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Life's a Dance
Life's a Dance

Life's a Dance

MistyJJPMisty Poulson
1 Review

Amber’s face split in a shocked grin as her school’s name was announced,
“First place in the Forestry Category and the team that will be moving forward to the National 4-H Forestry Invitational in West Virginia this summer is…Terra Academy!”
A cacophony of noise exploded from the other teams around her, the voices and cheers blurring together. The atmosphere saturated in celebration, surprise and shock filled in around her teammates and her.
She punched Roy’s shoulder, “We did it!”
Roy just smiled, gleeful surprise glowing in his gaze. Liam couldn't seem to form words either a surprised blush crawling across his cheeks as several girls offered their congratulations. Caleb merely seemed to tune the noise out as he muttered in shock, “I can't believe it. Nationals? West Virginia? I can't believe…”
A warmth spread in Amber’s chest as she glanced around at her teammates, something told her that this summer was going to be a completely different ballgame from anything she had experienced before.
She smirked, but she was ready for it.
<><><><><><><>

Amber sighed as she stepped into the theater of Helmand’s Outlaw Summer Pageant. School was out, the drama was gone, Roy was gone, and she had the comfort of the theater around her. Her Mom rubbed her shoulders as they looked at the familiar stage, worn chestnut colored planks formed a welcoming place to create the art that brought this theater to life every year.
“It's a family tradition. Just do your best and you'll get the part you're meant to have.” Amber smiled, her Mom had a way of sounding like she was quoting something but she nodded despite the evident nerves climbing up her throat.
Her Mom gently and encouragingly returned the smile before stepping out of the theater doors, leaving Amber with her messy T-Shirt, boot cut jeans, and short brown ponytail standing in the almost empty theater.
The word almost is what set her on edge, because in front of the stage stood a middle aged woman. A challenging smirk dressed her sharp features, deep purple hair was pulled back in an effortless messy bun, and her dance uniform went well with her assessing gaze.
“Amber?” She said it more as a command than a question and Amber found herself rushing down the isles of chairs to stand in front of the woman.
“I'm Talia, your choreography director this year.” The corners of Talia’s mouth lifted slightly, “That is, if you can manage to make the part.”
The words Amber had planned to say died in her throat as Talia let out a high pitched chuckle, “I'm just teasing! You need to lighten up.”
Amber offered a silent unenthusiastic smile,
“Ok Amber, let’s see what you've got.” Talia gestured to the stage and Amber awkwardly stumbled up the stairs. She let herself stand center stage, relaxing under the warming light and staring out at all the empty chairs.

Talia flipped on the sound system, making eye contact with her before flipping it on. The sound of a symphony filled the air, lifting Amber's feet off the floor. The world slowly spinning around her,
“Very good job. Now tell me a story.” Talia’s voice sliced through the movements of Amber's dance guiding her to open up. She stepped to the side, moving her body to the rise and fall of the notes, her arms following suite as she flowed across the stage. The lights and world around her spun, blurring into a canvas of chaotic, but somehow beautiful colors.

Something drew her in, causing time itself to slow down. Amber found herself wanting to express every ounce of emotion that was filling her heart as the notes soared, there was something to be said in every note, every articulation, every moment of breathtaking silence in between phrases and she wanted to communicate that. And she lost herself in all of it, so that when the song came to an end she found herself panting and staring at the face of her instructor, her eyes a glow.

“Very well done Amber. I’m impressed, you have a gift and I suspect I will be seeing you again very soon.”

Amber beamed at this, her smile reaching her eyes as she mumbled a breathless word of gratitude before walking somewhat shocked towards the doors, her thoughts soaring.

Wow. I actually did it.

Did you see her smile?

That felt amazing!

As Amber stepped out of the auditorium she came in contact with someone much taller and firmer than her.

