"Demi Plié and stretch ladies!" The shrill voice of Madame Mercier resounded throughout the ballet studio. "Keep your form!"
Listening to the boring, slow melody of Adagio #2 was making me very sleepy and thus, my movements were becoming sloppy. I knew that Madame Mercier had noticed this and that her "Keep your form!" comment was specifically directed towards me.
"kEeP yoUr fOrM!" I lowly mocked under my breath as my knees began to ache from the pressure. God is it time to go home yet. I quickly glanced at the large clock in front of the studio to see that I had an entire hour left! Someone, please save me!
I heard a chuckle from in front of me and my head snapped up to see a lithe, chuckling form three persons ahead of me on the barre. When she turned her head slightly to look at me I instantly recognized her as Roxanne Knox, AKA, the most talented ballerina in Madame Mercier's ballet company. I would even bet she's the best amongst all the dance companies in Wisconsin in our age category.
Yes, she was that good at ballet.
Not only was she a dancing prodigy, she was breathtakingly gorgeous as well! Long brunette hair, a slender, tall body and a pretty face with gorgeous grey eyes. Meanwhile, my inky black, curly hair, is well overdue for another Brazilian blowout, my eyes are a freakish blue/violet mutant mix and lately, I've been binge eating a lot of bread so I'm starting to get pudgy again; let's not forget the fact that I'm average/terrible at ballet.
Life isn't fair.
"Geh," I groaned as I rose from yet another Demi Plié. My thighs Lord! My thighs!
Roxanne gave me another amused look and I wondered how she even heard my little complaint in the first place.
"Grand Plié," Merciless Mercier, as I liked to call her, said as she inspected each of our footwork.
My face etched itself into pure pain as I tried to gracefully bend to the floor to execute the Grand Plié while making sure that my back was straight and I wasn't sticking my butt out. But Madame Mercier's scowl when she saw me let me know that I most likely was doing the exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.
"Miss Grey," Her thick French accent resounded as she stared at my pitiful form. "What are you doing?"
"Uh," I stumbled as I looked at her stern face, her bun was so tight that it was pulling the skin on her face back. "Executing the Grand Plié."
Her eyebrows shot up (well as much as they could), "Really?" She sarcastically replied. "Then why is your back bent and your butt sticking out?"
"I-uh-I," I stumbled over my words. This is a terrible situation for someone with social anxiety, such as myself. Everyone turned as was looking at us which made me panic even more. "It's been a long day for me, Madame Mercier. I'm just not feeling that well today."
"Or you've just been slacking off on practice," She accused. Well I mean, that too.
"It's not that I'm slacking off, I just have been busy with other things." I have nothing else to do besides this.
No literally, I have no life. I don't really have any friends. I mean, there's the girls at school I hang out with, but we don't talk or do things outside of school. Most of the girls at ballet are bitches and are already in cliques so there's no hope for me here. I don't have any other extracurricular activities. I don't even like ballet that much! I'm only here because my mother forced me to find a hobby when I was twelve. When she saw that I had no motivation to go and find one, she took it upon herself to enroll me in Madame Mercier's ballet company, which is where I've been now for the past five years. I've decided to just bear with it until I graduate. Besides, I'm going to need something to put for my extracurricular activities for college applications.
"If you want to excel in this art form Miss Grey, you will have to make some sacrifices," She chastised as she adjusted my bad posture into the painful, correct one. "Ballet requires constant practice."
"Yes Madame," I sighed as I tried to bear with the ache in my thigh.
We continued with Grand Pliés for another five minutes, with Madame Mercier watching me like a hawk to ensure I don't screw up again.
"Well done," She said, relieving us from the torture that was Grand Pliés. "We will now work on pirouettes."
I looked down at my pointe shoes in disgust. My toes look like shit because of you!
It soon became my turn to pirouette across the room and I did it reluctantly. Just one more hour!
"Well done today ladies!" Madame Mercier chimed as everyone prepared to leave. "I'll see you all tomorrow, enjoy the rest of your day."
I hurriedly removed my pointe shoes to reveal my blistered big toe. Is this really worth it? Most of the girls would stay behind to socialize for a bit, but I turn into The Flash when it's time for me to leave this hell hole. The last one to arrive and the first one to leave.
