Authors: Katrina Kahler
Directing the younger girls onto the stage
for their opening dance, I took a deep breath and watched from the wings,
praying that even without their head pieces, they would exhibit the same killer
performance that they had in the rehearsal.
The deafening applause at the end of their
dance was music to my ears and I congratulated them all as they skipped off the
The next act was performed by Liam and his
incredible voice poured out into the auditorium. The other singers were almost
as good and I marveled once again at the talented kids in our school.
The following performances were met with
just as much enthusiasm from the audience. Then peering out into the crowd, I
spotted my parents and my brother, Matt sitting near the front row. I assumed
that my mom hadn’t been able to get the head pieces, but as it turned out, the
girls managed to get through their dance regardless, so I was very grateful for
that. Although I still felt bad over their obvious disappointment at not being
able to wear the sparkling addition to their costumes.
Finally, it was our turn and my stomach churned
with anxiety and nerves. As we raced out onto the stage to form our positions
before the curtain went up, Sara turned to me and said, “Break a leg, Julia!”
“What?” I frowned.
“That’s for good luck,” she smirked and
then faced the audience whose applause was deafening once again.
We lunged into our routine, with Sara in
the front row, doing the somersaults that she was so good at and as usual, her
precision and timing were excellent. The applause erupted again and with a
flick of her long pony tail, she executed a very tricky interchange with Alex
and then moved to the back.
Alex attacked his moves with his usual
gusto and sharp, expressive movements which made him the stand out hip hop
dancer that he was. I felt a rush of pride at being a part of such a cool
routine but just as I moved to the front position, I felt my leg give way under
It was a completely involuntary reaction
and one I was powerless to prevent. I was supposed to kneel down and support
the weight of one of the smaller girls on my bent knee but unfortunately it was
the leg that I had injured that morning.
There was no way I could bear her weight
and the sharp pain caused my knee to drop just as Abbie pressed down on it to
raise herself into the air. With a gasp from the audience, she went tumbling to
the ground. Bright red with embarrassment, she glared at me in horror and all I
could do was help her up and try to resume the timing and movements of the
routine going on around us.
Fortunately, Abbie had no trouble getting
back into rhythm, but I just seemed to lose my place and was not able to
recover. As if in slow motion, I felt myself limping around the stage after the
others and then looking down, I realized that blood was oozing from my leg and
onto the floor.
I tried to ignore it and focus on the moves
that I knew so well, but I was simply unable to get it together. Gratefully,
Millie took over my spot and I moved once again to the back row, trying to camouflage
myself amongst the others.
The scene around me was almost surreal and
I felt as though I were a spectator watching the event unfold from afar. The
swirling, twisting and turning of the dancers in front of me, along with the
steady thumping beat of the latest hip hop song that everyone knew so well, all
seemed to mesh together into a whirlpool of crazy colors and sounds.
Then, feeling a slight nudge in my lower
back, I was pushed towards the front of the stage. An instant flash of recall
had me leaping into the air. Everyone still considered this moment the
highlight of our routine. It was the grand finale and my chance to relinquish
my status as actually being a decent dancer and choreographer.
Flinging my arms and legs forward, I came
down onto the stage, one foot at a time. Then reminiscent of that morning’s
episode in the school driveway, rather than gripping onto the stage in a final
dramatic stomp, my foot slid forward and just kept on going until my whole body
landed horizontally on the floor with a loud bang. In a blur of dizziness, I sat
up and looked around to see that I had slipped on a pool of blood. Blood that
had oozed from the gash in my knee and onto the stage.
At that very moment, I was overcome with a
sudden rush of nausea and unable to stop the sudden convulsion, I vomited all
over the stage.
Too terrified to open my eyes, I wished I
could turn back the clock. Back to the day of our dress rehearsal when
everything had gone so smoothly. My final leap had been the high point of the
day, where even Miss Sheldon and also Alex our expert hip hop dancer, had
congratulated me on my performance.
I dared to glance fearfully out into the
audience. Everyone appeared aghast and I could see the shocked expressions of
my mom and dad. Then, realizing I was surrounded by worried faces peering down
at me, everything suddenly went black.
The next thing I remember was my mom’s
voice. “Julia, Julia!” Are you alright, darling? Julia…”
I had gazed at her briefly before blacking
out once more and then awoke in a strange bed, my mom, dad and brother by my
After collapsing so dramatically on stage,
I’d been rushed to hospital in an ambulance where I’d had to spend the night
When I opened my eyes, my mom hugged me
tightly, the relief obvious in her eyes. “I’m so glad that you’re ok,
“You had us really worried, Julia!” my dad
continued with concern.
