cherith: (Muses are Busy)
Title: At My Request
Author: [personal profile] cherith
Beta: The lovely [personal profile] yappichick
Word Count: 27,085
Fandom: Dragon Age: Origins
Rating: PG-13 ish
Pairings: f!warden/Alistair, Leliana/Zevran, Alistair/Morrigan, Leliana/Zevran/f!Warden/Isabela
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Fairytale
Summary: The Warden proposes a way for everyone to get their minds off what they're doing day in and day out. As they make their way across Ferelden to battle the blight, they gather at night around the campfire and tell stories of myth, lore and legend to help get them through.

Warnings: TONS of spoilers for the main plot of Dragon Age: Origins - with lots of liberties taken of course, plus plenty of drama and angst, several implied relationships, some mentioned violence -- all a bit like the game really.

Authors Notes: Written for [community profile] scifibigbang. A big thanks goes to [profile] yappiechick for being my beta!! It looks like my artist may have flaked, so at the moment I don't have anything. But, I'll probably throw a mix together and add that in soon.

This story tried to be a bunch of things when I was starting out, but as soon as I started writing, the idea that the group might need some way to pass all those boring nights around camp really stuck with me. So, that's what it became, a way to tell their story by using stories that have been so well known for so long. At least I hope that's what I did. Enjoy!

PS. Not all the stories used are traditionally fairy tales, nor are they necessarily the same as their popularized versions. So, for the curious, there's a list of the stories I used in the order they appear at the end of the fic. Thanks for reading.

Link to story at AO3
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
I'm planning in participating in [livejournal.com profile] spookme again this year. Only, I have no idea what creature I want to write about. And, as much as I might like getting a random creature, there's a few on that list that I don't want to think about having to write. Also, I have no idea what fandom I want to write for -- which I completely blame on the many fics I've worked on this year.

*sigh* There's only a week left to sign up, so I should figure this out soon. Ideas are welcome. (BTW: Last year was the beginning of my crazy Alice in Wonderland - Vampire!RedQueen story.)



I was thinking about a ghost story, until I saw how many of those there were. Now I feel compelled to choose something less popular -- like PLANT! Guys. I could write a story about a crazy plant monster! (Not that one! -- Feed me Seymour!)
cherith: (Muses are Busy)
Title: For Summer Days; A Nightmare

Request: 1) The York family (i.e. the Duke and Duchess, Edward, Clarence, Richard and Rutland). Summer holidays. 2) Richard III. Anything at all.

Fandom: Shakespeare, First Folio - Richard III
Summary: Clarence's dream haunts him, and he thinks on things do distract himself as he waits for some news of his rescue. He thinks on summer days at Ludlow to drown out the shadows and moaning of his nightmare.
Warnings: Character Death-ish (does dying in a dream count?), The ramblings of madmen

Author's Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist for [livejournal.com profile] thisengland ficathon. I have a soft spot for crazy dreams and wanted to include two of the requests, and this was the best way I could think to do them. Hope you like it!
For Summer Days; A Nightmare )
cherith: (Muses are Busy)
Hit me with the mundane, I said. Oh boy.

I'm currently working on my [community profile] scifibigbang story, but it's going to be a tight time crunch. Plus the femgenficathon story I'm doing - which is almost ready, but I'm not thrilled with how it's turning out. It's going to need a bit more concentration.

Both this, and the Schmoop Bingo cards are more for those moments when I need to get something knocked loose in my head for certain settings.

Mundane bingo card behind the cut )
cherith: (Muses are Busy)
I'm not really ready to start working on this specifically - yet. But, I got one because it's a good way to start thinking about stuff as I work on the massive [profile] scifi_bigbang story I'm working on.

Card here )
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
Original Fiction Big Bang
More Information


It's 10k by August, that's totally doable.
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
I'm offering fiction at help_haiti on LJ. My offer is here, but there's a ton of other great offers over there, I'm going to browse them later when I get a chance.
Starting bid is $5 for mine and donations are going to organizations on this list (there's several that are yet to be added listed in the comments) - donater's choice. If I bid on something my money's going to Wyclef's organization Yele.org.
cherith: (Muses are Busy)
"Where did you come from?"

"That's a good question." The young brunette looks back over a shoulder at the dark forest behind her. She shrugs, "I was walking down the path through the forest..."

Alice leans to the side to get a good look around the girl, but doesn't see any path through the trees. "Well, I don't see a path."

