It was Monday evening, and I hadn’t met up with Grace yet. I called, and she explained that she wanted to keep a low profile for now. She hadn’t attended lectures all day. I was a bit worried that she was on her own and didn’t have anyone to talk to, but at the same time, I wasn’t. I tried to remind myself that she wasn’t my responsibility, and it was time to properly wean myself off her. All I had to do was help her this last time, and I would do my best to stop thinking about her.
“Ollie! The instructor’s calling you!” someone screamed from across the noisy dance room. I looked up from my shoes that I had been tying the laces for. A frown formed on my face as I wondered what on earth I was being called for. I made sure to come to practice. I even made sure I was the first person here ever since she spoke to me the last time. I wanted to ask the person that called me if she knew why the instructor was asking for me, but the girl had already left with her friends, leaving me to overthink things as I packed up my bag.
When I got to the instructor’s office I paused at her door, biting down on my lip as I retracted my hand from the handle. I didn’t think I could go in just yet. I was nervous, and a little scared. What if she finally decided to kick me out of the team? I’d be devastated.
With a little effort, I pushed my thoughts to the back of my mind before reaching out for the handle to open the door. I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands, and I should get this over with. The door opened, and I was soon met face to face with my instructor in her small office. Her blue eyes stared into my brown ones, and her strawberry blond hair that was starting to fade into a silver-white was pulled back in a bun. I stayed quiet, not walking into the room. You could say I was scared. I couldn’t read her expression, and I feared the worst.
She smiled, making me frown a bit since I wasn’t expecting that.
“You’re not going to stand at the door forever, are you?” she asked. “Come in,” she said, tapping her table’s surface before gesturing to the seat in front of her desk. I licked my lips, feeling that they were dry. I walked in before closing the door behind me. I strolled over to her desk before taking a seat and turning my gaze to my hands. I didn’t want to look at her.
“Is this about leaving the team?” Mrs. Davis’ eyes went wide at my question. I was staring at her, but I looked away when my face warmed up from nervousness. “I’m sorry. It’s been in my mind for a while. I don’t know why you called me here,” I said, pulling my fingers before hooking them on the hoops of my jeans.
The instructor leaned back on her seat as she looked at me. She still looked shocked at my question. I watched as she opened her mouth before closing it and letting out a sigh. She bit down on her lip, holding her chin as she thought about what to say to me.
“I’m not kicking you out of the team,” she said in a low firm voice. She dropped her hand, placing it on the top of her wooden desk before she continued talking. “You’re one of the best dancers I have. I was just frustrated with you bad attendance record and when I got the report about you I have to admit I was a little angry.”
She folded her hands across her chest, looking over at the clock to the side. “If you’d told me about your appointments with your therapist and doctor I would have made room for you. I just felt disrespected because you kept lying about it,” she continued, and I looked down at my hands, opening and closing my palms to calm my nerves. What she was saying made sense in a way, but I couldn’t say I felt bad for lying. I was scared, and I didn’t know if I could trust anyone.
“You can trust me,” she said as if she had read my mind. I looked up, realizing she had placed her hand on her chest like she was making a pledge.
“O-okay,” I mumbled looking away. I didn’t know how to reply to that. It was surprising but comforting. Her office went silent after that, and the noise from the clock that was ticking was beginning to bother me. The sound of paper and scribbling made me look up again. Mrs. Davis was writing something down, and I didn’t know what. She looked up from the paper when she was done, giving me a smile as I still tried to guess what all this was about.
“Look,” she said, pushing the paper towards me. I picked it up, bringing it up to my face so that I could take a proper look at it. It was a form — no, a permission slip that had everything, but a signature filled in.
“I signed you and four other people up for a dancing contest. It’s going to be next month; do you think you can make out time for that?” she asked when I looked up from the paper with wide eyes. “If you want to compete all you have to do is sign the permission slip,” she added as I returned my attention to the form, not believing what was in my hands. We were thirty dancers in the school team, and she’d chosen me to be one of the five people representing our university.
“Y-yeah,” I stuttered, looking back down at the permission slip. “Yeah, I’ll have time for this.”
Why was that even a question? The more contests I competed in the more I’ll have to put down when I was looking to get into a dance studio after graduation.
“Great!” She said with a high voice. I soon mirrored the smile of relief she had her face. I thought she hated me or had something against me since Grace told her about my appointments.
“I’m also giving you a solo, do you think you’ll have time to practice? We can work out special times if you want,” she asked, looking at me.
I nodded, trying to control myself. I was about to break down from both joy and relief. “The solo will be fine. If I have problems, I’ll come and talk to you.”
“Here, have a pen,” she said, rolling one towards me. I caught it, placing the permission slip on her desk before signing it. A big grin was on my face now. This was good news, things were falling with into place.
I was happy.
God, I was so goddamn happy.
I need to talk to George. I thought to myself as I gave her back the permission slip after signing it. I then got up from my seat and left her office after some small talk with her. There was a bounce in my step and my mood was a lot better compared to how I was feeling on minutes before entering her office. I kept chuckling under my breath, kicking pebbles as the smile I had on my face ached my cheek muscles.
I couldn’t keep it in or wait until I got back to my room, I took out my phone ignoring how my hands were screaming to remain in my pockets because of the cold weather.
Message to: Grey.
Remember when I told you about that incident with my dance instructor? She’s not mad at me, in fact, she’s giving me a dance solo at a contest!
Mon, 6:02 PM.
Grey’s reply was immediate.
Message from: Grey.
Mon, 6:02 PM.
I smiled, clicking off the chat box before sending a similar message to Xander. I wondered if we could bring people along with us. If that was possible I’ll ask Maxwell and Xander to tag along — and of course, George. My face warmed up despite the cooling effect from the humid breeze.
Damn it. I thought as I kept grinning. Thinking of George had me all warm and flustered. I had slept over at his place on Sunday, but it felt like I saw him last ages ago. I didn’t mind the feeling though. If felt good to have someone that felt the same way about you.
Does he love you, though? I paused in my tracks for a moment before shaking my head and continuing on my way. No, it was too early for that. Why was I thinking of that? I kept walking, and after a while, I had managed to get my thoughts in order again. I thought of sending George a message, but I felt it would be better if I called him when I got back to my room. I could also tell Austin. I don’t know. I just wanted everyone to know.
Gosh, was this how you’re supposed to feel when you have something to brag about? My attention was dragged back to my phone screen when I got a notification. A small sigh left my lips when I saw who it was. I was starting to feel I should have left her number unsaved.
Message from: Grace.
Hey, sorry about not being able to meet today. I’ve just not been feeling too good. Maybe we can meet tomorrow, or fuck, the weekend. I don’t think I’ll be coming for classes in a while. Fuck my life.
Mon, 6:10 PM.
I didn’t know how to feel about her message. Grace wasn’t the one to fall into self-depreciation, she always scratched back. Maybe everything that has happened was just too much for her, and she finally caved in. I opened the reply box and started typing, but somewhere along the way I paused and pressed backspace until everything I’ve written was gone.
“Are you alright? If you need someone to talk to I could come over?”
That was what I was going to send, but I didn’t.
“She’s not my responsibility,” I muttered under my breath, repeating the words that George had told me. Cutting toxic people out of your life was one of the hardest decisions to make. It was especially hard when you can see that they’re mentally hurting and in need of help and comfort. The thing is, it’s not anyone’s responsibility to heal someone. It might seem harsh, but it made sense to look out for yourself too. Plus, they need professionals, not random people to carry their emotional baggage.
I’ll recommend Grace to the school counsellor.
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I won’t let myself be used and pulled into her mess again.