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The door creaks as I open it, the cool metal chilling my hand for the briefest of moments before I let it fall shut behind me with a dull thud. I inhale deeply, a reflex. Warm air, leather and canvas and old musty shoes.
The floor under my feet is treacherous; errant clumps of melting snow have fallen off of eager boots belonging to children and adults alike. I tread carefully over the wet tile, trailing a hand over the violet walls, prepared for when the paint ends, abruptly replaced by the uplifted wood of the corkboard that spans the rest of the corridor. It bears formal announcements, important dates and handmade cards on eight-point-five-by-eleven paper drawn by eager hands with pen and pencil.
There’s no one sitting in the little office presently, so I pass by unnoticed, tile turning to purple carpet, heading for the familiar white door in the back, thrown wide open. The worn wooden benches greet me silently, none matching another as they sit pushed up against the wall. I drop my bag on my favourite one, kicking my shoes off into the cubbyhole beneath it, and hanging my jacket on the crooked hook above it.
Strains of familiar piano music float down from upstairs, interrupted by an occasional good-natured yell: an emphasised count or a correction, sometimes a babble -- da da dum da dum da di -- incoherent to those who do not speak the language. I smile to myself and sit carefully on the old bench -- permanently wobbly; one never knows when they’ll find themselves deposited on the speckled grey tile floor, their belongings strewn around them.
I pull my bag into my lap and unzip it to pull out worn canvas shoes; once a soft pink colour, now a faded, scuffed grey and permeated with the familiar yet still less-than-pleasant scent that comes with sweaty, tired feet. I pull them over my feet; left and right indicated by the build-up of dirt along the toe, the crossed elastics falling into their usual place over my tights -- a permanent x-shape always paler than the rest of the soft, stretchy fabric.
I stand up, pushing my belongings to the side, and pad over to the door, back along the corridor until I reach my destination. Just another simple door: white paint, round golden knob. I pull it open with a practised amount of strength -- just enough to
un-stick it, not enough to let it slam. I stand in the doorway for a moment, relishing the familiarity of the room. White floors with grey speckles and tap-shoe scuffs; the mirror-wall, bits of tape still stuck to the top from the paper-cover needed for exams; the piano in the corner, some keys without a cover; the stubborn stereo beside it, often the victim of many choice words spoken under breath; and the wooden, painted pink prop piano, tired silver streamers hanging lopsidedly around its perimeter.
I let the door close softly behind me and stride across the room, to the mirror-wall. I brush my hand against the green painted barre and sigh, feeling all my tension drip right off of me, pooling at my feet and slithering away, under the crack of the door to join the muddy puddles outside.
Soft shreds of the piano adage playing upstairs cradle me like a blanket as I close my feet into fifth position, take a deep breath …and begin to dance, letting the music carry me where it likes.





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