Natural Disaster Dancer
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.