The Dancer

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Chapter 11

I had thought that after a few days of being tense and stressed I would get to relax, and not think about Grace and the smirk she’s been throwing my way throughout the whole week.

I thought because she was right in front of me now. Since I had walked into the party Advik had invited me to, I’ve been as quiet as a mouse trying to hide in plain sight. Advik was sitting a little distance away from me and kept giving me apologetic looks. It wasn’t his party, and he had just invited me to it, which meant that he didn’t know Grace would be here and couldn’t get her to leave.

I tried to pretend like I was having fun. I didn’t want him to feel bad, plus, I didn’t want Grace to feel like she had some hold over me. Somehow, I had been dragged into party games, and after an hour of watching dare after dare, and listening to truth after truth the person heading the game decided to call it quits.

“Let’s play something else. Watching Marcus lick the carpet is funny, but it’s getting old,” the person said, making everyone laugh as they turned to talk to each other. He was Advik’s friend. Another music student in our year. He had thick blonde curls, and his green eyes were a little red from drinking too much. Or maybe it was weed. I wouldn’t know. Everyone seemed to be passing that stuff around.

“Hey, maybe we can play seven minutes in heaven?” someone brought up, drawing everyone’s eyes to the person. There was a chorus of sighs and nos, and the person rolled his eyes in defeat before hugging his legs.

“What are we, in grade school? I don’t think we should play that game,” a girl said, making her friends around her chuckle. She pushed back her single braids, trying her best not to look over at the guy that had suggested we play the game. The dude looked over at her, and I could swear I saw a blush tint his cheeks.

Oh no. I thought, hugging my knees to myself. He’s asking because of her. I thought, watching the two continue to exchange words. Seven minutes in heaven was this game where two people were chosen to spend seven minutes in a closet together. I used to play it a lot in high school. The memory caused shivers to run up my spine. I remembered being sent into the closet with Grace and kissing her as ‘a joke.’ When I found out she wanted to do more than jokes, it was too late. I had ‘betrayed her’ by being myself as she put it.

“Okay, we’re playing seven minutes in heaven,” the person that had been coordinating the games said, making everyone groan. The circle that had started to get broken was gradually fixed as everyone went back to their seats. I just sat where I was, not having anyone to talk or complain to. I looked over at Advik and looked away almost immediately because I was stunned that he was staring.

After a few minutes, everyone was settled down and the game started. People were called in pairs, and sometimes they’d giggle and sometimes they would groan out of frustration. The crowd was picking, and it seemed some people were out to tease and frustrate their friends. I relaxed realizing things. Most people here didn’t even know my name, and if they did I wasn’t a top priority to get a reaction out of.

“Ollie?” I looked up in surprise at my name being called. My eyes tried to focus on what the person heading the game was saying, then my eyes went wide with shock when I realized that they wanted me to go into the supply closet with Grace. I sat there, quiet in my shock while Grace grained at me like she was about to get entertained.

“That’s your name. Great! You’re going into the closet with Grace, how about that?” he said, shaking the bottle of beer in his hand before standing up and taking a sip. I looked at Grace again but looked away just as quickly when I felt a shiver run up my spine. I really didn’t want to be that close to her for seven whole minutes.

She was the one that suggested this. I just knew it was her. I looked over at Advik, and he was giving her a glare. There really wasn’t anything he could do about the situation. It was my call.

Could I say I didn’t want to do it? I wondered, looking from Grace to the person heading the game. If I said I didn’t want to do it, I might make people noisy want to know why. I didn’t want anyone up my business, and if rumors started Grace would be the first to fan them. I knew that.

“Okay,” I let out, regretting my decision immediately. Grace stood up. She was dressed as usual — in dark clothes and heavy dark makeup. My head was starting to race with regret, but I couldn’t opt out now. Grace urged me to follow her by gesturing towards herself before walking over to the supply closet at the end of the room in a slow composed stride. A frown made its way on my face as I got up. She was acting like this was a game. I wouldn’t let her mess with me for her own amusement.

I walked into the closet, closing the door before moving to the other end until my back hit the concert wall. I sucked in a breath, looking up from my sneakers to the small closet bulb, and then finally at Grace. She was giving me a small smile. Her legs were crossed, and she was leaning against the wall on her end as well. I stared at her, not wanting to say anything but rage was building up in me, and I wanted to ask her questions — no, make statements because I knew she was the one that went to my dance instructor.

The closet remained silent apart from our breathing, and the sound of our mates talking in the room. I kept biting my lip and clenching my hands into loose fists in an attempt at not losing my mind from just being right across from here. I had a lot to say, but I didn’t want to be a broken-down mess when I spoke.

