Ch 1: Strangers 3

    As expected, I’d ruined my chance at going to the last party before school started. Everyone would be talking about it on Monday, and I was going to be the only one not there. Dale suggested sneaking out, but I declined because I did enjoy what little freedom I had and if I got caught it would be forever before I got it back.

    Things were tense between Mom and I the rest of the day, mostly because I refused to talk to her. I knew I was right and she needed to relax, be more like Dad. I spent most of the day in my room being bored watching TV or playing video games, and after dinner I hit the hay early.

    If there was anything I wanted from this year, it was freedom and a chance to see what I was really made of without Mom getting in the way.

~*~

    Monday arrived sooner than I wanted it too, but as expected everyone was abuzz about Saturday’s party, returning me to my foul mood. After about the tenth time of me glaring at Dale for bringing up how he and Johanna actually danced together and how he knew she was into him, he stopped.

    “Hey, you did it to yourself. I didn’t do anything,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. I sighed and tried not to say anything, mostly because he was right.

    Later on that day, everyone rushed off to class and left me to walk the nearly empty hall alone towards gym. A girl who’d had it last period spread the word about the new ‘activity’ we were doing this year. Dance. It was no longer an elective apparently. I tried not to picture what a fool I was about to make of myself, jumping around and attempting to do flips I had no right or experience doing. After gathering my messenger bag from my blue locker, I continued my walk towards inevitable embarrassment.

    Wind swept through the breezeway, my dirty blonde hair flying into my deep green eyes as a sigh escaped me. Maybe if I was late enough, all the positions would be filled, my mind suggested as I drug myself against my will toward the gym. The thought brought with it several excuses with which to convince the Coach. I had long since given up on wondering why this school had made it mandatory to have four years of gym.

    The perfect lie settling on my lips, I was soon walking through steel double doors, only to find that class had apparently already started. Melodious music was coming from a handheld stereo on the opposite side of the room and beside it sat the Coach. His eyes flicked towards me briefly, before returning to the middle of the room where three couples were dancing in a circle around our mascot’s head, a ferocious Maxville white wolf.

    “Kota,” Someone whispered. Glancing around, I spotted Sue waving me over, her light blonde hair put up into a French braid. “I thought you weren’t going to show up.”

    “I thought about it,” I admitted, then added, “What is this? Don’t tell me we’re going to be learning this.”

    “Ballroom, and yes I think so.” We both winced. I sighed. “I know, but hey, maybe it won’t be so bad.”

    “But why here?” Yes Maxville was a city in Colorado, but a small one compared to our neighbor. Brookstock was nearly twice as large, and the thought of having dancers show up unannounced to teach their students just seemed more likely. We had lived here all our lives and never had I once heard of anything like this happening.

    “I don’t know,” she admitted. “Maybe… Brookstock said no? Or they couldn’t do it?”

    “If they couldn’t do it, then how can we?” I asked, and she shrugged.

    “I don’t know, I was just saying…” She glanced back over to the dancers, and then it hit me.

    “Okay, where is he?” I started scanning the faces of the dancers. That’s the only reason she would be okay with doing something like this.

    She was just about to protest when we heard a hissing sound and looked over to where Coach Bailey sat. He pointed a finger at us and then put it over his lips, a warning in his eyes. We immediately looked back at the dancers.

    All wearing tuxes and gowns, they danced with fluidity the likes of which I’d never seen before. The music seemed to own them; its sweet, slow notes seizing their bodies and bending them as it saw fit. They were all very well muscled and tanned, and upon closer inspection I saw they were also our age. We were all in rapture at their performance.

    “So?” I whispered to her. She raised her eyebrows in question and I added, “who is he?”

    “I don’t know what–” she stopped when she saw my look and finally conceded. “He’s the one dancing with the girl in the green dress.”

    I immediately zeroed in on him and nodded approvingly. He had an angular face that at the same time seemed soft, with short dark brown hair and moss green eyes that were trained on his partner. He held her so gently and a smile played on his lips like he was genuinely enjoying himself. Glancing at Sue, I said, “I like him. He’s cute.”

    “I just hope he’s single. I mean, the way they’re looking at each other…” she trailed off and watched his partner, who was smiling flirtatiously back at him. I knew what she was thinking and I understood. Almost. I mean, sure, all the girl dancers were tall and had more muscle definition than I’d ever seen, their skin was flawless and I could swear they were models, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have anything to compete with. We had muscles, we were both lean and even though we were short we had always had pretty good game when it came to the opposite sex.

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