In Rhythm

When Kara struggles with a new dance for a competition, her teacher, Ruby, partners her, to show her how it’s done. Their chemistry is clear and it’s the best time Kara’s ever danced that routine, the only problem is she has to dance with Felix not Ruby, and the competition is tomorrow.

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4. Chapter Four: In Limbo

Kara didn’t sleep well.

She kept thinking about Ruby; about them dancing together, about holding her and touching her.

When Kara had finally been consumed by sleep, she drifted into a deep dream; she was back in the training room, back with Ruby. They were dancing, their bodies held close and Kara wanted more; she wanted more of Ruby, she couldn’t help it. Her hand slid down Ruby’s back, suddenly they weren’t dancing anymore; they were somewhere else, there was no one there it was just her and Ruby and the indulgence of desire and then she was awake.

She sat up in bed.

Torn out of her dream and ashamed of where it had taken her. She didn’t want Ruby that way? Did she?

It was just nerves it was just the dance, she was just the upset, it was just the desire to dance with Ruby for the competition that had fuelled the dream.

But she knew that wasn’t the truth. The truth was that she did want Ruby and she couldn’t lie to herself anymore.

Then suddenly, in a rush of understanding, she realised that had been what Ruby meant when she’d said ‘I think you know’.

Ruby had known that Kara had a crush before Kara did. Ruby must have known how she felt, seen how she looked at her and that was why she didn’t want to dance with her. She probably didn’t even want to be in the same room as her. It probably repulsed her.

Kara groaned, embarrassed but unable to do anything about it. She was fed up of being alone with her thoughts and pulled herself out of bed. She didn’t want to think anymore, it was all over anyway, Ruby would never dance with her, and Felix wasn’t able to, so the competition was out of the question.

She traipsed downstairs, not bothering to get dressed or brush her teeth. She was just going to be a slob today, sit on the couch, watch TV, do nothing for the whole day, and maybe even for the rest of her life.

Her sister, Marie, was already up; sitting on the sofa with a bowl of cereal, watching cartoons, and texting.

Kara grabbed a mug of coffee and sat down next to her. As she did she noticed her competition outfit, out on display, ready for her; her beautiful, sparkling blue dress. She looked away. She wouldn’t be wearing that today, she would never wear it.

“Hey!” Marie said excitedly, as Kara sat down.

“Hey.”

“What time do you have to leave? Are you going to put on your dress here, or take it with you?”

“I’m not going.”

Marie’s face dropped, she looked confused. “What do you mean? You have to go! Why aren’t you going?”

“Felix has a twisted ankle, he won’t be able to dance on it.”

“I know, but last night you said your coach could dance with you—”

“She’s not going to.” Kara said sadly.

“She said that!?” Marie was incensed.

“Not in so many words, but—”

“Then what’s the plan? Is there another competition?”

“There is no plan.”

“You can’t just give up!”

“Watch me.”

“Kara, no! You have to go! It’s all you’ve ever wanted! You used to say to me: ‘find something you love, and then find a way to make money from it’.”

“I read that off a calendar.”

“That doesn’t make it any less true! Dancing is everything you are, you can’t just give it up and go and work in a factory or an office or a chicken farm!”

“I can’t go, I’d look stupid, I mean, she probably won’t even turn up.”

“Whatever you do, someone somewhere will think you’re dumb for doing it, so you might as well do what you want because then at least you’ll be happy.”

Kara looked at her little sister as if for the first time, she was only fifteen, but just at that moment she seemed like the wisest person she knew.

“You’re pretty smart…”

“I just heard someone say that on a re-run of Cybil.”

Kara laughed, she felt better for talking, but she still felt nervous about going. She looked at her dress. The thought of going made her stomach twist and turn with nerves, but the thought of not going, of staying home and never dancing again filled her with a deep dread that made her jump up off the couch and run upstairs to get ready.

***

“He’s sprained an ankle.” She said “So we had to switch around.”

The registrar shook her head. “It’s very unusual.” She said.

“But not against the rules.” Said Kara, hoping, praying, that she would be let through the doors into the changing rooms.

“No, not against the rules, but don’t make a habit of switching partners.” The woman signed against Kara’s name and handed her the papers with her number on “Locker room is second on the left.”

Kara was delighted, she’d made it. But she still hadn’t heard from Ruby, she didn’t know whether she should text, or just wait, or maybe call.

The atmosphere in the changing rooms was buzzing, girls were already dressed and putting on makeup, some, like her, had only just arrived and looked nervous, many of the dancers seemed to know each other already, and greeted each other enthusiastically. Kara wondered how sincere those greetings really were.

She found an empty space to get changed, but kept glancing at her phone every few minutes, just in case she’d missed a text or a call from Ruby.

Ten minutes went by.

Thirty minutes went by.

Kara sat, sadly, on the wooden bench; she was ready to go but still no Ruby.

The changing room slowly emptied as the dancers made their way to the green room, just a few latecomers stayed to finish their make-up.

Kara stared at the clock as it clicked over to a quarter to three.

It was too late.

Even if Ruby arrived this second there was no way she would be ready in time.

Kara watched as the seconds ticked away on her only real chance of starting a dancing career.

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