Bad For You

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22

I apologize that it's been so long I updated. If you'd like, you're more than welcome to re-read chapter twenty-one for a refresher, but just to summarize the key points so far:

• The winter ballet is coming up which is a pretty big deal for Aurora
• This year they're performing Swan Lake, and she's auditioned for both Odette and Odile
• Aurora's mother now wants her to join a ballet company straight after high school instead of going to Juilliard like they planned. Aurora is applying behind her back
• Aurora is still secretly dating Theo behind her mother's back
• Theo along with his friends came to watch Aurora's audition
• Aurora was supposed to come straight home after auditions, but instead she went out with Theo and their friends for dinner and bowling. And that leaves us here...

Enjoy!



___


Where have you been?"

I've barely stepped through the front door when my mother fires the question at me. She's sitting down in the living room, legs folded, sipping a glass of wine. She doesn't shout, doesn't raise her voice.

She's perfectly calm, and that's the first red flag.

"I was out with my friends," I reply carefully. "We went to Fast Lanes."

My mother hums. "Is that so?"

I don't respond, instead folding my arms behind my back and fidgeting nervously. Her eyes sweep over to mine and she holds my gaze as she takes another sip of wine. It feels like the longest second of my life before she finally speaks again.

"Didn't I tell you to come straight home after auditions?"

"Yes but-"

"There are no buts Aurora. I gave you explicit instructions and you didn't listen."

"Why does it matter?" I burst out. "It's not like I find out what part I'm getting until next week! And auditions went well! I wanted to celebrate with my friends!"

"Don't raise your voice at me," she stands. "It matters because I told you to do something and you didn't do it! Just because I gave you a little more freedom doesn't mean you can take advantage of it! Because I can take it away-" she snaps her fingers. "-just like that."

"I am not some thing you can control!" I yell. "I am a human being with emotions and feelings and free will!"

She laughs mockingly. "Is that so? I hadn't noticed. Last time I checked you were my daughter!" She closes her eyes and inhales deeply. When she reopens them she meets my stare head on. "I'm going to ask you something Aurora, and I'm only going to ask you one time."

I wait.

"Who is he?"

My blood turns cold.

"W-who?" I stutter. My mother rolls her eyes.

"Do you think I'm stupid Aurora? People talk. I hear things. I know things. I was once your age, or did you forget that?" She raises a brow. "At first I ignored it because I couldn't possibly believe it to be true. Not when you know what's at risk. Not when I've sacrificed so much to get you here."

My stomach churns and I feel sick. "Mom-"

"So it's true," she interrupts. "You are seeing someone. You have a boyfriend," she spits the word in contempt. "Did you think you could hide it from me Aurora?"

I exhale shakily before standing up straight and clenching my fist. "I love him."

My mother barks out a laugh and I flinch. "Love? What do you know about love? You're seventeen for Christ's sake! You're a child!" She jabs a finger at herself. "You think I didn't love your father?" She sneers. "You say you're not like me, that my mistakes aren't yours, yet here you are making the same fucking mistakes!"

"I'm nothing like you!" I scream. "Stop comparing us!"

"Then look me in the eye and tell me you aren't having sex!"

My chest rises and falls rapidly. Adrenaline courses through my veins and I'm shaking from anger. I glare at my mother, keeping my lips tightly pressed together.

"Oh God," she cries, covering her mouth. "You are aren't you?"

"We're being safe," I try and explain. "I got the implant and it's over ninety-nine percent effective-"

"The implant!" She shrieks. "So you've been going behind my back?! And what about that one percent Aurora? Huh? What about that?"

"You should be happy!" I yell, cutting her off. "I'm being responsible, unlike you!"

All at once, it the room falls silent.

My mother and I stare at each other, neither of us backing down. I can see the hurt in her eyes and I hate that I put it there, but she has to stop this. She has to stop being so paranoid and controlling and pinning her life's mistakes on me. I've been carrying the weight for so long, but I can't do it anymore.

It's slowly crushing me.

"Why can't you just trust me?" I whisper. "That's all I'm asking for. For you to trust me."

"Trust?" My mother laughs hollowly. "You want me to trust you? After you've been lying right to my face? Sneaking around behind my back?"