“You did it, didn’t you?” I ended up saying, breaking the silence. Grace’s smile widened. She sighed, chuckling before looking down her boots.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You have to be more specific,” she said, making my lips come together in a small line. She was trying to make me frustrated. This was just a game to here. I had to make sure I didn’t play along.

“You know what I’m talking about,” I said, and she just shrugged, humming to herself. The closet went silent again, and I just stared at her with my jaw clenched tight, and my hands drawn into fists. “You talked to my dance instructor,” I said, looking over at her to watch her expression It hadn’t changed. She was still smiling like it was funny.

It made me furious.

“Oh, I didn’t do that, Roland did,” she said, ad my eyes went wide before I looked away. I knew she was talking with him, and I had guessed they were trying to make my life hell together but getting a direct admission of it still threw me off guard a bit. Does this mean she was talking to the rest of the group as well? Was this a group effort?

“Look, I could do much, much worse. I’m giving you time to make the right decision,” she said, and I opened my mouth, and nothing came out. She ran a hand through her brunette hair, playing with the end of a few strands of her hair before dropping them and letting out a small sigh. The sigh irritated me. It sounded like she was a mother about to scold her child for repeating the same mistake repeatedly. “If you act difficult I’ll move my focus to Advik,” she said, and my eyes went wide. My shock seemed to satisfy her because she was smiling now. The silver piercings on her lips catching the light that slipped into the dimly lit cupboard from the room outside.

“Fuck, you really like him, don’t you?” she said, leaving me dumbfounded. Of course I liked Advik, but I didn’t want to say anything that would make her excited. My heart was racing, and I was just about to burst from fury. Why couldn’t she just leave me alone? What was her deal?

We both turned towards the closet door when we heard a knock.

“Guys, it’s been more than seven minutes — ten even,” the person at the other end said. I could hear giggling from the other end. What did they think we were doing in here? The possibility that people thought we might be making out had bile rush up my throat, and I took the initiative to open the door before stepping out into the room and making a beeline for the space in the circle I had been sitting in.

I stayed away from Advik that night. It was hard. I could feel his gaze on me throughout the rest of the night, but I wasn’t in the right mindset to talk to him, and I didn’t want to give Grace more reason to make him her prime target. I felt cornered, and it was frustrating. So many thoughts were swimming in my head, and Grace didn’t make things better by throwing sly smiles my way. She was satisfied. This was the reaction she wanted from me.

The music and games didn’t interest me anymore. I was on my own, my plan to mingle and get a social life again was in crumbles. Advik was probably frustrated in me, or he was trying to figure out what happened, and it made me feel bad that he had to worry. I bit my bottom lip as I tightened my grip on the plastic cup in my hand. I had made a beeline to the kitchen when Advik tried to approach me.

I hate her. I thought to myself, thinking about Grace. She was really trying to make my life miserable. I hate her so much. You’re not supposed to hate people, but I couldn’t help it when it came to her. She had become the bane of my existence, and I had to find a way to get her off my back. I dropped my cup of juice and reached out for my eyes when I felt the stinging tears I had been holding back all night freely flow. It took everything in me not to make audible sobs as I wiped my eyes and tried to get myself to calm down.

Thankfully, the kitchen was empty and there was no one there to poke their nose into my business. When I felt liked I had gotten my composure back I adjusted my clothes and ran a hand through my hair before stepping back into the floor’s lobby. I caught Grace at the far end talking to some people as she laughed. She looked over at me, probably realizing that I had been staring. She wasn’t smiling now, and that was probably because I didn’t look helpless and miserable now. I was angry, and that was the only emotion that could merge into an expression on my face. Grace’s brows knit into a confused frown, and I felt a rush of happiness at that.

She looked away, and a crazy idea hit me.

I wasn’t planning to initially, but I think I’m going to push back — fight fire with fire. Digging dirt on people and being an overall petty nuisance used to be me back in my high school days when I was still friends with Harry, Roland and the rest on Tumblr. I had buried that part of me away and turned a new leaf, but...

I licked my lips, trying to get the dry flakes of dead skin off. My eyes were still on Grace, and she looked a bit uncomfortable now. She wasn’t looking at me, but I could tell she was trying her hardest not to.

Grace wants a game. I tried to reason. I was leaning on the wall now, and my hands were in my pockets. I felt numb, desensitized and over it. Why shouldn’t I give her a game? I concluded, taking my hands out of my pockets before folding my hands over my chest.

My eyes met Grace’s briefly when she turned, and I couldn’t help grinning a bit. My smile was bitter, angry, and she could feel it. She looked uncomfortable, and I made up my mind there and then.

It’s on.

She started this, and she deserved whatever happened next.

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