I pulled on my sweat pants over my sheer purple wrap skirt and threw my jacket over my black leotard. Yanking the wretched ballerina bun out of my hair and letting my wild tresses flow down my back, hurriedly made my way towards the exit, but the shrill voice of Madame Mercier stopped me. What does she want?
"Miss Grey, a word please." She said folding her arms.
"Yes, Madame?" I replied in an innocent tone.
"Your performance at classes has been...lacking lately," She said. "You have the potential to become a wonderful ballerina, but it's like you're just unmotivated.
Bitch I AM unmotivated!
"Like I said Madame, a lot of other things going on my life right now that prevent me from-"
"Stop your lies," She interrupted.
"Ex-Excuse me?" I stuttered as I stared wide-eyed at her. How the hell can she accuse me of lying? I mean I am lying, but how does she know that?
"I know you're only here because your mother forces you to do this," She started. "You have no desire to come here every day and no desire to practice, that's why you were in so much pain just to execute a simple Demi Plié!"
What point is she trying to make here? "And your point is?"
Her eyes narrowed even more. "My point is that you may not like ballet, but you're still coming to my classes. Why not make the most of it and actually put in some effort? You have so much potential and it pains me to see it wasted!"
Effort means waking up at 6 AM to practice before heading to school for 9 AM; not to mention I'll have ballet lessons again after school until 6:30 PM.
It's a no from me, Mercier.
"I'll...try Madame," I lied to get her off my back. "I'll see if my schedule can allow it."
She let out a deep sigh before taking a step back. "I hope so Miss Grey." She said before walking away.
"I hOpE sO miSs gReY," I mocked her again before grabbing my gym bag and slinging it over my shoulder.
I don't understand why she's on my back. So what if I don't want to try harder? At least I show up to lessons and cooperate. Besides, even if I become an absolute failure, she'll still receive her $250 per month that my parents pay for these lessons, so I really don't understand her overly concerned notions.
When I walked outside I saw that it had begun to rain and I swore under my breath as I hurriedly tried to unlock my grandmother's Kia Sportage, but I got the shock of my life when I started the SUV and made a spluttering noise before not starting at all. Oh no.
This isn't happening, this can't be happening!
"No, No NO!" I shouted in anger as I accidentally slammed my fists down onto the horn which scared a few of the other girls who were walking out of the building.
I groaned as I dug through my gym bag for my phone, only to realize that it was dead. Are you fucking kidding me?
"This is not my day!" I sighed dramatically as I reluctantly got out of the jeep and ran back towards the ballet studio.
When I went to open the door, someone on the other side had too. I looked up in shock to see Roxanne staring at me. Why was she still here? She usually leaves around I same time as I do. I watched her steel gray eyes look at my jeep then back towards me.
"Car trouble?" She said staring so intently my eyes that it was making me feel very intimidated. What the fuck?
"Uh-Yeah-Umm," I stammered as I tried to look anywhere but her. Her gaze was too intense for me. "It's probably just the battery or something."
"Oh, well did you call a mechanic?" She asked.
"I was going to call my parents but my phone died so I guess I'll have to borrow a phone."
I'd really appreciate it if she lent me hers so that I won't have to go and ask anyone else.
"You can use mine," She offered as she pulled a white iPhone out of her pocket. God bless you.
"Thanks a lot," I said as she unlocked and handed it to me.
I quickly entered my home telephone number and waited as it rang.
And fucking rang.
Eventually, a beeping tone came on to notify me that the call had not gone through.
"Come on," I groaned as I looked up at Roxanne, slightly embarrassed. "Um, can I try again?"
"No problem!" She beamed. "Take your time."
I tried my mother's cell next. I was hopeful that she'd pick up since she was always on her phone, but that hope got shut down when the tone changed to a beeping tone to notify me that someone else was on the line. Oh for fuck's sake!
"Uh," I started as I looked up at Roxanne in even more humiliation. She seemed to find this whole ordeal very amusing.
"Maybe it'll work the third time," she offered optimistically.
Letting out another loud sigh I tried my father's number next, that too, rang until the phone started beeping.
"Seriously!" I exclaimed. Highly annoyed that I couldn't reach my family during an emergency like this. Trying to call my grandmother would be a lost cause because she doesn't even use her cell phone.
"Maybe something happened," She said as I handed her phone back to her. "Hopefully nothing bad."
Her saying that got my mind racing at all the possibilities that could've happened to my family; all of them bad scenarios. Oh gosh, what if a robber or something came and has them held hostage? What if someone died? What if they were in an accident? What if-
"Don't worry," Roxanne said as she sensed my distress. "I'm sure they're fine. I'll give you a lift home."
