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The Big Strip Tease – Donna L Greenwood

Artwork - Janice Leagra

She tries to smile but her lips stick to her teeth and all she manages is a gruesome leer. As the tourist aims his phone at her, she catches sight of her reflection in a shop window. She’s sitting on a bench wrapped in a faded unicorn duvet.  Last night, in her makeshift duvet-house, she hacked off most of her hair. Today, she is a sideshow freak, a street oddity. The tourist gives her five pounds. She throws off the duvet.

The entrance fee has been paid.

See how she dances. See how she moves. Now she is spitting a fizz, now she is falling over. Did you get it on camera? Did you see? Did you see? She’s falling out of her skin. Can you see? Can you see? Open her up, let’s climb inside her bones.

Her crystal Christ is encased in glass. He shines like a devil and gives like a god.  The evening sun drops a swoop and the sky bruises with purples and pinks and she drinks it all in. The more she drinks, the larger her crowd grows. Look, Mama, I’m dancing. I’m really dancing and they’re lapping it up. She’s unsure what the time is, the hours are bleeding and she can’t stem the flow. She hears the cheers; she leaps and bows. The crowd roar at her screaming pirouette. Her arabesque is an absolute smash.

Come see the magnificent dancing lady. Come watch her as she falls. Roll up. Roll up. Get your rotten tomatoes here. No tomatoes, no problem. Laugh in her face. She likes that. Spit in her face. She loves that.

She gulps down her fiery benediction and feels the spirit move her. Inside her, the rapture rips through her heart.

She falls heavily to the ground.

The crowd raise their phones higher. A toast. A roast.

Gotta get this. Did you get it? Did you get it?

Press record. Press RECORD.

But she is no longer there. She is flying; really flying. She soars high above her audience and looks down at them, laughing; they’re missing the best part of the show. It is time for the fouetté, the hardest dance move of them all. She spins around and faces the black. And then she leaps. The stars are waiting for her; they catch her as she burns.

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