Wolf's Lullaby

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Dancing with the wolves

TARA

The rest of the school day was uneventful. After the classes, we drove downtown to the dance studio for Mina and Ivan’s practice.

The studio stood near the fountain that we met up on Sunday. It was a smaller, stone façade building whose whole second floor had big, arched windows overlooking the town square.

Mina told me to sit inside the practice room while they changed.

The room was bright and had big mirrors on two opposite walls. I sat on the floor in one corner and waited.

A few minutes later, some girls and boys our age entered the room talking and laughing, not paying me any mind as they did some warm-ups and stretches.

“Hey, new girl! Tara, right?” Familiar big blue eyes stared at me.

“Oh, yeah… Vera was it?” The curly blonde smiled widely.

“You here with Ivan to watch the practice?” She asked.

“Yep, him and Mina.”

“Are you two, like, hooking up?” Curiosity overshadowed with worry, taking over her features. Hello, nosy rosy.

“Umm… No… we are friends.” Her entire face lit up with my statement. At that moment, both Mina and Ivan entered the room. Mina waved at me, smiling, and stretched.

She changed into purple track pants, hanging low on her hips, exposing her belly button piercing and a black sports bra, while Ivan was wearing a loose fitting black sleeveless shirt showing off those guns and black track pants. He had a tattoo on his left shoulder. A bird skull with something akin to runes and two frozen arrows behind it. It looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on where I have seen it before. It looked cool, though. The two of them talked as Mina did her stretches. Looking at them together, I found they would make such a pretty couple.

“He’s such a snack, right?” Vera said almost breathlessly, fanning her face with her hand, jolting me from my thoughts. I caught a few more girls checking Ivan out as well.

Indeed, what she said.

He spotted me and came over.

“Hey there Baby Sloth, why don’t you sit closer to the front?” He asked, ruffling my hair.

“The view is better from here. By the way, Tree, you’re packing some heat there?” I wiggled my brows at him, showing off my poor excuse for a bicep.

“Ah! You like?” Smiling, he started flexing and changing poses like a bodybuilder.

Vera’s breath hitch slightly, and she gaped at him. Yep, if this continues, girls were going to have a heat stroke. Myself included.

“Go stretch Tree! You’re causing a disturbance with all of your pheromones! And open the windows. We need them and the heat out!” I said, giggling, flailing my hands around like I’m warding off said pheromones. I swear I got some glares directed at me from a group of girls.

He ruffled my hair once more before going to warm up.

Vera still hadn’t moved from my side, her gaze shooting hearts in Ivan’s direction.

“Aren’t you gonna warm up?” I asked.

“What… Oh, shoot!” She got up quickly, made a pained expression, and slumped back down.

“I hurt my ankle today in PE, I forgot!” She bumped her temple with her fist slightly, rolling her eyes. What a scatterbrain.

“Is it bad?”

“No, but I’ll skip today. It’s gonna get better tomorrow.” She exhaled, staring longingly at other dancers.

After five minutes, a door to the practice room opened, and a couple entered. The woman was average height, dark hair sleeked back into a high ponytail. She looked like she was in her mid-thirties. Her physique, the graceful way she moved, told me she was a dancer for a long time.

The same applied to her partner. He looked older than her with military styled auburn hair and a neatly trimmed beard.

I remembered Mina saying the two of them were a married couple. I think she mentioned their names were Alexander and Sophia.

“Ok, guys, did you get your warm up done?” Sophia asked, clasping her hands and scanning the room. Everyone nodded before her eyes landed on me.

“Oh, and who are you?” But before I answered, Mina jumped in. “She’s my friend. She’s here to watch.”

“Oh, well, make yourself comfortable. You can try dancing too, if you would like?” Sophia said sweetly. I shook my head so quickly I probably looked like I was having a seizure.

Oh God, no! Poor Mina tried for years to teach me how to dance, alas, to no avail. As a wise man, Chandler Bing once said, “Music moves me, but it moves me ugly!”

“Ok. Let’s start with the yesterday’s routine!” She clapped, and everybody stood in the formation.

The music started, and both Sophia and Alexander started showing the choreography while everyone tried their best to copy.

There were some talented people in the group who were catching on really fast. Mina, to me, wasn’t a surprise -the girl started dancing since she was five, and was really talented- but Ivan was. With his bigger build than your average dancer, you would think he would be, I don’t know, less coordinated, somewhat slower. But nope. Every movement was precise and fluid and beautifully measured. He was fantastic.

At one point, Sophia ordered the class to pair up.

“Uh, this is gonna be so good! I’m so jelly!” Vera clapped excitedly, looking like a kid in a candy store.

