Kicking off her shoes, she removes her holey socks using her big toes and sighs a sigh of relief the same as she did when she whipped off her bra. Hanging on the wall before her is a blank canvas. Stapled into place, it stretches from one side of her studio space to the other. Reaching from the floor to the ceiling, it towers over her the same as her father once did. He was a big bear of a man, and for a moment, the canvas is both comforting and intimidating. Comforting, because it reminds her of him, and intimidating because she knows that if she’s to succeed, she’ll have to bring something into this world that would’ve been worthy of his attention. Frowning at the empty arena where she will attempt her dance, she sees both everything and nothing. It’s enlightening and yet scares the shit out of her. It’s just as she felt before she went on her first date back when she was a good girl—all pure and unsullied—with a belly full of butterflies at the thought of tasting her first-ever kiss. Bringing the bottle of brandy to lips that have since tasted far worse, she swallows a mouthful without thinking. First comes a sting in her gums, and then two tears that trickle out the corners of her eyes. She hates the taste of alcohol, especially spirits, and yet it does the job better than anything she knows. With a little fire in her belly, her limbs feel lighter, and her mind brighter. Suddenly, the canvas on the wall isn’t as frightening. She thinks again of those potential lovers she once knew and how there was once a time in her life when she believed they would save her. Save her from the big bad world, and even more importantly, from herself. Now she knows such a lover isn’t a real person, but instead, one of her creations, which is why it’s so important for her to get things right. Blinking the tears away, she feels the first steps to the dance have taken place; small, tentative steps, but steps nonetheless. The physical act of creation was a doddle—it was the getting there that was the hardest part. Swigging from the bottle again, she grinds her teeth, burps, and clenches her fists. Banging them on the ground like a toddler throwing a paddy, the voices in the studio momentarily cease. Not knowing the meaning behind the sudden outburst, the other students listen intently.