A Dark Dance

Francina wants to be a ballerina. Her dream comes true when she is accepted into New York Ballet Academy.

But what will happen when Francina meets strange and mysterious Ty, who is 19? Will her dreams turn to nightmares?


Based on/Inspired by 'Dance of Shadows' by Yelena Black

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12. Summer

I knew Gabe would be home in three days. I also knew that I was going to New York in six. I would be auditioning for the Ballet Academy – they were paying too. An all round trip for me and one family member (over 18) if I wanted, to stay in the Academy for two weeks whilst I was auditioning. We had lessons for the first week, learning the routine we would need to know for the audition. In the second week, we would be observed in practice for the first four days, then there would be auditions for the different groups spread out across the last three days. At times we weren’t practicing as a group or auditioning, we could explore the city, as well as practice by ourselves in one of the many extra practice rooms we would have access to with the key card we would be given.

 

I hadn’t discussed the plus-one with my mother, because I already knew the answer. She would need to stay and look after Maddy and Ollie. I had only given her the kit list part of the letter that had come through the post. We needed to email our leotard size to the Academy so they could get some of the school’s leotards ready for us when we arrived. If we got into the Academy, we could keep them, as well as one we would be allowed to take home at the end as a memoir. We then needed to pack enough clothes for two weeks, and some nicer clothes for the celebratory meal that was going to be thrown at the end of all the auditions. Of course, we needed sweats for before and after classes; wash things – tooth brush and paste, shampoo and conditioner, and any face washes or anything else; and finally, pyjamas, plus any other things like make up. I was already packed, other than things I needed every day, and would be packed the morning I left.

 

I was just waiting now. I was trying extra hard with my friends now, making sure I didn’t slip back into zombie mode, but some days it was really difficult. Last time I had been counting down, Gabe turned out to be ill, so I was trying not to do that either. Even though he was coming back from holiday now, not school, and would be brought home even if he was ill. I wasn’t taking any chances though. I busied myself with my two younger siblings, ballet and my friends. I had been staring into space when Willow called. Not the best plan if I wanted to stay out of zombie mode.

 

“Hello?” I said, trying to see if my voice sounded normal or not.

“Hi.” A pause. “Fran, please can you come to mine now so you can read this for me. I’ve already called Ally.”

“Sure, I’ll be right over. What is it?” Willow was acting a little strange, to say the least.

“Just come over. See you in 15?”

“Yeah, sure.” And with that she ended the call. Definitely weird. I raced to Willow’s, checking on Ollie and calling out where I was going to mum.

 

Ally was already there when I ran up the drive, panting at the exercise. We knocked on the door together and Willow burst out, and dragged us up to her room. A piece of paper was shoved under our noses, and we were ordered to read. I noticed the envelope on the floor, with the same seal as the one at the end of term. I flicked my eyes to the page, and quickly scanned it, barely taking in the words. In ten seconds, we were dancing around the room, making a cacophony of noise that brought Lo’s mum running up the stairs.

“What on earth is going on up here?” she yelled over the noise.

“Mum, read!” Willow threw the paper at her. “Out loud: it’ll make it more real.”

Dear Miss W. Samson,

We are writing to inform you that there is now a place open for you in the Junior Netball Coach Training, as one of our original participants will have to drop out. You will be needed to email back to the address below, if you would be willing to take the training course, as soon as possible, so we can register you. The things you will need to bring will be emailed back to the address you use to confirm your participation.

We look forward to your reply, and hope that you are free for this opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Junior Coaches department

The Royal Netball Society"

 

There was a pause as everyone took it in, before Willow started screaming again, and we all swept her up in hugs and kisses and even a few tears from her mum. Willow swung me round in a joyous dance, before giving Ally the same treatment. We were all slightly hyper by now, and were invited to stay for a celebratory tea by Jan.

 

**********

 

The day after Willow's surprise, I took Maddie and Ollie to Tumble Town: a small play centre near where we lived, small enough that not many people went there, but big enough that they didn't get bored. Mum was at some afternoon work, so we had to walk. Ollie rode in the pram though. It's really aimed at under-6s, but Madeline can keep herself entertained well enough, or she sometimes will play with Oliver. It fully tired them out, so I was glad I had brought the pram for Ollie and Maddie as we I walked back to our housing estate. Ollie obviously sat in the pushchair, and Maddie stood on the BuggyBoard that attached to the back, meaning she also didn't need to walk. Luckily, the BuggyBoard had a detachable seat, so I pulled it from the underside of the pram and attached it to the board, so Maddie wouldn't moan about her legs. Ollie quickly fell asleep, and Maddie seemed to be nodding off with her face pressed against the pram in front of her. When we made it home, Ollie woke up long enough to crawl onto the sofa and fall asleep again, and Maddie cuddled up to me whilst we watched something on CBeebies. I felt her fall asleep against me, put her head down onto my lap and flicked the channel to some movie that was playing.

 

A bit later, mum came home, at around the same time as both of my siblings woke up. She put the tea on to cook - fish fingers and mash - before coming to see how we'd been, and then going to do some washing. I had entertained both Maddie and Ollie quite a bit this holiday, but surprisingly, I didn't mind. Maybe it was something to take my mind off... No, I'm not going there. I can't.

