This is a piece of writing I did several months ago and tucked away in a folder to gather dust. I am rather fond of the concept, so I've decided to share it with my readers. In my first novel, Drowning Mermaids, we begin by looking inside the mind of Captain Trevain Murphy as he watches a mysterious woman dance on stage. I thought it might be fascinating to take a peek backstage, and see the same scene from the mind of the dancer. I considered including this in the main story, since it's "canon" and could have actually happened, but I realized that it might reveal too much about the characters far too soon, disrupting the whole element of mystery in the beginning of the story.
So, this is solely for your enjoyment. Hope you like it!
Her cheek grazed her knee as she waited backstage, doing simple stretches. A woman with large fake breasts tottered by shakily on towering heels, sending her a suspicious glare. Aazuria was stricken by the disproportionate size of the woman's breasts with respect to the rest of her emaciated body; she remembered something Sionna had told her about new procedures which augmented certain physical attributes. It was fascinating, but not really of much significance to her, and she returned to pressing her forehead flush against her leg.
The carpet under her bare legs was rough and abrasive. She imagined that it was already leaving ugly scratches on her newly-tanned skin. As she straightened slowly from the stretch, she stared at the unfamiliar color of her knee. She missed being underwater. More women strolled by, sending her more suspicious and disdainful looks. Aazuria sighed to herself, and continued stretching. A redheaded woman burst into the room, strutting buoyantly on her shoes as though she hardly noticed she was wearing them. Her whole body was finely muscled, and her height was intimidating; at six feet tall she towered over the other women in the room who barely came up to her chin. Her pleasant laughter rang out loudly in the dressing room.
"For Sedna's sake! Zuri, you really don't need to stretch. Don't bother giving this any effort! It's supposed to be a low-class, inferior form of entertainment." The redhead turned to the women who had been watching Aazuria with airs of superiority and glared at them. She flung her hand towards the exit as she barked an order, "Skedaddle, bitches."
The women quickly complied. Aazuria smiled at her protectress. "It is not worth doing unless it is done properly, Visola."
"Then show me how it's done, Princess," Visola said with a wink. "I'll be watching."
"You have always been watching," Aazuria said fondly. She heard the first few notes of her song begin, and she bolted to her feet nervously. "Well, here I go."
"Break a le—"
"I would much rather not." When Aazuria pushed past the beaded curtains, she felt the music seeping into her bones. Her eyes were downcast as she ascended the stairs, feeling a strange sense of simultaneous nervousness and excitement. She had always been confident in her dancing technique—she had studied various styles on various continents, and she had practiced for hundreds of years. She usually trained in water, and it was far more difficult to dance in water than it was on land. By all accounts, this should be a cinch.
The familiar vocals began, and Aazuria plunged her limbs into motion. Indescribable sensations of loveliness washed over her, as they always did when she began dancing, reaching her lips to settle there in a smile. Finally, she turned to gauge the reaction of her onlookers.
The audience was a sea of eyes. Adoring eyes of those seeking something from her dance which she would never be able to give them. They were seeking the things which they did not really need. They sought sex and excitement or momentary stimulation, but her every gesture and expression, her every step, was dancing in homage to something transcendent and everlasting.
Slowly, the audience was pulled out of the realm of their own expectations and into the realm of her creation. Yes, she could hold them spellbound with a little help from the haunting sound of her sister's recorded voice. Aazuria was strong enough to guide them all—she had always been in a position of leadership, and this was no different. She created the atmosphere, she poured her personality and her principles into it, and she invited them inside for a moment to glimpse the décor of her soul. She felt like she was challenging their roughness with her grace, and ultimately, she was winning. She was overpowering them.
She spun, and spun, and felt windborne. There was an impossible fire within her which seemed to radiate forth from her limbs. All of the elements coalesced in her emotions; as always, she felt far greater than herself when she danced.
She was in complete control. The stage was hers, the audience was hers, and time was hers. She could bend it and make the moment last an instant or a lifetime, depending on her whim. She was in complete control until he looked up from his drink. She was thrown by unmistakable shine of intelligence she saw glinting at her from across the room in a pair of sad green eyes. Her chest constricted at the sight which hit her like a tidal wave and nearly knocked her off her feet. All she could do was hang on for dear life, as she pushed her body onto automatic mode. At the same time, she became doubly conscious of her motions. She tried a little harder, knowing that there was at least one person in the room who could discern the quality of her movements.
The rest of her dance flew by in a blur that she could barely remember. Her heart was beating unusually quickly under the fine scrutiny. Every moment she could justifiably spare was spent glancing at or staring into the green eyes of the man at the other end of the room. He was probably the person sitting farthest away from her, concealed in an extremely dark-lit corner. Luckily, her vision, especially in the dark, was better than most. There were dozens of men, probably handsome young admirers, clustered around the stage; she was not sure why her attention was held rapt by the pair of distant, shining eyes.
As the world spun, those green eyes were a solid island. How sweetly they shone, and how firmly they were grounded. She could not resist being drawn to them as a windswept ship eagerly seeks a harbor. She could not resist the immediate intimacy that was provoked in her chest, completely unbidden and unanticipated.
When she had finished her dance and retreated backstage, she stood naked against a wall, trying to calm her racing heart. Excitement flowed through her with a huge burst of energy, somehow laced with triumph. The audience had loved her; she had sensed it. She felt strangely affirmed by this; she was by no means a young woman anymore, despite her smooth skin and outward appearance.
But that man! She closed her eyes as she leaned against the wall, remembering his gaze.
"How was it?" came a soft voice from the shadows. It was Visola, of course. The red-haired warrior never strayed far from Aazuria's side.
"Oh, Viso," she said, her chest heaving with exhilarated breaths. "It was divine. There was a man…"
"There were many men, darling."
"Yes, but this one… his eyes were shining."
"Be careful. Minimal interaction, remember? We make our money and get out," Visola said sternly. She paused, studying her friend. "What did this man look like?"
Aazuria tried to picture his face, and she frowned as her mind faltered. She could not remember a single attribute of the man—not his skin, his height, his hair, or clothing. Nothing came to mind. But burned into her memory was his peculiar pair of emerald eyes, and the strange feeling which they had stirred in her breast.
"I do not know," she said in confusion.
"Well, go find out," Visola encouraged, nudging Aazuria playfully. "Remember, the most important part of a man's appearance is the girth of his…"