Guys…it’s the last chapter! I’ve really loved writing this story for you, and I hope you enjoy reading this finale chapter. See you tomorrow.
Warm up before class at the NBS
Aria looks over at Diem, who sits in the opposite corner as her. She wears her not-so-favorite leotard, she looks ruined and wrecked. She stretches uncomfortably on the barre, her Achilles tendon, already injured, digs into the hard barre. Tears are welled in her eyes, but her hard outer covering, the uncomfortable and unfitting outer covering, protects them from spilling out all over every other friendship she’s made. A large circle surrounds her of empty space – all of the other girls have situated themselves far away from Diem.
Aria finds herself staring at Diem too often – she misses her and feels bad about what she’s done. It is not Aria’s fault that Diem broke down because there was nothing she could do. But at the same time she feels guilty. That whole day went spiralling down a black hole – there was nothing she could do. First it was Diem, then it was Cayson, then it was the entire company – they had basically shunned her for what she’d done (which was…?).
A sharp voice comes over the loudspeaker. “Company 587 and School 930 to the Guidance Center please.”
All of the students and company members had ID numbers so that they could be called anonymously to offices and meetings.
Aria rises and exists, making her way to the Guidance Center. Diem trails behind her, both girls knowing exactly what to expect. They enter the boxy room with flowers and photographs of famous ballerinas. The Guidance Secretary sits in the glass office off to the corner. The girls enter the shiny room.
“Ma’am, we were called to the Guidance Center,” says Aria.
“Yes. Aria and Diem?” she says.
“Correct,” says Diem, nervously glancing over at Aria.
“Mr. Cortez has scheduled a meeting with the two of you in…” she glances at her watch, “…15 minutes. Please stay seated in the Guidance lobby. I will retrieve you when he is prepared.”
“Very well. Thank you,” says Aria.
The girls don’t say a word in the Guidance lobby. It is utterly silent until the secretary comes out of the glass door and calls the girls inside. She escorts them to Cayson’s office, where he sits with photographs, bookshelves, paintings, and portraits surrounding his clean, streamlined oak desk. The room is overly organized with binders for each ballet in the company’s and school’s repertoire – a separate wall for both organizations. The girls take a seat in the oak visitors chairs across from the giant desk.
“It seems that there has been a problem between you two,” he says blankly, his icy stare directed between the girls. “I would like to know what that problem is.”
The girls look at eachother eagerly, each wanting the other to explain. Aria begins talking, “Well, Diem and I have always been great friends. When I was accepted as an apprentice and she wasn’t, we started to drift apart. When I was cast as Odette Odile, things really changed.”
“And that’s why you wouldn’t like to accept the role?” he asks Aria.
“No – no…I would love the role,” she says, confused.
“It doesn’t appear that way,” says Cayson.
“She was mad at me, not you,” Diem says, almost too loudly.
Both Cayson and Aria quickly glance over at her. “What do you mean?” asks Cayson.
“Well…I was just being an idiot. I knew it wasn’t her fault she got chosen for the lead. And there was this other girl – she didn’t want me to be nice about it. It was her mom…” Diem chokes and abruptly stops.
“It was Ember,” whispers Aria, discreetly directed towards Diem. She glances over at the wet face of her beloved friend to see her nod sadly.
Both girls glance over at Cayson to see his face contort. “She betrayed me!” he yells.
The girls look at eachother frantically, afraid for their director. He storms out of the office and slams the door.
“Well, I guess we’re safe,” says Aria, laughing.
“Yeah…I guess so.”