"I know," the girls turns completely around and stares at the trees. The shadows are heavy under the snarl of twisted branches and thick leaves. She heaves a heavy sigh and fidgets with the basket over her arms.

"So why don't you tell me what happened? Maybe I can help?"

The young girl sets the basket on the ground and flops down into the grass, gathering her knees up in her arms. Alice checks around for a nice clear spot in the grass and sit facing the girl, spreading her skirt out and smoothing down her dress apron. She looks the younger girl over: her dark hair, pigtails, pretty and clean red dress. She's had a bizarre morning herself, and the confusion written on the girl's face feels much like she imagines her own must.

"This morning, my mother made a large breakfast." She points to the basket at her side. "There was too much for just she and I, so she sent me out to take the remainder to my grandmother's house."

Alice nods, listening with interest.

"Grandmother doesn't live too far, I only had to follow the path and take her breakfast." The girl's gaze darts around the clearing, continuing to look for the absent path. "But, I don't know what happened."

"Well, I am new here myself but I don't think it's unusual for this place to lose a path, or confuse a traveler." Alice gives the girl a soft smile. "I, just this morning have found myself in several strange and frustrating places."

The girl returns Alice's smile with a shy one of her own, "Truly?"

"Oh my yes. As a matter of fact, I just left a strange area covered in flowers that sang to me."

"They sang?"

"And were mildly insulting, but I cannot say I was entirely pleasant to them either."

The girl giggles but catches herself as she remembers her dilemma. The two of them sit quietly for a moment, both of them scanning their surroundings: Alice looking for any sign of the mysterious white rabbit, and the girl, hoping to spot the path to grandmother's house. Suddenly, Alice jumps up, and reaches down toward the girl, her bright blue eyes sparkling.

"I have an idea, come on!" The girl grabs Alice's hand and pulls herself up. She grabs her basket folding the handles over her free hand and waits for Alice's instruction. "So, I was coming from that direction," she gestures behind her with her free hand. "And you, appeared here right here, so you must've been coming from that direction," she points across the clearing to the forested area in front of them.

The girl nods, "I think so."

"Well, I'm sure we can't go the way I came, I haven't seen any house that looks like it belongs to a nice grandmother. And, I was headed over towards the forest anyway, so I'll go with you."

"You will?"

"Of course. Maybe, if I go with you, I can help you find your path. Maybe help you start over, find the beginning of it, so you can find your grandmother's house."

The girl nods, and the two of them set off towards the shadowed forest. As they step under the branches, the girl tightens her grip on Alice's hand. She shrugs the arm holding her basket to adjust it closer to herself. She looks up at Alice hoping to find reassurance in her her new friend's face.

"My mom told me stories about the woods. It's why I'm supposed to stay on the path."

"I understand. Don't think about those stories now, just think about the path and your grandmother's house. Maybe it'll help you find the beginning."

"Alright." The girl closes her eyes, and after a moment her grip on Alice's hand loosens. "The path is just dirt, at the end of a long road out of our neighborhood. I always like to stand at the beginning of it, because it has beautiful flowers. Bright red ones, like my cape."

"Sounds pretty."

The girls wander for several minutes through the forest. The shadows are thick, but they walk slowly, and are able to see in front of them as they go. Alice, always watchful, spots a cat high up on a tree branch once but when she stops to point it out to her young companion, it disappears. The girl thinks it's a very long time before either of them speaks. And she tries hard to think of the red flowers she always picks for her grandma where the path begins and it helps make the trip easier.

When Alice does say something, it's an exclamation "I see them! I think those are your flowers!"

It takes her a moment, but she sweeps her gaze through the darkness, and she too can make out the grouping of flowers through the shadows several yards in front of them. She drops Alice's hand and runs towards the flowers, cape billowing behind her, both hands tight on the basket to keep it closed. When she reaches the path she looks back for Alice, but sees only the road leading to her neighorhood.