 

I managed to get both Madeline and Oliver to play together up until tea, when we all sat down together, and attempted to get Ollie to eat the food, rather than throw it on the floor. I had felt slightly numb all day, as if I was going through the motions rather than being there and making decisions. But at the same time, I had felt more normal than I had in a while. Maybe this was what I needed. A relatively quiet day where I didn't need to think about anything but keeping my siblings happy and safe. I felt unnaturally calm, as if the valve that had jumbled all my thoughts and feelings had suddenly turned off, and my body didn't quite know what to do with itself. I contemplated this as I lay in bed that night, wondering what on earth had happened since Christmas. Maybe it didn't matter that I now appeared to have feelings for Gabe. Maybe if I had a normal day with him, doing normal things, I would feel how I had today. Calm and abnormally normal. I didn't know. As I fell asleep, the last thing I remembered was the picture of Gabe's laughing face above mine on the nightstand. I can't remember what I dreamt about, and am okay with that. It could have been Gabe, it might not. It might have been a fantasy or a memory. I have realised that I need to stop caring as much. Start letting life lead the way. At least for now.

 

**********

 

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow-orrow-orrow. It echoed around my head. The calm day yesterday hadn't changed anything. It was a mistake, a blip in my current reality. The valve had opened again, and it wasn't relenting. I was back on edge today. Gabe would be home tomorrow! I had already promised myself that I wouldn't be waiting for him unless he asked me to meet him, because, at the minute, anything I did felt like too much or too over-the-top.

 

I tried to busy myself with Maddie and Ollie again today, reading them stories and playing all their games of Pretend. But it didn't work. If I tried to read a story, they would be restless and unable to sit still. If I played Pretend with Maddie's Barbies, she'd tell me off for losing concentration when she was in the middle of What Happened To Barbie 1, Barbie 2, Ken And The Dog. If I played The Floor Is Lava, they'd tell me off for standing on the floor in order to help them across a particularly large jump between sofas. What was I supposed to do if there was nothing to stand on in that area but the sofas, and I was helping them jump from one to the other. I couldn't be on either sofa with them! When I watched the lunch for a few minutes whilst mum went to get more milk from the shop round the corner, Ollie came and sat down at my feet, getting in the way, before wetting the new "big boy" underpants we were starting to potty-train him in, creating a puddle on the floor. I whizzed him off to the toilet, to find that he had already emptied his bladder, half in the lounge, and half in the kitchen. As I was wiping up the floor, Maddie came and told me that I needed to play with her NOW, and Ollie had started crying about his wet underpants. Just then, mum came back in, and scooped Ollie up, taking him to his room to change. She then took over the dinner as I finished cleaning up both puddles, and told me to go and keep Maddie and Ollie busy.

 

After dinner, we all sat in the lounge and began building the train set, and I knew Ollie hadn't been to the toilet in a while. Both me and mum were asking him if he needed to go, and he kept refusing, until we saw him suddenly stand stock-still in the middle of the room, and begin to go red in the face as he began to defecating into the clean pair of pants and trousers that he was now wearing. I was closest, so I picked him up and began running him to the toilet - dancing over the train set - when I felt the arm under his bottom grow warm and wet. Knowing it was useless, but trying anything at this point, I began yelling,

"Stop, Ollie, STOP!" Whilst Maddie gathered up her Barbies to make sure they didn't get anything on them (we were across the the room by this point) and mum ran ahead to get the bathroom door open. We managed to get Ollie to finish going to the toilet sat on his potty, but his pants and trousers were, of course, completely soiled. I left mum to clean him up, and went to change clothes in my bedroom.

 

Unlike Willow's room, mine was fairly plain, with only a desk in one corner, a bed in the opposite one, and a chest of drawers next to the built in wardrobe in my wall. As you walked into my room, my desk was straight ahead, and the head of my bed was along the wall to the left of the door. On the wall to the right, a window let in natural light, and opposite that, a built in wardrobe had doors just far enough along the wall to let a chest of drawers sit comfortably in the corner to the right (when looking at it from the window side).

 

I stripped to my underwear and fell through the half closed curtains without bothering to get dressed. I felt awful. I was trying so hard and everything was either backfiring or going flat. I wondered if I was close to my next period, and if that was the reason why my emotions were all over the place. I kinda envied my friends who got cramps as a warning before theirs started - not because they got cramps, but because it was at least some sort of warning so they could be prepared. Mine just sprung upon me, and extremely painful cramps started basically in the same minute. I also felt very nauseous for the first few days, especially when laying in bed at night or in the morning. As my mind wandered about the topic, my lower stomach clenched as if in response, and I ran to grab toiletries before sprinting to the toilet. Afterwards, I got some ibuprofen down my throat as quickly as possible, and pumped my fist to get it moving around my body quicker. Finally, realising I still wasn't dressed, I pulled on some of the loosest clothes I could find. Tighter clothes always made the cramps worse, and magnified the nauseous feeling. I lay back on my bed, and stared at the ceiling, breathing deeply and trying to be as still as possible.

 

After what seemed like an age, my phone started ringing on the nightstand next to me. I decided that the ibuprofen would have probably worked enough for me to roll over and pick it up, and looked at the caller ID. It was Gabe. I wondered why he was calling me, as I knew he wasn't going to be home until tomorrow, and that he probably should be packing by that point. I answered the call, but as I did so, a wave of nausea rolled over me, and I focused my thoughts on breathing slowly, deeply, and not throwing up.

"Hello? Cina? You there?" I could hear Gabe's voice at the other end of the line. "You okay? Cina?" I finally could just about talk again and groaned out,

"Noooo... I'm dead from period cramps and I feel sick..."

"Hang on, I'm coming over."

"What? I thought you were on holiday! Where are you now?"

"At home. The travel people messed our flight up, so we had to come home today. We just unloaded the car. I'll be over in a few. See you."

"See you soon." My heart did a funny jump, but that was soon overtaken by another wave of cramps. Maybe it was good that I was feeling terrible. Then I wouldn't be awkward around him. Or maybe he would just pass off any 'awkwardness' as feeling terrible. Either way, it probably wasn't the worst was to see him again after so long of not being able to.

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