Before reading this novel, I HIGHLY recommend reading my webcomic "A Demon's Heart" all the way up to end of book three. This will help understand the characters and the universe this story builds on.
January 12, 2011.
I sat in the therapist’s office, bottle of purified water in my hand.
I took a nice drink of the water, looking up at the clock. I got here about 10 minutes earlier than I should.
I looked over to a shadow outside of my door, almost sensing a person behind it. The door opened, and the therapist walked in. She asked for my name, confirming I was indeed the right client. I answered nervously. She smiled at me, and moved her scarlet locks to the side, framing her beautiful face correctly.
She sat in the comfortable-looking office chair next to me, taking out her pen. As she wrote something down on her notepad, she began to speak to me.
“How are you doing today, ma’am?” She asked me.
“I’m doing...somewhat okay.” I answered, a small smile growing on my face.
“Before we start, I’d just like to say that everything we talk about today will be kept in this office.” She continued. Part of me didn’t want to believe her, but hey, whatever. I nodded in agreement.
“I see here in your file that you've come to me for...trauma therapy?” She asked.
“Yes...that is correct.” I said.
“Well, where would you like to start? Childhood maybe? Teenage years? Usually most traumatizing events happen at-”
“Childhood. We’ll start with childhood.” I say, accidentally cutting her off.
She adjusted her pink glasses, and shifted in her seat, putting all her attention on me.
I took a big sigh, and began to tell my story.
December 15, 1980.
A 9 year old me sat in the back of my family’s buick, twiddling my fingers. The ride was silent. I wanted to say something to my parents, but I couldn't. I mean it’s not like anything I said matters.
“We’re here. Let’s look presentable.” My mama said, shifting her wavy dark locks to the side. As both her and my father exited the car, I felt the hairs on my back stand up. I felt sick.
My papa opened the door for me, his wrinkled face sunken and unfriendly. I felt his hand on my upper back as we entered the side door of the concert hall.
The smell of expensive perfume entered my nostrils as my ballet teacher greeted us.
“Mr and Mrs. Corazon! So glad to see you all again.” Ms. Evergreen said happily. “Nice to see you too, Mildred.” My mama said. My papa just waved his hand.
“And little Maria….” Ms. Evergreen said, looking down at me. “Don’t you just look like a star from the night sky. Such a cutie!”
I giggled and thanked her for the compliment.
“Well, why don't you just mosey on to the back with the other girls, and we’ll see you out in the auditorium!” Ms. Evergreen said, moving my parents out of the room.
My mama shot an almost threatening glare at me as she left, her red velvet dress swaying.
I entered the room in front of me, and saw a bunch of young girls wearing glittery tutus sitting in chairs in the long mirror. They were putting on makeup, making themselves pretty. I didn’t see a single smile on their faces. I guess they were in the same predicament I was in.
“Hi.” I greeted. The little girls turned to me, some saying “Hi” back silently. Others just waved a small sad wave. There was an empty chair next to a beautiful black girl with curly hair.
I sat down in it, my tutu almost bending, and looked at myself in the mirror. My black hair was pulled back into an uncomfortable bun, with two small bangs on the sides of my face, crimped, almost burned. My eyelashes had expensive, name brand mascara coated on them. My cheeks next to my sunken frown were coated in dark pink blush, and my lips had red, almost adult-looking lipstick on them.
As I stared at my reflection, I started to realize how truly unhappy I was. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to do something else...to be someone else.
Quickly, me and the other girls were brought backstage as the announcer began to start the ballet competition. One by one, all of the girls gave their rehearsed performances.
I was the sixth to go.
As I performed on stage, I felt like a robot.
This wasn’t really my show, it was my parents. I wasn’t asked. I didn’t have a choice. It’s been like this since I was seven, shows after shows, performances after performances.
Part of me felt like this was proving my worth to my parents. Like I was earning their love.
Looking back, I was really just a puppet.
I was pushing the image that the Corazons were wealthy and happy.
As I was finishing my dance, I could see my father’s face. He had his fingers around his mouth, telling me to smile.
I grew a painful smile as I moved into my final pose, and the audience clapped and cheered. All my parents did was softly clap, like they expected it.
I joined the other girls as they clapped for me. I darted for the bathroom, ignoring them. The tears began as my breath began to stutter.
I silently sobbed in the toilet stall. I was so tired of this. I just wanted to be happy.
Pulling myself together, I looked at myself in the small sink mirror, and my mascara was running. So much for expensive makeup.
I began to panic, grabbing tissues, wiping my face, hopefully able to cover up the streaks.
I joined the other girls slowly after my breakdown.
The last few girls gave their performances, and we were all sent back to the dressing room. We sat in silence as we waited to hear who won the competition. Some of the other girls looked relieved, others looked terrified.
“Mary Corazon?” I heard my name being called outside by Ms. Evergreen. I walked outside to be greeted by a hug from her. “You won!!! I'm so happy!!! I can't believe it, you won!!!” She said.
She took me backstage, as the announcer was finishing up.
“And the winner of the 1980 ‘Little Miss Ballerina’ competition is…..Mary Corazon!”
Me and Ms. Evergreen walked out on stage so I could receive my trophy. The audience was roaring as roses and candy were being thrown on stage. I had a….genuine smile on my face.
It faded as me and my family headed back to our expensive car. I managed to hear a few of the other losing girls being shamed and yelled at by their parents, mostly their mothers. I had never heard any mother except mine talk to their children the way that they did that night. I felt bad for them, I couldn't help them.
My parents had knowing smirks on their faces as they put me in the car, even shooting petty glares at the losing parents.
The Corazons strike again.
The ride home was silent. My award was silently placed on the shelf next to the many others.
The maid read me a bedtime story that night, and I went to sleep.
I’ll hear them say “I love you” someday.