She loved ballet and she loved to play ballet music and dance in the living room.   I remember her putting on an LP of Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and slowly, as the early notes played, she would enter the living room.  She wore a black leotard and a pink tutu.  She was 9 years old.  She would practice the various positions and act like a tired little dancer for the first few minutes of the ballet.  Around the room she went, improvising barres.  Then when the orchestra really revved up–about 5 minutes in—she would go leaping across the room.  In flight, her tutu waving about, her arms carefully positioned, she would dance dance dance.

Sometimes feverishly and febrile; other times joyously leaping.  Concentrating on the nuances of the music; concentrating on the story.  Determined to play all three parts because there was but one dancer in the house.

I loved Andrea’s dancing.  It could be flamboyant and one second later segue into a rather stiff diffidence to match the music.  Outbursts of speedy music followed by pensive moments animated her.

She loved the ballet.  When she was a couple of years older, she started babysitting to help pay for her lessons.  Her long blonde hair was tied up in a very professional topknot.  Margot Fonteyn!  Patricia McBride!  Suzanne Farrell!  Allegra Kent!  We would take the train into the city and see the  New York City Ballet perform.  She took the lead, because my physical talents were wooden and clumpy and her head was filled with ballet—the music, the dancers, the variety.  She may have been only 10, but she knew that one did not stop to stare at Edward Gorey, but only appreciate his presence.

Then she was raped by a man for whom she was babysitting.  She was just about to turn 14–that October.   He turned her into a private sex slave.  When he discarded her, on her 18th birthday claiming she was “too old” for his tastes, she was entirely fragile.  She had not kept up with her ballet.  She was jaded and terminally depressed.  She killed herself at age 20.  A casualty of the phallus.  I grieve each and every day.   I know I am dying and it does not help to know that I am the last person who remembers her well; who remembers her dancing in the living room; who remembers her wishes and hopes.  All derailed by a pedophile.




Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry and music and is in the midst of dying

2 thoughts on “Petrushka”

  1. My heart grows numb for her and for your memories of her. At least she has this memoir of a life full of promise, albeit blighted by unspeakable abuse, as a record and an appreciation.


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