And then of course, a typical comment from
my brother, Matt. “What a finale, Julia. You were awesome!”
Mom looked at him crossly which quickly
wiped the grin from his face. Trust him to try to joke around, even at the most
inappropriate times. I certainly wasn’t laughing but I sure was glad to have my
mom and dad there with me.
When I was finally allowed to leave the
hospital, I couldn’t wait to get home to the safety of my room and I quickly
climbed the stairs, declining any offers of help from my parents.
I could not believe that the night I had
been looking forward to for so long had ended up so badly. All the time and
effort I had put in to getting our dance perfect was for nothing. Well, that’s how
it seemed to me. I had practiced and rehearsed constantly, just as much or even
more than anyone else. And it had all ended disastrously.
After arriving home from the hospital, I
spent the next 2 days in bed. I felt so embarrassed and humiliated and didn’t
want to face any of my friends ever again.
“Perhaps I could go to another school?”
That was the question I silently asked myself over and over while trying to be
brave enough to make the suggestion to my parents in the hope that it might be
Although I knew they wouldn’t allow it, I
just did not know how I could possibly face everyone at school. I decided that
I must be the laughing stock of the grade and I really dreaded the thought of
ever going back again.
I replayed the entire events of that
terrible day in my mind, right from the moment when I had woken up late and
realized I had overslept. Thinking back now, I’ve come to the conclusion that
it was doomed from the start. So many things had gone wrong and it just didn’t
As I lay there, I envisioned the smirk on
Sara’s face that I had seen so often. I felt totally convinced that she was not
the girl I had originally thought she would be. Too many things had happened
over the past weeks and I tried to piece the puzzle together.
A couple of things stood out in my mind.
For one, the message from Miss Fitz about the head bands for the junior girls.
I am positive that Sara never gave me that message. Another issue was my
missing costume for our dance. I’m sure that I packed it and since coming home,
I’ve searched every possible spot in my room but it’s nowhere to be seen. I
know that I had it in my bag, and if that is the case then where did it get to?
And where is it now?
I wondered if that mystery would ever be
solved. I thought briefly about confronting Sara and asking her directly if she
knew anything about it but I was sure that would be useless. She’d never admit
to anything, even if she was guilty.
Just as I was trying to concoct a really
good excuse for having the entire week off school, I heard a gentle knock on my
door. Then to my surprise, Millie’s smiling face appeared.
“Julia!” She came rushing over to my bed to
give me a huge hug. “Are you ok?” she asked, with genuine concern. “I’ve been
so worried about you! I wanted to come sooner but your mom said that you needed
some time to recover before having visitors.”
Just having Millie there, was instantly
reassuring and I could feel my spirits rise. Then when she pulled a block of my
all-time favorite chocolate out of her back pack, I couldn’t help but grin
“My favorite!” I exclaimed. “Thank you so
“I know,” she replied, watching me rip the
wrapping open. “I was hoping it might cheer you up.”
“It’s so good to see you, Millie!” I
responded, hugging her once more. “But I’m so embarrassed about what happened.
How am I ever going to go back to school again?”
“Everyone was worried about you, Julia!”
she quickly replied. “After the ambulance came, you were all that everyone
could talk about. They were all so concerned. They’ll be so happy to see you
back at school tomorrow.”
I looked away from her trying to hide the
tears that had sprung to my eyes. “I really don’t want to go back to school,
Millie. I’m so worried about seeing everyone. It’s all so humiliating.”
“Julia, don’t be silly. Everyone will be so
happy to see that you are alright. And the musical would never have happened
without you. Miss Fitz and Miss Sheldon are so grateful for all your help. They
even made an announcement at the end of the night and everyone stood up and
cheered. They all know how hard you worked to put it all together.”
“And anyway, it was lucky that our dance
was the last performance. Everyone got to perform and you’re ok now. Apart from
you collapsing, the show was a huge success. And so much of it was thanks to
After a moment’s silence, she continued,
“You ARE coming back to school tomorrow, aren’t you, Julia?”
With a nod of my head, I gave her another
big hug. But I was still concerned about Sara. I wasn’t sure whether to mention
her to Millie or not. Millie would probably say I’m imagining things and being
So, I decided to keep my thoughts to
myself. I didn’t want to spoil Millie’s visit. I was so glad that she was there
and I actually began to look forward to returning to school the following day.
I felt especially grateful to have Millie
as my friend.