by Siobhan Knight
06 Sep 2012 19:37 (updated 06 Sep 2012 20:18) | 0 comment(s)

Just when I'm starting to get comfortable, I get thrown a curve ball.

This time, in the form of a fourth ballet set. Eric and Cyn didn't think anything of telling us about that first thing this morning, emphasizing that we're all so good with the other dances that this should be a cake walk.

Except, you know, for the one of us that isn't one hundred percent on top of the other dances? Now, I get to learn a new one.

Fortunately, I've only had to focus on class and forms this morning, and the real work doesn't come until after lunch. I got pulled aside by Cyn who offered me extra time before and after rehearsal to work on anything I want but she assured me that she and Eric have no doubt that I'll be ready to go just like everyone else.

I'm still newly terrified.

Which is why I'm still here, in the changing room when everyone else has started to head out to lunch. It's warm and humid, which usually makes people stay in. But now it's September and we're heading into fall and everyone wants to take advantage of the outdoors while we can.

My hair is down and I've slipped into a pair of capris and a loose shirt, and I'm thinking I'll go have a quiet lunch at the sushi bar or maybe grab breadsticks and salad at the Italian place. It's going to be an afternoon of work, so I need the carbs.

"I'm just so sick of it. She's not better than I am." The voice comes from the other side of the locker room, and I don't hear a response, so either I'm about to learn who the crazy dancer is, or someone's on the cell phone. "I deserved one of those roles, but of course not because I'm not giving blow jobs to Eric."

Whoa, catty much?

I slip into my shoes and stand up from the bench seat. Looking up just in time to catch Collette's eyes on the other side of the locker thanks to the wall length mirror.

"I have to go." The dancer hangs up the phone, glaring at me.

Like it's my fault she's bitching on her cell phone for not getting the parts that went to Sadie and Delia? Suck it up, I say.

"You're still here?" Collette asks, circling the locker. Is it weird that I think she totally looks like a vulture?

Yes, I'm not too comfortable with that idea because that makes me the prey.

"I'm about to go out and grab a bite." I pick up my purse and sling it over my shoulder.

Collette rakes her eyes over my body. "Be careful what you eat. You wouldn't want to …get fat." There's a silent emphasis on the end, seeming to imply 'get fatter' instead of what she said. She sits down and slides off her slippers, "The leotard just emphasizes everything."

"Thanks for the advice," I say, not really meaning it. I'm on my way out anyway. And if I wasn't? I'm not hanging around for target practice.

"You've been talking to Cooper a lot lately." Collette follows me with her eyes. "He's nice, isn't he? Giving all sorts of helpful advice?"

"Yeah, he has." He's not the only one, though he was the first one. Since Cooper started talking to me on Monday, a few others have opened up, but he's really been the most helpful. Outside of Eric and Cyn, of course.

"Mmm." Collette purses her lips and then shakes her head. "Don't get too comfortable with that. He's not being altruistic. I'm sure he's telling you how good you are, and how great an asset you are and all that, but really? He's just trying to get closer. Rub your ego the right way so that he can rub other things, I'm sure you understand.

"It's what he does. You're just another pretty ballet dancer who's going to spread her legs and get her heart broken." She gives me a sad smile. "I'm not trying to be mean, but honestly, think about it. You're not even done with Julliard. You need a ton of training on technique, and the only reason you managed to get a big chunk in the Fall Gala is because it's contemporary and not classical. Better you deal with it now, instead of being disappointed and heart broken later. Cooper Montgomery will say what he has to say to get in your pants. But he's not the one casting roles, and Eric and Cyn are worried about how you're going to do. What does that tell you?"

I open my mouth and then immediately snap my jaw shut. I want to argue with her and tell her she's wrong, but … is she? Didn't Cyn offer to stay and help me after rehearsal? Cooper is a huge flirt, and I don't really know him. I know that I'm good enough to be here, I wouldn't have been selected if I wasn't, but I have a long way to go to be as good as Sadie or Delia. I'm still learning, and no amount of talent or enthusiasm can make it up for that. Classically, I'm not ready for the Gala. Could I be ready in three weeks, enough to fake it? Maybe. But right now? I'm nowhere near good enough.

I'm good enough at Julliard but this is a different world. If it hadn't been for Madame Beaudreau, I'd still be at Julliard getting better. Perfecting myself.

I wouldn't have auditioned.

I wouldn't have killed my audition.

I'm not classically trained and I'm not ready, and I know that. I know that I'm willing to work my ass off to be ready and look as good out there as everyone else. I'm not ready to compete with Sadie or Delia but …

For a long minute, I stare at Collette. Not speaking, just staring in disbelief. Not hurt, not insult, just utter shock and disbelief.

"Wow," I finally find my voice, and the shock turns to annoyance. More than that, I'm suddenly starting to get really pissed off. "Are we fifteen?"

Collette blinks at me in confusion. "What?"

"Are. We. Fifteen?" I fold my arms over my chest and walk back over, out of arm's reach but close enough to stare down at her where she's sitting. "Because the last time I succumbed to that bitchy catty mean girl attitude was when I was in tenth grade. I was the Queen Bitch of Mean Girl and that was only because it took me until I was fifteen to realize how immature I sounded."

It's a good thing she's not an actress because she sucks at it. Collette gasps and tries to look surprised and confused. "Cheyenne, I don't know what you're talking about."

"Just like you don't know my name?" Beat. "Let me spell it out for you carefully, then, and I'll use small words. You need to try harder and do better, because if that's the best you can do with the poor girl prep school psychological sabotage then I'm embarrassed. For you. I'm embarrassed that you are dancing with the top ballet company in New York City and are so insecure in your talent that you have to pick on the new girl because she might be a little bit of competition."

I glare at her a moment, hold my hand up when she tries to say something. "You know something? You're right. I am not a prima ballerina. I am nowhere near being a prima ballerina. I need work and I need training. But I. Am. Here. And I wouldn't be here if I wasn't good enough. So walk your drama off the stage and watch your back, because I'm going to dance all over it."

I leave her sputtering and calling me several names as I walk out with my head held high.

Like I said, I may not be a prima ballerina yet, but I'm good enough to make Collette sweat. I'm good enough to be here and every day, I'm going to get just a little bit better.

And Collette can kiss my well dressed Upper East Side ass.


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