The silence surrounding me weighed heavily on my heart and mind. This was it. Today was the day I would make my grandmother proud. I couldn’t believe that this day was finally here. All my hard work had led to this very moment and I couldn’t screw it up. My grandmother was out there waiting for me to make her proud. I had a lot to lose.
Taking a few deep breaths, I tried to calm myself but the pounding of my heart did not abate. If this moment wasn’t so big for me I doubt I would’ve been this nervous. I mean, this was dance, something I could do in my sleep, but this was the dance that could either make or break my career. This was pride or disappointment. It was life and death.
There was no room for mistakes.
A knock sounded at my door before it was opened to reveal Addison, one of my fellow dancers who also happened to be my best friend. I tried to force a smile on my lips but failed. I couldn’t lie to her, she knew what was going on inside my mind.
“Hey. You look fantastic. I don’t even need to ask if you’re nervous, it’s practically written all over your face,” Addison remarked, entering my dressing room, allowing the door to shut behind her.
“Is my grandma here? Oh God, this is crazy. What if I mess this up?” I said, scratching my wrist to alleviate the tension building inside me. What would my grandmother think of me if I failed today? I didn’t want to disappoint her. She was my only family and I wanted to give her something in return for all that she’d done for me.
“Sì, she is here. Don’t worry, Sadie. I am sure you will stun the audience with your performance tonight.” I knew she meant what she said, it was evident in her sparkling hazel eyes and her reassuring smile. My best friend had way too much faith in me.
“Oh Dio mio! Sono così spaventato!” I said, hating the fact that I was allowing such a ridiculous thing to affect me so much. (Oh my God! I’m so scared!)
“Would you relax; you’ll be fine. I’ll be up there with you on the stage along with all the other people who trust you and know that you will make your grandma proud tonight,” Addison chided. “And stop scratching your wrist, you’ll bleed.” She grabbed my hand so I wouldn’t butcher my wrist.
“I can’t relax! This is the biggest performance in the whole of Italy. Do you have any idea how many people are going to be here tonight?!” All the best artists from the world were going to be present tonight, and if luck was on my side then I would get the job of a teacher in this studio.
“And the whole world knows that you are the best dancer there is, so trust me, you’ve got this,” she argued, trying to reassure me.
“I hope so. What if they don’t like my performance?” That was my biggest fear because it would mean that my grandma wouldn’t be able to see me succeed. I would let her down.
Addison rolled her eyes. “If they don’t like your performance then we’ll say that Natasha was the one who was dancing and not you.”
Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. “Natasha might have some resemblance to me but no one is stupid enough to believe that.”
“You have no idea how stupid people can be. People will believe that it was Natasha who put on a horrible performance and not you. Besides Natasha and you can be practically sisters, you guys look so alike, it’s insane.” Her eyes widened for dramatic effect.
I huffed. “That is not true. We just happen to have the same blue eyes and straight, black hair, that doesn’t mean we are sisters.” I told her, pacing back and forth. Addison wasn’t letting me scratch my wrist so I might as well walk.
“You also happen to have the same high cheekbones and the same plump lips. Trust me, Natasha can be classed as your doppelganger,” Addison stated, flopping down on my chair.
“Will you stop talking about Natasha? Isn’t it bad enough that she hates my guts because I got the lead role in this performance and now you are thinking to blame her for my mistakes? That woman hates me and would bring her wrath down upon us if we dared to jeopardize her career,” I snapped, feeling as if spiders were crawling up my legs. When would the show start? One glance at the boring clock above my dressing table told me that I still had forty five minutes until my performance started.
“That girl is dangerous, that’s for sure.” Addison agreed. Natasha’s fury was often the brunt of gossip in this industry. It was strange how it was also the cause of her popularity. “I’ve heard that her family has ties with the Mafia and that her father regularly signs deals with them.”
“That is not true. Where did you hear that from, anyway?” I enquired, wanting some sort of a distraction, these forty five minutes felt like hours!
Addison shrugged. “Heaven told me.”
“And we all know what a reliable source Heaven is,” I shot back, running my hands down my costume. I loved my costume for this performance; it was an elegant white tutu with golden glitter scattered all over it, which would pair up nicely with my new ballet shoes. Addison along with all the other dancers had to wear black tutus and shoes.
“Stop touching your costume, you’ll ruin it. Do you know how expensive it is? It may be tiny but it has cost Derek a fortune,” she scolded with a frown. Derek was responsible for our costumes; he was a great guy overall but was always so nervous.
“Jeez, okay. Why is the time moving so slow? I want to dance and get this night over with. Can’t you see how crazy my feet are behaving?” I glared at my satin covered feet, ignoring the itch in my soles. The only way I could get rid of this itch was by dancing and there were still thirty minutes to go.
“What would it take to calm you down? A glass of wine, perhaps?” Addison suggested with an arched eyebrow.
“You know I don’t drink before the dance. Let’s go outside, please. This room is starting to suffocate me,” I pleaded.
Addison rolled her eyes once again. “All right, let’s go. It looks like nothing but fresh air can help you.” Without waiting another second, I opened the door of my dressing room and walked outside with Addison following behind me.
“My make-up looks fine, right?” I asked, cursing the fact that I didn’t bother looking at myself in the mirror before exiting.
“Yes, you look beautiful like you always do. Natasha will have a heart attack when she’ll see you.” Her answer had my nerves twisting up a notch.
“Can you not curse her today? She is part of the performance and I don’t want anything to ruin it!” I snapped. I hated being nervous, it made me irritable.
