would not have me until I was done. I drowsed but sleep would not have me. Not until I was done. I was the plaything of the Gods, a dancing ballerina in a glass bauble, endlessly on display.
"I have no memory of my escape. I must have stopped dancing. For when I found myself on the other side of the barrier, I was here. My feet were bloody and my arms and legs were black with bruises, red with scratches. And my eyes were crusted with blood. The thorns bite deep and tear more than your flesh....
"Thirteen turning there was only two years here..." Mimi said. "And they'd taken me without even letting my family mourn.
"There is another out there, wearing my face, carrying my name." Mimi stretched and went to her knees in front of the hearth. She leaned back, way back, until the top of her head touched the floor behind her. She held the glass up high.
"That Mimi doesn't dance. She's in jail for murdering her best friend."
"So, tonight, I offer a Bloody Mary for Bloody Mary, her eyes plucked out by a sister she never saw wasn't who she thought, victim of the person I never was because I became the person I wanted."
"Because I didn't listen." she murmurred, barely loud enough to hear. "After two and thirteen years, I wish I could take it back."
The glass crashed in the hearth, and for a moment, the flames danced blue.