The following is a creative short story. Enjoy!
Ava’s eyes caught on the landscape out the back window. She let her mind fall away from the moment and drift. A leaf gracefully slid from the golden canopy. When would it change? Or would it? She shook her head and let it fall into her hands. She knew it wouldn’t. Not ever. It mattered not what everyone told her. She knew her reality. Her prison. It was like a steel cage with no key. She could peer out, but never escape.
She tuned reality out around her, instead choosing the peace of the music in her mind. She had the uncanny ability to replay songs, rich and full, like others played records or called up tracks on a CD. Whatever her mood, Ava could flip through the playlist within her heart. Like a slow and haunting melody, it would dance across her nerve endings, escaping from the ends of her fingers wherever they may lie.
Today, her fingers found the rough wood of her desk and she slowly tapped out the steady beat of Journey. She let herself be carried away on the word pictures that faded in and out of focus. She stilled her hands, then with care, slowed the tempo so each word was captured in time; each phrase hung like a framed picture against the blank wall of her hollowness.
Just a small town girl
Livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere…
Ava saw herself standing on an empty street, a light breeze washing over her. She was wearing a soft and worn out leather messenger bag across her shoulder and in it she knew every item and it’s significance. There would be precious little she’d take from here.
What she wouldn’t give to pick up and leave right now
A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on
Her mind drifted over to “Him”. To his hands. She traced them in her mind, feeling the warmth and the hardness of them. They were rough and yet intensely soft. She knew, that made no sense at all, and yet it did. Her heart did a little skip beat when she saw him come into the room each time. He owned it. Completely. His was an unhurried and quiet presence. It calmed her, and yet it flustered her completely. She flushed now thinking of him. It made her glad, for once, that she need not try to impress him. His obvious acceptance of her was so unexpected and refreshing that she found she stopped trying and she just “was”. Did that make sense? It was as if her soul, often so tormented, simply relaxed and her whole being smiled. She smiled now. She smiled until she remembered herself…
Ava was both her mother’s greatest accomplishment and deepest failure, all wrapped up in one moment of weakness. Every single day of Ava’s life, the girl inside her mother screamed at her for being born. Ava was sure of it. Joy and pride had once brightly lit in the young mother’s eyes when looking upon her daughter’s blond head and creamy skin. It took a few precious years for that to turn that on a dime.
Some will win
Some will loose
Some were born to sing the blues.
Oh, the movie never ends,
It goes on and on and on and on……
With unrestrained energy, yet grace, she let her fingers move the music as a maestro moves the symphony into it’s grand crescendo. She rocked back and forth and let her legs move and tap out new and stronger chords. A grin lit her face and she leapt to her feet.
Arms waving in the air, she moved the colors and magic that held the pictures around her in a static place and forced them to burst forth into life. The pictures came alive. She was no longer the sad girl on the corner, waiting while life passed her by, but she was the one with a full heart urging the girl to dance! To believe! Live!
Don’t listen to the world. Don’t let them take the joy! What right do they have to steal the music and write the ending? After all, HE saw her. She knew he DID. He saw past her bars and into her heart. In fact, maybe for the first time, there was a chance that the harsh steel bars didn’t hold her at all.
Ava had tried. She had. She’d done everything she could to make her mother’s eyes light up again they way they once had. But even though she could see love in her eyes… she never saw the unrestrained joy. It broke Ava. It did.
Lifting her arms up above her head she swirled them around and the colors danced in time to the music. Ava gave herself over to the music completely. She was done with reality. She wanted to run away with him. Right now. It was almost time, and she wanted to believe, if only for THIS moment in time, that it WAS possible. Why not? Why for everyone else in the world but her?
For now? She believed. She let her heart free from her prison. She took her fingers and pried open the bars, just enough, and set it free. It raced forward and it took flight.
Immediately the music took on a life of its own and it began to own her instead of her, it. She knew what kinds of looks she’d draw if someone were to happen by right now, but she cared not. Oh to be free! It was the most glorious feeling in the world! To be in love, and to race away with it! To imagine that he would look at her again, with those deep eyes, and truly SEE her! She never knew the power of the music until she allowed it freedom over her like this; and she let it move and flow, to twist and grow. She was like a bird in flight. It was beautiful. It was amazing!
The chorus spun over and over in her ears… in her mind.
“Dont stop, Believin…”
She didn’t know exactly when the words had sowed themselves into her heart, but they had. Now all that mattered was that they were woven into the fabric of her very being. She had a will to fight against all the staring eyes and the negative voices that seemed to always believe her to be nothing worth noticing. She WAS someone… even if no one could see past these bars imprisoning her.
