“I saw you dancing out the ocean
Running fast along the sand
A spirit born of earth and water
Fire flying from your hands”
- “The One”
I left my dance shoes in my bedroom the entire day, and looked at them only when I came in to bed that night. The next day was Evan’s birthday, and I decided that morning I was going to wake up even earlier than usual, so I could dance before heading out to the beach. Very early the next morning, before it was even light outside, I crawled out of bed, and carried my dance bag down into the basement of the house.
It wasn’t actually a basement, but once the shoes had been delivered, Taylor spent that day in the room putting down plywood boards, and mirrors he had in his garage. I was very surprised to find the room perfect. Not that I didn’t think Uncle Taylor wouldn’t be able to do it, but I wasn’t expecting anything special, and this was wonderful. I put a CD into the stereo, and stretched, feeling how tight all my muscles were. I hadn’t realized how much surfing, and not dancing for a week would make me feel. I was stiff all over, and my arms and upper body ached. I closed my eyes, and worked on my ballet stretches, resting my head on my knees at the bar, feeling each muscle pull. I thought at one point I had seen a shadow stretched across the floor of the studio, and I felt like there was someone watching me, but I assumed it was Uncle Taylor and continued to lose myself in the music and the dance.
I danced until I was so tired it hurt to breath, and for a moment I just stood there in the middle of the room, and looked out the little window in the corner. It was very bright outside, which meant I had missed my morning meeting with Stephen. I hurried upstairs, and put on my bathing suit, not caring that I was all sweaty from dance. I flew past Taylor, who was standing in the kitchen, and ran down the beach, only to find Evan and Viola. Alone, and no Stephen anywhere.
“Where’s Sting Ray?” I asked.
“I Dunno, he was here earlier...but.. he said he just didn’t feel like doing anything today. He went home I guess.” Evan answered shrugging.
“He gets in these moods sometimes, where he just doesn’t feel like doing anything...” Viola said, and the two of them headed into the water, without seeming bothered by Stephen’s absence.
I had missed him. I was so busy dancing, that I missed seeing him. I felt a hard ache in my chest, and in the pit of my stomach, and fell into the sand. I wasn’t going to see him today, and possibly not tomorrow either, I had messed it up.
Somehow I made it through the day, and, was the first back to the house.
“Hey Tiny Dancer, we’re going out someplace kinda nice for dinner tonight.” Uncle Taylor said as I slunk into the kitchen.
“Oh, okay, how nice?”
“Well, you know... you want to be a little dressed up.” he said smiling.
“Not really dressy, but...you wouldn’t want to look like your father or anything either.” he laughed giving my arm a playful punch. I grinned and started toward the bathroom, realizing I hadn’t showered at all today.
When I was showered and dressed I sighed and sat on my bed. I couldn’t be like this at dinner, this was Evan’s birthday, he deserved for me to be happy. So I closed my eyes, and let go of everything. I did what I do before a competition when I get nervous. I took deep breaths and rolled my shoulders to loosen them.
I heard the doorbell ring, and voices downstairs. I stared at myself in the mirror, my dark hair falling in soft waves around my face, compliments of my father. My large blue eyes framed with dark lashes, the freckles that dotted the bridge of my nose, from my mother. I looked like a perfect combination of my parents. I sat there, on the edge of the bed just watching my face in the mirror while noise from downstairs filtered up to the room. I finally moved from my spot, and upon my arrival downstairs, noticed that both Vi and Evan had companions for this dinner. Evan’s girlfriend, Sonja, and Viola’s latest boyfriend, Trevor were sitting on the couch chatting away. Both took no notice while I quietly slipped into the kitchen where Uncle Taylor was seated, drinking a glass of water.
“Uncle Tay, you didn’t tell me I needed a date for this dinner.” I said standing in front of him.
“Well, well, don’t you look nice Brenna.” he smiled.
“Ah, not to worry, I have arranged an escort for you this evening.” I tried to smile. Wonderful, just what I needed, a pity date. “And, he should be arriving shortly, so don’t fret. You look wonderful.”
“Thanks Uncle Tay.” he got up and hugged me, and wandered into the living room leaving me alone in the kitchen.
