Ill Fitting
by MelWil

"Eyes to the front Debbie."

"Debbie! Keep that leg straight."

"What have I told you about your arms, Debbie?"

She bit on her lower lip and tried to hold her leg in the air.


Debbie climbed into the car, surrounded by her mother's pointed silence. She stared out the window and rubbed her fingers over a worn patch on her jacket. A special, ballet jacket, her mum said when she bought it for her. A jacket she could wear to and from dancing to keep her warm.

"I'm sorry, Mum."

"I don't want to hear it, Debbie."

"I just . . ."

"Didn't you hear me, Debbie?" Her mum pulled a cigarette from the open pack in the glove box and lit it up. Debbie watched the smoke mingle with the silence, remaining perfectly still as it wove around and choked her.

"Have you heard from Billy at all?" Her mum said. She was trying hard to sound disinterested. Debbie crossed her arms and pouted.

"I haven't heard nothing." She shook her head. "Billy's been too busy to be writing to me."

"He'll be a great dancer one day." She exhaled heavily, adding another cloud of smoke to the car.

"What about me, mum?"

Her mother pulled into the driveway. "Go and set the table, Debbie."


She stood in front of the portable dancing mirror and examined herself. At thirteen, she was the oldest one in the class and the little white tutu was beginning to look silly. She was too tall, she thought, running her hands down the side of her body, and her boobs were starting to show through the thin material. Her hips and her bum were too big -- they made her tutu sit funny.

"Debbie, hurry and collect the fifty pence. I want to go home." Her mother was standing near the door with an armful of tutus and dirty shoes.

Debbie threw on her jacket and ran to the car. "I'm sorry, mum."

Her mum started up the car and looked at the grimy street in front of them. "Debbie, I don't think I can teach you anymore. You're just too old, you know."

Debbie nodded. She'd been waiting almost three years for this to happen, since Billy went off to dance in London. 'What about another teacher, mum? I can keep learning with another teacher can't I?"

"You know we can't afford another teacher. Or the travel costs. Not if you're not good enough to become a proper dancer."

Debbie rubbed the worn patch on her jacket. "I'm sorry I'm not as good as Billy, mum."

Her mother lit up another cigarette.


The wall above her bed was covered in ballet certificates -- rows of creamy white, overly thick paper, with their raised red seal and the fancy, twirly signature of Dame Margot Fonteyn. Debbie curled up on her bed and watched them until they blurred and bled into one creamy, red mess.

Her mother knocked on the door. "Are you alright, Debbie?"

She was silent.

"I didn't mean to say it like that, Debbie. I just didn't want you to go getting your hopes up. I didn't want you to get hurt."

Debbie opened the door a crack, dropping her white tutu on the floor at her mother's feet.

"I'm sorry, mum."


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