“Oh! I’m so sorry!” She cried looking up, she sucked in a breath. Amber colored eyes hesitantly met hers,

“It’s ok.” He muttered,

‘He’ was a tall well toned boy probably around her age, a dusting of freckles adorned his face, his hesitant smile lifted the corners of his eyes drawing attention to the purity that glistened in them, his face was rounder with a prominent jaw, dark brown hair complimented his features and his voice was a soothing Tenor. It wasn’t until he cleared his throat that Amber aroused from her fascination.

He began to walk away, “Wait.” The proclamation slipped easily from her lips,

He turned back to her making her freeze under his gaze, “Yes?”

His voice sent paralyzing chills down Amber’s spine, but she still managed to choke out the question. “What’s your name?”

“Conner Williams, yours?”

“Amber Gaddison.” She laughed when the corners of his mouth lifted,

“That’s a pretty name.” Once again Conner turned to walk away, throwing a comment over his shoulder as he walked through the Auditorium doors. “You did good in there by the way.”

And that was it. Amber was left in the quiet hallway, a warm heat creeping into her cheeks.

<><><><><><><><>

Amber joined her parents as they scanned the cast list anticipation climbing up her chest.

“Aha! There you are honey.” Her Dad said pointing at her name,

A sigh escaped her lips, she was listed under dance group number one for women. Amber’s parents were talking, but she wasn’t listening.

Amber smiled as a thought came to mind. She continued scanning the list her gaze falling on Conner’s name.

The words stuck in her mind, ‘Dance G. #1-Male’. That meant...no. She couldn’t let herself get excited over the realization that kept trying to push its way into her mind.

A hand gently touched her shoulder causing her to flinch.

“Hmm. So we’re going to be dance partners it looks like.” The words caused her to whip around to see Conner standing there.

“Oh, it’s you!” Amber exclaimed throwing her arms around him,

He let out a nervous laugh, “Well this is new.” Scarlet invaded his pale cheeks making him glance at her parents,

“Oh.” Amber said realizing his discomfort and silently chastising herself for being too friendly. “Mom. Dad. This is Conner Williams, he’s going to be in the same dance group as me.”

Her Mom smiled sweetly, “Nice to meet you Conner.” His blush only served to deepen at this,

Amber’s father on the other hand spoke in a deadpan voice, “Yes. It’s very nice to meet you Conner.” Conner flinched under Mr. Gaddison’s disapproving stare, swallowing he forced words from his throat.

“Well, it was n-nice to meet the two of you. Mrs. Gaddison you look beautiful today, and Amber that’s amazing that we’re in the same group. I have to go, but see you at rehearsal tonight?”

Amber nodded trying not smile too widely as he walked away, her only response to her Mom’s next words a soft blush.

“Now what was that all about?”

<><><><><><><><><><>

A week passed and under Talia’s direction Amber’s group massively improved. She found herself coming earlier in order to relax before practice, that’s how intense it became. It was something she found that although was good in the long-term was taking its toll on her current effort.

She ran her fingers through her ponytail before stepping through the Auditorium doors, a sound met her ears as she let herself close the doors behind herself. Soft and melodic, it was somehow soothing. The player sat at the Grand piano in front of the stage gently swaying as he pressed each key, his hair glistening under the stage lights.

In an instant Amber found herself beside the boy, beside the piano, beside the source of the music itself. Beside Conner.

“You play the piano?” The inquiry was soft and virtually a murmur,

He flushed, “Yup. I’m not very good though.”

Amber blanched at the comment, “You’re great!” Conner’s crimson fire only deepened as she sat down beside him,

“Maybe we could play together?” She suggested placing her hands near his on the keys,

He merely nodded, embarrassment evident in both his expression and the way he held himself. Amber scanned the sheet music leading Conner into the tender phrases of the music allowing him to guide her as much as she was guiding him. They pushed and pulled the notes, the spaces, every aspect of the music and expressed something they couldn’t quite explain.

Conner’s eyes lit in wonder, a smile tickling the corners of his mouth. He laughed when he stumbled and Amber guided him through the phrase,

“You’re amazing. I didn’t know you played piano.” She just smiled as he stumbled again his thoughts clearly not on the music. He was looking right at her now causing the dormant butterflies to take flight.

