“Spotting is the process of delaying the rotation of the head, relative to the body’s rotational speed, by way of visual focus on one or more fixed points in space”
Lucy Mason was always going to be a ballerina. An encounter with Swan Lake at four, the lessons that followed in an octogenarian’s garage – these were the first landmarks on the map of what she would become. She followed the path one perfected step at a time.
The finest of lines exists between fascination and obsession, and no-one crosses it better than children. By her 10th birthday Lucy was dancing every day. Feet turned out, shifting from first through fifth in the course of a conversation, her arms conducting silent music. This is how she met the world.
Lucy loved the sinew and strain of a dancer’s body, the strength concealed as grace. She would even come to love the pain this body could endure – the bleeding toes, the torn muscle, every ripple of hunger from the inside out. She knew just how much the body could tolerate when it ached for perfection.
Most promising – this was the refrain she danced to through-out her teenage years. Promising. A vow made by the ones best fit to offer it – teachers, competition judges, the modelling agent who liked her frame. Lucy came to consider it no less than a prophecy, a notion of a future where she was already accepting flowers and applause. She need only keep her eyes fixed ahead to get there.
With such focus, Lucy made the lightest impression on the present. She let life glance off her movements and ignored the chaos of life waiting offstage. There would be no high school parties or fumbling romance, no office job or savings plan; should life present an alternative she would simply steady her centre and rehearse even harder for the life that was waiting.
And when she fell in love it would be set to music. Falling in to arms that would lift and catch. Touched by hands that would open before her and never clench. Not into a fist as it slammed against her cheek. Not wrapped around her throat as she was forced against the wall. Not turning the skin at her wrists a deep and spreading blue as they tightened their grip around her. This was not part of the prophecy. This was not the promise and the plan.
When a dancer learns the art of turns she is told to fix her eyes on point in the distance. With each turn the body is in constant motion but her vision remains set. At the last moment she will whip her head around to catch up with her body and there is a split second when all elements are in synch – a moment of pause – before she returns to her spot and continues to spin.
This is how she remains oriented, how she understands the location of her body in the space she occupies. If she stops focusing on this point in the distance her equilibrium is lost, she will tilt out of this delicate balance and her body can no longer support the motion. It is likely she will fall.
What does the muscle remember? How long can it hold the memory of dancing? When you have lost your balance and find yourself on the ground does your body remember how you turned out your feet, how you used to move from first through fifth, your arms conducting silent music? If you can just fix your sights on a point in the distance, the place where the future is waiting, can you pick yourself up and regain your momentum?
Can you keep on spinning when everything conspires to pull you out of the dance?
Note: Lucy is the second female character in body, remember – the woman that Mack steps in to save on that fateful morning by the river. She grew out of the piece above that I free-wrote a few months back, and it wasn’t until I was done that I realised that I had known her all along.
Where Maggie is constantly looking back, Lucy has spent her life focusing on the future – and both have done this at the expense of engaging in the world. They are essentially my equal and opposite forces, and their relationship will be the real catalyst to change as the story plays out.
Thanks for reading this very rough-draft introduction to Lucy!!