Yes, it sounds crazy I know.
With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop
I have been tagged by a wonderful writer and person Elsa Winckler in an Author Blog Hop.
Visit her website at http://elsawinckler.com/
So here are the questions the tagger sent through to me and my answers:
What are you working on now?
I've recently worked through a content edit for my second book in The Creators series called The Dance of The Firefly. It's my ballet novel!
Give the beginning on your WIP as an excerpt. (This isn’t completely polished.)
Rowena Chisanga slipped her foot into her second ballet pointe shoe, feeling the lambskin pad her toes against the roughness of the box at the bottom. She hadn’t adjusted to the modern silicone boxes yet. Taking a deep breath, she stood tentatively, one foot flat, the other en pointe. Her wan expression blinked back at her from the mirror that took up the whole wall of her teaching studio. It had been years, years since the dream had died. But the sensual pull of her muscles hadn’t died. She stood on the tips of her shoes and twirled in a gentle pirouette. All her steps came back to her. Without music, she danced about, her breath coming in gasps and her feet aching, but she felt alive.
She sneaked a peek at the mirror. By now, she could have been a prima ballerina. Yet she appeared ancient in her reflection, her arms stiffened, her face pale. A tear moistened her cheek.
“Mom,” she whispered.
The words, “I miss you,” didn’t come out but she felt them right down to the aching hole in the middle of her gut.
“Mmmh mmmh.” A harsh throat-clearing came from the door. Rowena spun en pointe to face the entrance to her studio, bringing her hands down in a gentle fall. One of the parents stood there, hands on hips. One of the fathers. She swallowed the tears and the frustration. The last students had left an hour ago. What did he want?
“Hi.” Life had to continue, even through the numbness. “May I help you?”
“I wish to discuss something with you. I’m Jamey’s father.”
“Oh.” Cold shivers ran down her spine, mingling with the cooling sweat from the brief exertion that had sapped all her energy. Jamey. Her most trying student. The one who made her wish she didn’t live in a remote African country where no ballet star could ever rise to prominence, hence her having to teach instead of perform.
She padded towards him on the soles of her pointes, the leather and boxes making soft knocks—one of her favourite sounds—against the springy wooden floor. Upon closer scrutiny, the man’s eyes were narrowed, his gingery-brown eyebrows jagged.
“What would you like to discuss with me?”
He seemed to brace himself, a vein popping in his forehead. “My daughter came home from her ballet lesson today in tears. I want to know why it’s necessary for you to shout at her continuously.”
Rowena clenched her teeth together and counted to five in her head. She managed to speak in a calm voice. “Jamey doesn’t listen in class. She just wants to play.”
“She’s only six.”
“I know that, but I’m trying to teach them a dance for the concert coming up. She won’t cooperate with even one sequence. Instead, she talks and giggles, clowning around.”
“Then you don’t have control over your students.”
“She’s only six,” she said.
The man’s eyebrows lifted, a minuscule movement. Was he amused? “Look, I can take her to another studio if you can’t handle her.”
Rowena just stared at him. Where? She was the only ballet teacher in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia—the womb of Africa, as people called the country. Her country was shaped like a foetus in a womb, and found in the bottom-central part of Africa. Landlocked, hot, tropical, and the only home she’d known.
“Be my guest.” She turned her back to him and took graceful, pointed steps to the barre. She lifted her leg up against the barre and stretched open, all the time hiding the racing of her pulse. What could she say to him? For once, she didn’t care. Too much had happened in the last week. She couldn’t handle another problem.
She’d expected him to disappear. Instead, she jumped as a shadow appeared in front of her. The man stood a foot from her. Close up, his presence seemed to permeate her. For a brief moment, her gnawing sorrow vanished and attraction surged in like a current of potent goodness. His features were clear-cut yet contrasting: bronzed skin against almost ginger hair. It could pass for a more golden brown. Speckles of day-old matching beard. Light brown eyes like the earth near Lake Kariba. Sturdy posture, straight and purposeful. Broad shoulders. Strength she could rely on at this time.
She pushed the crazy thoughts away.
His expression had changed to an almost lost look. Patience settled upon her, sweet and refreshing after days of pure irritation at everything that moved.
“Maybe you could help Jamey.”
He raked his fingers through his hair. There was anxiety there. Suffering. She took her leg down to give him her full attention.
