Who I Am (Sequel to How did I get Here?)

Reed couldn't take Jamestown anymore after she and her dad got into a fight about the boyfriend who hit her. So she went to New York to pursue her life long dream of becoming a dancer. The New York Ballet Academy has taken her under their wing and given her an apartment. She lives alone and spends nearly every waking hour dancing as she tries to drown out the guilt and longing she feels towards her all-time-best-friend-and-possibly-boyfriend Alex. She still has no contact to her father or half-sister and she tries desperately to become a new Reed. But at age seventeen is that poossible?


3. Visit

At rehearsals the next day at the studio I wait along with all the others for Madame. We have started up on our own, doing plies in a long row by the bar. The music from the stereo switches to an acoustic Ed Sheeran song. Porter, a guy in my class, blushes and runs over to switch back to classical. We all giggle and the room holds a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. We used his iPod since Madame mostly plays the piano at rehearsal. Either that or we use her iPod. Madame enters and Porter pulls out the plug to his iPod and Madame has us go croos the floor in pairs, doing jetes. I get paired up with Porter and we whisper talk while he lifts me up by the waist. "So you like Ed Sheeran?" I ask. "Yeah. I think he's really good. He writes good songs and he sings really well." He says in my ear. He lifts me again and places me back on the ground. "I agree. I like to warm up to small bump and lego house." I say in an amused voice. "Really? I always had you down as a pop girl." he says sounding very surprised. "I used to be. Not anymore though." I say and Madame gives a new order just as we reach the corner of the room. After some long warmups we start rehearsing the opening of the christmas ballet even though it's light years away. Two of the boys throw me around between them in various jumps and finally I land and do a series of pirrouettes. Then I do a grand jete acroos the floor and another girl takes my place on "stage". Really we're still in the studio. And so we will be for the next two months. But then in november we are on stage. As you might have guessed I am an acrobat in The Nutcracker. I have a long break now since I measure the rest of the dancing to last until lunchbreak and I'm am no longer on stage. At least not for this piece. But later on I get a small solo. Madame cuts the others off with her tiny bell. They all freeze in their positions and she walks in and corrects a few of them. Then she sits back at the piano and the dance starts up again along with the music. I pull off my pointe shoes since they are killing my feet. Don't get me wrong I love my ballet shoes. Every single pair I own. But at the momoent I have to be careful about how much sportstape I use, since I don't have that much money. I throw my thing into my bag and go to the back of the room to stretch until the break. When Madame Lavin releases us we go in a single file line out the door with our bags over our shoulders. But as soon as she closes the door we go crazy and I run up to Leo just as he steps out of his studio. I jump on his back and scream "GO!" He laughs at me and gives me a piggyback ride all the way to the cafeteria. We each get a chicken pasta and sit at a table. Porter joins us and we erupt in playful conversation. Porter and Leo share stories about my flunks in dance classes. I throw a pasta at Leo and they both raise their hands in surrender. I send a warning glare at Porter to say "you're next". We all crack up in laughter as the headmaster comes into the cafeteria and calls us back to classes. This is his way of staying in touch with his students. He used to be a big shot dancer in London. But then he got an injury in a car accident. And those who can't, teach. That just proves how risky our career choice is. One wrong move and we are sentenced to spend a lifetime teaching other people with their entire careers in front of them and watch them make it to success, knowing that our time is over. But headmaster Dowl seems to enjoy it. We get back to class and after another four hours it is twenty minutes past four and time to go home. I hurry out to catch one of the cabs before they are all gone, taken by all the students going to Queens and Brooklyn. I drive home and bound up the stairs to the apartment. I unlock the door and throw my bag to the side. I look to the couch where Alex sits with a little blonde haired girl on his knees. I freeze on the spot. Gina turns her head and looks me straight in the eyes. She clutches mr. Cuddles her beloved alien teddy closer and snuggles into Alex's chest. I'm paralyzed. I want to apologize, to hug her close and tell her how much I regret leaving her on that note. But no matter how hard I try to move or speak nothing happens. Then Alex's mother walks out from my kitchen. Alex gives me a 'sorry' look. "Reed darling! I haven't seen you since forever!" Alex's mom Hannah says and walks over in her pumps and fancy lawyer outfit. She hugs me and I nearly suffocate in the heavy odor of her perfume. "Yeah it's been too long." I stutter. "You must be so surprised! We came early so I got your adress and we went by to see your apartment and all. But I actually have to go now so you three have fun." She says and grabs her purse. She walks out leaving me in shock. Alex is right. She really is awful. I look back to Gina. She looks just as shocked as me. Then she runs to the kitchen and I hear her slamming my cabinets over and over again. Her autism kicked in. Alex runs after her and I hear him saying reasuring things to her over the slamming noises. I walk a little closer and see Gina's face showered in tears while she slams the door of the cabinet. Alex holds her shoulders but doesn't hold her back. After a while he places his hand over hers and participates in the banging. I see his eyes glace over with held back tears and the sight of the two breaks me. I step back so they are out of my sight. After a while the slamming stops and I just hear Alex mumbling. I wipe away the tears as Alex walks in with a crying Gina in his arms. He carries her to the bedroom and comes out a little later. "Mom shouldn't have brought her here." He growls and sits back down on the couch. "Alex I'm so sorry." I whisper. He looks up and I see the anger in his eyes, but I know it isn't directed at me. "She should know better. It's not your fault." I just nod and look at the bedroom door. "I think you should go talk to her." He says. I shake my head. "Alex I wouldn't know what to do if that happens again." I croak. "I'll be right here if you need me. Just go." He says. I turn back to the door and walk over. I open it slowly and close it behind me. She is curled into a ball on top of the covers. her back is facing me. I walk over and sit on her bed. I put my hand on her tiny back. "Gina I am so sorry. I hope you know that." My voice cracks at the end and I feel tears drawing wet lines down my face. "Why did you leave?" She asks. "It's complicated." I whisper. "Was it because I scared you away? because I'm so fat and ugly and stupid?" She cries softly. "No Gina it had nothing to do with you. Who told you that you are fat and ugly and stupid?" I ask horrified. "Kids at school. The teachers. Daddy does sometimes." She says in an offhand voice as if it is nothing unusual. "Gina you are anything but fat. You are one of the prettiest little girls I know and you are definitely the smartest. You are beautiful, no matter what they say. Don't let words bring you down." I say and pull her into a hug. "I missed you so bad baby girl." I mumble into her hair. She turns around and snakes her little arms around my chest. She buries her head in it and I chuckle when her arms aren't long ebough to reach all the way around. Her fingertips barely touch and she gives up and just cries into my shoulder. I gently lift her up and place her properly in my lap. She cries for a long time and a few tears escape my eyes too. I notice that her crying has stopped and has been replaced by heavy breathing. She is asleep. I put her down on the bed and tuck her in. I walk out and close the door. Alex is still sitting on the couch looking mighty proud of himself. A smile runs over my face and I go to the kitchen without a word. I want to make dinner, but I forgot. The fridge is completely empty. I sigh. "Alex I have to go to the shop." I call out and grab my things. Suddenly Alex appears before me and tucks a few bills in my wallet. "You've been feeding me for a while now." He says with a half smile. I go on my tiptoes and kiss him. "Normally I would object but I'm nearly broke and I need a new roll of sportstape." I say and get my coat.

