Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Dancing Eyes

Trembling, Grace Eye took up her opening stance and waited for the heavy burgundy velvet curtains to lift.
She always got like this when she had to start an act and had to hold a near-impossible position. Her belly flip-flopped as she desperately tried to maintain her peculiar, twisted ballet-like curtsey centre-stage. Her head was anchored to her left, chin dropped to her chest, and her legs were criss-crossed with one foot on bent tip-toe a step behind the other; both knees were splayed and her arms held out the corners of her can-can-style ruffled black skirt in a Cheshire cat smile. The coloured nets peeped from underneath and looked like sweet-stained teeth after too many lollipops. Her partner and elder sister, Angela Eye, who was dressed similarly, but in a mottled brown and without the hoop of scratchy, rustling rainbow-coloured petticoats, watched from the wings.
Grace was always the male: the one who preened and puffed up in a riot of colour in a bid to impress a duller potential mate. Sometimes she tired of giving chase across the hall, gym floor, school stage, or wherever they played and would have liked to have played the hen, but Angela flatly refused to be the primping, more self-assured male. The hen had more appeal because although she appeared docile, she was actually in charge, and that's how it was with them.
Angela took the bookings, organised everything and controlled the purse strings, which meant Grace extended her stage role into hen-pecked husband: she did as she was told by her elder sister. And now, thanks to Angela, here they were at the Polka Dot Theatre, on the last leg of their educational tour.
The music struck up, and as the curtains pushed back, the spotlight hit her. Grace twitched her foot to a subtle point, sweeping the floor in a backwards-forwards motion in time to the beat, and began to swish her layers of skirt as the music built. She moved her neck and head in a jutting motion and proudly thrust her chest out as she strutted with pointed feet across the floor. The music turned gentler so that Angela could enter and begin her elegant solo. She pecked the ground here, scratched the ground there, and deliberately shown disinterest. Grace watched from the cover of stage props, poking her head out from behind MDF rocks and foliage, shaking her midnight-blue sheathed shoulders and swaying the plume on her head. This part always made the children laugh because of her absurd behaviour, and there were stifled giggles as she made flirting 'notice me' gestures and advanced towards her elder sister, the hen.
Angela cocked her head and with her natural beady eyes studied her younger sister in the guise of mate. She wasn't being precise enough with the positioning of her arms or feet; she'd have to have a firm word with her after, but for now the performance must continue. She retreated, then was pulled towards her pursuer, now in the final stages of the mating ritual.
Grace's face was flushed from countless pirouettes around her cornered sister, which to the attentive audience had made her seem like a spinning top of hungry flames. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, then began to slow as she regained a steadier pace; one last twirl and then a flourishing forward bend to pin Angela down. Got her now! And that boys and girls is how some male birds woo a female mate.
A quick double bow to the chorus of claps, followed by a short question and answer, and then thankfully the teachers would take over. At this point Angela and Grace would look at each other with a mixture of triumph and horror plastered on their expressions. Here they were, the Eye sisters, a rousing, educational success, whose performances were applauded only as dancing birds!