Could This Be Love? (04)

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A Story by Deborah Benson

The audition

“…and sell your soul when dreaming ends?”

The night’s show had ended with significantly less fanfare than it had with the old lead. John doubted there was even half as many people in attendance without the old girl. He couldn’t attest to any difference in their performance, he hadn’t bothered with attending a show since Kimberly had told him when her shift ended anyway.

And if John’s watch was correct it should be over with soon.

He had been waiting since intermission for the show to end, checking his phone for different emails from work to kill time. However, he couldn’t go very long until his thoughts wandered back to Kimbey. Everything about her had utterly bewitched him and as Mark liked to point out, he hadn’t been able to go a day without talking to her since they arrived.

It wasn’t until the theater doors opened to let out the patrons that he even realized how much time he wasted just thinking about her.

Hopefully Mark would be the only person able to call him out for his daydreaming, he doubted he’d be able to come up with a good cover if Kim herself noticed.

Waiting against the theater doors John gave himself a few minutes to regain composure before walking in, seeing Kim starting to clean the stage as usual.

“I hope they at least give you overtime for that,” he said, having spent several minutes making up a better conversation starter than just a hello. Kim rewarded his effort with a small smile, motioning for him to join her on stage. “I’ve told you I like it up here. And if I’m lucky this will be my last time cleaning it for a while.”

John joined her onstage, taking a broom to start sweeping half of the stage for her, having improved greatly from his first attempt.

“Why’s that? Are you finished with Dakota’s hazing?” John chuckled, knowing his cousin would take advantage of new employees without a second thought.

With a small shake of her head Kim smiled, cleaning her portion of the stage with ease.

“Something like that,” she said, “tomorrow I’m auditioning to be one of those dancers. They need new girls for a new show their putting on and Dakota said I’ll be allowed to go out for a real part this time.”

The hope in Kim’s voice was evident, she obviously wanted a spot on stage badly, but John was still unable to keep back a judgmental laugh. She must be joking , he thought, looking back to Kimberly expecting to see her joining in his laughter, only to find her dark brown eyes glaring down on him with a fierceness that could only mean he’d done something truly wrong.

“Y-you’re serious?” John asked, his amusement quickly fading.

“Of course I’m serious,” Kim said coolly, walking over to him to yank the broom from his hands. “Do you have something against the dancers?” Her question sounded far more like an accusation.

“No! No of course not, it’s just, well everyone knows what they’re like…” John saw no change in Kim’s hostility. “You know, they’re all rather loose, and you aren’t that kind of girl!

That’s all I meant.”

“You have no right to tell me what kind of girl I am or not.” Kim’s harsh graze never left his.

“And I’ll have you know that being a dancer pays more than twice what I get for waiting tables. This may come as a shock to you but not everyone can live off their father’s money, getting that job would let me keep my apartment and I’ll have you know that I’m also just as good as any of those other dancers! So next time you want to come here to laugh at me save yourself the trouble and don’t even bother coming in.”

John was taken aback, never having been spoken to like that by someone he was interested in before. He couldn’t even remember the last time Mark had called him out like she had. As Kim turned her back to him and returned to cleaning the stage John realized just how badly he had hurt her pride and possibly her trust in him as well.

Had it been anyone else John would’ve accepted the turn of events and left with his own pride intact, but the idea of losing Kim’s trust was worse to him than having to swallow his own pride to go and get the broom back. Without a word from either of them John got the broom and began to sweep beside Kim, managing to clear more space with her help than on his own.

“I shouldn’t have laughed.” It was as close to an apology as he could manage.

Kim didn’t look up from her cleaning, only letting a small smile cross her lips. “No, you shouldn’t have.”

Somehow her small smile was all the reassurance John needed to know she at least forgave him.

Kimberly hadn’t spoken to John after they had finished cleaning, though she could tell he wanted to there wasn’t anything more she had to say. She had to at least pretend like she was upset with him. She was upset with him. He had no right to judge her over something he wouldn’t have understood anyway, but at the same time she found herself having an incredibly difficult time staying upset with him.

It was those stupid blue eyes of his, she was sure of it. If they weren’t so nice to look at managing to stay angry would have been so much simpler. She’d have to push how they glimmered whenever he smiled out of her head long enough to focus, she would be going up on stage in only a few minutes.

She stood in line behind several other dancers who had all worked with the company far longer than she had been around. Their clothes and shoes all shiny and new, obviously bought to impress Dakota and make the other dancers feel insecure. Of course the only person standing around without a new get up was Kim. If it hadn’t been for Serena’s sudden interest in how she did she wouldn’t have been in dance clothes at all.

