Trigger Warning: implied sexual assault
Dear Diary, today we began dress rehearsals for Star of the Gods. Ella and I had been dancing together for months non-stop. I was now a principal dancer which made me really happy. But Ella, well, she was no Julie. With every dance step I took, I was reminded that it would be Ella, not Jules I would be lifting. Jules, despite what she thought of herself, was easy to lift. Even when we’d been rehearsing hard, she still smelled so good. What I missed the most, though, was how kind she was. Jules would never dream of acting the way Ella does.
In her own way, I guess, Ella tried to sympathize, yet she also wanted me to “get over” this. Need I mention I didn’t want to work with her in the first place? I think I’m probably just as self-absorbed as she is – I mean, I’m kind of obsessed about working out – but Ella takes her attitude to a whole new level. Take what happened last week as an example. We were in a full dress rehearsal, costumes and all, running through the production the way we would if we had an audience. Ella wanted all the limelight and she kept missing her marks in order to always be in front of me. I honestly don’t know why she hasn’t been fired.
“All right, Ella, Holden,” Myung said, “this has all come together quite nicely. Holden, that last turn out should be quicker. Ella, I need you to put more power into your Arabesques.”
Ella rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything. Which was most likely the best thing to do. My mom always told me, “Never miss an opportunity to shut up.”
“So, will I be dancing in this particular mask?”
Aiden Minton, the artistic director, had been watching us rehearse. Now he turned toward me and said, “That is the mask, yes. You are a god, seeking the brightest star in the universe – ”
” – That’s me,” Ella interrupted with a wide grin. “I’m the star.”
I had the awkward feeling she wasn’t talking about the synopsis of the ballet. She was letting me know where my place was. Everyone who ever participated in or watched our rehearsals knew she was a diva. It did aggravate me to some extent but on the other hand, I shrugged it off.
Who cares what she thinks anyway? I reminded myself. I was determined not to be baited, so instead worked on much of my choreography myself before we were supposed to meet on stage for a run through.
Myung had already turned the conversation back to my original question. “That’s the mask you’re supposed to wear, yes.”
“It’s just that I can’t see anything – my whole left side is the only thing open.”
“I wear a mask, too, and you don’t see me complaining,” Ella said.
Diary, I think my descendants might get the wrong idea here. That last thing is actually something Ella said, but when I read this back to myself, I realized it makes her sound super snarky. Believe it or not, there was no malice behind what she said. The more I got to know her, the more I realized this whole “speak now, think about it later” thing was a part of her personality.
“I’ll see what the costume department thinks about your mask. I agree, there is a safety issue here,” Aiden said. “Meanwhile, what I would really like is to see some of your numbers on the stage,” Aiden said.
Unfortunately, that turned out to be a bad mistake.
“Dude! What happened to you?” Chris asked as Ella and I finally got home.
” I broke both wrists. Do you like the casts? I had a choice between blue and pink.”
“No way! Start at the beginning.”
“There isn’t much to tell. I was trying to make my grand jete awesome and – ”
” – he fell off the stage!” Ella said, attempting to hide her laugh.
“It happens,” I mumbled, as my cheeks turned red.
“Is this going to lay you up? How are you going to dance?” Chris asked. I wasn’t pleased with having both arms in casts, but it was nice that Chris was concerned.
“I won’t be laid up at all. Sure, it smarts right now but the doctor gave me a script for a pain reliever. I already took one. Ella was kind enough to go with me to the emergency department and bring me home.”
Christopher’s eyes narrowed as he regarded me. I already knew he was upset because he was calling everyone “dude.”
I flashed my biggest ‘I’m fine‘ smile at him. “It’s really no big deal, okay? It was a stupid accident, that’s all. I’m supposed to go back to the orthopedic doctor in a couple days so they can check out the casts again. The doctor said I’ll need new casts once the swelling goes down. I can still dance, my legs aren’t broken. I just won’t be as expressive without the use of my wrists and hands, though.”
“How long will you have to be in casts?” Chris asked.
“They said six weeks. Which is good because that gives me a little time to get my strength back up before our production of Star of the Gods hits the stage.”
“Dude, I can’t believe you fell off the stage.”
This was getting more embarrassing by the minute. I was beginning to feel the effects of the pain pill I took, so all I wanted to do was fall asleep.
“I’ve gotta run,” Chris said. “I’m already late. But, hey, if there’s anything you need me to pick up for you, let me know.”
Chris shrugged. “She’s with your parents on some kind of trip. I think she’ll be gone for several days because she packed way too much to stay for only a couple nights.”
Chris still didn’t have a clue when it came to Rosetta. Instead of explaining to him that my sister would pack way more clothes than she needed to even if she was only planning on being away for one night, I merely nodded.
