À la quatrième
Melody repeated the mantra in her head as she performed each step. She stared at herself in the mirror as she performed each step- it was just her and the music- or the melody. She rolled her eyes at her name- it was too cliché.
Melody’s bangs were sticking to her forehead and a few brown strands were coming out of her bun. Her complexion had become paler over the days and her brown eyes held bags while her lips were chapped and in dire need of a lip balm. Her ballet shoes looked as if a dog had chewed them and didn’t like the taste so had instead spat them out and her leotard had many food stains on it. She didn’t even care anymore.
“My dog can stretch its legs better than yours!”
“That is not a twirl! That’s just jumping from one end to the other”
“Ashley, are you a cat? No? Then stop lazing around and dance properly!”
Melody’s dance teacher, Miss Rosaline was many things; one of those things was being a perfectionist and making the girls dance until they were all in perfect synchrony. If she wanted something, she got it and what she wanted right now, was every single girl present in the dance studio to dance flawlessly. Melody however did not approve of her teaching methods at all.
Yes, dancing in synch was important but whenever Melody danced at the dance studio she felt caged and dance was not supposed to make you feel caged; dance was supposed to give you wings so that you could soar through the skies- your skies in your own world. Melody danced to let go, to feel, to be completely lost in the beat of the song, not be forced to dance until her feet started to bleed and became numb from it all!
“Good work Melody” Miss Rosaline said loud enough for the rest of the struggling dancers to hear.
Melody was Miss Rosaline’s pet and as much as she hated to admit it, she was the star in every performance. She was the one who got all the praise and the bouquets while the other girls were noticed just as much as the pair of shoes at the back of the shoe cupboard.
It wasn’t Melody’s fault that dancing was in her blood! Why, if she had a choice then she would have left dancing ages ago- well, the dancing taught by Miss Rosa of course. But she didn’t have a choice because being the daughter of Miss Rosaline didn’t always have its perks.
“If you show me this sloppy work again then our show will be in ruins!” Miss Rosaline shouted at one of Melody’s friends. Lily automatically burst into tears; this was the third time she had been shouted at by Melody’s mother and all in the same day too.
“Can’t you ever-” Miss Rosa was cut off by the stereo getting knocked off from the table it was perched on and falling onto the wooden floor with a smash. Everyone turned around to look at the culprit.
The culprit was a boy in his early twenties or so with sandy hair and chocolate brown eyes. He was very tall and gave off a laidback vibe and a fair complexion.
“This… is not my class” he said once he saw everyone in leotards and ballet shoes. Before the boy could sneak out of the room, Miss Rosaline started shouting at him and Melody felt pity for the boy.
After a while, Miss Rosaline dismissed the boy and told all the girls to take a break while a handyman brought in a new stereo. The boy rushed out of the studio and Melody picked up her bag and followed suit.
All Melody needed now was to get to her car and then she would be free to do whatever she wanted.
“Hey wait up!” she heard the boy call out. He was running towards her.
“I’m Michael” he said out of breath.
“Melody” she said with a small smile.
The two strangers who knew nothing but each other’s names, walked towards the parking lot.
“That old hag was just the worst- am I right?” Michael said with a laugh and Melody clenched her jaw in anger.
“That old hag is my mother” she admitted and a faint red crept up his cheeks.
“Sorry” he apologized as he rubbed his neck awkwardly.
“Whatever. It was an honest mistake” she said as she unlocked her car’s door.
“Do you want to go on an adventure?” Michael blurted out.
“Excuse me?” Michael seemed very weird in Melody’s opinion but she didn’t voice it.
“Well, all you’re going to do after dodging the rest of your class is go home, right?” he asked her and she nodded. “We both want to get out of this place so why don’t we go somewhere better? What do you say” he suggested and she stayed lost in thought for a while.
Would it even be safe? What about her mother?
“I’m in” she declared and she got into his car and watched as her new acquaintance drove the car away from the studio and onto the open road.
The scene in front of them was like one painted in a children’s book:
People were walking from stall to stall, hands holding bags filled with goods they had bought, people with their families, teenagers in big groups and the few people who were by themselves soaking in everything with big smiles just like Melody.
Michael had brought Melody to a fair which the city held annually in every summer.
“Hey, can I ask you a question?” Michael asked as the two munched on their popcorn and slurped their slushies.
“Sure” she said as they approached the Ferris wheel. She threw her finished drink into the bin and they both paid for their ride. They both got into the seat, an excited smile on Melody’s face.
“Well, why did you come with me to the fair? I mean I’m sure your mother told you not to take rides from strangers- even if they are devilishly handsome” Michael asked and Melody sighed.
“I went because I was in the mood for adventure obviously” she replied calmly, her legs dangling from the cart which was getting farther away from the ground.
“I’m not joking around about this Melody” he said in a calm tone and she sighed in response as she racked her brains for a witty response.
“At times, it’s better to vent to a stranger than someone you know well” she said.
“I can assure you that I’m a good listener” he suggested and Melody bit her lip in consideration. Perhaps she could tell him?
“I can’t take all the pressure that my mother puts on me. Every single day when I have to dance I just lose a little bit more of myself because the way she’s making me dance- it’s not making me feel anything! It’s not letting me breathe; it’s keeping me caged and I need freedom. That’s why I started dancing in the first place- to be free and the only way I could do that was to dance but my mother wants everything to be on the dot perfect and I- I can’t do perfect because that’s not real. In that perfect performance that she wants, I won’t feel anything! My heartbeat won’t get fast, I won’t be nervous and I won’t be happy- I’ll be blank; I’ll be a caged bird who was meant to soar into the sky and never return yet here I am, on the ground, miserable as ever. What’s worse is that I’m scared that if I don’t dance the way she wants, then the pedestal that I stand on in her eyes will decrease. I don’t want that. I don’t want her to get disappointed in me” she ranted. She let out a breath.
“I don’t know you or your mother that well but as far as human relations go, I can assure you that your mother is not disappointed in you Melody. The reason she makes you dance so much is because she sees potential in you and you’ve got a lot of it. Every bird falls on the first few tries and only learns how to spread its wings and fly once it falls ever so often. You’ll get your chance to fly soon. You just have to tell your mother what you told me, I’m sure she’ll understand” he replied but Melody stayed quiet.
The ride had come to an end and Michael drove her back to her studio.
Michael was leaving his cooking class when a certain poster caught his attention:
7th May 2015
At: 8 pm.
Performing: Melody Rein
Choreographer: Melody Rein
Proud Mother: Rosaline Rein
Don’t miss the magnificent Melody!