Black Butterfly

By: Sienna Mynx

Chapter 1

The Birthday Girl

He came out of nowhere. Caught in his tailwind, her foot slipped under her in an awkward twist. The savage bend of her ankle caused pain to slice through every tendon and muscle along her leg. In sheer panic, Sydney flapped her arms like some wild bird in a failed attempt to keep her balance. Desperate to grab something for support, the only option left was to snatch hold of the person next to her. At that moment a short woman with a crown of tightly wound silver hair walked by, pulling her small grocery cart toward the subway stairs.

Sydney clung to the lady’s coat. The stranger immediately withdrew in surprise, but Sydney held on.

Lucky for them both, Sydney’s grip offered enough support to keep them upright.

The assailant bolted, charging like a bull down the crowded sidewalk. Shoving a rancid overstuffed garbage can and unsuspecting pedestrians out of his way; he ran as if the devil himself were on his heels.

“Stop him! Police! Somebody stop him!” A shrill scream broke through the crowd. An Asian woman, short and thin with the stature of a child, raced out of her bodega, pointing after the fleeing teenager. She continued to scream at the top of her lungs.

Sydney struggled to regain her balance. “What happened?” she asked.

“Are you ok?” the silver-haired woman answered.

“I, um, I think so.” Sydney panted, a bit winded. A crowd had formed around the distraught storekeeper.

Only the stranger Sydney clung to showed the least bit of concern for her. With her backpack hanging loosely down her arms, she shrugged off the embarrassment. “I’m sorry, yes, I’m fine.” She blushed, accepting her purse.

“Thank you.”

“Mhmm.” The woman snorted, then walked off.

Sydney stepped out of the oncoming tide of pedestrians to regain what remained of her composure. One minute she walked on clouds, and the next she found herself flattened to the ground. A quick check of her watch and Sydney realized valuable time had been lost. She needed to hurry, but after taking one step away from the store wall, she winced under the warm sting emitting from her ankle.

No, please, God, not today, she thought.

“Excuse me,” said Sydney, pushing past people. A soft morning breeze brushed her cheeks, and her gaze lifted to the sky for the source. Snowflakes, carried in the wind, were reduced to light sprinkles melting on her face. The day would be considerably warm and the falling snow would turn into chilling rain soon. Shape shifting clusters of grey storm clouds moved in waves, covering and uncovering the sun. It didn’t matter.

Neither her achy foot nor a New York ice storm could steal her joy. Today was hers.

Determined and a bit hopeful over the audition of her dreams, she pushed past several more people and quickened her pace. The morning’s alive with honking car horns and the warning beeps of a delivery truck backing into a cramped parking spot. An SUV swerved around a cab blasting reggae beats loud enough for the entire city to hear.

With her hands shoved deep in the pockets of her favorite jeans, she kept going. The freezing wind lifted her bushy locks from her shoulders despite being tucked behind her ears, and under the knitted skullcap she wore to keep them pressed to her head. Sydney had a wealth of naturally thick hair. Once unleashed it puffed out at all angles like a reddish brown cloud. She had already burned through two flat irons this year trying to straighten it. Her hair, an inherited trait from generations of women in her family, had become a curse. To others it seemed to be her best feature, evident by the constant barrage of compliments she received regarding its unruly flow.

Sidestepping others along the crowded sidewalk, and ignoring the pulsating pain in her ankle, Sydney finally spotted the dance theater. She darted through the sea of yellow cabs, throwing her hand up as she went.

Her eyes focused only on the studio sign. She imagined it with her name sparkling across the marquee. A crazy mixture of hope and fear passed through her. Sydney stood underneath it, she savored the moment. This audition would change her life forever.

“Are you going in or what?” A snarky voice echoed behind her, above the honking horns of traffic on the congested streets.

Sydney, startled, found herself blocking several others from passing. The narrow space of sidewalk before the studio doors left little room for the dancer anxiously trying to access the front steps. With a sweet smile of apology she stepped aside. “Sorry, my fault,” she said.

The dancer, a petite brunette with a distinct Cyndi Crawford mole above her lip, cut her eyes at Sydney before disappearing through the door. That wasn’t surprising. She’d been snubbed many times at auditions such as these. Sydney dismissed the young woman and returned her gaze to the sign. No longer caught up in the fantasy, she re-read the marquee. It advertised the casting call would be by invitation only.

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