Chapter 9: Up Close and Personal
I sat on the bed and waited. I watched the closed door with a biting hollowness eating away at my insides. It twisted in knots and made me furiously try to blink all the tears out of my eyes. I knew they were glistening and the thought made them burn. I finally reached up and manually wiped my eyes dry. Relief from the burning came afterwards.
Soon the doorknob carefully rotated. I hurriedly wiped my eyes again. Someone was on the other side of the door. I longed for the reveal of the person's identity. As the knob continued to make its full revolution, I grew anxious. Finally the door released from the doorframe. I scooted forward as it creaked open.
"Hello?" a hushed voice said.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. Impossible. Unviable. There was no way it was true, but how was it? I heard his voice. He wasn't supposed to be here…
My lip quivered. The door opened enough for his head to peer in. He saw me, and his expression changed drastically. I suddenly couldn't handle it. I saw his chocolate brown bangs and his emerald green eyes. He had a hint of blue detail around his pupils. They were beautiful like a jewel. I inched forward towards the foot of the bed. I was ready to meet him again…that was until he said my name.
Tears dropped from my eyes. I scrambled from the bed. "Tom!"
"Macca," he breathed again. I ran into him, pressing him against the wall. I buried my face into his shirt. My tears soaked through it. He caressed me lovingly. His touch seemed foreign yet familiar to me. I didn't realize how much I missed it. It was my everything. My love for him was strong and unwavering. I would never let go.
"I'm sorry, little bird. I'm sorry I left. I promise I'm staying," he whispered to me.
His words made me look up at him, but there was nothing but a dark ceiling. My eyes darted around in a panic. Where was he? Where did he go? My breathing started to quicken. I clenched my hands into fists and grabbed a soft material. I sat up, beginning to hyperventilate.
I couldn't see anything! There were just walls of white surrounding me. I was trapped in a box.
My panic exponentially increased. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I didn't understand what was going on. Was this some kind of punishment?
I started to have a panic attack. I needed to get out of this box. I had to find Tom. I was in love with him.
I crawled to one of the walls and got ready to shove it over. I had to get out, no matter what waited for me on the outside of the box. I pressed my palms to the wall and pushed off the soft material with my legs.
I fell through.
I tumbled to the floor. My upper body landed first, and my lower body followed. I could feel the side of my head collide with the wooden boards of the ground. There wasn't a crashing noise, but a distinct thump drummed along with my fall. I laid there, fairly dazed. The outside of the box was different from what I was expecting. I looked at the box. It wasn't a box at all; it was a bed. The walls were the curtains hanging from the bedposts. The bedroom around me suddenly made me realize where I was and what was happening.
I was in Jamanakai Village. We had a battle to compete in this morning. I'm in Trent's old home. I'm in a guest bedroom. My nightmare was nothing but a lie. There was no Tom here. There was nobody here who loved me. The only person I had was this parasite in disguise as a girl, who was now manipulating my dreams in order to extract saddening emotions from me. She touched my shoulder, forcing a silent waterfall from me after so long of being put through rehabilitation.
I wasn't able to go back to sleep for three or four hours. I just laid in bed with my head pounding as I tried to find a comfortable position over and over again. The image of Tom was embedded into my mind. It kept me awake and caused Jen to feast on me all she wanted to. She engulfed so much of me that I was surprised she didn't overdose. Soon my eyes closed and didn't open back up. Jen laid next to me, perfectly sane, and let me actually sleep.
It didn't feel like a long time when I felt someone's full body weight on my back. It wasn't Jen. She was weightless. As I pretended to still be asleep, I got a whiff of a familiar scent…someone's scent.
"Trent, get off," I muttered.
He laughed and swung his legs onto the bed. It was hard for me to breathe. I suddenly felt like a little sister again in the foster home.
"Trent," I whined, "get off. Go torture Linus."
"I can't," he said. "He's eating breakfast. You're the only one who's still in bed."
"I don't care. I'm not hungry."
"Yes you are. Come on." Now he was off the bed and tugging my arm to pull me out from under the blankets.
"No, Trent. Stop." I fought for my arm back. It finally slipped free, so I went deeper into the blankets.
But Trent wasn't giving up. He threw the blankets off me and lifted me from the bed.
"Stop!" I complained.
"Why are you so cranky this morning?"
"Because I am! Put me down!"
"No, you need to eat so you have enough energy for the battle today."
I continued to argue with him until he put me in a seat at the kitchen table. Linus was stuffing his face with fresh waffles next to me. He paused when I was put in my seat.
Charlotte stacked two waffles on a plate and swirled some maple syrup on top of them. She laid the plate down in front of me. "Good morning, pumpkin," she sweetly greeted me.
I changed my attitude just for her. "Good morning," I said with a smile, picking up my fork. "Thank you for breakfast."
"Oh, you don't need to thank me, dear."
