“tempo, girls, tempo!” the lizard called. “count it out!” he skittered across the floor, skidded to a halt and stared indignantly up at them. “this is ridiculous! i shouldn’t have to remind you there’s a great deal riding on this!”
the girls coughed and looked down at their hooves, embarrassed by both his sharp tongue and the truth behind his words.
“jazz leaps,” he snapped. “we begin with Daisy.”
Dolly sighed with regret. she clearly remembered her days as lead dancer. it had been a good life and she knew why she no longer occupied that favoured position. “i can’t keep up anymore,” she muttered under her breath and didn’t care who overheard. it was true. her ankles were sore all the time and her knees ached with the slightest change in the weather. the girls were smarter, faster and, she hated to admit it, smaller than her. i can’t fight the DNA. she shuffled anxiously forward and bumped into the sheep in front of her.
“sorry,” said Dolly. “i’m a little off today.”
the girls glared at her, then snickered amongst themselves in the days attempt to shame her. they were distancing themselves from her and, although her feelings were hurt, it wasn’t difficult for her to admit she understood exactly where they were coming from.
“pick up your feet! point your toes!” the lizard shouted. he flicked his head, the metallic scales at his neck clicked rapidly across the colour continuum like the lenses of a microscope. he pulled at the collar of his lab coat and counted with a twitch of his webbed fingers. his sterile, reptilian eyes slid over Dolly.
Dolly leapt desperately across the floor, extended her legs as far as possible, struggled to maintain her balance and landed with a thud. “i’m sorry,” she bleated. “i’ll go faster next time.” she perspired heavily under her wool.
the lizard sighed in annoyance. “soupy sails,” he said, coldly, “use jazz hands.” he stared into the observation mirror, gazing critically over his ever-changing reflection.
the girls stiffened, glanced nervously at each other and reflexively shuffled into a column of identical pairs. Dolly was surprised to find herself at the front of the line and the thought of leading pleased her, until she remembered the ‘soupy sails’ step placed an enormous strain on both her knees and ankles. sadly, she shook her head and squinted at herself in the mirror surprised, once again, by her physical size. she was carrying twenty pounds and had eight inches on the girls, two facts the geneticist was always going on about.
what a trial, she thought and pulled at her leotard.
Dolly made it halfway across the dance floor before she fell.
in one long moment, she awkwardly rolled over, staring blindly up at the two-way mirror. intuitively, she knew the other lizards were behind the glass with their clipboards and, somehow, what was coming next.
the music stopped.
“you’re dismissed Dolly,” the lizard said, quietly. “we can do better than you.”