Nancy's Kitchen Dancer
by Sopphey Vance
It didn't matter if Tanya wore the transparent plastic apron. It didn't matter if she wore the thin indigo apron underneath the plastic apron either. Regardless
of her attire, she always arrived at her studio apartment soaked. And that night, even her underwear fell prey.
She opened the door to her apartment, kicked off her squeaky shoes, and took off the mandatory black hat. She rid herself of the prickly black cotton shirt and grimaced at
the fading white logo. The words “Nancy's Kitchen” grinned and sneered back in a you're wasting your talent on unloading an industrial dishwasher tone.
She hadn't planned to be a dishwasher for the summer. She had just wanted to save a little before resuming her dance studies in the fall. Nancy's Kitchen had different plans.
Tanya worked six days a week from breakfast to dinner, with one-hour “breaks” in between each meal. Breaks she used to eat and watch international dance competition videos.
Stripped from her work attire, Tanya stepped into her walk-in shower. The lukewarm water warmed her chilled, wrinkled hands as she tested the temperature. She turned to face
away from the showerhead, and the water dripped down her long dark-red hair. She closed her eyes, scenes of the scarlet-clad dancer she watched during her breaks today.
The dancer stood on a small stage. A violinist sat, her legs crossed, to the right of the dancer. The percussionist or drum player—Tanya couldn't quite pin the name of
his instrument—sat on the dancer's left. The violinist began with three long notes on the deepest-sounding string. After the fourth long note, the percussionist joined in.
He played eight notes for every long violin note. Their combined rhythm gave way to a momentum that the dancer used to move her hips in long, wide circles.
Tanya imagined herself re-creating the long, wide circles. Imagined her hips moving forward, to the side, and back around. Her arms flying, steadily mimicking the opposite
direction of her hips. She envisioned musicians sitting around her, weaving music into the air, and directing her body into a performance. How her body ached for such a
performance—one so lovely and much more enjoyable than Nancy's Kitchen.
She poured shampoo onto her hand. Lathered the product over her scalp. Her fingers paced over her hair to the momentum of the dance. Her neck mimicked the movement
of the dancer's hips as they waltzed around the stage. Her hands moved from her head and flew around her body, urging her into flight.
The rest of her body hesitated to join. It couldn't think of dancing in an exhausted stage. It reminded her of the hunched position she assumed while grasping at hot
dishware. The position did no good to any part of her body, no good at all. The temperature of the dishes made her fingertips rough, and the constant roar of the machine
drove a sad tune.
The scarlet dancer had made the day less sad. Less sad, she always felt less sad when she danced. In fact, it brought her joy like the momentum the scarlet dancer's
stage brought into the world. Joy, happiness.
Her hands continued their movement. Excitement circled in as she opened the shower door. Adept at never missing the soft bathroom carpet, she jumped out. Laughter
wedged into her throat as her hips rolled and rowed her over her apartment studio.
And Tanya danced. She danced as the soapsuds shined on her naked body. She danced the tune of the scarlet dancer until the movements mimicked her inner dancer.
Dancer! Tanya, the dancer, not Tanya the Nancy's Kitchen employee. The dancing Tanya, not the dancing student. The dancer within dropped and shimmied, swayed and gleamed.