Hello, readers!

Well, this is a bit of an angsty story that goes with my other story "Understanding the Dance" and it is based on a real life experience. It is a sister story to "Understanding the Dance" and takes place in the same universe, just with a different focus.

So if you haven't read "Understanding the Dance" please go do so and I hope you enjoy this story.

...

You're here because you want to support the best friend you've ever had.

She's been working for years on her Bharatanatyam Arangetram, and you frankly don't know what it means or even how to pronounce it. Still, you've known her for five years, so if she calls you answer on the first ring.

So you dress up nice, give yourself plenty of time to get there, and then once you do, you wait around in the lobby of a convention center. Pictures of her in her Indian garb are everywhere, and she looks incredible… you even have to give the pictures a second look, because you're used to seeing her in a t-shirt and jeans on most days.

Some more of your mutual friends walk into the lobby and you join them, only to discover that she has arrived as well. The one girl that you can't seem to stop crushing on, despite the fact that she has a very happy and steady relationship with a caring boyfriend.

As you rack your brain for any logical conclusion for what she could possibly be doing here, the doors open and you walk into the convention center.

It's built like a theater, so you walk inside and join your friends in sitting down near the front. Excitement mixed with apprehension gnaws at your insides as she sits down at your left side. Even though she has a boyfriend, you can't help but acknowledge how attractive she looks in the thigh length blue dress she's chosen to wear. Simple makeup only enhances her inner beauty as her long hair cascades down her back, woven in an elaborate braid.

You turn away and make idle conversation with your friends until the lights dim and the curtain opens.

The front part of the stage rises up and the sight of a wooden flower greets you.

Then it moves…

You watch in awe as the girl you came to watch rises from behind the flower, stretching out her limbs as if she was a flower herself.

Her dress is colorful, her jewelry shines in the lights of the theater, and she looks breathtakingly stunning. You suck in a breath as she begins to dance, moving around slowly around the stage.

A spotlight illuminates a four-person band in the left corner of the stage, and two women chant words you don't understand to a tune of music you've never heard of. You only recognize two instruments from where you are sitting, but even a violin and a flute sounded different when paired with the other unknown instruments.

So you watch her movements unfold like petals of the flower she emerged from, and you find yourself cheering just as loud as the section devoted to family and friends.

She moves around the stage like it was made for her, tossing flower petals at an altar that rests on the right of the stage, then at the musicians. You don't understand the meaning of the flowers or the altar, but you watch her dance around them slowly, until she finally stops.

You clap and cheer with the rest of the crowd as the curtains close and the lights faded, except for a spotlight on a podium at the end of the stage.

A speaker gets up and explains what that dance was and what the flowers symbolized, then the next dance begins.

…..

The minutes tick by as she dances to various styles of music, and you find yourself mesmerized by the music and her movements. She spins and twists and moves her body in ways that you'd never be able to do… giving testament to her years of hard work, living in her perfect moment.

However, you also can't stop turning your head and looking at her.

It's rude and inappropriate for you to divert even a millisecond of your attention away from the stage, especially since you are running your eyes all over her body like some creep. Still, you take her in, inhaling her own unique scent like it's a drug, a perfect mix of flowers and a light dab of perfume. Joy sparks in your heart as you watch her, realizing that her boyfriend for whatever reason didn't show up, or at least wasn't sitting by you. She's all yours, no one else is going to fight you for her attention.

You smile as you turn back towards the stage, and after two more dances, she leaves the stage and her parents come up to the podium, explaining how hard your friend has worked for this one three-hour performance, what she had to do, what she had to give up, and how much she's been anticipating doing this show.

You listen intently, absorbing the information like a sponge, wondering if the girl you are hearing about is the same girl that became your first friend five years ago. Just how much do you not know about her? Or any of your friends for that matter?

You turn your head towards the girl sitting by you slightly. Your questions had valid points with her, and for a second the icy hand of fear clasps your heart. Did her boyfriend know secrets about her that you did not? The answer was most probably yes, and for one brief moment, you can't stand anyone else knowing more about her than you do… it inflames you, overcoming your fear. Thankfully you gain control of yourself and take a deep breath. This wasn't the place to make a scene, this was about the girl you came to see.

Finally, another speaker takes the podium and says that the next dance is the longest and the hardest, but it tells the story of the life of an ancient Hindu God. The speaker briefly outlines the events of the life of the God and then the curtains open.

She's changed her costume for this dance, but looks no less majestic or colorful, and she begins to dance to the music.

The chants and cries of the vocalists are almost enthralling as you watch her, and her eyes catch yours for the briefest instant.

Suddenly, everything around you fades as you drain her of her knowledge. The story flows in the air and you catch it, absorb it greedily, and you understand.

Every single move she makes, every single facial expression and every single beat of the music fills you with the story. Suddenly you find yourself sitting at her feet as she dances around you, telling you a story you've never heard of, set to music you've never heard, but you don't care. Right now all you want is to listen to this marvelous story and learn every detail you can.

The unfamiliar music wraps around you like a blanket, and you tense up as you watch her dance, your sight and hearing on overload. But it's okay… just this once, the overload is okay.

