guilt faithful in absence

by Kristin N., 15

Deep, deep down in the cold heart of winter, the stone angels lay asleep. Their faces locked in a perpetual state of pain. Forever they lay over their gravestones and wept.

In the garden of the dead, all foliage had gone out of season, every petal brittle and broken, save one.

Red roses, blood red, grew in the most magnificent abundance. Their stunning color against the gray backdrop of the world was surreal.

There, among the graves, the angels and their stone tears, and the roses, a ballerina danced to the mournful tune of silent loss.

No one quite knew why she was there. Some said she danced with the devil to keep safe those who passed, others said she waited to face a betrayal greater than any fathomed by God himself.

Whatever the reason, all who saw her collectively agreed on one thing, she was captivating.

The mystic ballerina’s dress had a lace skirt that cut off at about her knees, the sleeves hung like vines draping off her shoulders. The dress was adorned with an interlaced filigree of diamonds. Her hair was pulled tightly back into a bun. On occasion, snow would collect in her hair and in her eyelashes, making her appear at one with her surroundings. Her black ballet flats with satin that caressed the curves of her legs matched the color of her dress.,

The dancer among the dead, as some called her, she had eyes the color of heaven. Her thick black eyelashes framed them like windows to the unknown. Her lips were flushed pink and her skin was as smooth as it was delicate.

The cold never seemed to touch the ballerina. She danced on in the cold of winter and the dark of night. Her feet kicked up glittering snow and rose petals shrouded her in the tragic imagery.

Her movements encased in grace would make God himself shed a tear. In all the wonder, all the mystic beauty the ballerina possessed, still none knew from where she came nor why. At least not yet.


When the world was still wrapped in the arms of winter, a challenge was brought to the ballerina. A little girl, no more than a small child, had lost her way and stumbled into the ballerina.

The ballerina stopped and turned to look at the child. Her eyes were filled with an inherent sadness. A mirage, perhaps even a ghost of something long gone.

The child looked up at the ballerina terrified, but the deathly dancer merely smiled.

“Are you alright sweetie?” the ballerina asked.

“Yes,” the child replied, her voice cracking and tears welling up in her eyes. The ballerina cocked her head to one side and looked carefully at the child.

“Are you sure?” Her voiced mirrored that of a sea of diamonds delicately rippling against each other.

The child nodded.

The ballerina arched an eyebrow in speculation. “Is there a reason you’re here?”

“I… I just couldn’t stay where I was,” the child responded, hesitantly.

“I can understand that,” the ballerina told her. The voice of the ballerina was distant.

“I thought you’d always been here?” the child questioned.

A bitter laugh escaped the ballerina’s throat. “No sweetie. I’ve been here for a long time. But there was a time when my life was like yours and it conformed to the eternal lineage of time.”

The ballerina motioned behind the roses and stone angels where the real world began to enhance her point.

“I don’t understand,” the child said.

“You don’t need to. You’re the epitome of youth. Time has not yet been wasted upon you.”

“I can’t go back!” The poor little child cried out. It was almost as if she had detected the ballerina’s wish in her eyes. The ballerina bent down to the height of the little girl.

“Why?” she whispered, seriously.

“Because I destroyed my life!” the child screamed. “I made a horrible mistake that I can’t take back. It will follow me like a vulture waiting for me to die. My lies broke a mirror, and that mirror’s shards will now be used to cut me out of existence.”

“All children lie,” the ballerina said simply. Tears freed themselves from the child’s mind’s eye.

“You don’t understand!”

The ballerina reached out and placed her delicate hands on the child’s shoulders.

“I know,” she breathed. “But you must believe me when I say that in this moment, you don’t have all of you. You can’t leave your reality without all of you. It would be such a painful regret.”

The little girl’s eyes swam with pain and confusion.

The world had grown still around them. No snow fell and silence hung in the air. The stone angels seemed to be holding their breath.

“Sweetie, revival… revival beyond a certain point in your life does not exist. I don’t dance here because I am keeping the devil at bay or waiting to face some grand endgame. I’m here because I’m trapped by guilt. You have a chance now before time can take you down forever to fix what you broke; don’t let it pass you.” The dancer’s words cut through the silent air like a blood-stained dagger waiting to strike again.

“I don’t know how to do that,” the child replied.

The ballerina looked down at the shimmering snow. The crystals danced and reflected nothing but reality, offering no answers.

“I don’t either,” the ballerina said, at last looking up. “All I know is I never looked back and I lost everything I ever had. To the greed of men, and the corruption of my own heart. Now all I have are the bodies of those whom I loved once long ago, trapping me here as a guilty soul forever.” The ballerina’s eyes flickered around the garden to the stone angels. The child followed her eyes, understanding the implication.

“So what do I do?” the child begged.

“Do what I could not–fix your broken soul while it’s still young and able to be impressed upon. You are far too young to dance with me. Return home.”

The ballerina stood watching the child go and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath in and felt her chest rise and fall. Then the guilty dancer who entertained the dead began again her mournful routine.