Evelyn was doing a mixed dance competition and wanted to combine some hip hop moves with ballet. Unfortunately, my mind was still filled with Emma and the embarrassment my lost bet with her incited. Part of me enjoyed how Emma’s eyes had looked at me when my shirt was off, but I wasn’t sure how to take her interest, knowing she was more into girls. If she was interested in me, then why would she share a picture of me with a friend. To make matters more awkward, Evelyn and I were turning the choreography into a paired dance before I was fully aware what I was doing. She was a pretty girl with short, blonde hair parted at one side. Though she was a bit taller than Emma, the short hair had me constantly thinking of the pink-haired pixie. Our routine evolved over several hours into a strange thing that I felt would do well, but she would need a partner for it.
Evelyn entered first, slowly wandering the imaginary stage as a girl exploring the woods before an oncoming storm. She found dark things and ran from them as the storm unleashed its fury. She was terrified of what might be chasing her in the pouring rain, and gazed around frantically with every flash of lightning. Feeling surrounded, she cowered on the ground, waiting for some monster to spring from the abyss, taking her life with its terrible fangs. Instead, a man-like creature slowly came out, dancing carefully around her, drawing closer ever so slowly. She noticed the creature and watched it as the lightning allowed, scared still but growing braver. The creature moved through the shadows, barely perceptible to her eyes, in a jerky fashion, as if some hidden puppeteer was controlling its every move. Before she realized what was happening, the creature touched her. She was entranced by the creature’s gaze for countless heartbeats
Then they both broke free of their restraints in an explosion of life, spinning apart before dancing back together. They expressed countless joys in their short time, lost in the moment, and had a brief moment of passion, nearly kissing. All nightmares and dreams come to an end, and this one was closing with the storm. The creature and the girl were reduced to quick, rigid movements as if the puppeteer claimed them both now. Back into the forest from whence the creature came, they were pulled away, forever together in the forest yet forever kept apart, but even the puppeteer could not keep their hands reaching toward one another one last time, for in a moment the two had experienced a feeling of which most can only imagine with the utmost hope in their hearts.
I had asked Evelyn several times as we choreographed the dance together if she truly did want to switch to a paired dance, and I had to ask again. “Are you sure your mother will be fine with the switch? I don’t know how easily you can switch sections if you’re already registered.” She looked up at me with her brown eyes and said, “Don’t worry, James. This won’t be a problem. I adore the routine we made. My mom will go along with it as well.” I didn’t feel reassured at all, since now she would need a partner. “With whom will you do this dance though? I know you have a recording for your partner to study, but you’ll still need to practice together quite a bit. Then you’ll also have to get the audio made.” She simply smiled at me, saying, “I’m sure something can be arranged. Aren’t you for hire?” I was afraid she might say that. “I truly doubt your mother will want to hire me regularly for a dance partner plus a performance with you. Don’t you have a friend who’ll enter with you?” I wasn’t quite certain, but she seemed disappointed by my response.
“Look, James. I don’t think the money will be an issue. I’ll talk with her tonight, and I’m sure she’ll contact you soon.” Sweaty and tired, I didn’t want to change back into my clothes. I needed to hurry if I wanted to catch the next bus. “Ok. I hope everything works out.” Evelyn grabbed my arm as I started to turn away. “James, is there any way that I can get your phone number or email address in case I need to get in touch?” I hesitated, not wanting to breach my barrier between work and home once more, but I could see in her eyes that she was determined to get something. I went ahead and wrote down the same email address I had given Michelle. “Thank you, James. I’ll send you an email soon, so you’ll have mine.” I bid her farewell and walked out the door, still wondering if that was truly the best thing to do.
There was a dog that seemed to be following me not long after I left Evelyn’s house. I was not normally one to think of a random animal as “following” me, but several turns from her house with the animal still there made the term come to mind. The dog wasn’t getting any closer, but it wasn’t pulling away either. When I sat down at the bench for the bus stop, it sat down a ways off. I looked at my cell phone to discover that the bus was likely gone already. I sighed. There wouldn’t be another one coming for a good twenty minutes at the earliest, so I dug through my bag and found my headphones. There was nothing like some good music to pass the time, so found a playlist on my phone and started it rolling. I shut my eyes and relaxed, letting my mind wander through the countless things that had happened to me over the past week. Between people dying, possibly assisting in a robbery, and now finding that I might be committed long-term for a dance competition, I was really considering the idea of leaving a day unbooked soon.
I opened my eyes to check the time and found something exceptionally disturbing instead. What I had mistaken for a dog seemed far more like a wolf when it was sitting ten feet away with three more of its kind, walking toward me and growling. I jumped when someone spoke next to me, “Sorry, man. Evelyn’s taken. You picked the wrong girl to get involved with.” There was a fairly tall, lanky guy with shaggy, black hair who seemed around my age standing by the bench. “We can talk about her dance lessons later. Do you not see the wolves coming toward us,” I asked in a rushed whisper. “Don’t worry. They won’t start without me.” I was wondering what he was talking about, when he tried punching me. Though tired, I managed to dodge to the side. Unfortunately, that took me closer to the wolves, which nearly bit me as I got to my feet. I moved to run, but the wolves kept a semi-circle around me, forcing me back to the strange guy.
“Come on. Let’s see what you got.” He was coming at me again, but I was at least on my feet this time. When he punched, I used his momentum to throw him at the wolves. Then I spun and sprinted as hard as I could. There wasn’t a plan even forming yet. I didn’t know this neighborhood, why someone would train wolves as attack dogs, or why they would come after me on my first visit to the area. I was breathing hard, and my heart was pounding like a jackhammer against my ribs. I couldn’t last long at this rate, but I didn’t see anywhere to hide. Perhaps I should have tried fighting, but I didn’t really believe that would have given me a fair chance either, not against a man and three wolves which were likely trained to kill considering how they surrounded me. I kept pushing myself to run just a little bit farther, but I was already so very tired. I tripped and went sprawling across the pavement. There wasn’t enough left in me to do more than roll over.
I had expected my doom to be waiting above me, a wolf ready to tear out my throat. Instead, I found myself alone. I never would have believed that I could outrun the wolves, but I apparently managed to do just that. After a few minutes, I got myself off the ground and used my phone to find a new bus stop. Going back for a bag, some clothes, and a pair of dance shoes didn’t seem worth the risk of encountering whomever that guy was. This wasn’t something I wanted to tell my parents about, but Jarod was going to get an earful fit for the tabloids the next time I had a moment alone with him. I knew he’d gladly help me search the internet for any private owners that had wolves. One way or another, I was going to find out what on earth that was about. There were way too many strange things going on anymore to call it all coincidence.