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll see!”

Good wasn’t the word to describe it, not even close. As the music started and the bodies moved, my sole focus was on Mina and Ivan.

Their bodies, completely attuned to one another. The emotions they portrayed as they danced and the overwhelming chemistry they had made me gape in awe. I’m no dance expert, but this was some otherworldly shit. And I noticed I wasn’t the only one who thought that, as I sneaked a peek towards Sophia and Alexander who focused on them with a satisfied, almost proud looks on their faces.

“It’s so fascinating, right? They work so well together!” Vera was beaming delightfully next to me. Enthralled by my friend’s performance, I was speechless.

*************

“You guys, that was…. It was…. You were…... Ugh!” System overload, mind blown. Mimicking around my head, I imitated the sound of an explosion as I slumped down on the back seat of Ivan’s car, staring into space. I couldn’t word today, just couldn’t.

They both looked at each other. “Yeah, we truly are the epitome of greatness,” Mina professed with exaggerated brazenness.

“We are the ultimate,” Ivan added.

“Oh, wow. Why, you guys, your modesty is showing.” System reboot with sarcasm. “But seriously now, it was awesome!”

“Thanks.” Mina smiled.

The rain was falling since afternoon, but it wasn’t pouring, only drizzling. It was getting dark as we entered the house and Mina went straight to shower, while I brewed some herbal tea and did what I was thinking about the whole day. Bed, blanky, music, tea, book. Ahhhh, heaven.

Closing my eyes, inhaling the scent of my tea, I focused on the sound of raindrops hitting the windowsill, tumbling over the leaves in the forest. The sound was stronger now. I saw the flash of oncoming thunder far away behind the sea of trees and over the mountain tops illuminating clouds, heavy with rain.

For some sound of thunder and rain were frightening, but I relished it. There was something calm, comforting, pacifying in it. It gave me the same peace the music did.

I woke up abruptly by the sound of something hitting my window, not remembering falling asleep at all. The clock on my nightstand showed it was three in the morning. Unwrapping myself from a blanket burrito I was in, rubbing my eyes, slowly I approached the window. The storm was in full swing now. Wind was blowing hard, carrying leaves and small branches, which was probably what hit my window. The trees in the forest bent and moved like green ocean waves obeying wind’s will.

As my room was facing the backyard, when the next flash of thunder hit, I could have sworn I saw movement between the tree lines in the forest. It was quick, but I was sure whatever it was, it was moving on four legs.

I rubbed my eyes, squinted, pressing my face almost directly on the glass.

Nothing, just… trees.

Then I heard it.

A blood chilling howl. No, howls.

Startled, I backed off a little. What the hell? Are there wolves in these woods? I mean, sure, there could be, right? Wolves live in woods. The howl sounded one more time before thunder struck again and my room door burst open. I jolted and screamed, as a very distraught Mina was standing at the foot of my bed.

“Jeez, woman, you almost gave me a heart attack!” I yelled.

“Sorry! I’m scared of thunder!” Mina shrieked, climbing into my bed, assuming a fetal position and covering herself over her head with my comforter.

I let out a sigh of relief and laid next to her. With each flash and roar of thunder, Mina burrowed closer to me, making noises like a frightened mouse.

“Hey, MinMin… Are there wolves around these parts?” I asked.

She stiffened next to me.

Popping her head out, she looked at me, her eyes searching my face. “Well, maybe. I don’t think so tho. Why?”

“I think I heard them howl in the forest, very close to our house.” I confessed, glimpsing what looked like worry on her face. She swallowed visibly, corners of her lips twitched, and she burst out laughing.

“No way! It must have been the wind. There haven’t been wolves here since who knows when. Don’t worry. No big bad wolf to eat you here!” She moved closer to me, giving me a predatory look, singing the Jaw’s theme as she approached, poking me on my sides, tickling me.

“Stop it! I’ll fall off the bed!” I was laughing hysterically, squirming and sure enough, one second, I was in the bed, the next I was making out with my rug.

“Oh, crap! You ok down there?” Mina peeked over the edge of my bed.

“Sure, am Sherlock. Now move your usurper ass over so I can sleep!”

That night I had a dream.

Wolves were chasing me through the forest, their eyes gleaming in the shadows as they stalked me.

Growls sounded all around me.

I couldn’t outrun them. They were everywhere.

As I ran out of the forest into a meadow covered with red flowers, I hit a furry body, hard as steel, and fell flat on the ground.

Looking up, I saw a shadowy black wolf getting closer to me. All I remembered when I woke up were two shining different colored eyes-one green, one blue- staring down at me. The feeling they gave me was not one of dread, but one of anticipation.

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