Originally published in November, 2009 by Phyllis Irene Radford
Twenty some odd years ago, I hurried down the wet slope of a parking lot and my feet went out from under me. One glance at the right ankle, twisted and dangling like an alien parasite, and I knew I was in trouble.
Five days later I left the hospital with a plaster cast running all the way from foot to hip. The orthopedist had tried setting the dislocation in the ER with IV valium as the only anesthetic. He told me I’d still hurt but I wouldn’t care. Later the nursing staff told me I’d taught them all some new profane vocabulary — I was service brat raised in the seaports of America. The two broken bits in the ankle had gone back into place beautifully. Unfortunately the tendon got trapped beneath the ankle bone. The next morning I endured full surgery to properly reset the mangled mess.
The healing process involved six weeks in the plaster cast, then 5 days of no cast but still on crutches — I spent most of those days in the bath tub. Then I went through another six weeks in a walking cast before I could try physical therapy. I learned to hate those crutches.
No wonder I gave up dancing. I did teach ballet for another two years but the exhaustion from chronic pain took its toll on my life. At the time replacing dance with writing didn’t seem like such a bad exchange. The other changes in life style I had to make are another story. This one is about dance.
Over the years I kept active with hiking, and biking. For a while I even took up fencing. It was research for my burgeoning writing career. Really it was.
No exercise truly satisfied me and my weight crept up as my muscle mass sagged. Hiking became walking. Biking just went away and the bicycle went to Goodwill.
Around that time I penned a short story about an aging dancer facing risky surgery to correct the damage that dance can do to a body. It started as a pastiche. A couple of over the top characters and not much else. I took a critique seriously and darkened the story, made it more about the necessity of dance to a dancer and what losing it meant to body, mind, and soul.
“Alien Voices” by P.R. Frost is more than playing with nanobot technology to repair damaged tissue. It became a story about the loss of beauty and art. It became a stage of my grief process. I had never truly mourned the loss of dance in my life until I wrote that story. I had to go through all stages of grief before I could truly get on with my life. It only took 20+ years.
Then a dance studio opened ½ mile from my house. No long commute to fencing lessons. No interrupting my writing routine to make sure I walked during daylight. The studio offered Worship Dance for free. No special dance shoes or leotards and tights. I could walk in without expense or experience. The first night I attended, I started a real ballet warm up at the barre. My world tilted and shifted and a whole new perspective opened for me. Within moments I knew I was doing what I was meant to do.
I danced. I grew. I blossomed. I found myself again. But would semi-sentient nonbots understand what I knew to be right?
You can find out in my story. “Alien Voices” is available in Rocket Boy And The Geek Girls, edited by Phyllis Irene Radford (hey, that’s me) an anthology of science fiction. So click over to the BVC home page and share with me the glory of dance.