Trent stood off to the side, confused by my sudden behavior change. But he didn't know that Jen was sitting right across from me, calmly staring at me, as if she had already won our feud forever. I would get rid of her once and for all today, no matter how much she took from me.
We were competing against The Sporadics for our battle. They were one of the teams who had a girl. Like us, Poison Posse, they were not a normal team. The only problem I could point out, though, was that the girl they had was an amateur. She still had a lot of learning to do.
I knew I was supposed to be empathetic towards new B-Girls, but most of them acted like they ran the show. When I started two years ago, I was only doing it to help a friend out. He got hurt and needed me to just be there to fill his place. Nobody thought I'd fall in love with it myself. When I started to learn, I replaced him and ran with it. Linus, Trent, and I ended up getting to the semi-final that year, only to be blown out of the water. Last year, I was ready to take down the scoreboard. I had improved in my skill and ability so much that we dominated our bracket inside and out. But then we faced the same team in the semi-final, and lost yet again. So far, this year feels just like last year. We're just going along with the same routine. We weren't going to lose this year. I already vowed that since the night the semi-final was taken away from us last year. This year would be prosperous. I was ready to hold that golden trophy in my hands, the audience screaming in victory in front of us.
The Sporadics stood across from us on the stage. The announcer spoke into a microphone to the audience to get the battle started. Once the DJ's soundtrack began playing, we were allowed to battle.
I watched the bulky cameras circle us like sharks on the hunt. They focused on the square platform, ready for a dancer to bring a set to the table.
Linus was the first to step onto the platform. With the music playing, he danced to the beat. The audience clapped along in unison. Trent and I danced a little bit ourselves in the background.
The Sporadics watched him with unsurprised faces. Their leader, Gavin, who had the sides of his head slightly shaved, watched Linus as if he were planning something. Andre, the other guy on their team, who kept his black hair in tightly woven braids, whispered to the girl, Lily, who wore a maroon beanie over her bland butterscotch hair, about something.
Jen stood beside them, not paying attention to them, and stared at me. I was about ready to slap that determined smile off her face at this very moment. I made myself be patient. It would come sooner than I thought it would.
Linus was getting excited the longer he danced. When he fell to his knees, all three of the opposing dancers watched intently. His hands found the floor in front of him. With this, his legs rose to the air behind him. After planting his feet to the floor, he jumped, tossing a leg out behind him and the other in front of him. As soon as he landed back onto his feet, his right hand touched the floor. His other hand reached up to catch his left foot. Then he let go and stood back up with a bounce. He repeated this little move for the opposite side of his body. This was Trent's and my cue to enter the platform.
Linus went back and put his left hand against the platform. As his other hand joined in, I copied his move on the other side. We both threw our legs in front of us and kicked with only our right hands supporting our bodies. Our knees made contact with the floor when Trent came sliding in between us. He mimicked our body positions when he came to a stop. At the same time, we tucked our knees into our chests as we laid on our sides, facing The Sporadics. We squirmed to lift our bodies from the floor. We bent our left legs and grabbed our ankles for a moment. When we let go, we scooted towards the audience just a little bit. We tucked in our knees again and then grabbed the same ankles. We repeated a third time, preparing for the best part of our set: me.
Eventually, we rolled over. We got our hands in position on the floor and lifted our legs into the air at a crooked angle. The top of our heads was used as a third support so we could hold it for the audience and judges.
The audience cheered for us, but not very much. That was okay, though. This battle was just getting started.
I quickly ran off the platform with Linus. Trent lowered his legs back to the platform. He whipped around, stretching his left hand out in the air behind him. Then he tucked it back in and used the momentum to roll onto his shoulder blades. He continued to roll and roll, onto his hands and feet to his back.
That was when I entered the platform to take his place. I rolled like he did. The audience cheered at me solo appearance, knowing the tide was about to turn.
I rolled to the center of the platform and popped up. The Sporadics watched me bathe my senses with the audience's applause and cheers. Lily had a hint of intimidation in her face. She was about to get a reality check on who's the real queen of this platform.
I took my time and danced to the beat of the soundtrack. As the audience began to die down, I dipped my body to the floor. When I came back up, my legs were spread apart. I quickly brought them together and dipped down again, where I fell to my knees and spun my whole body around. I landed on my feet and stood up, shaking my hips side to side to flaunt my attractive curves. I threw my arm out to stroke down my side and stop on my leg. The other went up to the peak of my fitted hat. I spun around to face the audience. From there, I collapsed onto the floor with my hands ready to catch me. My legs and feet went slack so I could perform a slow wave move with my body. I slowly rose my rear to the ceiling, getting to my feet little by little. Then I hopped back to my feet.
The whole room took it as boast towards my abilities and backed me up. Lucky for them, I had more tricks up my sleeves. This was about to get really fun for me.
