She slept and dreamt but there was no comfort or rest in either function.
Zoyla Tenatui, in her early twenties and exceeding the professional desires of her many contemporaries, rode a taxi cab home from the upper east side of the city after a long and exhaustive rehearsal evening at the studio. She reached the entrance of the sparsely decorated modern flat she rented above a deli in the Village and trudged up the stairs, disregarding her customary stop at the mail drop. She only had enough energy left to shower weakly under steamy a vapor for a few minutes and barely drying herself, collapsed onto a lonely bed.
In the world of dreams nothing makes sense, yet everything rings true. Perhaps it is this diametric contrast that grounds us in what is generally considered reality and often times even inhibits our ability to recognize the world and events that lie beyond the reach of our basic perceptions.
Once again, she practices by the mirrors of her first academy and once again she is seven years old. However, this time she is aware of the temporal discrepancy… aware of her well-honed talent over the years since this day; the day of her first ballet recital... Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours.... The room is now full of proud parents and relatives… video and photos… eyes and whispers in every corner… Zoyla recalls impressions; amazement, joy… the dance continues and she shines far above the other girls and is self-conscious... more impressions; wonder, amazement … the music is glorious and powerful… such joy! Such love! For Zoyla life can mean only one thing from this day forth… MUSIC! As she dances, something is very wrong… Impossibly, Natalya is there. Impossibly, she is all of them... and the impressions change… indifference... Envy.
In a blink the academy is now the main stage of the Belle Artes in Angria. The arched ceilings contours fade into the shadows and lavish chandeliers hang like crystal stalagmites in the cavernous theater. Once again the glorious music reaches a crescendo as Zoyla is catapulted into the air, arms wide and poised to sail her graceful trajectory in slow motion over the fleeting ballerinas... The music suddenly all along has been Nirvana’s Come as You Are and the ballerinas beneath are nude... Nearly all of them run by oblivious to their undress while a few cover their breasts and pubic area as they continue the unlikely ballet choreography... It’s the liberating music that Zoyla loves and has always loved… Everything else has been secondary, always; friends, and lovers and sometimes even family… she cannot feel guilt or accept blame for something so elementally righteous… she continues her slow descent as the music plays on and an irrational fear seizes her; what if I never come down? How will I survive a life-sentence in mid-flight? As she gazes downward from the dizzying heights of her apogee she notices a fleeting silhouette off the main stage… Natalya! She is laughing and drinking from a bottle of water… that water looks so delicious and cold… suddenly Zoyla is parched and needs a drink of water…
Zoyla’s muscles will not respond… she is frozen and now grounded somewhere dark and it is unbearably hot… she can still hear Natalya’s echoing laughter in this dark place… there is no music… there is no light… but her legs ache with strange cold numbness … Zoyla concentrates her mind on the need to move… ever so slowly, the pain in her legs subsides and she is able to move again… She begins to gently message her calves and legs just as her callisthenic coaches taught her all those year ago… gradually, she re-gains limited movement in her legs… still in the dark, she ponders the question; why is Natalya doing this? Natalya’s laughter reverberates across the black void…
Now a faint light of no discernible source illuminates her place among shadows and fog… Natalya is the name of the Raven that now stares at her with lifeless black orbs… it’s an ugly bird, a disgraceful bird that only knows hate and envy, much like Natalya… but the bird and Natalya are one and Zoyla asks; Why are you doing this? And the ugly Raven leers and says in Natalya’s accented voice; You know why. You know why all too well.
Zoyla: You mean this is because I got the lead and you didn’t?
Natalya: I am the best dancer in the troupe. You just fucked that idiot Romano and got the part.
Zoyla: Is this why you poisoned me? For this you insisted that I had that champagne with you! You intend to take my place tomorrow night don’t you?
Natalya: Tomorrow night and every night from now on.
Laughing, Natalya Raven flies off into the fog, leaving Zoyla for the shadows and fog to devour.
A few days later the NYPD are summoned to investigate a strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the second floor above a Deli in the Village. The first responders discover the body of a young woman, possibly in her early twenties, lying naked on the floor next to her bed. Some sort of struggle appears to have ensued, either with another person or in a state of distress. Toxicology reports would soon prove the latter. Vomit stains and feces are evident and the powerful pungent stench causes one of the officers to immediately, involuntarily, regurgitate his last meal noisily on the hardwood floor of the unit.
Among the inconsistencies discovered while investigating her death, were a few black feathers found by the side of her bed. She had no pets and the doors and windows were locked from within.
Natalya Heinne, sister of famed choreographer Romano Heinne, will dedicate tonight’s performance to the memory of her sister-in-law, Zoyla Tenatiu.