Ava reached out and took hold of the bars and she shook them. She wrapped her fingers around them till her knuckles turned white. She strained and pulled against them, but they held fast. NO! A tear slid down her cheek as she twisted against reality. It held firmly to it’s hold on her.
“Ava,” a voice called out as a knock at the door came.
A look of surprise washed over the older woman’s face, and then pity. Her eyes took in the gangly form of the young woman in the room, arms waving over her head, fists opening and closing. With a slight drop step, she took small circles in the room as she moaned to herself. Her blond hair was pulled back into a pony tail and had come loose around her face. She looked disheveled. There was gong to be some work to do to get this child ready if she was going to be on time today.
“Ava, dear! Look at you!” A woman dressed in neat slacks, with a colorful pull over nurse’s top, came into the room. Ava’s eyes registered her entrance, but she did not acknowledge her otherwise. Ava moaned louder and moved toward the window. “No honey, we need to get you ready. You have a dance lesson today!” She moved her away from the window and over to a mirror.
Agitated, Ava pushed the hand away that tried to help tame her stray blond curls that had freed themselves. She reached for a worn brown bag that lay near the bed.
“No, you don’t need to bring that with you. You’re just going downstairs today. It’s your dance lesson. You remember?” A few loud voices made their way down the hallway and a boy slapped the back of another as he yelled in agreement. Ava’s eyes followed them. “Here, let me fix you up. You want to look pretty, don’t you?” With that, Ava’s hands fell to her sides and her moaning slowed.
The woman shook her head to herself. Such a pretty girl, really. It was so hard her family that she couldn’t understand much and that she couldn’t communicate with most. But Ava seemed to have a connection with dance, and to music. She seemed to come alive when she was near either one. So Patty had fought for her to get into the music program here at the group home. She’d come so far since then.
Ava walked in the room. The music was already playing. The instructor was leading a group of awkwardly moving couples to the music by calling out steps of, “and a One, Two, Three, Four.” Ava looked around the room till her eyes fell to the one person who wasn’t moving to the music. It was HIM.
He walked over to her as if she was the only person in the room. His eyes held hers and he saw her. It wasn’t her imagination. He did. He saw her. Ava felt her heart speed up and her hands shake a bit. Calm down, Ava, she said to herself. Be cool here. She smiled up at him and offered her hand.
Looking down at her, he took her hand and swept her into the room.
For the next hour, there would be nothing else. There would be no prison. No walls, no awkwardness, nothing. There would be only him. He came each week to dance. To be her partner. To free her from the reality of her world. To be both her dream and her reality. If she couldn’t feel the hardness of his hand in hers, she’d swear he was an angel. She wasn’t entirely sure why he came, but she wanted to believe it was because of her… because he couldn’t stop thinking of her all week, like she couldn’t stop her mind from replaying this simple hour, every single one that followed it. She refused to be reasonable, but instead gave herself over to the music and to the feel of him, to the smell of his cologne, and to the nearness of his warmth as they moved in time to the music.
Ava sighed and smiled up at him. This was enough. For now it was. It really was.
Looking down at her, Larry couldn’t help but feel himself grin. She never really spoke much, but he seemed to understand her anyway. He felt lead to speak to her as if she understood what he was talking about. Maybe he was nuts, but he felt like she did. So in between songs, and during the break, he would look into her deep blue eyes and ask her about her week. He refused to do the easy thing and talk about surface things like weather and how dinner was. He filled in the gaps by telling her about his hectic week and telling her how crazy it was in traffic on the way here. About the guy who cut him off, how he restrained himself from yelling at him, and that it was because she came to his mind and he imagined the disapproval she’d show in her eyes and the way she’d turn her head and wag her finger at him. She had grinned at him then.
Ava always rewarded him each week by shining her award winning smile. It was a little crooked half smile that lit her whole face. One eye was a tad drooped, but the light in them when she saw him across the room more than made up for it. There was no way he’d ever want to put disappointment into those eyes. It’s what kept him coming week after week. He’d begun coming after he was asked to volunteer to come to dance classes as part of a program reaching out in the community… but now? Now it was for Ava. She was truly one of a kind. She was far more beautiful than most of the souls who passed through his days each week.
Ava was real. She was unhindered. She was like no one else. She didn’t seem to see the bars that imprisoned most people… she seemed so free. He wished he could show her off to the world. He wished he could somehow show the world how beautiful she was. Heck, he wished the world could be a little more like Ava.
He looked down at her as they stepped together in time to the music. She was beaming. He grinned. She was a shinning star. She was his dancing star.