Alice lets the young girl run out ahead of her thinking to catch up with her in a moment. But as she watched the girl running through the trees, Alice thought she caught another glimpse of the strange cat in the trees. When she looked back, she caught only a flash of red on the far end of another clearing. On the other side, the sun shone down on a large table with several tall wingback chairs and what looked like a mighty tea party.
cherith: (Default)

It's been a month since the killer meme case and Aleph is happy to be back in his own office, sorting through his own mound of paperwork and case files.  His team is currently split on two different investigations, both small items that should be wrapped up quickly.  He knows how badly the need small wins at the moment, since most of them are still in various states of recovery, both mental and physical.  He's sorting through recently received case files waiting for Interface to join him so they can talk about the next cases the team needs to take.  He sorts everything into three piles.  The piles aren't labeled, and he doesn't talk to anyone about the difference between the piles, but in his head he knows the difference.  The first pile, he's refers to as the "Done" pile.  It's a short stack of folders, but it's the subset of cases that shouldn't take more than a few moments of research, paperwork, or perhaps a quick trip to the case location to settle.  It's done because it doesn't require a lot of attention, and it's a great pile to rely on at times like this when the team needs accomplishments, no matter how small.

 

The second pile is the largest of the three and he calls it the "Risk" stack.  It's all the cases that might require some monitoring; non-cases that could become cases with just a small tweak.  This pile is generated from a National database that gets fed to him from The Foundation, and he doesn't really ask many questions about it.  But each time he looks at a case file, unless there's an immediate threat, it goes into this pile.  For those that are immediate threats, or where they need immediate attention, they go into the third and thankfully smallest stack, the one he calls "Security".  This stack is always the hardest to look through, but always the most urgent.  It means cases that have higher death tolls, outrageous motives and sadly the most misused amount of powers.  In all his years it's that combination that still makes him sleep uneasily at night.  That despite the great gifts people have come to find in themselves in the past few decades, their blatant misuse to strew death and chaos is the saddest to him.

 

He flips through the last file in his physical inbox, only just in time, as Interface is at that moment lightly rapping on his office door. He mumbles something and gestures for Interface to enter just as he finishes giving the notes a last glance - enough to know it can go in the Done pile.

 

"Hey Glenn, good timing."  He spares a glance towards his computer screen, noting the several emails that have arrived since he started sorting through the files.  He makes a mental note to get back to them, as soon as he and Hess finish going through the Security cases on his desk.  

 

He shifts the piles on his desk, making sure to slide the Done pile towards Hess, so that he'll take those files with him when he goes.  He uses both Interface and Bet as clean-up and contacts for the Done piles, they can get the rest of the team to finish them off, and he relies on Hess to make the calls to the inquiring offices when they're done.  Hess takes the hint and scoops up the short stack of files and puts them on the second chair in front of Aleph's desk.  He'll transfer them to his own desk when he's done here.  It's a routine they've fallen into in the time they've been working together, and it helps free Aleph's time for more pressing cases.  Hess may not know what the other stack is for, or what Aleph calls it, but he knows the time they spend in between cases, Aleph spends sifting through it to make sure there's no way they can help without it becoming a full Foundation investigation.

 

Aleph pulls the first case file from the Security stack and hands it to Hess directly.  "I think you're going to want to look at this one."

 

Hess flips the file open and scans the first page.  "Another hit-and-run in Kansas City?"  He searches the page, looking for something specific this time, and a brief wave of confusion flashes across his face.  "Different part of town.  But there was a note."  He nods as if connecting the pieces in his mind as he continues to look at the file.  "Different note.  Different handwriting."  He stops and gives Aleph a questioning look.

 

"It's up to you and Rook if you want to go.  I don't know that there's anything there right now.  It's hard to tell, and maybe it's just coincidence."

"But what if it isn't?"

Aleph nods.  "Precisely."

 

"And the rest of the team?"

 

"Well, we still have a lot of other cases to work on," he rests his hand on his Security pile of folders and gives it a gentle pat.  "However, if it turns into something else..." he lets the sentence off as Hess nods his agreement.

 

Hess closes the case file with the one hand and gestures to the stack under Aleph's.  "Want to go through those first?"

 

"I think I can manage.  You find Rook, maybe even give that detective you talked to a call.  Maybe he'll know something.  Then call that prescint we don't want to go in uninvited, but..."

 

"We can if we want to."

Aleph nods.  "Privileges of a private employer."

cherith: (Speak my Mind)
I know it's not much, but it will have to do.  She had spent a good deal of time lately thinking that very thought. But of course, it was never about the same thing.  Couldn't be, of course.  There was far too much her to be troubled with in both good ways and bad ways.  This new particular dilemma however, was not going to sort it self out. While a great deal of the issues she had faced recently had simply vanished on their own, or been blown out to sea by an errant wind (or walrus), she know this one wasn't just going to wash away.  No devilish man in a rakish top hat was going to invite her to a carefree tea party to get her out of this mess.  And no mysterious shadowed feline would point her in any direction out of here either.  She was, above all, on her own shoulders this time.  How quickly things can change, how quickly people appear, or disappear again.  But the same, she'd come to discover, could be said about challenges as well.  Each challenge seemed to have a mind of it's very own, popping in and out when they deemed her a necessary competitor in their games.  
 