Forcing herself to forget about anything other than the dance Serena had helped her prepare Kim bounced on the tips of her toes, waiting until Dakota’s sharp voice called out her name clearly for the whole theater to hear.

For the first time Kim walked out onto stage on her own with people in the audience. At least when John came into the theater she could spot him. Dakota’s face was simply a silhouette with two others on either side of her. They called her name and what she would only assume was her audition number as she was signaled to get into place.

She could barely hear her music starting over the pounding sound of her heartbeat in her head. Going through the steps Serena had taught her came as a rather jagged and labored process. Her own nerves getting the best of her, making the dance feel much more like a chore than something she enjoyed. And if she couldn’t even enjoy herself there was no chance Dakota and her investors would either.

Taking a small breath before the music could pick up Kim pushed all her nerves out into the audience, picturing for a brief moment that instead of the blinding lights and three people responsible for her fate that it was just John, standing at the bottom of the stage as usual waiting for his invitation to join her. It was a small thought, barely given time to take root in her mind, but it was more than enough to move her forward.

The nerves didn’t bother her after that. The music picked up and so did her movements, fast and fluid, catching herself with ease when her balance was thrown off. Whenever the music paused so did she, she could feel the strain in her muscles and just as they were about to give way the music allowed her to continue. For just a moment she allowed herself to imagine that the dance was for John, to prove him wrong about what she could do and to let them have something that was uniquely theirs even if it was just for a moment.

And as quickly as she had found her rhythm the music ended, stopping Kim in her tracks, leaving her panting heavily, noticing for the first time just how much energy the dance demanded from her.

Dakota stood up, pulling Kim back to reality with a slow clap that her partners didn’t share.

Kim couldn’t see the look on her face, but something about the length of the clap was more reassuring than any smile.

“We’ll get back to you by tomorrow, Kim dear,” Dakota finally said. “Go celebrate, you did wonderfully.”

Kimberly’s smile was so strong she could feel her cheeks start to ache. Through a parade of ‘thank you’s and grateful nods Kim left the stage, grabbing her bag from the back wall and running out of the theater with a level of excitement she had never experienced before.

With her bag draped across her shoulder she ran out into the hallway attaching the theater to the resort, spotting Mark and John waiting around patiently for her to get out. She couldn’t exactly tell why they were always waiting for her, but she was nonetheless thankful. John turned towards her a bit surprised, obviously having been planning to say something with Mark for a while, but Kim had no time for well thought out apologies or anything else he had up his sleeve.

Without a word to either John or Mark Kim ran over to John, jumping into his arms for a hug, nearly knocking him off his feet. Mark’s laughter filling up the hallway as Kim tried to express her thanks without squeezing the life out of John. She doubted she could put into words how the idea of having him in the room helped, but the hug was close enough for her. “It went well..?” John asked, hugging Kim back a bit unsure of whether or not to join in her excitement.

John nodded, pulling herself away once she began to calm down, realizing she might have overstepped her bounds. Carefully she backed away, smiling up to him brightly. “I think, she said it was wonderful.”

John smiled, about to congratulate her when Mark came up to hug her, not wanting to be left out of the celebration.

“That’s great!” he said, completely ignoring John’s glare to the back of his head simply to bother him. “I know just how to celebrate too.”

The twinkle in Mark’s eye only made Kim laugh, which simply made him smile wider.

Over Mark’s shoulder Kim could see John rolling his eyes. He may have been excited for Kim, but he wasn’t any keener to put up with Mark’s antics.

Thankfully Mark ignored that fact as well.

“You ever been to the pool here, Kim?”

Bleep Dakota sat in her office alone, going over the multiple audition tapes on her phone and the comments her partners had written in her notebook. They had a voice in picking the girls for the chorus, but nothing more.

The lead role was always a position she picked. If she was going to bill a girl as the company’s sparkling diamond then she had to make sure she was willing to risk the investors not approving. She had chosen Serena last time they were faced with a new investor and that choice had lasted them over a year, she’d even grown fond of how easy the girl was to manipulate when she first arrived.

Serena, however, had grown to be rebellious and the last thing her business needed was something thinking they could break her rules and go off on their own. She needed loyalty, she needed obedience, but most of all she needed the investor.

And with a ping from her phone she got the final verdict on the matter, a small text from her new investor that didn’t even bother with making the request a full sentence.

The investor needed Kimberly as badly as Dakota needed his money.

It was with that simple text that Kimberly got her role and that Dakota was promised enough money for an entirely new theater when the investor got her.

…to be continued

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