“Sei una cagna quando devi esibirti. Mi dispiace per me stesso,” Addison said. (You are a bitch whenever you have to perform. I feel sorry for myself)
“Affrontarla,” I retorted. (Deal with it)
“It’s just a silly curse, Sadie, there is no truth to it,” she replied as we reached the backstage. Hopefully the performance would be starting soon, I should start stretching.
“No curse is silly, Addi. You know I take curses very seriously.” I told her as we joined the rest of the dancers who were stretching and talking to Piero, our choreographer.
“You are so superstitious, Sadie,” Addi teased, stretching her arms above her head.
“Go ahead, make fun of me all you want; you’ll know I’m right when your crazy words will come true.” I followed her lead and stretched my arms and legs, getting ready to make my grandma proud. Tonight’s performance was for her.
“What if one of the dancers gets kidnapped?” I paused, mid-stretch, to stare at my friend.
“Your curses are getting crazier and crazier by the minute. Why would anyone get kidnapped?” I questioned.
“Because there are some deadly people who will be here watching the performance tonight; they might kidnap one of us.” I stared at my best friend, unable to believe her words. This couldn’t be true. Why would a criminal come to watch my performance? Addison burst out laughing. “Oh my God! You should see your face right now. It is so easy to fool you, Sadie.”
I blinked a few times, trying to understand what she was saying. “You bitch! I can’t believe you decided to joke about this. I will kill you for this.” Just as I made an attempt to tackle her to the ground, Piero’s voice shattered through our conversation, forcing us to listen to him.
“Alright people, it’s time. Take your places. Sadie, some of the world’s leading artists are here to see you, make sure to blow their minds away, carino!”
“I’ll try, Piero,” I said in a meek voice, not wanting him to know just how nervous I really was for this performance.
Right before we got in position Natasha strode over to me, looking every bit of a dance queen which she imagined herself to be. Her black hair was tied in a bun and her blue eyes hurled knives at me. If she could get away with killing me, she probably would’ve slaughtered me by now.
“Good luck, Mills. Try not to disappoint your grandma; she might not be able to handle it, given her age and health.” The venomous smirk had my blood boiling but I forced myself to remain calm. If I allowed her words to get to me then I wouldn’t be able to focus on my performance.
“Thanks Natasha,” I replied with the sweetest smile I could manage.
As soon as Natasha took her place, the lights dimmed and I knew it was time to do what I’d been practicing for all my life. This is for you, grandma, I thought as I closed my eyes and emptied my mind of all trivial things. Tonight would be the night I would make my family proud, which only consisted of my grandma. Tonight would be when I would blow everyone’s mind. Tonight would be the night I made my mark in this industry and more importantly in this world.
The curtain started to rise and the slow rhythm of music seeped gently in my ears, taking a hold of my senses, pulling me in a trance as I allowed myself to get lost in the role which I had to play. I slowly raised my arms, my feet rising simultaneously until I was standing on my toes. And then the music stopped.
This is it. It’s all or nothing.
Once the music started again, I begun moving my arms and legs to the music. I closed my eyes to the world. I didn’t bother to see who was present and who wasn’t, I allowed the music to take the lead, dancing to the rhythm, letting it guide me to success and perfection.
I twirled once and then one more time before landing on my feet. This was nothing new to me; this was familiar—muscle memory. I was serious when I said that I could dance in my sleep. I didn’t know why I was so nervous.
The music rose in intensity and I knew it was about to reach the crescendo, meaning I had to get ready for the move that would probably stretch and contort my body in a weird angle. But I was a dancer, being flexible was something that was synonymous to me.
When the familiar melody drifted in my ears, I knew it was time. The music begun building up with every second that passed and with that I began spinning, my toes my only support. As the intensity built up I started spinning faster, I wondered if I looked like a spinning top to all the people who were watching me. I let go of my inhibitions and allowed the music to take me away as I continued to spin from one place to another, praying that everybody else was doing their part properly otherwise I was sure to bump into someone.
Just as the music hit the crescendo the sound of gunshots shattered the melodious atmosphere, destroying my focus, wrenching me out of my trance. I stopped spinning just as silence descended for a second before it was beaten to death by the explosion of screams. I stopped spinning, barely landing on my feet as I watched people running for safety.
“Tutti si abbassano!” Piero’s voice hit my mind with the force of a bulldozer and I did as he said and tried to look for a place to hide. (Everybody get down!)
More gunshots exploded in the amphitheater, causing another wave of screams in response which had my blood curdling. Oh God, what was going on? Who was shooting in this place and why? Why tonight, out of all nights was the one which had to be ruined?
Just as I found a corner to hide in, a loud hiss replaced the echo of the gunshots, causing me to frown in confusion. What was that sound? My question was answered in the form of a smell so strong that it had tears springing to my eyes immediately. I placed a hand over my mouth to prevent that god awful smell from crawling up my nose. But it was futile. The smell was everywhere and I couldn’t do anything about it.
“Bene lei.” Came a strong male voice. (Find her)
“Deve aver corso dietro,” another male voice said. (She must have run to the back)
“Non abbiamo molto tempo,” the first voice said. (We don’t have much time)
“Sbrigati. Capo ci ha dato solo quindici minuti,” said a third voice. (Hurry up. Boss only gave us fifteen minutes)
Meanwhile the awful smell slithered up my nose and begun taking over my senses. I had no idea what was going on, one minute I was standing and looking around for an escape route and the next I was leaning against the wall because all of a sudden my limbs weren’t strong enough to support my body. My vision begun to get foggy but all I could worry about was my grandma and whether she was okay. God help me, I needed to find my grandma and get her out of here.
As soon as I tried to crawl out of my secret corner, darkness replaced the fog and my arms and legs refused to move. I could say that I remembered something before darkness took over but that would be a lie. It simply was...