"Oh no you don't have to inconvenience yourself because of me," I instantly protested.
"It's no problem at all!" She reassured as she readjusted her gym bag. "I'm not just going to leave you stranded here."
I fidgeted under her stare. She was extremely pretty, even after coming from practice, and it was making me feel terribly insecure and hyperaware of my appearance. "Th-Thanks a lot."
She gave me another small smile before making her way towards the door with me trailing behind her. This car ride is going to be awkward, I can feel it in my bones.
"Let me just lock up my car first," I said before speed walking over to the SUV and ensuring that everything was locked and secure.
Roxanne pressed the unlock button on her car keys and the bright headlights of a Mercedes Benz lit up. Wow.
"You can just throw your bag in the back," She said flinging her gym bag onto the back seats.
I quickly followed suit and ungracefully managed to scrambled my way into the luxury vehicle. Roxanne started up the engine and motioned for me to enter my address into the built in GPS. I managed to that (albeit I fucked up twice) and she sped off in the direction towards my house.
We were driving for about five minutes now and as expected, it was awkward; for me at least. Say something you fool!
"Um, I'm Africa," I quickly said as I held out my hand for her to shake. But I realized that was a dumb move considering the fact that she's driving. What is wrong with you, you idiot?
I felt my face heat up as I went to drop my hand, but instead, I felt her soft hand encase mine as let out a chuckle. "I knew your name already, but it's nice to meet you, Africa. I'm Roxanne."
"Ye-Yeah I know," I nervously chuckled. "You're a bit of a big deal at ballet."
I hope that didn't sound like I was jealous of her or anything because I was definitely NOT!
"I don't mean that in a bad way!" I tried to correct myself. "I just meant that since you're the best dancer out of everyone, you stand out a lot and everyone knows who you are because of that."
"I wouldn't say that I'm the best," She said trying to be humble. Who are you trying to fool? Madame Mercier practically worships the ground that you pirouette on.
"Have you ever seen yourself dance?" I asked. "Your technique is flawless."
"Are you just flattering me because I'm giving you a ride home?"
"What!" My eyes widened. "No, no I was just-"
"I'm just kidding Africa," She laughed as she turned a corner. "You should be an emoji because your facial expressions are hilarious."
I actually take that as a compliment. "Th-Thanks, I think," I mumbled out.
She let out another chuckle before making another turn onto my street. "It's the house right there with the large rose bush in front," I pointed to my two-story home.
I noticed that all the cars were in the yard and lights the lights were on in the living room. Well, that rules out the accident theory at least.
"Thanks again for doing this," I said as I reached for my gym bag on the back seat. But I was shocked to see that when I exited the vehicle, Roxanne exited as well.
I gave her a look of confusion before she responded. "You couldn't get through to your family; I mean I don't want to jinx anything, but what if you go inside and meet a burglar or something?"
Well thanks for spiking my paranoia! Besides even if a burglar was there, I doubt he'd be intimidated by two ballerinas!
She noticed my facial expression turning into one of anxiety before she quickly tried to dissuade my fear. "I-I mean, that possibility is very unlikely! But I'll still walk you to your door just in case."
"Thanks," I mumbled as we began to walk across the stone steps on my pavement.
"Your house is really pretty by the way," She complimented as she took in the scenery of colorful flowers, tall hedges and full rose bushes that occupied my front yard. "I take it someone in your family like plants?"
"Yeah, my grandmother really loves gardening," I responded while trying to fish out my keys. "The inside of my home is practically a garden as well."
She hummed in response as I finally managed to open the door. I peered around the empty living room noticing that my father's DVD and book collection were scattered on the floor, one of the loveseats was turned over, and the floor was very much wet and slippery. What the hell? Did a burglar actually break in and ransacked my house?
"Uh, I don't suppose this is how your home normally looks right?" Roxanne hesitantly asked as she reached for her cellphone.
"No it doesn't," My voice said trembling from the panic was beginning to creep up in me. "Your theory about a burglar isn't sounding so far-fetched anymore."
Jesus, where are Mom and Dad? Where's my brother or Grandma?
"Don't panic yet!" She said trying to calm me as I slowly backed away. "You met the front door locked so maybe someone didn't break in."
"They could've came in through the back," I said.
Roxanne and I turned to look at each other before I bolted off towards the back door to see it swinging wide open for anything to make its way through it if so desired.
My jaw practically unhinged as I stared at the open door in disbelief. Holy shit! We really did get robbed! And my family, did they take them hostages?
"Oh God," I felt my stomach bubble like I was about to throw up. Staring into the deep woods while it was pitch black was not helping my fear in any way.
"Oh my gosh," Roxanne said as she came behind me. "Come on let's get back to the car and I'll call the cops."
But as soon as we went to turn around, a small white figure came darting at us which scared the crap out of me. I screamed as I fell back onto the ground and shut my eyes tight as I felt my face being licked repeatedly. They peeled open and I saw my white shih-poo, Mango, licking me in the face.
"Mango!" I let out a sigh of relief as I clutched the little dog to my chest. "Don't scare me like that! You nearly gave me a heart attack."
"How cute!" Roxanne squealed as Mango went over and immediately sniffed her. "You're so adorable!" She said as she lifted him up and he attacked her face with licks.
Mango was a very sociable dog and he got along well with everyone, even complete strangers.
But wait we're forgetting the situation at hand here!
"Um Roxanne," I started as I tried to gain her attention away from the charming Mango. "Maybe we should go back to ca-"
But I never got to finish my sentence because a figure dressed in all black, donning a Scream mask and wielding a gun suddenly stood in the doorway of the back door, pointing it at us.
"HOLY SHIT!" Roxanne shouted as her eyes went wide and she accidently dropped Mango, who thankfully landed on his feet.
I on the other hand had fallen to floor in complete shock again as I struggled not to faint. But the gunman suddenly ripped off the silly mask and I saw wild black curls sprung out from underneath. There's only one person I know with hair like that.
"GRANDMA!" I shouted as her face was completely revealed. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY DO YOU HAVE A GUN? WHAT'S GOING ON?"
"Hush, you'll give away my position!" She said as she stalked towards the living room while skillfully aiming the gun. How does she even know how to use a gun?
"Grandma, what are you doing? What is happening?" I asked again, but she completely ignored me and instead shot at something behind me.
I heard a grunt of pain and we all turned around to see another masked figure holding his chest with a red splat in front of him. DID SHE JUST SHOOT SOMEONE?
"No fair Grandma, you cheated!" The figure said before ripping off his mask to reveal my younger brother, Keenan.
"I didn't cheat, it's called SKILL!" Grandma shot back at him. "Something you obviously wouldn't know about."
"God damn, it felt that burn from here," Roxanne said holding her chest.
"What are you talking about!" Keenan exasperated. "I'm the one who introduced you guys to extreme paintball in the first place.
"FALSE!" Another voice shouted, as we all looked up to see my father standing at the top of the stairs, and ripping his mask off. "I'm the one who introduced you to extreme paintball, then in turn, you introduced it to the rest of the family. THEREFORE, I am the true benefactor here!"
"I don't care who introduced it," My mother said as walked out from behind my father from the stairs. "All I know is that it wasn't my idea so I'm not cleaning up!"
"You and Grandma were the most aggressive players though," Keenan said. "That's not fair."
"I cook for you, I clean for you, I drop and pick you up from school everyday, I buy you whatever you need/want and I carried you in my womb for NINE months and you have a problem with cleaning up the mess that was your idea in the first place?" My mother asked with a raised eyebrow.
She's got a point there. But wait a minute...
"WHAT IS GOING ON!" I shouted, finally gaining everyone's attention. "YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THE REASON NONE OF YOU ARE ANSWERING YOUR PHONES IS BECAUSE YOU WERE PLAYING PAINTBALL? I HAD AN EMERGENCY AND I COULDN'T REACH YOU GUYS!"
"Oh Fi-Fi, you're finally home!" My mother said noticing my presence. I cringed so hard when she called me "Fi-Fi". It was the nickname my family gave me because when I was younger I couldn't pronounce my name properly and would only end up saying the words "Fi-Fi" instead, and it stuck ever since. I normally don't have a problem with them calling me that but not in front of Roxanne! That's so embarrassing!
"And you brought a friend!" She continued as she wiped her hand on a towel before extending it towards Roxanne. "I'm Eve, Fi-Fi's mom."
"It's nice to meet you Mrs. Grey," Roxanne beamed. "I'm Roxanne Knox."
"Who'd want to be friends with this psychopath," Keenan snorted.
"Bon-Bon, please," My mother chastised as he blushed upon hearing his equally embarrassing nickname.
"This is the first time since junior high that I've ever seen you brought a friend home Fee," Grandma said.
Thanks for letting her know just how pathetic my social life is.
"It's very nice to meet you Roxanne," My father said shaking her hand. "I'm Adam. It's so nice to see that Fi-Fi is making friends now-a-days."
"Guys, please," I said giving them pleading looks to stop embarrassing me. Roxanne must think my family is a total nutcase.
"Oh how cute that your names are Adam and Eve," She grinned as she pointed to my parents.
My mom chuckled. "Yes, it's one of the reasons what attracted us to each other in the first place. "And get this, I have another daughter named Eden."
"No way!" Roxanne said as if her mind had been blown. "That's just so cute."
She turned to my brother. "What about you? Oh yeah I forgot, your name is Bon-Bon right?"
"NO IT'S NOT!" He quickly defended. "My name is Keenan."
"Like Keenan and Kel?"
"Who?" Bon-Bon stared at her in confusion. He's way too young to even fathom what she's talking about.
"Oh you probably wouldn't know about that show anyways," She waved it off as she turned to my grandma next. Does she intend to introduce herself to everyone?
"There is no way you're a grandma?" She charmed. "You look way too young."
Compliments. The most effective way to win my grandmother over.
"That's the power of eating right, daily exercise and melanin Sweetie," Grandma said. "Also trying to stay as stress-free as possible. Hakuna Matata is my motto."
She rolled up her pants leg to reveal the words tattooed on her left calf.
"That is sick!" Roxanne chimed as she stared in awe. "I wish my grandmother was as cool as you."
"No no Sweetie, be happy that your grandmother is alive at least," Grandma said. "Some people wished that their grandmother was still alive."
"Well I guess you're right." Roxanne said, albeit she seemed to be thinking very hard about the statement.
Once again, I've managed to get sidetracked from my original agenda.
"Grandma your car broke door." I told her.
"What do you mean it broke down?" Her brown eyes widened. "You see, this is why I don't like to lend you kids any of my stuff! You destroy everything! You destroyed my car, Keenan destroyed my glasses, your father destroyed my Keurig! What next?" She ranted.
"Mom that Keurig was already half dead when I used it and you know it," My father defended himself.
"That's a damn lie!"
"So where's the car now? Did you call a tow truck?" My mom asked, ignoring the banter in the background.
"No my phone is dead," I showed her the blank screen. "That's the reason why Roxanne gave me a ride home. The car is still parked by the ballet studio, and I locked and secured everything."
"Well I'll call a tow truck to bring it back here then I'll let the mechanic check it out in the morning," Mom said as she went to grab the house phone.
"And thank you Roxanne for bringing her home," She said before disappearing into the living room.
"It was no problem," She smiled. "It was lovely to meet you all, despite the unorthodox circumstance."
"What does unorthodox even mean?" Keenan mumbled to himself.
"Thanks again Roxanne for helping me out," I said as I led her towards the front entrance.
"Would you stop with the constant thanking," She playfully rolled her eyes. "And after all that excitement I think it's safe to say that were friends now, so you can just call me Roxy."
Friends with Roxanne? The concept sounded a bit foreign to me. Why would someone like her want to be friends with someone like me? She's a very charming and extroverted person, while I'm introverted and try to avoid attention at all possible costs. It's safe to say that we're polar opposites personality wise.
"Al-Alright...Roxy," I tested the new name on my tongue.
"Can I call you Fi-Fi? It's a cute nickname!" She grinned while I grimaced. She noticed this and quickly tried to back track. "But if you're not cool with it I can just continue to call you Africa."
"No it's fine!" I quickly said. It's not fine, but I don't want to seem like a mean person. "You can call me Fi-Fi."
"Great!" She beamed as she took out her keys. "I'd better get going before my folks start wondering where I am."
"Yeah, that would probably be for the best," I awkwardly said as I walked with her back to her car.
"Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow at ballet?" She asked.
"Yeah, yeah I'll be there," I said as I tightened my jacket around me. "Um, drive safe and have a good night."
"You too, good night," She smiled one last time before getting into her luxury vehicle and speeding down the road.
"Today was weird as fuck."
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter!
BTW – "Fi-Fi" is pronounced as "Fee-Fee".