I watch the young girls as they work on their spotting. The class has a lot of promise as a whole, but my heart goes out to the smaller and pudgier girls who are falling behind. They were trying so hard, but it doesn't come as naturally to them. I try to help them after class and be extra encouraging but a part of me knows that eventually they will stop dancing. Another, tinier part of me thinks they can beat the odds, and I am rooting for them to. Life can be unexpected and strange, besides little girls are so resilient and hopeful I have no choice but to believe in them.

After dismissing class for the day I help Sophia and Hope with turnouts and plies. After ten extra minutes of practice they scurry off for the night and I am left alone in the dance studio. I don't dance as much as I used to, for a lot of reasons. But I have a song stuck in my head and I cannot help but try and get it out. I switch the music on my mp3 player to something more difficult and start the routine. Dancing is not like riding a bike and I struggle to remember the entire piece, when I accidentally, but really on purpose, let my mind wander elsewhere.

There he is, speeding in a black corvette in the middle of nowhere. His sunglasses are pulled down and his face is somber. I've seen him like this a lot, I know what he's doing. After Cole and I left the Institute, Cole didn't waste anytime tipping the Australian papers off to what was going on in the desert. But when the investigation started, nothing turned up, Dr. Blackwell and his followers had completely vanished, there was just a cleaned out building in the middle of the desert. Since then Cole has been on a mission, but part of me thinks it's not Dr. Blackwell he wants, but I also know that he's not going to find what he's really searching for. My heart aches a little seeing him like this, thinking about the cause. He shakes his head and starts to smile, I wonder if he can see me watching him. This makes me smile because that means he was thinking of me. I think something to see if he can hear.

"Don't worry about me," he says aloud, "I'm going to find him." A thought passes through my mind, Nathaniel or Dr. Blackwell?

Be safe, I think consciously.

"Safe is overrated," he says, just to frustrate me.

Call me one of these days?, I ask, knowing the answer.

"When I have something to talk about," he replies shortly. "It's not like you won't check in on me anyway."

Fine, I hope you find what you're looking for, I think somewhat bitterly before finishing the dance and ending the vision.

I pack up my things and walk out to my car. I'm not really mad at Cole, it's just hard, life is hard. Six months ago, I died. A little less than four months ago, I came back to life. And it's just not easy. Most people would be thrilled and grateful to be alive if they came so close to death. But a wise man once said that "Death is easy, living is hard". I am sorry to say that being so close to death has not given me the answer to life. I'm still marked with jet black hair and a scar that won't wash away, but it's better for me and the rest of the world if I believe I'm not a prisoner anymore. Maybe the Devil does own my soul, but I won't go down without a fight. After leaving the Institute I came to realize that being mad at God doesn't make Him not exist. I mean, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have escaped that prison in Hell without some sort of divine intervention. I believe that He introduced me to Cole, Nathaniel, and Oluchi for a reason, without them I wouldn't have been reawakened to a life worth living. I know that they saved me in more ways than one and it seems to me that there is more to that than just fate or luck.

So, once I got back to the free world, I took the wise advice of a friend, and started to discover a faith of my own. I still don't believe in religion or the church, but I believe in a divine power that is subtle. Miracles are not as exciting as they used to be, if you believe what the Bible says, but they are still out there. Call me a romantic but I think that brazen young men, goodbye letters, and little girls in ballet shoes can all be miracles if you let them be.

***

Candace,

The thought that I am likely to never see you again is stinging, our time together was so short but I am grateful for it. Your young curiosity and raw emotion have given me exactly what I need to confidently go forward with my life and escape this place. And no matter what happens tomorrow, I know I will be a better man for it.

I hope that you will also find a way to get out and live a full life outside of these prison cells. You are so young and so full of spirit that has been dulled by being here. Although, I cannot and would not make the choice for you, I hope that you find the faith you are looking for within, only what you know to be true can make you happy. No one else can tell you who you are and what you believe. Thank you for the inspiration to live again, I only wish I could have given you something in return. May your life be forever blessed, no matter what you choose.

Oluchi Maina