The key, she thought, is all about how quickly I can figure out the problems when they do choose to arrive.  The whole mess with the crackers and the drinks had taken entirely too long.  And then again, inside that awful house...oh how cramped it had gotten inside.  If only she could sort these things out a little sooner.  She'd already decided one of her new rules was to begin ignoring labeled food items.  Every time she chose to partake in one of them because she felt they were directing her to, she found herself in some sort of size conundrum, and that just would not do anymore.  She patted the pockets on her dress apron for reassurance.  She had kept just enough food in them in case.  Separated by which direction she might grow if needed.  But she'd rather leave those for a last resort, after all, she wasn't even sure they'd work just now.  And if they did, that would not be a solution for this particular problem, and would of course in turn, only create more.

She stared steadfastly at the mirror in front of her, and noticed while her mind wandered over her recent challenges that the mirror flickered in front of her.  She turned around to see what reflection she'd seen, but there was no one.  She though it might have only been one of her younger sisters passing between rooms in the hallway.  She hadn't been paying close enough attention to what she could see in the mirror, so she hadn't noticed exactly, but it was just as well.  If she was quick enough she could get out of the room before anyone noticed her, and be back where she wanted to be in time for tea (provided you'd forgotten that it was always teatime where she wanted to be).  The problem of course was that the mirror only reflected her parents living room now, drab furniture and cozy but colorless rugs.  Nothing so exciting as a castle with card guards, regardless of the garden rose's colors.  If it only reflected this place, could the mirror take her where she wanted, no, needed to be?  She wasn't sure now, but it was worth a try.  
 
Pulling one of her parents sturdy wooden stools over towards the fireplace, she stepped up atop it, one foot at a time, carefully making sure that her black dress shoes didn't clack against the wood as she stood up.  She could reach it now, the mirror with the large gold frame, the one she's seen her destination in so many times when her mind wandered during long photography sessions. Hesitantly, she patted her pockets again, smoothed her apron down, as well as her hair after a second thought, and reached out a nervous hand.  "The key is simple," she whispered as her hand slipped through and passed her smiling reflection, "I'm sure of it, I need to be there, and so I shall be."  
cherith: (Default)
Okay, so the profit of course isn't monetary, but it's still my eternal gratitude for writing something I already know will be awesome.

Note: I'm a [community profile] yuletide newbie, so I'm just excited to have someone writing for me. I want you to write what makes you happy, and enjoy your yuletide experience. About my notes and requests: I loved [personal profile] naraht's letter enough that I borrowed some favorite things and rather not seen things. I'm all about the whim of the writer, my likes and dislikes are guidelines, but if the story takes you somewhere else, go with it. I love it all the same.

<3: Dark comedy, witty banter, vivid imagery, literary & historical references, melancholy tone, religious: identities or references and subtle mockery thereof, character introspection & retrospection, reading and research, irony, gentle mockery, moral and sexual ambiguity, social commentary, emotionally intense relationships without an acknowledged sexual relationship.

</3: bad grammar, PWPs, mpreg, S&M, or rape.

And now for more Fandoms

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland:
: (from my sign-up) Hatter & Alice preferably conversational, and not overtly sexual. I like implied encounters. Also any inclusion of the Red Queen or Queen of Hearts gets bonus points.
: (extra things that might be useful to know) I'm only recently arrived to fanfiction for Alice in Wonderland, but I can tell you know, it's already consuming some useful brain power.  If you check the tags at this journal, you can read the stories I've done - which differ greatly in tone.  I'm really happy with anything Hatter and Alice related, dark is good, insane is better.

Carnivale:
: (from my sign-up) I so love the mystery between Ben and Management. Including Brother Justin is awesome, but not necessary.
: (extra things that might be useful to know) Overall I'm not into the Carnivale fandom, but I miss the show a lot.  Mostly, it plays on all my religious brain kinks that I have and I love the dark and light dichotomies in the show.  This is something that I'm fairly easy to please in.

