They practice every day at noon. Evan has a smoke as he watches them through the second floor window. Because they had none, he gave them all names and a story.
Daisy is the shy one. Her pliés are sloppy, but she’s been getting better these past months. He can picture her practicing at home, using her sink for support. She looks at herself and thinks that she’s not pretty or talented enough like Rose is. In the studio, when the teacher passes by, she always puts her head down. Evan always see the teacher’s finger flicking upward. He is telling her to keep her chin up, which she does, but Evan can tell she is just looking at her reflection in the window. She is telling herself that she is not pretty or talented enough.
Violet, on the other hand, hasn’t been improving at all. She doesn’t go to classes as much anymore. Violet looks at him strangely sometimes as she crosses the street, usually running late. Evan is worried that she might suspect him and break the illusion. He doesn’t want them to notice him and break their concentration. If they knew about him, it would ruin the purity of their dance. Violet isn’t pure, though. She must have a boyfriend that keeps her from practice. She comes from a poor family that wants her to dance, but she just wants to smoke and listen to music and make fun of ugly kids. Violet argues with the teacher. She doesn’t take ballet seriously and the teacher knows it. He has given up on her, would rather she didn’t stay and wilt the beautiful bouquet he has arranged in his studio. If someone nurtured her… Evan stomps out his cigarette and lights another.
Rose is the idol of the class, the older pupil that everyone looks up to. Fifteen or sixteen and almost a woman, she ties down her breasts. They’ve grown out more than she’d like and it gets in the way of her dancing. She takes good care of her hair. It shines gold in the sunlight. Evan imagines her as the head cheerleader and valedictorian. She is almost too mature and soon she will be too old. Her parents are trying to make her into something they never managed when they were her age. They push her hard to be studious, to get good grades. They won’t let her go out with friends. She is alone.
Evan pictures himself behind Rose, wearing black tights. He would support her from the shadows, lifting her high into the air. But nobody would notice him. They would only notice Rose and how beautiful and elegant she is. And he would support her, though nobody would notice. High into the air. And they would only talk about her and her beauty and her grace…
Evan thrust his cigarette to the ground without stepping on it. He tucked his hands into his overcoat’s pockets, pulling it tight on his shoulders. The cigarette sat on the curb, smoldering.