"Only because I knew how'd you react!" My voice rises again and I take a deep breath to calm down. "I know I should have been honest from the beginning, and I'm sorry. But now that's it's all out in the open, I swear to tell the truth from now on. I won't let this interfere with my dancing, I promise. I'm still on track, just like you planned," I smile. "And you'd really like Theo, he's great and-"

"Stop, just stop," my mother holds up her hand. She rubs her temple and exhales. "I was once in your shoes Aurora. A talented dancer destined for greatness. Young and in love. I thought I had life all figured out," she smiles sadly. "Turns out I didn't. And I wish I had someone then who would have told me I was making a mistake. Maybe then...things would have been different," she shrugs. "But I didn't and they aren't. Now you're in my shoes, and I'm here as that person to tell you that you're making a mistake. You may thinks you're in love now, but you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Right now you need to focus on you. Not some boy. Not your friends. Just you. Because in the end, you're all you have."

She steps closer to me and places her hands on my shoulders. "You know I love you Aurora. I only want what's best for you."

I swallow thickly. "I know."

"So you know what you need to do then right?"

Wait what? My brows furrow in confusion and I shake my head.

My mother squeezes my shoulders. "You need to break up with him."

All at once, it's like a bucket of ice cold water hits me. I shove her hands off me and step back. "No."

Her gaze narrows. "What?"

"I said no. I'm not breaking up with him." I can't believe she would even suggest it. I thought she would finally come around and listen to me.

But I should have known better.

My mother stares at me in disbelief, as if she can't believe I'd dare to defy her. Well I fucking dare.

"So you're willing to throw away everything we've worked so hard for over a boy? Is that it?"

"I'm not throwing anything away!" I yell. "Why can't you just get it? It doesn't have to be one or the other! I can have both!"

"YOU CAN'T HAVE BOTH!" My mother screams and I rear back in shock. This isn't just her being stubborn or refusing to understand. There's something deeper beneath the surface, and as I stare at her it finally dawns on me.

I shake my head slowly. "This isn't about just
me isn't it? I can't have both because you didn't get to huh? You didn't get to dance, and the love of your life left you. So you have to doom me to that same fate. Because you're jealous I can have both and you got neither-"

My head whips back as my mother slaps me.

At first, I don't move. It's so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Then I slowly turn to face her. My cheek burns but I barely notice it. All I can see are her eyes, glaring at me, full of hate.

"You are the biggest mistake of my life," she spits. "I should have listened and gotten rid of you when I had the chance. I rue the day you were born."

I take one step back. Two. Three. My eyes are stinging, my throat is tight, and everything in me wants to break down but I won't give her that satisfaction. "I hate you," I whisper. "I HATE YOU!"

Then I turn and run right out of the house.

I don't know where I'm going. I have no single destination in mind. But I run until my legs are burning, until my lungs feel like they might collapse in on themselves. Only then do I stop running. My hands shake as I pull out my phone from my coat pocket.

The phone rings twice before he answers. "Hey Rose," Theo says. I can hear the grin in his voice. "What's up?"

I open my mouth...and start sobbing.

I'm crying so hard I can barely catch a breath. Every time I try to speak the only thing that comes out is are unintelligible sounds and wails. I can't even hear what Theo is saying. It takes me five whole minutes before I can finally collect myself enough to speak actual words.

"I-I need you," I choke. "I-I n-need you t-to come g-get me."

"Where are you?" Theo's voice is urgent and I hear shuffling in the background, like he's moving . "I'm coming right now."

I sniffle and look around. "I'm on Jackson street. Near my house."

"Stay right there, I'm coming."

The line cuts and I sit right in the middle of the sidewalk, pulling my knees up to my chest. I've stopped crying, and now I just feel numb. All I can hear are my mother's words on repeat, over and over.

You are the biggest mistake of my life. I should have listened and gotten rid of you when I had the chance. I rue the day you were born.

Bright headlines shine in the distance and I look up, squinting against the harsh light. As they come closer I stand from the sidewalk. Theo's car comes to a screeching stop and he jumps out, engine still running.

"What happened?" he rushes over to me, accessing me for any damage. Physically I'm fine besides my face being red and puffy from crying, plus the dull ache on my cheek from where my mother hit me.

Mentally is another story.

As Theo presses me to tell him what happened, I start to feel idiotic for even calling him in the first place. I probably scared him half to death, and nothing even happened. Not really. My mother and I got in a fight, big whoop. We always fought. Sure this was probably the worst fight we'd ever had, but now that I think about it, there was no reason for me to call Theo in the middle of the night and have him come rushing to my rescue. I feel stupid and pathetic.

"Aurora," my gaze snaps up to Theo who's looking down at me, worry etched across his features. "Please talk to me. What's wrong?"

"I-" I lick my lips. "I shouldn't have called you. I'm sorry."

