The teen ballerina dies in the locker room. Her ghost peels itself away from her body and overlooks the carnage, studying the way her cracked chest parts to reveal her insides. The teen ballerina has paid enough attention in biology class to know her heart is gone. The floor of the locker room is covered in claw marks. The teen ballerina settles amongst them and waits to be found.
They bury the teen ballerina with her pointe shoes. Her heart is still missing, so the morgue stuffs some newspaper inside her instead. The teen ballerina doesn’t know why anyone would want her heart. It wasn’t a particularly good one. It kept feeling things it shouldn’t have. Whatever killed her probably would’ve been better off with her legs.
Before he died, the teen ballerina had a boyfriend. He came to her room to say goodbye the night after his funeral. He showed her the marks on his neck, where the vampires turned him. He told the teen ballerina he had to leave her for the tunnels underneath the graveyard, that he was lucky, all things considered. I’ll have to hide, he said. But that’s not that bad. The teen ballerina kissed him goodbye and watched him crawl out the window. She didn’t tell him how lonely hiding was, how cruel it could be sometimes. He would figure it out on his own.
Despite fighting it for years, the teen ballerina starts to miss her heart. Now that she is dead, so is the fairy-tale wedding, and the two children, and the house with three floors and a basement in a town where a basement is not a death sentence. Her heart would be welcome company, something to keep inside of her instead of fading secrets.
The teen ballerina’s mother mourns her every night after dinner. She stands over the dirty dishes, the one the teen ballerina was supposed to wash, and weeps. The teen ballerina has a feeling she knew something like this would happen. She used to tell her that demons like girls wracked with guilt, girls that wrap themselves in shame. She taught her to hold her head high and lie through her teeth, to bring a boy to prom and make him her boyfriend, to dance, and dance, and dance. The teen ballerina wonders if her mother blames her for what happened. She wonders if she is grateful it ended here, the teen ballerina forever doomed to be just another high-school girl murdered in the locker room, saint-like in her photos, unsullied by whatever the future might have held.
The teen ballerina’s vampire boyfriend finds her heart hidden in a cave. He leaves it on her grave, wrapped neatly in old newspaper. It beats against the soil, thump-thump, thump-thump. The teen ballerina wraps her ghost hands around it. Try as she might, she cannot force it back into her chest cavity, cannot make it return home.