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When the Sun Sets (part 7)
I hear the door of the locker room open. A set of footsteps approach this row of lockers. It’s Rochelle, in my, now, sweaty body. She gasps, covering her mouth with her hands. I hook the necklace around my neck
“Michelle!” she screams in shock. “You look beautiful! How’d you do this without my help?”
“I used one of the Seventeen magazines over there.” I pointed to the sinks, smiling.
“Here let me help you with that.” Rochelle slides the crystal comb in front of the bun in my hair. “There.”
“Thanks.” I say. “So what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be practicing?” I look at the clock, 6:30.
“No, we just finished up. I just came back here to get my brush.” Did I really take that long getting ready? Rochelle takes it out of the locker. “I’ll head back to the dressing room, then.”
“Can you come meet me outside of the auditorium before the show?”
“Sure, I’ll be there.” She walks out of the locker room.
I clean up and walk out of the locker room to find if Mom, Hazel and the boys. We find each other outside the building. Mom and Hazel gush about how lady-like I look. Marco acknowledges it too. I catch Tucker staring at me; he lends me his arm and escorts me inside the gigantic theater. None of them seemed to notice I am in Rochelle’s body.
It is 7:20 p.m. I leave my seat for a moment to visit Rochelle outside. I exit the theater through the double doors. I notice her doing small stretches.
“Hey!” she spots me.
“Hey, I just wanted to wish you good luck in there. You’re gonna be great.” I hug my sister.
“You know, you should stretch more often. Your arms and legs are not so flexible.” She releases me.
It’s not fair for Rochelle to dance in my body. She does her best work in her own. I can see the disappointment in her eyes. I just wish she had her own body back.
Abruptly, it happens. I feel it. Like, my soul is being set free from the cage that is this foreign body of my sister’s. And as quickly as the sun sets, we’re back in our own bodies. We catch our breaths.
“Michelle?” Rochelle’s own voice in her own body asks me.
“Rochelle!” I cry out. “We’re back!”
We both squeal with delight, jumping up and down.
“Now I can dance as best as I can!” Rochelle speaks.
“Not in my ensemble you can’t!” I point out I’m wearing Cinderella’s first costume and she is in my silky back party dress. We rush to the girl’s locker room to switch outfits.
Rochelle takes off my dress and hands it to me. I take the leotard, tights, peasant dress and apron off and give it to her. We slip into our rightful garments. I brush my hair into a bun and she does the same. I help her tie the bonnet around her head, as she slides the hair comb into place in front of my bun. We take one last look in the mirror and head to our places. Rochelle in her body, on stage. Michelle in hers, in the audience.
Seven-thirty arrives. The grand drape rises and Cinderella begins to dance. All over the stage, the characters do a series of pirouettes, plies, and tendus. Their arms and legs, so graceful. Their feet, exactly on point. The moves performed, poised and refined.
Rochelle is really a great dancer; I guess I just never took the time to actually appreciate how great she is. And maybe that was what this whole switching-situation was about. To appreciate what you’ve got. Be grateful for an incredible sister. Be grateful for the body you have. Be grateful that you won’t have to go through what my sister and I just did. After seeing something from someone else’s point of view, you’ll learn to love what you have.
The prince and Cinderella share a final kiss and the grand drape falls to end the ballet. The audience applauds and gives a standing ovation. Friends and family of the cast are now allowed backstage. Mom, Hazel, Marco, Tucker and I depart from the crowd exiting the building and go find Rochelle.
An explosion of compliments fills the air when we reach my sister.
“Good job, honey!” Mom hugs her.
“I am so proud of you, darling!” Hazel puts her arm around Rochelle.
“You were beautiful, Ro.” Marco kisses her cheek and hands her a small bouquet of flowers.
“That was a great show. You can dance!” Tucker gently socks her arm.
“Thank you so much, guys!” Rochelle’s face lights up.
“How about we all go out for dinner once Rochelle’s done cleaning up?” Hazel offers. Tucker, Marco and I howl with enthusiasm at the thought of food. The adults and the guys leave to bring the car around front. I stay with Rochelle.
“I’m proud of you, Ro.” I hug my sister tight.
“Thanks, Michelle. I’m glad you came to support me. It means a lot you would dress up and watch me dance for two hours.”
“Yeah, it’s no big deal.”
“No, it’s a huge deal.” She pulls back from me, serious. “I feel like we don’t spend enough time with each other.”
I realize she’s right. How are we supposed to really appreciate each other?
“Okay, we’ll start now.” I say. Rochelle grabs her dance bag. We hook arms and walk out of the Anaheim Ballet to the van where our boyfriends and family await us.
You don’t know when good things will happen. Like, ending a bad relationship. You don’t know when bad things will happen. Like, a loved one dying. And you definitely don’t know if ever, you will switch bodies with your twin sister. But you always know when the sun will set.