The Dancing Twins

by Terri Potvin

The day the dancing twins came to the small village, not a soul had the urge to sing nor dance. The clouds hung over their heads like weights and crisp winter air choked them of their joy. Sickness ravaged their streets like wolves, and hunger from the famine razed our bodies. Many wished they could have one more beautiful day, just one day of happiness.

The first day was the dreariest ever seen, but at the town’s stone walls, the twins stepped through the gate on the tips of their black, silver-buckled shoes. The dancers were identical in every way. Hair as blonde as the sun, freckled rosey cheeks, and eyes of brilliant sapphire. Their bunads’ were beautifully pressed and were made of the finest wool, light blue embroidery and skirt.

They were drowning in silver. Their broaches, hair ribbons, buttons, and even belt buckles seemed to shine in the nonexistent sun with pure silver. The townspeople almost found the twin’s pageantry gaudy.

They danced and sang beautiful birdsong, their voices intertwined like two inseparable birch trees. Their limbs would mimic each other so perfectly, one would look at their profile and think only one was there.

“Who are these girls?”
“What right do they have to dance and sing here?”
“What do they want?”

Their endless dance carried on for days in the center of the town. The ramshackle houses were overshadowed by the girls’ grace and beauty. They never stopped once, not for conversation, food, nor rest. Anyone who tried to offer them any of these luxuries were only given a laugh.

The townspeople started to grow weary of these twins.

“They have to be elves! To give us good graces!”
“But what if they are here to punish us?”
“No, they are trolls, here to steal our children!”

The town’s butcher had enough of the twins. He marched out of his shop and approached them, grabbing one by the arm and yanking her away from her sister. “How dare ya dance like children, can’t ya see ya ain’t wanted?”

However, he was soon swept into the dance, the twins pulled him into a ring of laughter and song. Within moments, a smile appeared on his wrinkled face as he released a bellowing laugh that could have shaken mountains.

He too continued to dance into the night, and soon the townspeople started to get swept into the celebration. Within a night, the entire town dawned their finest silver and played their fiddles to the twin’s songs. They danced and sang as if their bones were not brittle and their stomachs were not empty. They have finally received their happy day.

The celebration carried on for three days, not once did a person stop to eat or rest. Animals starved and houses fell into the snow as no one needed to heed to them, their joy overflowing like a king’s chalice.

On the third night, it was the butcher’s child that was the first to drop dead.

No one could hear his leg shatter over the beautiful melody, and once his head cracked against the ground, he was dead.

Still, the people danced over his body. The more they wanted to scream, the louder they sang. The harder they fought to control their bodies, the faster they danced.

On the fifth day, more dropped. Either from the illness they were once afflicted with, or out of pure exhaustion. If they were not yet dead, the stomping heels of the dancers would crush their skulls until they were.

On the sixth day, the final bard fell, leaving only the twins and five townspeople remaining. A brutal blizzard came, but even with no more instruments or townspeople to sing, the twin’s voices seemed to drown out the storm. Their freckled skin did not yield to the blue and black frostbite the townspeople endured.

On the seventh day, the last townsperson fell, a silversmith’s apprentice who had fancied the twins. Her legs gave out, but she was still tapping her hands to the nonexistent beat.

The twins watched for hours as the girl’s tempo slowed to a stop. Once the apprentice finally died, the twins danced to the edge of town, taking the silver treasures with them to add to their collection.

They bowed to the empty town before turning to the roaring winds of winter, letting it swallow them like curtains on a stage.

%d bloggers like this: