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Chapter Thirty-Two

“…and Brooke.” Abby revealed the top picture on the pyramid. “You are on the top of the pyramid this week for winning your age group last weekend. And happy late birthday, kid. You’re fifteen now, you’re at the top of the thirteen to fifteen age groups. You better be winning ever title from now on.”

Brooke stood, half naked as always and smiled. Maddie, Chloe, and Paige attacked her with hugs. The other moms clapped and cheered for Brooke. Abby held up a hand to get them to shut up. All of the girls and moms turned back to Abby and waited for her to continue.

Abby grabbed her notes and took a big, deep breath in. “Okay, so this week we will be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to compete in Starbound again. We are their national winners. We better go in a kick some butt.” Abby filed through her papers and read off assignments. “The group number is called In You. It’s a contemporary-lyrical number to an instrumental song called a River Flows in You by Yiruma.” Abby nodded. “For solos, I’m granting one to Maddie, Chloe, and Nia. Brooke, you will also have a solo and you will be in a trio with two special guests. So, Kristen! Nick! Come on in!” Abby shouted.

Brooke’s eyes grew wide and watched as the two enemies walked into the room. Nick walked up and stood next to Kenzie. Kristen stood next to Brooke. Brooke flashed her a smile and then looked sympathetically over to Nick. She gave a slight Sorry shrug and turned back to Abby, not really wanting to do the trio.

“Moms, you’re dismissed, kids start spreading out to stretch. We’ll be working on the group first!” Abby clapped.

Kelly walked out first and went up the stairs to sit another day in dance jail. Brooke walked to Nick, with a little pep in her step. Chloe looked to Paige, it was like they could read each other’s minds. Paige shrugged at Chloe, knowing that everyone thought that Brooke and Nick were broken up. And they were, they had never said anything about getting back together.

“Are you excited?” Brooke asked Nick, poking fun at his obsession with hating Kristen.

He was bent over to stretch out his legs. He came back up and glared at Brooke, not saying anything. He angrily walked away, leaving Brooke alone. Chloe and Paige watched how everything happened. Paige shrugged again at Chloe. Maddie, unable to connect with Paige and Chloe, spoke out.

“Brooke, are you and Nick back together?” She asked loudly.

Brooke shook her head, “No, we’re just friends.”

Nick finished stretching out by himself. Kristen was with Kenzie and Brooke, Chloe, and Paige stretched together. Brooke loved her red, cross-back leotard. It was her favorite and she only wore it on special occasions. She suddenly felt a shock of self-consciousness. She pitter-pattered out into the dancers den and pulled a pair of black sweatpants on. She pulled her hair down and tried to rebraid it as perfect as it was before she took it down. She gave up and put it back up in a messy bun. When she walked back in, everyone looked at her.

“Brooke, you know you won’t be able to learn a lyrical dance in those.” Abby said.

“I’m cold.” Brooke lied.

“Okay, I’ll give you ten minutes to warm up.” Abby nodded, still full of sympathy.

Brooke smirked and began to learn the beginning of the dance. Kelly rolled her eyes at Abby every time she’d make any remark to any of the girls.  They lived a crazy life, the Hyland’s did. The time came for Brooke to take her sweatpants off. She skipped out to the dancers den and slowly pulled her sweatpants off, letting the cool air wind and wrap around her legs and feet. Brooke shook for a moment in the cool air.

Sam, a boy from the studio, saw her and smiled. “Looking good, Hyland.”

Brooke rolled her eyes and went back into the studio room. She took her spot front and center. She looked at Kristen, in the back row flirting with Nick. Did he lie to me? Brooke thought. She looked at Kristen’s perfect, long, tan legs. Then she looked at her own. She was pale, and they weren’t as stick thin as Kristen’s or Chloe’s or Paige’s. Brooke blinked a few times, getting her mind off of her imperfections. She bit at her hang nail on her middle finger on her left hand.

“Okay, let’s run it from the top.” Abby clapped.

They only had learned barely the first ten seconds, all of which Brooke sat on a chair in the middle with Maddie, Paige, and Nia on one side and Kristen, Chloe, and Mackenzie on the other. Nick stood behind Brooke, still. Brooke wondered what the dance was about, Abby never clarified it. Abby must’ve been able to read Brooke’s mind because at the end of the ten seconds, she decided to explain the dance.