I danced along with the cheers for a few seconds. After doing a spin and facing The Sporadics again, my feet spread vertically in the blink of an eye. Then planted my left foot and propelled myself into a powerful front flip. As soon as I landed, kneeling down, I smacked my hand against the floor.
"OH!" the audience taunted to The Sporadics.
I popped up, laughing at the audience's reaction, and danced again. I went down, looking as if I were about to do a split, but instead I put my hands to the floor. I lifted my legs off the floor and twisted them around. Once I was backwards, I threw my body around, landed momentarily on my feet, and twisted some more so I could press my hand to the floor and hold my entire body up with it. I kept twisting. Then I crossed my arms and let my body roll onto my back.
"OH!" the audience taunted again.
I twisted onto my stomach to find the three dancers telling me off. I looked at them, and lifted myself up some. I rolled completely around to stand up. To end our set, I danced some more and did little tricks with my body. I pointed at Andre to show us what he could do.
He gladly took the floor as I walked off it. He followed me until I was off, and then went ahead and circled the whole platform. Once he stopped, the dancing began. At one point, he paused and moved his head side to side. He also did a little spin. Now he shot forward with a hand out ready to catch him. His other hand seconded it so he could twist his legs around together. He got a full revolution, and then he started twisting his body, landing on his back and then twisting back onto his hands and feet. His legs rose higher and higher into the air. Eventually, his back didn't touch the floor at all. He twisted one more time and held his legs up above him.
The audience cheered for his stunt.
He returned to his feet with a bang. He turned around to face his fellow teammates, kneeling down to touch the floor for a moment. When he stood back up, he twisted his legs and moved his arms to dance more. He crossed legs to touch the floor again. Then he turned around to face us when he stood up straight, his arms extended out like a bird's wings.
Linus, Trent, and I taunted at him.
He started to dance again. Without any of us noticing, Lily barely stepped onto the platform. They were about to spice things up for their set.
Andre pressed his palms to the floor and stretched his legs out behind him, kind of like he was in the push-up position. Lily did the same so they could face each other. Andre twisted his body around towards us, as did Lily. After they both raised a hand into the air, their legs came around until they were side by side. Their legs bent to move forward a little bit, and then they spun around. They both kicked a foot at us. I got bored watching them do little things like this. It took them a few second to actually do something different.
Soon they both stepped forward and stood up, backs facing each other. They both spun around and danced. Andre was the one to crouch down. When he popped back up, Lily crouched. Andre's leg went over her. As his foot planted back down, she wrapped an arm around his thigh. He threw her other leg over and twisted around so he wouldn't lose balance. Lily pulled herself back up.
The audience clapped and cheered.
Lily rolled onto her back. Her legs went over her head, and Andre guided them around his waist. She kept her hands on the floor so her head wouldn't bear all her weight. Andre cupped her hips and pulled her back up, placing her on her feet.
They weren't done yet. They both turned around and pressed their backs together. Then their knees turned to jelly and they back backwards, their necks catching a shoulder to hold them up still. Gavin came running up and did a front flip over them. Lily and Andre collapsed gracefully as the audience cheered with awe at Gavin. The two let their leader have the floor for a solo to end their set.
Too bad it wasn't impressive. The most he did was spin so much he ended up on the top of his head. The rest was just twisty rolls and dramatic holds and falls. It was nearly a relief when we were allowed to have the floor back.
Linus gave me the nod to take the floor first. No more playing around. I wanted to electrify the judges and get the audience on our side for this battle.
Lily and Andre's compliments and high fives were vanquished by my explosive front flips. Once I stuck the landing perfectly, the whole room cheered me on. I looked at The Sporadics with a cocky expression as I danced in front of them.
I did a front flip, purposely landing on my rear with my legs extended out and toes pointed. The audience loved how smooth I was with it. Immediately, I rolled up onto my shoulder blades. My hands found the floor, and I threw myself in the air, flipping myself again. My shins were the first to touch the floor, so I naturally did a wave movement with my entire body only once. When my hands touched the floor again, I held myself high enough for my legs to squeeze underneath me. I rolled back onto my shoulder blades again, and then I let my body flop onto the floor. I looked back up at them to see Lily's face full of worry. I was beating them.
My legs twisted around me. The soles of my feet made contact with the floor. I used the force to twist myself again, my hands touching the floor. Then I reverted back to my feet, back to my hands, and so on–
BAM! SMASH! BOOM!
Agonizing pain pounded my lower back as I completely went limp to the floor. All of the screaming that sounded from every nook and cranny of the stage and audience was the loudest noise to ever enter my ears. My hand felt crushed in an awkward angle between my rib cage and the platform.
I was completely unaware of what had happened to me, until I felt it wiggle on my back. I turned my head as best I could to see nothing but a massive scaly blue tail raise its tip to reveal a rattle. I listened to the rattling that came from it, too petrified to squirm out from underneath it and run for my life. Then I heard a chilling hiss.