“Conner that was a Bb.”

He shook his head, “Right.” A nervous chuckle bubbled from his lips, “Sorry about that. It’s just that you’re so talented, patient and just so sweet. And I like that about you.”

The sound of someone clearing their throat divided the bond between the two musicians,

“Am I interrupting something?”

A shorter boy approached them, his jaw was firm and square, sandy blonde hair styled to perfection complimented icy blue eyes, he held himself with confidence and his disposition was clear.

Amber racked her brain, searching for something to say. “Hi, my name’s Amber.” She held her hand out to the newcomer,

“Oh. So you’re the mysterious ‘Amber’ Conner can’t stop talking about.”

Conner couldn’t meet his friends teasing gaze, the boy took Amber’s hand, firmly shaking it. “What a pleasure it is to finally meet you, I’m Ryan.”

“Ryan.” Conner groaned,

“Oh, I see how it is. You would rather spend time with your new friend, I get it. Don’t mind me, I was just leaving.” Ryan wore a pained smile, Conner didn’t respond simply starring shamefully at his hands.

As Ryan turned to leave, Amber jumped up flustered. “Wait. I was just leaving.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

The night was a tranquil one, the night sky a canvas of blacks and blues dotted in pallid lights. Amber found herself transfixed as she stared up at it letting the warm zephyr toy with the loose strands of her hair. It fascinated her how complex the world was, everything about it and the people in it. The way everything was interconnected in some way.

It made her want to dance and so she did. Sinking into the feeling of unique self expression, she just enjoyed the smells and sensations that came with being outside.

She had forgotten where she was until someone cleared their throat,

“Am I interrupting something?”

Amber abruptly stopped, fire burning in her cheeks when she found Conner watching her.

“No. Not at all.”

His face was still as he responded, “Then perhaps I could help?”

Amber’s cheeks burned at this point, the words dying before they could leave her mouth. He moved before she could respond, taking her hand and smoothly cradling her waist. Guiding her into a gentle and alluring swaying motion.

“Where are you from Amber?” Conner whispered, almost as if he didn’t want to disturb the tranquility of the night.

Amber smiled, “Not from here.” He merely nodded in response,

“I can tell.” Amber slowed their movement at this, searching for an appropriate response. “How so?”

Conner’s gaze flicked around her face never lingering on one thing, “Well, just the way you act. Girls around here aren’t as intuitive or ready to listen as you are.”

Amber found her thoughts drifting to Roy as Conner spoke.

“You’re caring in a way I guess I don’t see in a lot of girls, you also respect yourself and that’s something that I can appreciate.”

She remembered meeting Roy for the first time, she remembered when he had said that he liked her, and the way Conner was dancing with her reminded her of every time Amber had ever been touched by Roy.

“Not to mention the fact that you’re very pretty.”

“Mhmmm…” Her eyes were closed at this point, her thoughts completely devoted to an entirely different person. The motion of memories in her mind captivating every facet of her attention.

“Are you good Amber?” Amber’s eyes flung open at his question,

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She mumbled, “I should probably be going though.”

Embarrassment crawled up her throat leaving her speechless, the places where he held her tingled, and she felt like she wanted to run. There was something wrong about dancing with this boy.

Amber let her hand slip from his and eased his arm from around her, “Goodnight Conner.”

“Goodnight.”

<><><><><><><><><><><>

Amber sat on her front porch the following morning soaking in the sunshine, she watched as the rays of light glistening and played on each drop of dew that littered the verdure around her. She smiled, mornings were always the best. She could get lost deep in her thoughts while looking at the stars the night before and then just mull over them in the mornings floating lazily on the very surface of her feelings without diving into their enticing depths.

Amber phone vibrated beneath her jerking her attention away from the painted view in front of her.

“Hi. This is Conner.”

She smiled faintly as she read the message, taking her time to respond. “Hi. How did you get my number?”

