His hazel eyes found me and I felt relief.
“Um, ya,” I answered sitting down to stretch out my legs. “As good as I can feel.” The truth was dancing in front of judges and people always made me more nervous. I didn’t like being the center of attention, and competitions magnified this fear.
“Just breath my darlin’,” Louie answered waving his hands up and down his chest to show me how to breath. “In an out, in an out.”
“I got it,” I sighed moving to stretch my back. Louie continued to remind me a various moves in my routine. It was something about keeping my head up and extending my arms, but his voice soon got lost. I didn’t know if Frank and the guys were going to show up today. They had insisted they were coming, and honestly I would be pleased to see them. Frank had a way of calming my racing brain. When he was around, all I could see was him.
“Come now,” Louie said ushering me towards the floor. “You’re next.”
I stepped towards the floor with my heart racing. I watched the girl on the floor glide and twirl like she was weightless. There was no way that’s what I looked like when I danced. She jumped and fell back to the floor with ease. The crowd watched her every move, eyes wide and memorized.
Then I saw him.
In the corner bleachers surrounded by his usual gang, Frank sat. Laughing and moving he turned to Gerard to say something. Gerard laughed back and threw his hands in the air almost knocking Mikey, who sat beside him.
My heart slowed.
“Vita,” Louie said in my ear. “Look at ze way she moves. Look at ze way she veels. Watch.”
Louie’s coaching in my ear brought my eyes back to the dancer. She was finishing her routine with a triple spin.
“Good luck,” he said before moving away to make sure my music was set up.
I breathed. “Our next dancer is Vita Miller,” the man on the loud speaker announced. I didn’t look to the crowd as I made my small steps onto the floor. I placed my hands and feet in the starting position and the music began.
I felt myself stumble and my feet started moving across the floor.
My heart raced.
I breathed as I did my first jump of the routine.
My feet fell hard.
My mind started racing and anticipating every next move.
The music was so loud.
I couldn’t do this and I was letting Louie down once again.
I looked up.
His hazel eyes found me and I felt relief.
It got quiet.
He smiled his contagious smile and I felt calm.
I stepped again.
My breathing became steady and I moved into another leap.
I landed perfectly.
Next, I glided into a double spin and onto the floor.
I rose with ease.
There was one last leg stretch and it was over.
Claps arose from the crowd as I made my way off the floor. Never before had I felt so connected in my dancing. I felt light, new, and most of all, like I actually was a dancer.
“Vita, Vita!” Louie’s giant figure raced over to me and engulfed me in his arms. “Zat was vonderful!”
I finally let out my breath and smiled. “Yeah?”
“Your leapz were ze best I’ve seen them.”
I couldn’t explain what had come over me. For once, I wasn’t thinking about the moves and every extension of my legs and arms. I just danced and it felt natural; natural as breathing. It had to be him. Frank, who was a lousy “boyfriend” a lousy boy, but he had me. He had all of me, and I felt it.
I went back to the warm up room to grab my bag and change my shoes. When I finally collected myself I emerged to the smiling face of Gerard.
“Vee!” He exclaimed closing his arms around me. “That was just beautiful.”
“Thanks Gerard,” I said in his arms.
“Very entertaining,” Mikey piped in.
“Ya, but what was up with that music,” Ray exclaimed. “very boring Vee.”
I laughed. “Well I run it by you next time Ray.”
The commotion died down and Frank stepped in front of me. I locked onto his hazel eyes as he smiled. “You’ve been holding back,” he said with a smirk.
“Hardly,” I let out with a breath. “Weren’t you watching me stumbling all around in the beginning?”
“That wasn’t part of the dance?”
“Frank!” I laughed punching him on the arm. He grabbed my arm quickly and pulled me into his chest.
“It was great,” he laughed kissing my temple.
Needless to say, I didn’t make it into the finals. However, at my next session with Louie he showed me my judge’s scores and one judge even gave me a 79. His remarks said I showed “promise” and “good basics”. It was my highest score of my dancing career and I was beaming.
Things were going too well…