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Leaving the Nest

She’d always remember that picture. The one that hung in the hall, visible when the guests walked in. Full of regal beauty, poise, and perfection on the day of her mother’s first principle role.

Odette spent her entire life trying to live up to her mother’s expectations. But her feet wouldn’t turn out just right, her legs were spindly, and coordination non-existent. And she hated her name – named for the white swan where her mother had always favored Odile, the black swan, despite the role being one and the same.

Time after time, day after day, year after year – her mother pushed her, prodded her, and scolded her in front of a class full of girls with the right figures, the right coordination and an actual ambition to dance.

In her twilight years, Odette’s mother wanted what her daughter would never be – a prima ballerina to take over the legacy, to continue the line of dancing royalty she’d created. And when it didn’t happen, Odette was shunned, locked away to think on her crimes, on her genetic failure to live up to her mother’s standards.

The bruises were easily explained away. No one thought twice about them considering Odette’s obvious clumsiness. Though they left no lasting external damage, the mottled purple fading through to green and yellow dug gouges in her psyche.

Until the whispers started.

At first Odette though they were from the other girls as she arched her back in a port de bras, but it didn’t take long for her to realize the voices were always with her. Soon, she began to take comfort in them, listen to them, and wish she could please them in ways her mother would never be pleased by her.

No longer alone, she bore the beatings with a smile, which only served to further infuriate her mother. Punishments lengthened and the ridicule became so nasty Odette could see the revulsion in her peer’s eyes.

She harboured the whispers, held them close, comforted them. Something would go her way soon, because she had a plan to be perfect – a plan to quiet everything once and for all.

The first thud of the golf club as it sunk into her mother’s skull had a sickeningly wet crunch to it. Sort of like a packed bowl of cereal with almost enough milk.

The second stroke resounded with a wet pop when she pulled it away from her mother’s head, the indent making a nest of blood and brains for that pretty brown hair.

The third stroke sprayed blood higher than Odette anticipated, coating her mother’s painting with an artful splash of red.

Odette stood there for a few moments as her mother twitched, as the eyes glazed over, and as the body finally lay motionless in a congealing pool of blood on the floor. She sunk to the ground, letting the golf club clatter beside her and smiled at nothing in particular. For the first time in her life, she found her mother’s favorite portrait appealing.

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