Nat­u­ral Dis­as­ter Dancer

Pasatiempo - - TEEN PROSE - by Sierra R. Sweeney Sierra R. Sweeney, six­teen, is in the 11th grade at Santa Fe High School.

She could tell that they were all think­ing the same thing, and she was start­ing to think about it too. What the hell am I do­ing here? Sim­i­lar ques­tions were prob­a­bly bounc­ing around the heads of the straight-backed dancers as all of them clus­tered to­gether, ea­ger to be­gin the first les­son.

While ev­ery­one gath­ered around, flock­ing to their mother goose like the ex­cited swans they ap­peared to be, they kept cast­ing side­long glances her way. Their oval-shaped faces, paired with faerie fea­tures piv­ot­ing in cu­rios­ity as they re­garded her. A few even plas­tered on Os­car-wor­thy smiles that struck Nora as more malev­o­lent than en­cour­ag­ing.

Nora fig­ured she did look rather out of place. She could only imag­ine what they saw her as.

To an out­sider she prob­a­bly looked like some­thing along the lines of a rosy-cheeked gnome, squat­ting in a Parthenon of Greek stat­ues.

Maybe she’d just leave. Say that she couldn’t find the time to come. Or that she couldn’t af­ford the soft dance shoes re­quired of ev­ery­one. She should have just stayed home. Their in­struc­tor started to say some­thing. She was petite in stature but built out of sharp edges that con­nected her arms to el­bows and her legs to joints. She kept ges­tur­ing wildly to the dancers and demon­strat­ing the new steps they would learn in time with a fe­line’s ease. But Nora could not hear her over the over­whelm­ing loud­ness of her “sore-thumb­ness,” her “odd man out­ness.” Her short­ness, her plump­ness, her burli­ness that made her look like a fun-house re­flec­tion of the dancers around her.

The young girls and boys sur­round­ing Nora all screamed grace, su­pe­ri­or­ity, and other beau­ti­ful bull­shit that gave them a blind­ing an­gelic glow. All of them were waifish and tall. Their bod­ies lean, el­e­gantly slop­ing cham­pagne glasses. Their in­tox­i­cat­ing con­tents sparkling.

Nora was ob­vi­ously built out of some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing rougher that couldn’t be smoothed to a porce­lain fin­ish. Steel maybe. Iron?

None of this fan­ci­ful and ro­man­tic mar­ble stuff the rest of them had been carved from. No, she was, for the lack of a bet­ter word, sturdy.

Strain­ing to look around the for­est of im­mac­u­late prodi­gies, Nora looked to the door that con­nected the dance stu­dio to the wait­ing room she had en­tered through. Her mother stood be­hind the large glass win­dow that re­vealed a view of the wait­ing room; phone in hand to cap­ture the mo­ment in video.

Nora frowned. All of the other par­ents had al­ready left, but oh no, not Nora’s mom. Of course … she thought dis­mally. “Okay, be­fore we start I want to get a sense of ev­ery­one. Your style, your strengths, weak­nesses, et cetera! So, to put it sim­ply,” their teacher ex­plained, in­ter­rupt­ing Nora’s crash­ing thoughts as she glided over to a worn CD player, “I play and you dance.”

With a small click, the an­cient player be­gan to whir un­til a loud and jumpy song be­gan to play. It ate up the en­tire room with its quick pulse and ex­cited heart­beat making Nora’s foot be­gin to tap the floor in time with it in­vol­un­tar­ily. Maybe just one dance. The other stu­dents all sashayed into place. Grand Canyon­sized smiles dec­o­rated their faces. Ea­ger stu­dents push­ing to prove some­thing.

It looked like ev­ery­one al­ready seemed to have a spot, pulling in next to one an­other like com­muters en­gag­ing in a fa­mil­iar traf­fic jam. The bass was build­ing. Nora’s head had started bob­bing. So what if she didn’t have a spot? She’d make her own. When the beat fi­nally dropped the stu­dio bloomed into a gar­den of move­ment. Ex­cept for Nora. Yeah, “blooming” wasn’t really her thing. In­stead, Nora shot off like a fire­cracker. With an ex­plo­sive jump she bounded across the room, her arms and legs fol­low­ing her cas­cad­ing move­ments.

Quick as a car crash Nora dived and tum­bled. Her arms stretched out into great wings as her legs ric­o­cheted off of the de­mand­ing wooden floor.

Part­ing like cur­tains the other kids cleared a path to the room’s cen­ter, shuf­fling and whis­per­ing out of her way with flushed faces. Good. Claim­ing cen­ter stage, Nora swept across the floor with the skill of a bal­le­rina and crackle of a street dancer.

She was not made to twirl and writhe in a swift breeze like au­tumn leaves. She was the gale that shook the leaves from their trees. She was built to rat­tle the earth with each stomp­ing step. If she had it her way she would shift con­ti­nents with each jump and rear­range oceans when­ever she spun.

They would never say or even think that she did not be­long. In­stead they’d all swear, in hushed whis­pers, that Nora could cause earthquakes with her feet.

They would all say that Nora could top­ple build­ings and even get the moun­tains to dance with her.

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