“Girls, do you understand what this dance is about?” Abby asked, not really looking for an answer.

But, Paige popped up and said, “You haven’t told us Ms. Abby!”

Paige had started becoming more and more like herself since Brooke moved back in. Abby shot Paige a look that made Mackenzie giggle which in turn caused all of the other girls to giggle, even Kristen and Nick. Paige was a little embarrassed, but it didn’t last long.

Abby swooshed the hair out of her face and then clapped her hands together. “This dance is about a little girl who is depressed. Brooke will be playing that little girl. She’s seen other kids go through everything else and take their lives. Nick is trying to save her, but it doesn’t happen. Brooke and Nick, you two aren’t doing that much dancing. Just a few steps here and there. But, the rest of you ladies will be dancing the entire time. You are telling the story, and you better make the judges cry. At the end, Brooke you’re jumping off the stage, and in the end, Nick you will left on stage alone. You’re gonna do this thing, and I’ll teach it to you later, but then you’ll run of stage, but all these little girls will be pushing you closer and closer to the edge so you have to jump also.”

Brooke looked up at Kelly. Kelly gave a shrug, barely able to hear what Abby had to say. Kelly sat back down on the fuzzy seating pyramid. Kelly couldn’t sit for too long, it drove her crazy. She took in a breath of the muggy air of the viewing room and let out a deep, heavy sigh.

Christi walked up the stairs with a cup of water. “Guess what, Kels?”

“Hm?” Kelly looked up from the window.

“I just overheard Abby explaining the group dance to the girls,” Christi said. “And, Brooke commits suicide in it because she’s depressed.”

Kelly rolled her eyes, “Ever since Abby found out about Brooke’s counselor, she hasn’t let it go. So what?! I think all of the girls should see counselors after being screamed and yelled at for two years running.”

Melissa nodded in agreement. “Maddie talks to her counselor at school and so does Kenzie.”

“See, I’d love to have Brooke do that, but she’s homeschooled now.” Kelly said. “It sure would be less expensive. And all she does, seriously, is sit on a chair and pick at her nails. I don’t even know why I pay for two sessions a week if all she does is sit in a room and pick at her nails. Her counselor makes an effort to try to get an answer out of her but all she gets are shrugs and ‘I dunno’ out of Brooke.”

“Maybe you should go next time, Kel.” Holly said. “I think Brooke just feels a little awkward talking to a stranger.”

“Well she doesn’t talk to me, that’s for sure.” Kelly said.

Abby spent the next hour teaching the girls and Nick the dance. The most dancing Brooke did was her scorpion and then a set of turns into a knee drop before she stands up and jumps off stage. Abby sent them out for water. Brooke walked into the dancers den and all of the little girls ran up the stairs to the moms. Brooke watched as Kristen hugged Nick and giggled in his arms. She saw Kristen pop up and kiss Nick before waltzing away to the bathroom. Brooke skipped over to Nick. She needed answers.

“What was that?” Brooke asked quietly.

Nick shrugged, “I don’t know.”

“Yes you do.” Brooke said. “Last night you told me that you guys were done and you didn’t have a date to prom!”

“Brooke, I honestly don’t know why she’s acting like that.” Nick lied.

“I can see right through you.” Brooke pointed at him, taking another sip out of her CamelBak water bottle.

Nick sat on the bench and shrugged, “Okay. Fine. We aren’t broken up, but we will be soon. Just, trust me Brookie.”

Nick pulled Brooke close and pinched her butt ever so slightly. Brooke jumped back with her jaw dropped. “Oh, you’re getting it, Nick Dobbs.”

Nick jumped up and over the bench. He sang, “You can’t catch me. Na-na-nah-boo-boo! You can’t catch me.”

Brooke and Nick laughed and played a flirty game of tag. Kristen came out of the bathroom and watched, closely examining their relationship and how they acted like they were more than friends. Brooke and Nick didn’t even realize that Kristen was there. For those few minutes, it was them and the earth. And to Brooke, she felt like this was it. He was the boy she’d been waiting on. 

Submitted: October 21, 2012

© Copyright 2022 laciandlaura. All rights reserved.


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