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Dance Changes Everything

By , Inver Grove Heights, MN
“God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”, the radio softly whispered.

“I’m ready mom”, I told her as I walked down the stairs. She must already be in the car with my brother Tommy. As I open the door cold wind shivers up my spine. I quickly run to the car. When I open that door a warm breeze pulls me in.

“God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”, the radio said again.

My mom turned the radio down so all you could hear was the slight murmur of the radio buzzing.

“Leila?” she started, ”Do you want to go to Doug’s house this weekend with Tommy?"

“No”, I said immediately,”If I’m not going neither is Tommy.”

“Why can’t Tommy go?”

“ Dad might not bring him back on time.”

”It’s fine I don’t have to go.” Tommy blurted.

The rest of the car ride was silent mom never likes to talk about her ex-husband. I never do either; just the thought of losing Tommy to a mean, annoying man just makes me sick.

I run to the door and quickly walk in. I walk up the stairs and on my way in I greet my teammates.

The dance room is always nice. The light hardwood floors are always clean and shiny. The walls burst out our team name. The mirrors on the wall show our sweaty reflection with nothing smudged.

“Alright, get your tennis shoes on and run two laps”, Coach Sarah said,” Leila can you come here for a moment?”

I walked slowly into her office hoping I wouldn’t have to run.

“Are you able to learn a solo in two days?”

“ Um… Yea I can try”

It’s always been my dream to have a solo in one of our dances.

“Ok meet me in the hallway after you run.”

Darn. I have to run. Oh well, at least I have a solo. After my run I meet Sarah in the hall. I wonder what my solo is.

“How many alas cones can you do?”

“I don’t know. Like eight.”

“Can you do a leap out of them?”

“Yea but I’ll need to practice it.”

“Try it.”
I prepped for my turn stationing my feet down. My leg comes up and I’m switching my spot that I look at. My spot has changed four times now it is time to leap out of it. My foot slips from out from under me and I fall on my butt. That’s not what I was looking for.
“Are you ok?”
“Yea. I’m fine”
“ That was good. Now try to keep that foot from slipping right before you jump,” Sarah said, “Keep trying I’ll be back out in a bit.”
“Ok”

On my third and fourth try I landed on my butt. Again. On my fifth try I landed it perfectly.
“How is it going?”
“I got it. What part is this in place of?”
“When we go in a circle and bend down on the floor.”
“Ok”
I walked back into the room. We got into our places and the music started.
Everyone was looking good. Everything was sharp. We were getting closer to my solo. Then as soon as I knew it we were right there. I was telling myself it ok you have done this before. I landed. On my butt. Again. But I just got up and kept going.
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When I got home my brother greeted me with a big hug.
“I love you”, he said.
“I love you too”, I replied,” Is dad here?”
“Yea”
“Do you know why?”
“Yea, he came to discuss who gets what and sign the dang papers.”
“He is in the office right?”
“Yep”
Good if I go to my room then I’ll be the farthest away from him. Then I won’t hear then if they start to yell. If it even gets to that point.
I run to my room and jump on my bed. I quickly grab my IPod, turn on the music and shove my ear buds in my ears. Just like that I start to fall asleep.
“Wake up”, Tommy yelled, “Its time too eat and dad is still here. He decided he wouldn’t make it home in time for him to make something and still be able to do work.”
“Darn.”
Tommy and I walk down the stairs together. Everyone is quiet. We say our prayers. Then start to eat. Of course dad is the one to start the conversation.
“Well how were all of your days?”
“Fine.” We answer simultaneously.
“Well this weekend Tommy and I are going to a movie”, Doug said.
“No I never agreed to that”
Mom gave him the "oh yes you are" look.

“I think you should go”, mom said.

“Fine. As long as it is not on Friday because I’m going to Leila’s dance competition.”
The rest of the dinner was silent. Dad finally went. All of us were exhausted from a day of dad and went to bed.
I woke up to my alarm clock screaming at me. I drag myself out of bed and get dressed. I go downstairs and eat a bagel and a bowl of fruit loops. I grab my two bags; my dance bag and my school bag. I walk into the cold and wait for the bus. After a minute Tommy walks out. When the bus comes I him aside and laugh. Its always are little joke to do that. I get on the bus and sit by some random person I don’t know.
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During dance I start to think about what the consular told me. I realize what good things she has always said to me. It was during fourth hour. I got called down as usual. I have been going there for a while. It’s helped me with the divorce and all. This time we were talking about how I thought that my dad was going to try and take Tommy away from me. She said that no matter what happens if you love him that much don’t let him go. Think about ways you could resolve this with your dad or a way to save him from his fiery wrath. I’ve been thinking about it all day. The best way that I thought of so far was to confront him about it and see what he says.
“Tennis shoes on,” The coach said,” Two laps”
I waited for my team. When we were all there we started off. After we stretched and worked on our moves. I nailed my alas cones every time.
*
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When I got home I decided to call my dad. Ring………….. Ring…………….Ring…
“Hello?”
“Um… hi dad its me.”
“What’s up?”
“Um. Well about Tommy.”
“Yea what about him?”
“Just let me speak”
“Fine go”
“I don’t want you to……… take him”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t take him with you after the divorce”
“You are not the one to decide what I do and don’t do”
“Well what if I don’t want a mean person like you taking my brother”
“Don’t say that to me missy. That is no way to talk to your father”
“Your not my father. That I the way I am going to talk to you”
“You should be grounded for talk to your father like that”
“Once again your not my father”
Then he hung up. Real mature Doug. Real mature.
“Tommy,” I yelled,” can you come here?”
“What is it?”
“I have a feeling that Doug wants to take custody of you. I just talked to him on the phone. He said that I wasn’t the one to tell him what to do.”
“Well I don’t want to go with him anyways.”
“I don’t think you can go against that”
“Yea”

I need to listen to music. Our conversation was pounding in my head. I couldn’t think. Yet again I drifted off to sleep. No one woke me up. So I slept over dinner. I finally woke up at seven. There was a plate, still warm, on my bedside table. My stomach was grumbling like crazy. I stuffed everything down my throat and even licked the plate. I was so tired after that that I fell back asleep. That is until my alarm clock woke me up with a mini heart attack.