“Your Mom, she really likes me.” An overwhelming mix of emotions washed over Amber as she read this,

My Mom?!

I don’t know how I feel about this.

Do I even like this guy?

I’m so confused.

“Anyway I was just wondering if maybe you wanted to go get ice cream or something?”

And that was it, all rational thoughts fled her mind leaving her submerged in a vacant and shocked sentiment. Her fingers were numb and she sat motionless staring at the screen.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.” This shook Amber from her daze,

“No, it’s fine. That sounds fantastic.”

She waited hoping her response was clear, “See you in an hour?”

“See ya then.”

Amber didn’t move from her porch in that hour, she didn’t bother with her hair, she was already dressed, she figured there was absolutely no point in trying to impress this guy or in getting attached to him in general. She merely passed the time waiting, a constant nervous thrumming on her thigh her only movement.

Amber wrapped herself in her thoughts until Conner finally showed,

“Hey.” He called dismounting from his bike,

“Is that our mode of transportation, sir?” Amber asked looking over his disheveled appearance,

“It sure is.” Conner smiled widely draping one arm proudly over the handlebars,

“But there’s only one bike.” Amber reminded him,

He looked down at the bike and then back at her, smiling wider. “Yup.”

Amber laughed, “Ok.”

Conner gently touched the side of his nose, “Don’t worry, I have an idea.”

She stepped up towards him, “And what is this brilliant idea of your, Mr. Williams?” She smirked as he gestured towards the handle bars,

“You want me to ride on the handle bars?” Amber asked incredulously,

Conner shrugged blushing slightly, “Do you have a better idea?”

“No!” She sputtered, “You’re crazy that’s all!”

His face drew abruptly back in offense as she said that and she hurried to correct herself, “But aren’t we all?” Conner let out a nervous laugh at this,

“Are you going to get on?”

“Absolutely.” She replied,

Confidence is always good, right?

No harm in a little bit of recklessness.

Eh. If we die we can just say it was in honor of ice cream.

No big deal. Am I right?

Amber shook her head as she shakily climbed up on the bikes ruff handlebars, positioning her body so that she was balanced while Conner mounted the seat behind her.

“You ready?”

She nodded despite her white-knuckled grip on the handle bars, “If we crash I will never talk to you again.”

Conner laughed, “Then I guess I better be careful then, I wouldn’t survive if you stopped talking to me.”

Without warning Conner pushed off, their balance teetering slightly causing Amber’s whole body to tense. “Conner!” She warned,

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” Amber forced herself to relax as they began to smoothly make their way away from her house. She laughed, “This is kind of fun actually.”

“I told you.” Conner replied softly,

Cars passed by them in a variety of colors, a weaving line of varying shades of blues, reds, blacks and whites. Trees and buildings caught her attention as they rode down the sidewalks dodging the occasional person.

Amber found herself drifting into a daydream where she was with a very different boy. She smiled softly to herself completely lost in the idealism of the scenes she played in her head.

“Vanilla or chocolate?” Conner asked staring at her,

In her daze they had walked into the creamery, the cashier starring impatiently at her.

“Oh, umm...vanilla?” Conner raised an eyebrow at her response,

“Why vanilla?”

Her gaze flicked between Conner and the cashier, “Because I don’t like chocolate.”

“Hmm.” He smiled, “We’ll fix that soon enough.”

Conner turned back to the woman behind the counter, “Two chocolates, please.” Guiding her to a table, Amber claimed the chair across from him.

“Would you like to join my family in going to the lake tomorrow?” Conner forced the words from his mouth when Amber didn’t say a word, simply staring out the window.

She blinked slowly, contemplating the idea. “Yeah, that sounds great.”

Conner grinned, “Awesome. You’re going to love it.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

“I’m not getting in.” Amber folded her arms in contemptuous obstinance as Conner gestured to the canoe. It drifted unsecure in the waves, she could hear the floorboards creak as it rocked back and forth, the idea of stepping into something so unreliable spiked her nerves sending chills down her spine.