"No, don't say that. Don't ever be sorry. I'm glad you called me. I'm glad that you trust me enough to help you."

What about you? Who's helping you?

The question pops unbidden in my head, making me feel even worse. My voice is hoarse and scratchy when I speak again. "My mother and I...we got into a horrible argument. I said some things and she said some things and..."

You are the biggest mistake of my life. I should have listened and gotten rid of you when I had the chance. I rue the day you were born.

I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head, trying to force her words from my thoughts. "Can I stay at your place tonight? Please?"

"Of course," Theo pulls me close and I wrap my arms around him, inhaling his comforting scent. He kisses the top of my head and tells me everything will be okay. I don't know if I believe him. But I know one thing.

My mother is wrong about him. About us.

I'm not sure about a lot of things in my life, but Theo is the one thing I'm certain about. I know I'm not making a mistake.

I need him. And I think maybe he needs me.

...

His grandmother was sleeping when we got to his house, and Theo offered to let me use his bathroom to shower. It'd been a long day and I felt gross and dirty, so the offer was more than welcome. I stood under that scalding hot water, pretending it could wash away everything wrong with my life. Then I lathered my body up using Theo's body wash. It made me smile, knowing I would smell like him.

There's a knock on the door as I'm rinsing off and I pause. "Come in!"

Theo pokes his head in to the bathroom. "Everything good?"

I slide open the shower door and peek out, giving him a small smile. "Yep. Everything's great." Lies. "Wanna come join me?" I ask playfully, mostly to distract myself. I waggle my brows to try and entice him.

"I already showered though," Theo replies, but doesn't make any move to leave the bathroom either.

"So shower again. You can never be too clean."

Theo hesitates momentarily before stepping fully inside. I leave the shower door partially open and step back under the water, tilting my face under the spray and pushing my hair back. A moment later Theo steps inside and slides the door close. I don't turn around but my whole body becomes hyper aware of him as he comes up behind me.

"So are you going to tell me what you and your mother got in a fight about?" He asks, trailing his fingers up my spine.

I frown. "Do we have to talk about that?"

Theo sighs and spins me around to face him. "I'm worried about you. I don't think you quite understand the severity of this situation. You ran out of your house in the middle of the night. When you called me I was terrified something had happened to you."

"I'm sorry," I bite my lip. "I overreacted."

"You know you can talk to me right?" Theo murmurs. "You can trust me."

"I do trust you," I insist. "It's just...well my mom found out about us."

Theo frowns. "She did?"

I nod. "Yeah. And then everything just...spiraled. It was like that was the catalyst and everything exploded. I've been bottling up my emotions for years Theo. Years. And I guess she has too," I laugh humorlessly. "Everything just came spilling out whether we wanted it to or not. And she told me," I take a shuddery breath. "She told me I was the biggest mistake she ever made and that she should have gotten rid of me."

His eyes widen as I continue. "For seventeen years I've been living in the shadow of her past, and it's been suffocating me. Every single day of my life I've felt guilty just for being born," my eyes fill with tears. "I know when she looks at me she sees the life she could have had, but had to give up. And I have tried so hard to apologize for something that wasn't even my fault. That's why I worked so hard to make her proud. To be the best dancer I could possibly be," I wipe my eyes furiously. "But it was never enough. I realize now that nothing will ever be enough. And I can't keep slowly killing myself because she won't let go of the past. So I'm done. I'm not going to let her control me or my life ever again."

I realize as I say the words that I truly mean them. I'm done with her shit. Done with her abusive, controlling ways. Because no matter how you slice or dice it, what she put me though was abuse, plain and simple. It's funny, you don't realize you're being abused until you finally come out on the other side. Sometimes by then it's too late.

But it's not too late for me.

When I succeed, and I will, it won't be for her or because of her. It will be for me. I'm the one who worked hard to get where I am today. I'm the one who poured my literal blood, sweat, and tears into dance. Who endured countless painful lessons to become who I am today. Not her. Me.

I refuse to bear the burden for her mistakes. Not anymore.

Theo pushes wet strands of hair away from my face and tilts my head up. "I'm so fucking proud of you," he smiles.

I smile back and lean up to kiss him.

I'm proud of me too. Now I just hope everything doesn’t blow up in my face.

___



hi guys! i know it's been literal months since i updated, and i’m so sorry about that. although i’ve been on summer vacation, i’ve been crazy busy with work, friends, family, and basically trying to enjoy my summer before school starts. i guess i was sort of on a writing hiatus, but now i’m slowly getting back into it so hopefully i’m able to update more frequently!

xoxo, g💓
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