Sunday, March 01, 2009

Different Drummer: Serialized #5



Rehearsal: A Different Drummer
LK Hunsaker 

© 2006  All Rights Reserved


11 March 1974

Keeping her mind on the notes about what her students needed to practice proved impossible. She kept seeing the echo of Duncan’s eyes when he and Evan came to her door to escort her to work. The bright blue snares pulled her in, casting a gaze beyond simple flirting. Evan’s questioning look told her she had stared too long. He had shaved, the intensity showing even more with the bare skin accenting his rigid jaw line and eyes that were less tired. The handshake when they met was still as vivid as while he was still holding her.

He was the kind of guy she would avoid except that he was Evan’s friend, and Evan was more particular than most about whom he called a friend. He had a lot of acquaintances, and people naturally gravitated toward him, but he kept a wall between himself and others. Occasionally, he found someone he would let inside. Susie could count them on one hand: herself, his mom, her dad, Mike … and Duncan. Even Stu and Doug were still somewhere between acquaintances and friends, though she did count them as her friends. But she wasn’t quite as discerning. She needed people more than Evan did.

Deciding that trying to concentrate was a waste of time, Susie got up from the small work table in the teachers’ lounge and reclaimed the bag holding her cassettes and dance shoes. There had to be a free room at this time of the day, since most classes were in the afternoon and evening.

Walking down the quiet hallway, she paused for a moment to watch Janet teach an adult class. Her friend was great with adults and a good studio manager. Of course, she was nearly eight years older than Susie, three years older than Evan, but then, most of the teachers were closer to Janet’s age. Susie was the youngest, but just as qualified as anyone else working there. She had to remind herself of that now and then.

“Hi, Susie. You’re in early today.”

She smiled at Monica’s greeting. “I rode in with Evan.”

“How is he? I haven’t seen him here recently.”

“He’s fine, working longer hours since he’s been short-handed at the gym, and busy with the band, as usual.”

“Oh? Are they playing this weekend?”

“Friday night, at Maggie’s. You might want to come if you can. I think he’s talked his friend into playing and the new sound is great.”

“Maybe I will. Ronnie has cousins visiting and I don’t want them in my house all weekend.”

Susie chuckled as the bookkeeper left, and continued down the hall. They were the strangest couple. Monica was a straight-laced and highly intelligent business woman, the studio’s accountant, and Ronnie … well, Waylon Jenning’s Good-hearted Woman came to mind whenever Susie saw them together, thanks to Evan’s mom’s fervor for country music. Susie personally didn’t care for Ernest Tubb, or much of country music, though she did like that song. From what she’d heard of Waylon’s voice so far, she believed he should sing it himself and do a better job.

Finding an empty room, she slipped out of her flats and into her ballet shoes, beginning with a warm-up stretch, then falling in with the music. Thoughts of Evan and his friend dissolved into energetic strains of Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 and the luxurious feel of her muscles following years of training. She rarely wore toe shoes while working out, preferring the naturalness of the soft, well-worn slippers. Ballet was her first love, other than her parents. Evan was her second. She wasn’t sure which would come first if she ever had to choose.

She danced through the symphony and a serenade, then pulled her toe shoes on to practice her routine for the show. The theme was musicals and each teacher had chosen one musical to use for themselves and their students. She decided on “West Side Story,” with her four- and five-year-old ballet class dancing to I Feel Pretty, and the same age jazz class performing Cool. Her older students were covering the best songs on the rest of the soundtrack, with her soloist performing Tonight on pointe. It was her first show having a student in toe shoes, and she was more nervous about that routine than her own.

Susie was starting her section with Something’s Coming, dancing lead in jazz with her jazz students joining her, and they would end with her ballet students accompanying her solo on Somewhere. The teachers and assistants who actually spoke to her had given her compliments on the choreography. The others had been avoiding her even more.

The song ended and she glanced at the clock. Another hour until she went to meet Evan. Maybe she would be able to study her notes now that she had used some energy.

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