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Sleeping Beauty (Part 4) This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

After that, Jenna and Rafi were friends. Rafi was ashamed to admit to Jenna that he hadn’t just been “passing by”, that he had watched her dance every night for years. And so, he didn’t. They talked about other things: school, friends, who was dating whom, their favorite bands, and other meaningless things. They never talked about that night. It was an unspoken thread between them, an untold connection. Both of them knew, neither of them said. She did seem frailer nowadays. The chemo was taking its effect. They would walk by the dance studio sometimes and she would stare at her reflection in the old windows. Sometimes a lone tear would drift done her cheek. He imagined loosing something he loved so much and couldn’t. He let her hold his hand, her fingernails digging into his palm to leave marks for days. Then they would leave to go do Calculus problems, to plot strange shapes on square graphing paper, when all either of them could imagine was the soft twirling of thoughts and music and dance spinning in reflective light.

It was raining the week after her operation, when he went to visit her. He parked his car in the hospital lot. Walking through the large lot, he passed other people. He wondered what their story was, what their fairy tale ending was. Who close to them was hurt? How were they hurt? Why were they hurt? At the front door of the hospital he paused, and took a deep breath. He pressed the wheelchair button, and entered. He didn’t feel handicapped. He felt very much alive. He walked past the front desk, past old women in wheelchairs, past young women who had just given birth, past young children who had just endured surgery. In the elevator, he thought he maybe left his heart behind. Or some of his internal organs. He felt so empty, so high. The elevator was rising, up and up to the eighth floor. The elevator doors parted for him, and he walked down carpeted hallways where no one could hear his footsteps. The halls smelled like an awful mix between chemicals and medication; they reaked of death. He knocked on the door of room 809. A nurse answered the door and let him in, then left quietly.
It was midday and it had stopped raining. Weak sunlight streamed through the blinds. He was afraid to look. He stared at the particles of light as they made their way through the glass. He stood there for a while, just absorbing the magnificence of sunlight. He took a step forward. One, slow step. Quickly, he looked down. She was pale, so pale. Her eyes were closed. Her remaining hair lay sprawled on the white deflated pillow. Her red lips were smiling ever so slightly, perhaps she was dreaming. He smiled back. He took her clammy hand, kissed her on the forehead, and left. That night, she danced in his dreams.



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