“Come on Amber. It could be fun.” She cringed at his plea, she could feel herself balancing precariously on the edge of giving in. Before she could decide he grabbed her hand pulling her into the canoe with him.

“Conner!” She cried, tensing as she found her seat, trying not to focus on the grey water beneath her.

Conner chuckled, “You’re fine.” He smiled, “It’s not like the boats going to flip or anything.”

Amber raised an eyebrow, “You wouldn’t do that, would you?”

“Would I?” Conner challenged, pushing his weight to one side making the canoe rock beneath them.

“Conner!” She squealed grabbing his arm for balance,

He raised an eyebrow slowly leaning his weight to the other side, “Conner. Don’t you da-”

But it was too late, she found herself fully immersed in the frigid cold water, her hand slipping from Conner’s forearm. She choked and sputtered, kicking for the surface. Gasping she spat water out her mouth as she looked around.

Conner climbed into the boat obviously hiding a smile, “Conner, you rotten egg!”

He laughed watching her as she struggled to stay afloat, “Would you like a hand?”

“No! It’s obvious that you want me to be in the water, so I might as well stay here and eventually drown!” Annoyance flared when he extended a hand still,

“Fine.” Amber groaned grasping his hand, smirking she jerked on it catching him off guard and sending him tumbling into the cold water.

“Hey!” He cried as he resurfaced wiping water from his face. “Ok, fair is fair. I deserved that.”

“Yes, you did.” Amber replied smugly splashing water into the defeated boy in front of her, “But it was fun.”

<><><><><><><><><>

“So...tell me about you and Roy.” Mia nudged in a singsong voice,

“There’s nothing to tell.” Amber replied, “I don’t like him.”

“Keep telling yourself that.” Mia said a smile tickling her features,

Amber shook her head positioning herself comfortably on the bed beside her friend. Mia had travelled out to watch Amber and her family perform, taking the visit as an opportunity to squeeze information out of Amber.

“Is there another guy?” Mia suggested,

“No! Absolutely not!” Amber replied incredulously,

Mia smirked, “So you’ve decided to devote your loving heart to Roy after all?”

“No. We’ve been over this, I don’t like him, I don’t like Conner, I don’t like anyone.”

Mia perked up as Amber spoke, “Ooh! Tell me about this ‘Conner’. He sounds cute.”

She groaned, “You haven’t heard anything about him! How do you know he’s cute?!”

“That’s the point. You haven’t mentioned this guy before.” Mia poked Amber’s side playfully, “So you must be hiding something.”

Amber fell back on the bed in embarrassment, covering her face as fire crawled into her cheeks. She moaned, “Fine. He’s just a guy I met at the Pageant.” She watched as her friend settled in, letting out a laugh as Mia rested her chin on her fist. “It’s nothing big.”

Mia nodded in approval, “Continue.” She encouraged, “What’s he like?”

Amber sat up, “Well...he’s super sweet, kind of timid, and super awkward.”

“Mhhmm...and what does he look like?”

She smiled, “He has dark brown hair, amazing amber colored eyes, the most attractive voice and he’s way tall.”

“Height. That’s always good, no good having a guy that’s shorter than you.”

Amber laughed, “I guess.”

“Ok, what does he like to do because we all know a guy’s profession is extremely important.” Mia offered a wink, gesturing for Amber to respond.

“He plays the piano and dances. Other than that his friend, Ryan, said he likes airplanes and does something to do with mountain biking?” She offered,

“What have you guys done together since you met?” Mia inquired,

Amber explained the story from beginning to end, rehearsals, their walks together, the lake, and the way he danced with her.

“Ooh.” Mia said teasingly, “I think someone has a crush.”

“No I don’t.” Amber insisted sheepishly, “The only guy I like is Roy.” She clamped her mouth in shock as she said it.

Mia’s grin grew wider, “I knew it! So you do like Roy after all?”