She keeps dancing, taking you through every step of the story and you feel like she has a tight hold of your hand as she moves effortlessly, dragging you with her towards the end of the story…

…..

Reality snaps back as you feel her fingers resting on yours, the pale hand of the girl next to you encloses yours safety before she lets go. Just at that moment the music stops and girl on stage strikes her final pose, before the curtains close again and she leaves the stage.

You take several deep breaths as your heart rate settles down to normal levels, shaking your head as your vision clears and you wipe away some errant tears.

Your friend at your right nudges you with an audible smirk, "Were you crying?" He jabbed, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

You growl a negative and turn away as the stage lights up in smoke and color for another dance.

…..

The rest of the performance is mesmerizing as you watch her move, and you try to take in each emotion and each movement as your own. Your heart races at a million beats per minute as your body struggles to handle the emotional overload.

Then her hand closes around yours again, this time working its way under your hand as her fingers slide perfectly into the gaps between yours, fitting there like they belong. Because they do… and you know it.

Better than anyone and anything else, she can understand.

She's a musician and a dancer, able to understand how it affects your big heart. She has family members with Autism, and she embraces that side of you and helps you with navigating life, she's as tactile as you are and she feeds your hug addiction greedily. She's seen you on your best days and your worst days… she's held you together when the entire world breaks you apart, and she cares about you. She was the best friend you could ever have and the best candidate for a girlfriend, but she never saw as anything more than a best friend.

You turn to see her eyes shining in the darkness of the theater as she squeezes your hand and moves to rest her head on your shoulder, nuzzling into your skin. Her feet come up under her and you notice her heels lay on the ground. She always did prefer going barefoot anyway… made it easier to tickle her.

Your head comes gently to rest upon hers, marveling at the softness of her hair as your thumb traces the side of her hand. This really is how your relationship should be, just you and her and the endless depth of your friendship. Even if it would never become love, you could be more than content with that. Besides, even best friends got kissed every so often.

Instead, you sadly are reminded of the truth, how she has a boyfriend and loves him and he loves her. When's he's around or even if he's mentioned… you feel like an intruder, breaking into their private space. Besides, no one likes a third wheel.

You look down at your clasped hands and are reminded of the smoke that filled the room for an earlier dance, and your heart pangs as you draw a painful connection. Her hand in yours is smoke, her comforting you is smoke also.

You can only trust in the illusion of her caring, the illusion that she sees you as more than a friend because she'll never be the girl you need. Her Boyfriend is a gust of wind, painfully tearing her from you and dispelling all the affection you thought was there.

….

Finally, the speaker talks about the final dance of the night where the dancer gives thanks to God, her teachers, and the audience for attending the performance.

She emerges on stage one last time, dancing her heart and soul out, giving testimony to her years of hard work and dedication and you can practically hear her screaming thank you to everyone and everything for coming and supporting her. Her movements make her passions more than clear, but for a second you laugh a bit.

She's thanking you? Shouldn't you be thanking her? She was the one who took you on this amazing journey and led you through this amazing story. Without her, you never would have gotten this clear level of understanding, you would never have learned the story behind every movement.

Then again, without her, you wouldn't be in this emotional mess right now.

The girl at your side squeezes your hand rhythmically, in time with the music, although whether it's affectionate or involuntary you can't tell. You're not sure which answer would hurt more, although you squeeze back each and every time. Your eyes watch the girl on stage dance until she settles back in the flower, and the stage lowers her back down from where she came.

The room erupts in applause as everyone rises to their feet, cheering, whistling, and clapping. You're among the louder cheerers and you clap until your hands sting with pain, but you don't care. Any excuse to free yourself from the emotional burden of holding her hand.

The only thought in your mind is to try and tell the girl you just watched how wonderful the dance was, and you hone in on that thought as you leave the center, going out into the lobby.

….

However, having the thought and carrying it out were two different things entirely.

You manage to catch sight of her for three seconds before a crowd of family and others swarm her, blocking her form from your questing gaze and filling the air with jubilant exclamations.

After a few minutes, she comes away from the crowd and hugs you and the rest of your friends, then she is swarmed again by more eager parents and family.

Your words die in your throat as you realize that you're not going to be able to talk with her tonight, and you turn back to the girl at your side. You could take her to dinner and talk, play catch up and keep her company. Nothing wrong with that was there?

Then you hear a voice calling her name over the din of the lobby.

It's her boyfriend, apparently, he'd come in late and was sitting near the back, but he was there.

Expletives thundered into your brain as you watch her run towards him, leaping into his arms with a flurry of giggles and pet names. They embrace as he begins to talk to her, guiding her towards the exit and away from you.

You leave the lobby after saying your goodbyes to other friends, proud of yourself for keeping control. Even though it hurt so badly.

Maybe she knows how much you care about her and how great you know she is… and you content yourself with that thought. She's been your friend for five years, and she knows you better than anyone… so she probably knows already.

So then why was she with him and not you?

...

A bit angsty, but it's good to write it all out, isn't it?

I hope you enjoyed these two stories and please let me know if you liked the concept of having two stories in the same time period just with a different focus.

Please leave a review, feel free to check out my other works, and have a great day!