Chapter 1: Becky
Vamos a hacerlo en una playa en Puerto Rico
Hasta que las olas griten “¡ay, bendito!”
Para que mi sello se quede contigo
The music stops. Instead of Luis Fonsi’s ‘Despacito’, I now hear the harsh clicking of heels on the floor. David’s hand slips out of mine and as I draw in a deep breath, I turn around to our teacher.
“What was that?” Aljona’s arms cross in front of her chest as she gives us a strict glare. One dripping with disapproval.
“Salsa?” I ask her as I bow forward to lean onto my thighs while I try to calm my breath. The first training in two months, damn, I should have exercised some more to keep my stamina up. But after David’s knee injury during the German National Championships, we simply got way too used to cuddling in front of the tv. At least the first three or so weeks in which he couldn’t walk too much. Afterwards, I decided to go to the gym alone a few times while he was having his physiotherapy sessions, but obviously, it wasn’t enough.
“Don’t you be a smart-ass with me, darling, what you just gave me was nothing! And I’m not even speaking about the technique, where has your fire gone, huh? Watching my grandparents drinking tea is giving me more passion than what you two just showed!” Aljona scolds me and David equally, her Russian accent feeling like whiplashes right into my face. She is mad. Her accent always gets stronger when she’s enraged.
“I’m sorry,” I whine, trying to sound as soothing as possible. “It’s just... I don’t really feel that passion with David right now. We’ll be better next time, I promise!”
“What do you mean, you don’t really feel that passion with me right now?” He asks me straight away, as if he didn’t know.
“Well, what do you expect?” I ask him back, giving him a grim glare before I turn to him. “You touched me more in the past two minutes than you did in last two months combined!”
“Oh, so we’re discussing our sex life here now or what?” His eyebrows pull together the slightest bit. He’s pissed, but well, so am I!
It’s true. We spent two months seeing each other every day, lying in his bed for hours and what was the most that happened? Maybe one or two short hookups and a blowjob I had given to him. Good for him, but what about me?
“Where the fuck were you yesterday?” I ask him back, my voice raising the slightest bit as I cross my arms in front of my chest. “I told you we needed to train to avoid this sort of humiliation right here and you agreed, but where were you? Not here! You didn’t answer my calls, you didn’t answer my texts and now you think we just dance a fucking Salsa and all is forgotten?”
“So that’s what this is about,” he groans as if it was a topic we have been through a hundred times already. “I had a doctor’s appointment, excuse me very much! And sorry for not always answering my phones when you call but honestly... God, I just... Forget it!”
“Nothing.” Sighing, he turns away from me, both his hands pushing into his hair as he takes a few steps away. Then he turns back to me, giving me a grim glare but he comes back anyway and takes my hand. “Let’s start over. Come on.”
“Would you prefer to dance the Tango?” Aljona asks us, her voice full of disapproval. I bet no one ever neglected one of her lessons for a fucking relationship fight before.
“We’re good. I’m sorry,” I apologise to her, first giving her a smile, then David. “To you, two. I’m sorry. Let’s discuss this later, okay?”
“Yeah. I think we should,” he mutters, closing his eyes for a second before he pulls me into his arms. At first, I think he wants to go into our starting position but instead, both his arms close around me as he brings his lips to my ear. “I love you. You know how important you are to me, right?”
For a few seconds, I feel my heart starting to beat a little faster and when he lets me out of his arms again get into position for real now, the smile I have for him is a lot wider. And honest.
“I love you, too,” I tell him, giving him one more smile before I close my eyes. Salsa. Despacito. Focus. Now.
He simply is the best dance partner in the world. Despite these tiny, little fights then and now, he is also the best boyfriend I could imagine. And the whole fairytale started with a simple advertisement on the internet.
Almost eleven years have passed since my parents decided to end their marriage and I had to find a new dance partner because my older brother wasn’t an option any longer. While Mom and I moved away, Eric wanted to stay with our dad. A decision I won’t ever understand, but it was what he wanted.
So there I was, ten years old, suddenly living in the big city of Cologne when all I had known until then was the small village my dad’s stud farm belonged to and, worst of all, I didn’t have a dance partner anymore. That was until my mom saw that advertisement, a mother searching for a dance partner for her son.
David and I harmonised perfectly from the first second on. We trained three times a week at first, then we started competing. Three became four, then quickly five. School, training, competition, that was my life back then and all three included him. No one was really surprised when our friendship started growing into love at some point, the sparks have always been there. And here we are now. Partners, on the floor and off of it as well.
“How about a coffee break? God knows I could use one,” is the only critique we’re getting after finishing our dance this time. But I know it’s not a good one, it only means Aljona needs a break from us.
“I’d like to steal Becky away for a few minutes,” David tells her, his hand staying around mine as he gives me a look. A look I just can’t read. Not a smile or anything, he’s serious. And when Aljona agrees, he just starts pulling me after him.
“I thought maybe we could go for a little walk together?” He asks me, grabbing my jacket and holding it out for me to make sure I’m not going out into the cold spring weather dressed in my leggings and a sports bra while the sweat is still dripping down my body. Caring and looking out for me. A dream man, that’s for sure.
“A walk? Since when are we going to the park during our breaks?” I ask him with a chuckle. As romantic as a stroll through the park sounds, it is slightly surprising. We usually just collapse somewhere in the corner until it’s time to get back up and continue the training.
“Since there’s... Fuck, this is hard,” he sighs, his arm curling around my shoulder as he pulls me into him. “I just need a moment alone with you. To talk.”