Amber fell back on the bed hiding her face in one of the pillows, “I keep trying to tell myself I don’t, but it doesn’t work.” She peeked at her attentive friend, “And I’m worried about my teams trip to West Virginia after performances this week because I don’t know if he still likes me or if I even want his attention in that way and-”

“And you just need to stop denying it, if he likes you than all the better. But there’s no point in shoving your feelings down.” Mia interrupted,

Amber thought about this, turning the comment around in her head in silence. Mia patted her shoulder, “Think about it.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

Amber breathed a sigh of relief as the sound of clapping hands and shouts erupted around her, filling every space of the auditorium and washing over her like a wave. She stood breathing heavily on the stage beside the rest of the cast, she took a bow as she scanned the crowd a grin splitting her face.

Conner smiled beside her, sliding his fingers between hers he squeezed her hand tight. Mouthing the words, “Good job.” Amber nodded in response,

An overwhelming sense of joy coursed through her as she exited the stage, Conner’s hand still entwined with hers.

Amber spotted Mia in the crowd making her way towards Amber’s parents, she moved to meet up with her, but a gentle tugging on her hand jerked her attention to Conner. He gestured for her to follow him,

“Come on.”

She laughed, “Where are we going?”

He smiled, “Outside.”

Amber smiled nervously, “Why?”

“I want to show you something.”

“And what might that be?”

Before he could answer they were met by the comforting touch of summer night air on their skin.

Amber followed as he led her to an open area where the sky glistened down on them, Conner dropped her hand to look at her.

“Do you see the sky?”

Amber nodded, “Do you see the Big Dipper?”

She scanned the night sky before nodding, “How about the star in the right corner?”

She nodded again, “That’s our star. Every night look at that star and I’ll know that no matter how far apart we are, we’re looking at the same star.”

“Conner, I don’t know what to say.” Amber replied, her thoughts raced at an incomprehensible speed blurring together in confusion.

He smiled in the dark, “Than don’t say anything at all.”

“Conner-” She began, but before the sentence fully formed he had picked her off the ground. Spinning her so that the sky itself became a blur of cerulean and white streaks. Catching her by surprise a squeal slipped from her lips, “Conner what are you doing?”

He spun her some more, positioning her so that she was laying in his arms as he did so. “Making you smile. What guy wouldn’t want to do that? You’re an angel with a heavenly smile and I want to see it before you leave.”

Amber laughed, “If you say so.”

Conner set her down, “Will you promise me something?”

“Of course.” Amber said staring intently at him,

He swallowed nervously obviously deciding what to say, “Will you promise never to forget me?” He searched her face for her response,

“Of course.” She promised,

Conner smiled in relief, “Thank you.” He spun her one more time before setting her down, “Thank you so much.”

<><><><><><><><><><>

I’m travelling across the United States with a bunch of boys, no big deal. It’s not like I’m the only girl or anything!

Hmm...maybe I should count myself lucky? The only girl…

I am stuck in a plane.

I am stuck in a giant metal object and we are in the air of all places.

I can’t believe this.

I hate the silence. Why is everyone so quiet? We have voice boxes for a reason people!

This is so stupid. Take me back now.

Nope. I’m stuck.

Roy’s sleeping, Liam’s sleeping, our male chaperone’s sleeping, Caleb has his eyes closed so I’m going to say that’s close enough.

Breaking news! How to determine if said person is a male! They will exhibit the following symptoms of “manhood”: 1. High tendency to sleep a lot or the ability to sleep just about anywhere! 2. Where was I going with this?....

I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing with my life.

Amber groaned as the plane ride seemed to drag on forever, she stared out the window, forcing her gaze away from the peaceful figure of Roy and allowing herself to get completely lost in her thoughts.

Despite the words of her conversation with Mia echoing in her head, Amber mentally chanted to herself.

I don’t like him. I do not like him. I don’t like anyone, least of all Roy.

<><><><><><><><><><>

The days at the competition blurred together, one day after another of nerve racking testing and mingling. The third day and the final day, Amber stood listening as her coach, Dr. Herrin, spoke to them.