“What could I do?”
“You could give her extra lessons.”
“I’m full up already, Mr. Hosking. I don’t have time….”
“Jamey loves to dance. Her mother was a ballet dancer. It’s her only connection with her late mother.”
Late mother! Rowena’s lungs drained of air. Oh, how she could identify with that. Although her mother’s death was recent, only six days ago, and she wasn’t a child, she suddenly wanted to hug Jamey and fill her heart with love to take away the lonely hopelessness. How could she have been so impatient with the child? No wonder she was so restless. The concert had become more important than the children. Creating a good image for her studio to get more students had taken precedence over putting something into the ones she had.
He peered into her frozen face. “Look, I’ll pay you double than a normal lesson. Please.”
She nodded. “I will. Of course.”
He instinctively grabbed her hand. “You won’t regret it. Jamey’s a very bright child and she’s crazy about you.”
Her insides shuddered and her toes curled at the simple contact of his hand on hers. His hand was warm and he squeezed a little too hard, but suddenly she wished he would keep it there. But he didn’t.
He laughed. “Yes. She says you’re so beautiful, just like her mommy. You do look a bit like her.” His eyes became dreamy and distant, as though a lifetime of memories passed through his mind.
A pang shot through her. Imagine a man like him loving her like he loved his late wife? What a selfish thought. He was still grieving.
“I think that was why she was so upset you shouted at her today.”
“I’m sorry.” She wiped a loose strand of hair away from her face. “It’s been…well, let’s say it hasn’t been the best week of my life.” Maybe the worst. “I’ll make it up to her.”
“Thanks.” His voice came out strong, confident, less pleading. His gaze—intense and looking right through her—suddenly made her want to flee.
“Shall we make a time, a day?”
“Would Saturday be a problem? I know she’ll be more relaxed then as I’m not at work.”
Would he be watching the lesson? “Um…I prefer the parents not to sit in. It’s distracting for the students.” She couldn’t bear those scrutinizing, brown eyes upon her while she taught, watching her every move, making sure she didn’t say anything offensive.
“Of course. I’m just saying, she doesn’t go to preschool on a Saturday and we normally have some quality time together. I think the preschool gets her hyped up at times but there’s nowhere else for her. That’s why Saturday would be good.”
“Sure. I’m pretty full-up the rest of the week, anyway.”
He sighed. “Look, I’d better go. Jamey’s at my work colleague’s house at the moment.”
“Sure. Saturday at ten?”
He walked out of her studio as she studied his work attire—smart-casual chinos and a checked short-sleeved shirt, beige and white. What did he do? What was he like?
What had gotten into her? She’d lost her mother to heart disease only six days before and had sworn off dating several years ago to get her business established. Maybe her heart was in such a weak state that it was going wonky.
She walked to the music system by her desk and played some Tchaikovsky ballet music, her favourite. The steps came back to her in waves and her energy seemed to return. Why had she stopped dancing properly the last few months? She’d done fitness, simple steps, and stretches but nothing with complex movement. Partly her mother’s illness, but also busyness and a little bitterness, since she hadn’t gotten the part in the South African ballet company she was sure she would get. But that was five years ago. She should have gotten over it by now.
The flow of her limbs to the music brought fresh tears to her eyes. She pictured her mom standing there as she used to, leaning on one leg, neatly dressed in her sleek pants and soft blouse—usually pink or peach—admiration pouring from her gaze with a half-smile and half-pursed-lip concentration. She would take in every step that she made, every nuance of form. Afterwards, she would tell her how she did and Rowena would nod because that was what she’d felt her body do.
The music reached a crescendo, mirroring her somber mood. Every cell in her body took on a whole new power—the power of drama and oozing emotion, through her movements. As the piece climaxed, she slid into the splits and flopped her arms down in an exaggerated descend.
She could still do it. After all these years.
How is your work different from others?
Whew, that’s a hard one. I think every writer has a certain charm, something that draws you to their work. I hope I have one too. Some reviewers have said my work is sweet and tender and touching.
And now I’m tagging Ylette Pearson (my dear writer friend), author of Her Bareback Cowboys… You’ll find Ylette here: http://ylettepearson.com/ - don’t forget to pop in and say hi next Monday and see which author she’s tagged.