The aroma of sweat and hairspray filled the locker room that Friday, multiple girls fighting for their turn at the single, large mirror within the vicinity. My nose turned up with newfound sass, my eyes taking one scornful survey of the glittery and prim faces around the room, my languid smile saying been there, done that. I kept close to my tribe of “returners”, our freshly plucked eyebrows and rosy cheeks lined in a perfect parallel. We mocked the younger girls with shaky knees and wide, curious eyes as we waited in a swirly line outside of the gym for our turn to present ourselves to the row of high-strung and perilous judges. Tiptoe stances stayed by the door, craving a peek at the current performers while multiple, determined girls practiced toe-touches and cartwheels.
My number was twenty one. This was somewhat of a good thing; I did not perform first, yet early, so the unstable nerves would not last long. Horror stories were passed down the line like weapons; returners who didn’t make it, broken ankles, sprained wrists and, God forbid, a fallen hair pin. I was thankful that Sienna was number nineteen, her thick eyeliner a familiarity and slight comfort.
A pair of eyeglasses and a clipboard called my group to perform; everything went blank. A blanket of stage fright wrapped itself around my mind, yet my body somehow remembered the entire routine and various counts. Next thing I knew, my ridiculous spirit fingers were raised toward the sky as a parting sign, my feet carrying me toward the enormous double-doors and into the sunlight.
Every other weekend, I visited my mother, and this just so happened to be one of those weekends. An agreement formed between Sienna and I of taking a dip in her pool to kick off summer break. We linked arms and strode off together.
“Do you think I’ll make it?” Sienna’s voice became a small thing in moments of hope and self-examination. A wave of chlorine polluted water swept over my sunburned face as I searched inside myself for a response.
A metal smile and a simple nod intertwined and rolled her way before I allowed the bright blue to take me under, my lungs filled with nervous air.