“I don’t care how you do in there as long as you do your best. We’ve come this far and in that way we’ve already won.”

Amber smiled nervously and watched as her teammates nodded, her nerves mirrored in their expressions.

“We’re going to do great guys!” Amber forced enthusiasm into the words,

“I hope so.” Roy murmured under his breath,

They walked in silence as they were guided to a room set up with two white tables, a timer, microphones and buzzers, along with various other pieces of equipment. A wiry man with greying hair, sharp features and an intense gaze sat at the head of the two tables. A asian looking man sitting to his right smiled as Amber and her team walked in, his hair was dark and neatly kempt, his features rounder and more friendly. The man on his left was more calm, neither friendly nor crass as he gestured for her team to take their seats at one table. He was younger with light brown hair and square features that drew attention to his tight brow and proud jawline.

Amber watched as the opposing team found their seats, their team captain taking his place across the table from her. He looked at her, his eyes showing an emotion Amber couldn’t quite place and that wracked her nerves.

She forced herself to listen as the man at the head of the table explained the rules, but instead the words went over her head. Amber found herself looking down the table at her teammates, thrumming her fingers on her thigh in apprehension.

We’re going to do fine.

There’s no reason to worry.

I studied.

I know this stuff.

If we lose it won’t be a big deal.

“Are you guys ready?” The man’s hoarse voice sliced through Amber’s anxious thoughts and she found herself numbly nodding even though she desperately wanted to shake her head.

“Good. Then let's proceed with the toss up questions.” The man flipped through a stack of cards scanning the question, “A board foot is equivalent to a board that measures…”

Amber moved to click her buzzer, but the boy in front of her was faster. “144 cubic feet.” His voice was low and he barely nodded when the man spoke, “Correct.”

“A habitat is…” Amber hurried to push the buzzer, but once again the boy beat her to it.

“Uh, a place where a plant or animal lives.” She clamped her mouth shut when the man said, “That is correct.” She ground her teeth, focusing only on that boy across from her.

Oh, boy. I’m going to get it next time, just watch me.

But despite her determination Louisiana's team kept the lead, staying easily in the front.

“Ok moving on to the individual questions. Let’s start over here with Utah’s team captain.” The man stared at her,

“Are you ready?”

Amber nodded, the man gestured for the guy on the left to start the timer. “Ok Amber, define DBH.” Her mind went blank as she watched the red numbers on the timer countdown. She racked her brain, searching for the answer. She knew this! It was so simple and she used it every time she did something with forestry! But what was it?

Amber swallowed helplessly as the numbers threatened her making her panic, she felt backed in a corner.

As she opened her mouth to respond the timer interrupted her, cutting her response short.

<><><><><><><><>

With her teams’ failure weighing her down, Amber made her way to the showers to get ready for the evening social that would signal the end of the competition. As she sunk to the floor of the shower, the hot downpour of water soothing her thoughts, she let her mind just wander. Her thoughts walked up and down paths, straying through memories and feelings that littered the surface of her mind. Everything was cluttered, tangled and confused.

Amber took several deep breaths before letting all of that fall away, leaving a clear and soothing space in which she could think.

Her team had taken 11th, which she had to admit, wasn’t all that bad. But she still found herself disappointed, weighed down by what she saw as a failure. They had come all this way, merely to fail.

She sighed as she stepped out of the shower, drying off and slipping into a sunshine yellow dress. Facing her reflection she twisted her hair, her thoughts not really on her appearance or the social or anything in particular. She felt drained, like all the energy had been sucked out of her.

As Amber stepped from the bathroom into her dormitory she faced several girls getting ready for that night’s events as well,

“Oh my goodness! You look beautiful!” A girl with long black hair exclaimed when her gaze fell on Amber,

Amber stammered for a response as the outburst quickly drew the other girls’ attention to her apparel. “So cute!”

“Where did you get that dress?”

“I love your hair!”

“Did you do that yourself?”

“So pretty.”

Amber blushed, “Umm, thank you. Uh, I made it and yes, I did my own hair.” She giggled, “Did I get them all?”

