by Beaulah Pragg
How many years have I walked this earth? How many things have I seen? Yet here, in the final days, I find it strange that it is she who dances in wild abandon. Humanity’s last star; she is born in darkness, rocked to sleep by the crash of bombs, while above they choke on red dust. Warm her with your fur, my children. Bring her scraps of food when you can find them. Give her comfort, teach her to dance. They have been waiting for her.
Grow tall, little girl. Escape the pitch black sewers to see the end of the world through your own two eyes; here are towering pillars of twisted steel and melted glass. Fill yourself up on the emptiness, the silence. The birds do not sing in this metal graveyard. Dance out your anguish in the Theater Royale. Sweep clean its cracked marble floors; cling to the dusty red velvet – what better home for the world’s last dancer?
See how they come. They love her, these ghosts of the past. They yearn to touch her, to remember what it was to live. She looks at them, eyes dulled, hating them for their betrayal. Her pink skirt is hitched up above her thighs, sleeves slip, revealing smooth young shoulders. See, how she taunts them with things they cannot have. They crowd around, lusting after life, but their fingers pass right through, raising only a shiver.
Taking a sip from her chipped teacup, she asks them how the world came to this? What justified such a slaughter? Dancers – they cry – blinded them with glitter and flashing lights. Evil slipped by unnoticed. Innocence, they plead, blaming her for their fall. Last child of the human race, the weight is heavy on her shoulders.
She stands, lifts her frail body onto the tips of her toes and spreads her arms wide. Twisting and leaping, she does not falter. If redemption could be danced, she would dance it for them. Salty tears pour down her cheeks as she gives herself over, accepts the responsibility. Her shadow grows longer, filling up with their pain.
Outside, the sun is setting. Yellows merge into orange becoming red, then later blue. In the theater, she dances still. Perfect pink ballet shoes, laced up just so, are darkening with blood. Possessed, she cannot stop. Dance through the night and maybe, when the sun rises, the world will be silent.
She collapses at last and my children cuddle around, purring, licking, nuzzling. They love her, silly fools. They want me to bring her back and perhaps I will…
I wander the streets of this once mighty city. My paws leave delicate prints in the ash and trees grow in my wake. Concrete dissolves, replaced by grass. Water springs up, clean and clear. I will make a garden for my own children; I will teach them to care for the earth and the air. They will purr and pounce and play for the earth belongs to us now. Osiris can keep the souls of his humans, all except for one.
Eve has earned her place in paradise.