“You look wiped,” Chris said as if noticing for the first time.
“I’ll make sure he has something to eat and gets some rest,” Ella said.
Once Chris was satisfied, he left for work.
“Thanks for everything.”
“You don’t have to thank me,” she said.
Was it me or did she seem more chill than usual?
I took a step toward the staircase and nearly toppled over. Just as I was about to fall, Ella was there, her arms wrapped around me. It only took a moment before I regained my balance. Ella snaked her arms around me and I held her back. She was warm and smelled really good, like lilacs…
Hours must have gone by but I wasn’t sure about how many. I was so comfortable, I didn’t want to open my eyes. Gradually, I began to realize I wasn’t alone. I smiled a little, thinking about how great it was having Fletcher back in my arms. I missed him so much, last night’s dream seemed real. I lightly caressed his arms, up and then down, feeling how toned they now were. Perhaps he had finally started taking my advice to work out, because he had definitely slimmed down, with muscles that were so much sleeker. Breathing in his scent, I remembered how much I loved the cologne he always wore, Christian Dior Sauvage for Men. It was spicy, clean and crisp. Taking another big breath, I sighed in such contentment. Right at that moment, life was perfect, even with the smell of lilacs getting in the way and attempting to ruin the mood. I took another breath and the lilacs became stronger.
The more I focused on that aroma, the more I realized something was definitely wrong. I hugged Fletcher tighter to me and the lilacs were overwhelming. Fletcher sighed but the sound was too light, too feminine. Almost like the sound Ella sometimes made when I would place her back on the ground from a lift.
Suddenly, I was wide awake.
I jumped up off the sofa in a panic. What was she doing here and why were we cuddling?
“What’s the problem?” she asked, frowning at me.
“What are you doing here? I thought you went home.”
A shadow of darkness seemed to fall over her. Folding her arms, she said, “I took care of you which, I might add, wasn’t an easy task. Besides, you came on to me.”
My head was swimming with confusion and my wrists were beginning to throb. “We were on the sofa together… what exactly did we do?”
Her lips curled into a snarky smile. “You don’t remember last night at all, do you?”
“Did we – were we – ” That was all I could manage to get out. I realized now that I’d been dreaming of Fletcher and taking that pain pill had confused my mind.
Ella laughed but it was the kind of sound someone gives to you when they have a secret that they’re not going to share with you.
“You seriously don’t remember? I’m insulted.”
Good gravy (Grandma Blue always said that and it seemed to fit here). What had I done? My stomach began to turn as the complete revelation of what Ella was implying hit me full force.
“Tell me what we did!” I demanded. “I don’t care if you feel insulted. I need answers!”
“That pill really messed up your head. It’s kind of funny.”
Funny? For real? “Ella, it’s creepy that you knew I had taken a strong pain pill – you took advantage of me!”
“Oh get over it. Honestly, you treat me like I’m the worst thing that could ever have happened to you.”
That stupid trembling that happens when I’m pissed or upset began in my knees and worked it’s way up to my nauseated stomach. I could feel the red heat rising in my cheeks. “I need you to leave.” She didn’t budge but just kept smirking at me. “Now!”
After Ella left, I frantically took a shower, rubbing my skin until it was red. I couldn’t put words to the way I was feeling which made it all even worse. As the steaming hot water hit my face, I let out a groan. Ella had taken advantage of me and I felt so violated. Why would she do that to me when I was clearly smashed at the time?
Is this something you report to the police? Was I the only guy this happened to? My head was swimming as it was assaulted with these thoughts. I went outside and sat on the bench below my favorite tree. If it was comfort I was seeking, I didn’t find it there.
Ella was my dance partner. Every day, I would have to touch her, lift her, dance with her. How would I manage that?
For a moment, I wished I could go back in time to when Fletcher and I were happy and this thing with Ella hadn’t happened.
Author Note: You may have noticed that this chapter is on the short side of what I normally write. I’m having some eyesight problems and ended up in the emergency room. I’m fine now, just trying to adjust to these changes and figure out some new glasses. 🙂
Thank you so much, Bee, for the lovely dance poses! You are the best!
This is the original quote used in this chapter: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” – Will Rogers
Please note that in the footer (lower right corner) of my site, I’ve put up the hotline for domestic abuse since I’ve been touching on this subject recently. If you or someone you know is being abused, please call that number.
One last thing… Because of the problems I’ve had with my eyesight this past week, I haven’t been able to read any blogs. I might also say here that I am a blogaholic, so this has been rather difficult for me. But, luckily, I’m not a pessimist, so I’m still smiling. LOL I will catch up as soon as I can. <3
Thank you for reading and for your support,