The girls merely giggled along with her, admiring each others dresses and makeup choices.

The girl who had spoken first, held out two dresses. A simple mink skater and a velvet sheath. “Which one do you like better?”

She considered the options, “Probably the skater. I think it will look better on you.”

The girl giggled in approval, “Not to mention, it matches my boyfriends eyes.”

“Really? Purple matches your boyfriend's eyes?” Amber asked in amazement,

“Yeah. It brings out my favorite tones.” The girl began to dress herself as Amber stood there, she found her thoughts drifting to Roy’s eyes. He had such amazing eyes, a pool of browns, greens and golds that often enchanted her. She smiled softly to herself,

“Do you have someone special that you’re thinking of?” The girl’s question caught Amber off guard,

“How’d you know?” Amber flushed,

“You have that look on you face. So who is he?”

“Just a guy on the team.”

“Will he be there tonight?”

“Yes...where are you going with this?”

“Just thinking how lucky you are.” Amber laughed,

“Yeah, right.”

The girl grinned pinning her hair up, “Fine. Don’t believe me, your choice.”

<><><><><><><><><>

Amber walked barefoot around the buildings, luxuriating in the green grass, and just simply enjoying herself. She found herself dancing like she always does, spinning and twirling in the yellow folds of her dress, reveling in the feeling of grass under her feet. She hummed a tune that flowed through her head, matching the rhythm to her motions.

The world blurred and she imagined herself on a dance floor, hundreds of people watching and enjoying her expression. When Amber stopped she found herself standing outside the boy’s dormitory. She watched as Roy walked down the steps running his fingers through his hair.

Amber hitched a breath, her heart fluttering nervously. He wore a white button up shirt tucked into formal pants, unbuttoned at the collar, and lacking a tie. She barely breathed as he walked towards her,

“You look nice.”

“Thanks.” She muttered, “You look good too.”

Amber mentally slapped herself,

C’mon Amber. You can think of something a bit more graceful than that.

But she couldn’t seem to get her brain into gear, the nerves simply making her speechless. Roy on the other hand appeared impassive, while she fidgeted. She felt like an open book and this annoyed her.

She felt tense and uptight as they joined the other teams in the main building, music was playing and although she felt the urge to dance Amber found herself shying away from the dancefloor. She scanned the room from her corner, taking in all the noise and clammer around her. Caleb sat in a chair, his arms folded simply staring at the people mingling around him. Liam was already on the dance floor, sweeping some girl off her feet.

As Amber surveyed the room her gaze met Roy’s from across the room, his eyes penetrating her calm. She quickly dropped her gaze as he made his way towards her.

No. Not now Roy.

Please don’t ask me to dance. Please.

Find someone else.

Please don’t-

“Would you like to dance?” His voice interrupted her thoughts dragging her gaze up to him,

“Umm…” She couldn’t think straight, her heart pounding like a nervous bass drum in her ears.

“C’mon.” He encouraged holding out his hand,

“Sure.” She hesitantly placed her hand in his letting him guide her out onto the dance floor.

I’m going to regret this. She thought forcing herself to relax and enjoy the moment. But she didn’t regret it, not for one moment.

She found herself pleasantly enchanted by the way they moved together, the way he held her, the way he looked at her. He spun her with a breathtaking confidence and she found herself laughing.

That night was an amazing one, one she would never forget. Life’s a dance. Sometimes you lead, but a lot of times you just follow. And that was what she was doing. Following Roy’s lead.

Author Notes: If you guys haven't figured it out yet, these two books(Life's a Dance and Sky full of Stars) are about me. So I hope you enjoyed them...I would really like your guys' input if you're willing. How do you guys think this story will end? How do you think I can make it better? Does it need more detail or descriptions? Or does it need to be shorter? Just let me know your ideas please.

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About The Author
MistyJJP
Misty Poulson
About This Story
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Posted
26 Sep, 2019
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6,136
Read Time
30 mins
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