Doing the same thing I do every morning I head out to the bus stop. The cold sending shivers up my spine. I don’t have a dance bag today to keep me warm. Dance is later.

After a boring day of school I take the smelly bus home. Tommy sits next to me and we talk about what to do for a game. We decide on sorry.

“I’ll race you there”
“I’m going to beat you”
“Its on”
The door opens and Tommy races out. I’m right behind him. With every step in the snow I sink. I’m right behind him now and almost to the door. I touch the door and a second later he does to. I open it and burst in. I slow down by stairs.
“Ha I win!”
“Ok fine you win”
“Let’s go play Sorry”
After Tommy beat me in two games of Sorry. I had to get ready for dance. I grabbed a bagel and eat it on the way to my room. I put on my pink sparkly booty shorts and a black tank top. I grabbed my dance bag. Walked down the stairs to wait for my mom on the couch.

When she arrived Tommy and I ran into the cold. We have to bring Tommy to the bowling alley. He has to go and bowl while I dance. After Tommy went I waited in the car for a few then ran inside to the dance room.
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“How was practice?”

“Boring”

“Oh nothing new?” Doug asked.

“Mom? Why is he here?”

“He wanted to talk to me about the conversation that you guys had last night. Plus he needed a ride home from work.”

I rolled my eyes. Of course he went to mom. He tries so hard to get her to like him and look up to him.

“Well, am I grounded?”

“No”, Mom said.

“What? Doug said, “why not?”

“She didn’t do anything wrong. Now leave. It’s time for you to go home.”

He got out and walked away. It was only five and dad was already mad.

“Mom? I have to be at school by six.”

“Ok”
*
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After eating and packing I was on the bus. We were going for the State Tournament. State is were you go to the excel or target center and you compete for the championship of the state. We just perform our dance then if we win we get our picture taken with a banner and a trophy. We also get metals for each of us.

The whole ride there I’m wide-awake. There is no possible way that I could fall asleep. Plus the ride is only 20 minutes.

When we got there we got our roommates and went to our rooms. My roommate was Destine’e one of my good friends. While we waited for dinner we took pictures and played games. When dinner came I wasn’t hungry but I ate anyway. We had cheese pizzas. After we ate we went to our rooms and hung out for a bit until ten. The coaches came in and took our phones away. They let us keep our IPods. We stayed up until eleven.
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The coaches came in and woke us up at seven. They said to get up and pack your stuff so when we are done we can leave right away. Then grab the stuff you need for the competition. Destine’e was still asleep. I pushed her off the bed.

“What?” she said.

“Get up”

“I’m up,” she said as she was getting up.

We got ready and went to breakfast. At breakfast we had waffles and bagels. We went to get our stuff for the competition. Then we went to the team room with the seniors.

“Hey do you want to go and get a smoothie?” I ask Destine’e.

“Yea”

“Hey”, a voice says.

I turn around to see my dad standing there.

“Destine’e can you buy me a strawberry smoothie?”

“Yep”, she says.

“About what you said on the phone. I just wanted to say that I overreacted, but I still think it’s only fair that I get Tommy. It will take a burden off you.”
“First of all Tommy is not a burden. I love him. Why wouldn’t I?-
“Well-
“No let me speak. I let you. Just saying that Tommy’s a burden makes me want to punch you. Tommy deserves best and that’s not going to happen when he is with you. He doesn’t even want t go with you.”
“The only reason he doesn’t is because you poisoned him with your words.”
“I did not posion him. He loves me not you that’s why he listens to me. I didn’t want him to carry the burden of you. With the divorce and all I pretty much became the dad in the family.”
“I wasn’t the burden. I gave you guys everything. All your mom did was boss us around.”
“She never did that. She worked her butt off. Then came home to your nagging and how you needed money.”
“I never asked her for money.”
“Bull crap.”
“Leila we have to go”, Destine’e said.
“Bye Doug.”
“He wants to take Tommy away again?”
“Yea”
I stop and take a sip. My head feels like it’s on fire. I need to just calm down.
I take three deep breaths and walk into the room. It was time to visualize our dance before we go out and dance. We all sit down in a circle and hold hands. The coach turns on the music. I see myself on the floor dancing my butt off. The music stops and we head out. I watch the dance that is on the floor. They are really good, but they are Triple A, we are Double A.

We walk onto the floor and the crowd roars with cheers. We get into our places. The music starts up and every move so far is perfect. Everyone was doing well. We were nearing my solo. We were in the formation. I stationed myself done. My leg came up. The crowd was silent. I was to the right now the left. I was facing forward. I was about to jump. I was in the air. I landed it! The crowd roars with thousands of cheers. I’m so happy. The whole routine was perfect.

We walk off with the crowd in awe.

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At Awards we wait for the results. They announce the third and second places. First is announced. It’s us!

My dad comes up to me and says that we can keep Tommy. I never saw him again after that.




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