I was staring at the clock, thinking about how funny it was that 7:45 and quarter till meant the same thing, when the doorbell rang a third time that evening. I could hear muted voices from the foyer and living room, but didn’t move. I waited, still watching the hands on the clock move around the face. I heard the kitchen door creak open slowly. I didn’t move my gaze from the clock, for the most part ignoring the sudden presence in the room.
“Is there someplace you have to be at a certain time?” I heard someone whisper in my ear. I jumped and turned around, and there standing over me was Stephen, in what appeared to be a suit.
“Oh my God, you scared me!” I exclaimed standing up, “what are you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too.” he laughed. “I am your date for this evening.” Okay, so maybe Taylor didn’t screw up this time. “You look amazing Brenna.” he said taking my hand, and leading me into the family room.
“Thank you, you look quite well yourself.” I smiled and we all headed to dinner for Evan’s birthday.
In Uncle Taylor’s large suburban, was the most incredible sound system, and he slipped in the Beach Boy’s CD Evan used to listen to on a daily basis. Listening to it, I felt myself relax, there’s a certain familiarity in these songs, a comfort that creeps into me whenever I hear any Beach Boys songs. Before I knew it, I was singing the harmony parts my father had taught me to “California Girls,” while Taylor took up the melody. I didn’t even notice, I was so wrapped in the music. When the song was over I was still looking out the window, but there was a complete hush that had fallen over the car.
“What?” I asked turning around, all eyes were on me.
“You sound even better now than you did last time we all sang together.” Vi said from in front of me. I blushed, I had really noticed I was singing out loud.
Evan’s choice for dinner was The Blue Note, and we were all seated at a special booth, with Evan and Sonja in the middle. Evan had a large gold colored crown atop his head and was wearing it quite happily.
“Brenna! I think, you should get up and sing for us!” Evan shouted across the table. I slunk down in my seat as everyone turned to look at me. Taylor nudged me from across the table.
“Go on Brenna...sing for us.” he winked at me. I could kill Evan right about now.
“I don‘t think that‘s such a good idea‘.” I said hoping Evan would forget his suggestion.
“You were just full out, singing in the car...what’s the deal?” Evan whined a bit.
“Okay, the car is like the shower it’s one of those places you can sing and no one else is there.”
“We were all there in the car.” Trevor said.
“That’s different.” I insisted. There were people here, people I didn’t know, a lot of people...and a stage, and a microphone, and speakers...scary things like that.
“Your dad always used to sing, even when he didn’t want to.” Viola supplied. I glanced at Taylor for help. He only nodded.
“We all did.”
“but...but...this is different!”
“True.” nodded Uncle Taylor.
“Fine, if you don’t sing tonight you owe me one.” Evan said tossing a breadstick at me.
“Write out the IOU.” I laughed.
“You’re on...speaking of IOUs, I believe Sting over there owes me a little money from a bet we had awhile back.”
“Oh man, not this again.” Stephen said grinning.
“What this?” I asked. They had a bet?
“I bet Sting over there ten bucks that he’d win the surfing competition that was held about a week before you go there Brenna. He said he wouldn’t, and he did. Therefore, he owes me ten dollars.” Evan held out his hand ready for payment.
“Do you always win the competitions?” I asked Stephen.
“Liar!” Viola shouted across the table. Stephen blushed.
“Man, you shouldn’t be all modest...he’s so good, I wish I had half as many titles and crap as he does.” Evan announced to the table. Evan continued to talk about the various articles in surfing magazines and newspapers. Apparently, Stephen was a local celebrity, at least among the surfers and beach goers. I glanced at Stephen who was grinning but at the same time looked embarrassed to have so much attention directed at him.
When dinner was finished, and the lot of us had made it out to the car, I trailed behind the group. I watched as Evan picked up Sonja and twirled her around in the parking lot, and how Viola and Trevor held hands as she leaned in closer to his shoulder, and whispered in his ear. Then, there was Uncle Taylor who seemed to lead the entire group smiling to himself, at some private joke, looking up at the stars.
I felt a gentle hand run down my bare shoulder to my hand, and entwine my fingers in a hand. I looked over and Stephen smiled, “You have a beautiful voice Brenna...is there anything you can’t do?” I looked down at the gravel in the parking lot.
“Plenty” I whispered, but if he heard he made no notice.