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make me high on lullabies

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She makes Boo promise that once they leave they won’t ever come back to Paradise.

“We’ll make our own, okay?” Sasha says, hoping that her hands on Boo’s hips leave bruises that last.

“Okay,” Boo answers, or maybe she just gasps, canting her hips against Sasha’s mouth.


Class is two hours of empty-headed bliss. Sasha feels the slow rhythm thrum through her center and keeps her eyes straight ahead. Michelle bends low at the barre, and pops up with a flare that is far more fit for the stage than a ballet class. (It’s okay. They forgive her.)

Sasha watches the curve of her spine, the clean lines of her neck and shoulders. She copies every movement; perfection.


Ginny looks nervous. She’s broadcasting from a mile away; shifting in her seat, twisting her fingers together.

“Well?” Sasha’s hands are on her hips.

“Boo said to tell you she’d like, catch up with you next week or something.”

Sasha blinks, hiding her expression on the inside of her eyelids. “Since she can’t manage to tell me in person, I guess you can be responsible for telling Boo that she can catch up with her damn self.”

She doesn’t stick around to watch Ginny’s face fall, to see her hands knot.

What a fucking joke.


“You’d be top pick for the lead if you’d only -- oh, who am I kidding? You jette better than I do, Sasha.” Michelle is talking, resting one foot at a time on the bench next to Sasha. She is barefoot and Sasha is undoing the knots at her ankles.
She could contradict Michelle, play the bashful bride, but she doesn’t. “I can always get better,” Sasha says instead.

“And make us all that more self-conscious about our form?”

Sasha smiles, and she feels like she means it. “I’m not interested in what you all feel.”

Michelle switches feet, flexes her toes. “Just me, then.”

Sasha lifts her chin. “Just you, then.”


Debussy’s “Tarantelle styrienne” rolls out of the speakers in whispers and booms, sending the girls through the paces, and up, in turns, in elaborate turns and leaps and slides. Michelle claps out the beats when necessary, shouting instructions to each girl.

“Spot, Ginny!”

“What did I tell you, Mel?”

“Higher, Boo.”


Michelle stops the CD with a quick slam of her finger. The room goes silent after toe shoes thud to the floor in defeat. Sasha cocks her hip. “What?”

“No one wants to watch -- let alone hire -- a girl who looks like she’s plotting the murder of the entire audience through cruel and unusual means. And Caroline, I see you grinning and you can stop that right now.”

Sasha drops the trigger and settles into first position. “Of course. Thank you.”

The class stands still, waiting for the other pin to drop or the gun to go off, but Michelle simply claps and presses play. “From the top.”


Boo’s arms are crossed over her chest.

“Sasha,” she starts, stretching up on her tiptoes, like that will give her the advantage here.

“Boo wants you to stop calling her,” Melanie pops in, hand on her hip. Ginny nods.

Sasha laughs, but it sounds more like the cough of a broken exhaust pipe. “I wasn’t--”

“Sasha,” Boo says again, and her eyes beg like they never did before.


“Don’t,” Sasha gasps even as the grip of her hands on Michelle’s shoulders only gets tighter.

She can feel the tiny scrape of Michelle’s teeth against her pulse, and Sasha’s knees wiggle. “Don’t, Michelle. Madame Fanny--”

“Please,” Michelle answers, lifting her head. “I have a hickey remedy that’s older than you are. Works like a charm. No need to fret.” She taps Sasha on the nose then proceeds to rip a hole in her tights rather than go to the trouble to remove them.

Sasha can’t catch her breath, spinning as she is between student and peer and maybe -- her hips jerk and Michelle bites her own lip, concentrating -- teacher. She tilts her head, stretching her neck, and Michelle follows her lead, the two of them dancing against the locker room wall, another bruise blossoming under Michelle’s tongue.

She’s quivering, shaking, but one finger isn’t nearly enough. “More,” Sasha whispers, just as urgent, scrambling at Michelle’s shoulders, hips.

And Michelle complies, her tongue hot and rough against Sasha’s neck, until Sasha keens, dropping her forehead against Michelle’s shoulder, their sweat mingling.


“Let’s get out of here,” Michelle suggests.


Michelle laughs, wide and bright. “Just for the weekend.”

Sasha bites her lip to hide the smile.