As I'm walking up to the checkout counter I feel someone tap my shoulder. But when I look back no one is there. Creepy. Oh well. But then I hear giggling coming from behind the shelf. It is obvious that it is just a child playing around. I smile and get out of there. I've loaded up for the entire month and the bags are heavy so it is a struggle to ascend the stair. But I succeed and as soon as I'm inside Alex takes over. "Thanks." I say but I'm shut up by the sight of his muscles flexing. Wow. I'm used to seeing muscle and well trained guys at the school but somehow when it is Alex it's different. It's incredibly hot and I still stand frozen when he comes back from the kitchen. I shake my head to clear my thoughts and go put the groceries away. While I'm stowing canned stuff in a cupboard Gina comes out and pulls my sleeve. "Hey sweetie. Are you better now?" She nods and I smile and turn back to the cupboard. She leaves without a word. Strange. I hear her and Alex talking in the living room. I can only make out one line. "I don't know Gina go ask her." Then Gina reappears. "Reed?" "Yes Gina?" I smile. "Can I see your new school?" I smile even wider. "Of course you can. You and Alex can come by tomorrow." She starts jumping around all exited and I notice that she isn't just jumping. She is doing little ballet moves. This sends a wave of guilt over me. I still haven't been able to talk to Lara. I miss her, and I feel bad for leaving her alone with "The Bumblebees". I decide to give her a call sometime this week. Gina calms down and I let her chop up some carrots for dinner while I roast some chicken. We have a quiet dinner by the TV, cause one of Ginas favorite shows is on and if things don't somewhat stay in a routine she will freak out. It is some show called... I don't know what it's called. It is something about some girl with control over water. Her friends all have contol over other elements. It is quite entertaining to see Gina jumping with exitement and innocent joy every now and then. She is on the floor in front of the TV and Alex sits on the couch with his arm draped over my shoulders. I lean further back into him. Just as I'm about to fall asleep his phone rings. He grumbles something inaudible and pulls it out. "Yes? Yeah mom? Ok I'll bring her over. Yes. No I don't know. Yes I'll find out. Ok. Bye." I hear his part of the conversation. "I have to take Gina home." he whispers in my ear. Then he removes his arm and gets up. He crouches down by Gina. "Sweetie we have to go now. Go get your stuff and your coat." Gina is hesitant at first but eventually she gets up. When she is gone Alex speaks up. "So should I come back here? After I drop her off?" I consider it but shake my head. "No. Gina will need you at a whole new place. She needs you more than I do." I smile. "I'm off at three tomorrow. Bring her by the school. I'll show her around." I say as he gets his coat. He packs up the sparse belongings he brought here in the cardboard boxes. Gina comes out with a small backpack on her shoulders. They go to the door and I grab Gina's hand and twirl her. Again she does it perfectly just like if she was dancing. I bend down and give her a kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow babygirl." She smiles, nods and bounces out the door. I get up and Alex grabs me by the waist and pulls me in for a kiss. We both fight to keep it suited for childrens eyes. I smile against his lips and shove at his chest. "Bye." I call and close the door. I head straight to bed.

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