Fairy Tales (Little Red Riding Hood):
: (from my sign-up) Red and the wolf, dark is good here, the original is supposed to be scary. For an extra challenge, mentions of other Fairy Tales (like Snow White and Rose Red, or Briar Rose) would be welcome, obviously, I like the color themes.
: (extra things that might be useful to know) So, Fairy Tales overall are something I've been really getting into over the passed six months or so.  I've been reading a lot of books of retellings of popular stories, as well as rereading the original Grimm's stories.  I have always loved how dark the original stories are.  Recently, a video game called "The Path" came out which was a Little Red story with a twist: instead of one girl, there were seven.  And each girls worked her way to grandmother's house, but could encounter the wolf each time she ventured off the path.  The wolf was a different creature depending on which girl was making her way to grandma's and I really liked the imagery of that.  Obviously I have a thing for red (and black) because I've always felt this story was more about the visual than the written images in the story.  I might not need to say it again, but I will, dark stories are okay here (and probably preferred).

REPO! the Genetic Opera:
: (from my sign-up) There's interesting relationships between Shilo and Graverobber and Shilo and Blind Mag. And while Nathan an inclusion of Nathan would be lovely, it's unnecessary. Preferably something conversational between Shilo and Graverobber with mentions of Mag.
: (extra things that might be useful to know) This is another fandom in which I'm very easy to please. I think the Graverobber is pretty darned cool (I've met Terrance Zdunich in real life, and he's a great guy) and would love something from his perspective instead of Shilo's.  I know it's a popular match for Shilo/Graverobber, but I'm not really into the whole sexual relationship idea between the two of him.  I see him like a crazy inventive bad-influence older brother for her, if that makes sense.  But I'll love anything written here.

 

cherith: (Muses are Busy)
AD: 2003

"We've been asked to help on another case. Rook, Interface, grab your bags! You're flying to Kansas."

From the office pit, there's a mixed reaction. There's a few chuckles from one side, and from the other a small groan of disapproval. Rook, pushes back from his chair and gives Aleph a cross look. "And my work?"

"Give it to Bet, she'll take over for you while you're gone."

Interface bends down to grab the bag from under his desk and throws it into his desk chair. "Rook, throw your bag over, I'll take them out while you hand everything over."

"Thank you Hess." Rook picks up his bag and walks it around all the desks to hand it to the large black agent. "It'll only be a moment."

Interface picks up his own bag in addition to the bag Rook handed him and heads out of the office pit. Rook steps back round the desks to grab a file of papers from his desk that he was working on. He leans over the small cubicle divider on his left and drops the file on Bet's desk. "Cindy, I'll forward my research to you while I'm on the plane. But for now, you can look through my notes. You know most of what I do, but there's a few extra things you might want to look over."

"No problem Rook, good luck."

With the papers dropped off, Rook walks by the door to the office Aleph has commandeered and grabs the piece of paper he's holding out. "The case file will be ready for you on the plane. That's the Detective, the morgue Address, and that's the name of the victim. Should be an easy case. We can hold this down while you're out, but I want you back soon."

"Of course Aleph. If it's as simple as you say, we'll be on our way back tonight."

Aleph nods. "Interface is going with you just as back up. The Detective isn't up on The Foundation, so low profile okay?"

The thin dark haired agent folds the paper and tucks it away into the breast pocket of his jacket. It's only a few minutes outside to the car where Interface is already waiting. He's on the phone, with whom Rook assumes is his wife, and he slows down his approach to give Hess a few more seconds on the phone. The bags must already be in the car and their driver is waiting behind the wheel of the company town car. Interface is tall enough that while he stand on the sidewalk chatting with his wife he's able to comfortably lean his elbows on the top of the car. He doesn't sense Rooks approach, but Rook is able to hear the conclusion of his conversation before he's reached the car. Hess turns around as he closes his cell phone, and gives Rook a smile.

"Alright Rowan, let's get this show on the road."

"Certainly."

The agents slide into the back seat of the town car and Hess gives the driver a nod in the rearview window. The driver starts the car and Hess grabs a file that's lying on the seat between them and hands it to Rook. "Here's what we got from the Kansas City detective. Seems like a pretty clear cut case."

Rook nods, "Aleph seemed to think so as well. We might be back as soon as this evening."

"Could be."

"Aleph also indicated low profile. They're new to The Foundation's brand of help, so we'll need keep ourselves reigned in."

"That's what I do." Interface smiles.
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
 It's amazing how quickly one little sound can become so bothersome.  It's all about repetition, and even the smallest, quietest, most pleasant sound if repeated often enough at regular intervals can become an nuisance.  My party companions seems to take no notice of it, although I do dare to think it could be this very noise that has put them in their current predicament.  The first, the one that invited me to this dreadful party in the first place continues rattling on about the wonders of his hat, occasionally pausing in his soliloquies to jot down a note in the small spiral notebook he's keeping in the breast pocket of his jacket.  His hat is indeed very wonderful, but I have already learned my mistakes about remarking on such a fine hat, although I cannot help but admit that the quality and size of his hat seems far above what I imagine his station to be.  I cannot imagine him among society trying to pass of that hat as his own.  And indeed, if he were to try and wear that hat where I come from, I'm quiet sure he would be laughed right back home again.
 
Our second companion, of equal size and stature as the first, but far furrier and with enormous ears - far larger than any I've seen previously - is chatting consistently with our third companion, unlikely friends they make. They do both share a sense of timidity our first friend in the hat cannot claim, but that does not make their friendship anymore likely.  I tried to listen to their conversation, and contribute once or twice, but they seem happiest when left to chat amongst themselves.  However, of the four of us, I seem the only one continually bothered by the soft chiming and clinking noises made by the fine china tea cups and saucers and the sparkling silver spoons that are scattered and stacked all over the enormous dining table.  Each time one of us moves even in the slightest, it sets off a chain reaction of tinkling noises that fills the entirety of space around us, a great accomplishment when dining and taking tea out-of-doors.  To be honest, I cannot decide what is driving me more mad, the noise, or that I am the only one that seemed bothered by it in the slightest.  And then, because of a silly watch it's only moments before we all get up and move 'round the huge table, finding new chairs and settling the whole cacophony off all over again.
 
It's difficult to decide, but when I realize I've stopped counting the number of times I've gotten up to move around the table to find a new seat, I know it's time to move on.  I try to mention the noise to the others at the table, but it seems like the sound itself is against me, and there's a clattering of saucers and spoons, or the lids to little pots of sugar each time I start to say something about it.  Other comments come off quite well, but none of them notices as I struggle to get the words out, or even bothers to have me repeat what the clamor overshadows.  Really, it's for my own sanity that I finally stand, in-between chair rotations, dust my dress apron of crumbs and errant sugar, and say my goodbyes.  They do not ask why I must go, only agree that it is time, and it's not until I'm over the next hilltop that my ears are finally free of the noise.  I ponder the strange afternoon tea party as I make my way down the next lane, and it becomes quite clear I am correct in my assumption about how those three went mad.  You only need to spend a few moments in their company, straining to hear anything over the chiming of the dishes to realize that it's the sound that's driven them over the edge. 
cherith: (Default)
Window down, chair tilted back, and feet on the dashboard. I take a brief moment to steal a glance at her, following the graceful line from her toes, through the rough instep of her dancer's feet, up her long well muscled legs, and I have to turn back too quickly so I can watch the road. But her image of her bare feet on the dash, toes pressing lightly against the glass of the windshield sticks in my mind, and imposes itself on the road and cars in front of us. We're on our way home from a show where's she performed, and her feet are dark and gritty from dancing barefoot on the stage. I can replay her dance moment by moment in my mind and know that she put everything she had into the performance. Her feet alone are a constant testament to the effort that goes into her dance. Why bother with shoes and socks when the urge to practice my strike wherever she stands.

For a while, we chat about the show as a whole, all the performances that made up our evening, remembering great songs and impressive or challenging moves. Her phone trills with a text from a friend, another dancer, congratulating her on her performance. She grins and laughs as she replies - just a quick 'thank you', she loathes analyzing her own performances until she can see a video.

Eventually, she dozes off, whatever energy she hadn't given to the audience now expended. She curls onto her side, leaving her feet on the dashboard for me to steal glances at in the small moments when I can let my concentration on the road relax. At one point in her sleep, she surely dreams of dancing, her feet curl, arch and point, toes shifting reflected in the glass. The trip home is several hours, and she's in and out of sleep for the majority of it. Before her, I would've never considered dirty feet on my dash a comfort. But for my part, I drive, replaying her performance in my head and taking comfort in the knowledge that her feet are a testament to her will, her composure and her desire to keep sharing her love of dance with the world (or the small subsection she can reach). Dirty and calloused though they may be, I cannot do any thing other than appreciate the work and grace they represent.

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