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“Hitch kick Cherish, I said hitch kick! And you call that a pirouette? Are you serious? Get that leg straight! If you want to go to nationals you better get this routine right or you are out of there and they are going to spit you out so quickly! You call that dancing? Let’s go, do it again.” Lilly Michaels threw her hands up in frustration.
I slid my sweaty palms to my waist as I gasped for air. This woman was absolutely brutal with the criticism. I went through the same treatment everyday after school, getting yelled at and being told I wasn’t good enough during dance practice. Most of the time I went home in tears. I wanted to make Nationals, be one of the best dancers in the nation. I wanted it more than anyone could ever imagine and I put my heart and soul into dancing.
The thing I loved about dancing was that you could do it on your own. You didn’t need to depend on anyone else but yourself. I didn’t need to be on a squad or have to depend on my teammates to do what was needed to be done. It was just me. Most of the time I felt so alone and depressed and dancing really took all of that away as cliché as it sounds. My dad died when I was young and my mother put me up for adoption abandoning me. My friends really couldn’t care less so I guess you couldn’t even consider them friends. Either way it was my passion, but to be told you weren’t good enough and could never get anything right really takes a serious toll on your self esteem and right now it was hitting me hard. I was about to tell this women to “F” off but I held my tongue.
“I am doing the best I can. I am so tired.” I complained sliding down into a perfect split onto the hard dance floor lying on my back.
“You are tired? Really? When you lose Nationals just tell them you were too tired. You didn’t work hard enough. You didn’t earn it”--At this point I had had enough with this woman. Who needed her? I knew the routine. I knew when I was doing it right or not.
“I am working so hard so don’t tell me who is working hard or not. You are just barking out orders and nothing you ever say is ever halfway decent to say or even a compliment. Just rude remarks. I work my butt off and if I don’t make it, I am going to blame you. Want to know why? Because you are absolutely driving me freaking crazy! You know the routine so well, do it yourself. Let me see you do it perfectly.” With that the women threw her clipboard against the wall angrily. I jumped as it made it a large clinking noise against the painted steel wall. She took off of her sweatshirt, hit PLAY and began dancing.
Never in all my years of dancing had I ever seen someone dance so beautifully with such passion and grace. I began to feel bad for saying the things I did but I began to realize it was only because she really did know what she was doing. My anger faded as no words were exchanged and she gestured me to the dance floor for my turn with a smirk upon her face. She knew she had done well and it kind of annoyed me honestly. But never the less she hit PLAY and I gave it all I had. After I performed it I fell to the floor exhausted. I was inspired.
“Perfection.” She said smiling. She pointed to me, “See you need to use that aggression and anger you have and dance with it. I don’t mean to be rude to you but I know what a good dancer you are and what you can and can not do. I am hard on you because I know how much you want this and I don’t want you to be disappointed and not make it because you didn’t try hard enough. Enough with this lecture, do the routine again.” She said with a slight smile.
After dance practice was over I slide into my car seat with a huge smile on my face. Finally one dance practice out of the many of them that I had that I didn’t feel down and upset with myself. I could do this.
As I began to head home I decided to catch a bite to eat at the local diner. As I made the intersection flashing bright lights swarmed my eyes and suddenly everything went numb and black.
* * *
“No! No!” I woke up abruptly instantly realizing where I was. I had cords and wires hooked all over me in a hard bed. I was covered with a blanket and actually quite chilly. As I lifted the blanket off of body as I saw that my right leg was in a cast and my left arm. A nurse rushed into the hospital room to see what all the commotion was about.
“Cherish! Are you ok?” She rushed to my side as she noticed my heart beginning to pace that was clearly displayed on one of the screens attached to me.
“My leg! I can’t dance! No!” My eyes welled up with large tears and I began screaming and crying. The Nationals were my everything and there was no way in one week these casts were coming off.
“Calm down sweetie! It is ok! You are ok!” She said trying to hold my hand, the only hand I could move as I swung it around in anger.
“I can’t dance now! Look at me!” I screamed at her with mascara filled tears. Just like that everything was taken away from me. I tried to catch my breath as I buried my hand in my hand.
Why me? I thought. Lilly came rushing into the hospital room.
“Oh Cherish!” She said running to my side as my tears began to pour.
“I am so sorry.” I said softly. Just like that my hopes and dreams were taken away from me.
“Are you OK? She asked me giving me the saddest, “I feel so sorry for you” face which made me feel that much worse. The nurse knew this was her queue to leave.
“Nationals Lilly! I won’t be able to dance, I worked so hard!” I told her.
“Cherish, Nationals are the last thing on my mind and should be the last thing on yours. You need to get better. Your mother is talking to the doctor right now and the women who hit you is in the room next door to you. She is in a coma.” My heart sank down to my ankles.
“Apparently she fell asleep at the wheel and went into your lane. You are much luckier than she is right now.”
“Who is she?” I asked.
“Go in that room and see for yourself.” She answered, “I will be right back I am going to go get you something decent to eat.” After she left I pushed the emergency button on my bed for the nurse. The nurse came running in.
“Yes, Cherish?” She asked.
“I want to see the girl in the next room. The one that hit me.”
“She is resting. I wouldn’t want to bother her and I am not sure that is such a good idea she is in a pretty awful state.” The nurse probably thought I was going to jump her or something. I was in a wheelchair. Seriously how much damage could I really do at this point?
“I want to see her.” I said firmly wanting to see the person who stole my dreams right from underneath me. The nurse after several minutes managed to get me in my wheelchair and into the girls room.
“Would you like me to leave you two alone?” She asked. I nodded my head. There was a jacket on the chair next to her bed. It was bright blue with silver stars all over it and at the top it read DANCER. Suddenly I felt someone watch me as I watched the girl in the room just lay there motionless. She has beautiful blonde locks that were matted to her sweaty forehead with cuts and bruises all over her fragile body.
“She was going to Nationals you know? For dance? She wanted it so badly. It was her everything.” I turned to see her mother standing at the door with tears in her eyes sobbing loudly. Shockingly I began to cry again. With my one good hand I rolled my wheelchair next to her bed and took the girls swollen hand into mine. For the first time in a long time I realized that I wasn’t alone.