“What about?” I ask as my stomach starts cramping the slightest bit. ′We need to talk’, those words are never good, are they? But what could it be? “Don’t tell me the doctor yesterday said you couldn’t go for the championships! Is that why you didn’t come to our training? Oh my God, David, you don’t have to get surgery after all, do you?”
My heart starts racing as the idea starts settling in my head. A surgery, months of recovery, we couldn’t make it to the championships this year! That would be a disaster! We have been training so hard for this. For years! And now we will have to quit on our dream of winning the European Championships because of one wrong step?
“No, Becky, that’s not it,” David assures me and I feel the heaviest rock ever falling off my chest as I heave a sigh of relief. Oh my God. Whatever it actually is, I guess it can only be half as bad then.
“Okay, what is it?” Sitting down on the park bench he has brought me to, I look at him. For a moment, his eyes fix of mine, his hands starting to knead each other as he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. Then he lets out a sigh and sits down beside me, his gaze fixing on the ground as he leans his face into his hands.
“We have to break up.”
The world stops. It certainly does. I feel like white light is closing in around me, drowning out everything outside of me as his words start ringing in my head. Break up. Us.
“What?” I ask, almost gasp as my vision slowly starts coming back again. He can’t be serious. This is impossible, we can’t break up! Not now. Not here! Not on this bench. In this park. The park I still remember as the place of our first kiss.
I had just turned fifteen and he was seventeen. It was a beautiful summer day and just the sweetest moment I could have ever imagined. I still have little sparks going off in my stomach when I think about it, about the way we shyly went at it.
Our fingers crawling towards the other millimetre for millimetre until they finally touched and intertwined. It felt as if an hour must have passed until his hand was finally wrapped around mine and during the entire time, that was all I could focus on. I still remember my heart beating up to my chest and my stomach churning and my mind being entirely stuck on exactly that. My feelings, my body reactions, David’s fingers coming closer and closer...
And then we were sitting there, holding hands and as I looked up at him, his eyes were already on me, a shy smile on his lips. The whole procedure just started all over again, only that time, it was his face that was coming closer. Closer and closer until his lips were on mine and my heart started beating so wildly that I thought I might be getting a heart attack. It was just the best feeling I had ever felt!
That was our first kiss. Sweet. Gentle. Innocent. But as I look at him now, his eyes are not on me. They are on the ground. And he is not smiling. He is crying.
“Listen, Becky, I think it’s better if we... Well, if you and I... I want to break up with you,” he repeats, his voice sounding as thin and broken as I’ve never heard it before. But I just can’t believe him. I just can’t.
“No,” I say. I won’t accept it. We can’t.
My mind goes blank. Just absolutely blank and empty and unbelieving. I must have misunderstood him. Twice.
It just can’t be what he means! He loves me! He just said it, only fifteen minutes ago. Why would he want to break up with me now? I didn’t do anything, I never even looked at another guy. There haven’t been any serious fights. Aside from that little dispute we just had in the studio, we only ever fight during training. Outside of the studio, we are just fine. We are getting along just fine, everything between us is fine! It just doesn’t make sense. It can’t be happening.
“Listen, I’m so sorry, Becky,” David mutters, his gaze finally lifting to mine. His eyes are full of tears and sorrow. Too many tears. Too much sorrow. Oh please, this can’t be happening!
“You know I love you, Becky-” he whispers as his hand closes around mine- “but I think I’m not in love with you anymore. I haven’t been in a while but I guess I didn’t want to accept it, either. I thought maybe my feelings would come back but... Those months at home on the couch... I can’t keep lying any longer. Not to me, not to you. I will always love you, but...”
“But not enough,” I whisper, finishing his sentence for him. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe the words coming out of his mouth.
What about all those good times we shared? Our first kiss, right here on this bench where we are sitting now as well? All those heated ones solving one of our uncountable fights on the dancefloor after training? What about all the fun we had while training together and our movie nights and the training camps and competitions? All those trips we went on, everything we shared? How can he just give up on them? And what will happen now? What is going to happen to the life we wanted to have together? The dance school we dreamed about opening up one day? The championships?
“I’m really sorry. I’ve been struggling for so long,” David continues, his free hand reaching up to wipe his eyes while mine are still dry as the Sahara. “I didn’t know whether I should speak to you about this or just... I don’t know. Deal with it alone, I guess. You know I would never hurt you and having to do it now... But the past months have shown me this was something I needed to do. And... It’s not your fault, Becky, I promise.”
His words are kind. But I just can’t take this anymore. I can’t listen to him any longer. In the past five years, maybe even longer, all I wanted was to be near him. To listen to his voice. To feel his touch. But all I want right now is to be as far away from him as I could possibly be. To be alone.
I don’t want to hear any more of his words, his attempts to tell me we were going to be alright and that he - the boy I have loved for five years - breaking up with me and taking my entire future with him, was somehow going to turn out great for us. How could this ever be good?
“I have to go,” I whisper as the first tears start building in my eyes. As the pain slowly starts to settle. As the realisation sets.
No more David. Never feeling his lips again. His hug. Hearing his laugh. Feeling his hands on me while we dance. Seeing the happiness in his eyes when we win a competition.
No more competitions. No more dance training. No dance school. No work. No life. Nothing. I have nothing left.
No boyfriend. No friends. No dance partner. Ten seconds, seven words, one conversation. That’s all it took to have my entire life going off in flames.