Previously on Dance Academy: Christian may have been reluctant but he still went for his interview. Afterwards his feet led him to the Samuel Lieberman Memorial studio. Zach, shocked by Christian’s admission that he will not accept the job offer he received, tuck the contract in his trousers and walks off with it.
I tidy and busy myself till it got dark out. Surely all the interviews are done by now. Everyone knows their fate. And I know mine.
A sharp pull tugs at my stomach. Maybe I should have told them so at the interview. What if Ben could get the place now that I was going to say no to mine? My throat and chest tighten. So much for growing up. Once again I had thought of myself. Me, me and only me.
The wide studio with all its building stuff suddenly becomes claustrophobic, alien, as if it has recognised me for the fake that I am. Me? A teacher?
I freak out a bit, turning into the space desperately looking for something to focus on to still my mind. Where the heck is Zach? He’s been gone for ages. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t very well leave the place open: it would be hollowed out by morning.
I go to get my phone but that’s a daft move. I don’t have Zach’s number. We may have been pally pally all day but it had been a thin and ephemeral as appearances.
I tighten my fists, close my eyes and take some forced breaths. Then I throw a glance at my surroundings again. The floor is clear, the tools are all put away, there is no longer any wires hanging in weird places. There’s nothing left for me to do.
So I rummage through my bag. Nothing to eat. Nothing to drink. I’d rushed out with nothing but some crumpled bits of paper, a chewing gum wrapper, a few battered biros and a mess of crumbs lining the bottom of my rucksack. I fish out the sheets of notepad paper, smooth one and perch on the tool box. Plan. I will plan.
Nearly two sheets are filled by the time Zach comes back. By that point I’m not even sure whether I am more angry or relieved. But I have a choice, and that’s not always the case, far from it. Controlling my emotions has never been my forte. I usually act then think and it doesn’t serve me well. For once I have a conscious choice, I might as well make the right one.
‘I’m glad you’re back. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, I couldn’t leave this place all opened up.’
‘Sorry, Christian, I got cornered. But next time you can just go whenever you want, the release is there,’ he points at a button at waist level, ‘and the door is self locking. Just don’t leave anything behind you might need again later.’
‘What’s that?’ he asks, pointing at my scrawled up papers.
I check his curious expression and seethe at my own stupid assumptions. Who am I to make plans? This is not my place! I clear my throat. ‘Erm, for here, recommendations, really.’
His eyes turn piercing, as if they are rummaging through my brain. Then they soften into casual glancing. ‘Cool, show me.’ He hadn’t been quick enough, the pretence is all ruined by his unguarded first reaction.
He comes to squat beside me, but good luck to him if he thinks he might decipher my handwriting. I go down the most important and urgent points. ‘The barre needs to go into storage. You can’t have it just sitting there. The kids will sit on it, dangle from it, use it as a launch pad, and it hasn’t been designed for stuff like that. I don’t know how insurance works, but I bet they don’t cover for that kind of ”accidental” use.’
Zach laughs. ‘Okay, what next?’
‘I don’t see any music system as yet, and that’s good. You’ll need to have something covered, you know, so that the kids have only access to a slit thing for CD and a dock for MP3s and phones, with stuck on wires if needs be, nothing removable, unless you want it to walk out with the first users.’
‘Wow, I would have never thought of that. You don’t have much trust in your future pupils, do you?’
‘I know where I come-‘ and then his words hit me. ‘My pupils?’
‘What? You expect to teach somewhere else than here? With no qualifications, no one will have you.’ Suddenly the happy banter falls flat and his face grows red around the edges. ‘I mean, I don’t know what your plans are, I just thought… Well, I’m not even sure if it would be possible, I hope it might be but…’
I focus all my attention on him, my eyes probably as thin as slits by now.
Zach looks at me uneasily, then he rattles his throat. ‘I mean, they’re going to need teachers here, or at least coaches. But that might not be what you want.’ He grumbles some more, getting up and fetching his jacket. ‘I need to close this place before my wife gets into a flap already. Maybe if you give me your list I can have a look at it tonight.’
I stare at the papers in my hand. ‘Or maybe I’ll bring it back tomorrow and run through it with you, I doubt you could read it anyway.’
Zach nods. ‘Fair. Tomorrow, eight o’clock before my first class?’
Apart from going to see Tara, what else would I have to do but pack my things tomorrow? ‘Yep, can do.’
Zach seems far away, lost in thought. I’m not sure he heard me. Eventually, he looks up again. ‘Fine, then we can run through your recommendations.’
His tone is so tight, just like mine had been the first time I had tried to lie to my mum. I had wanted to go to the skate park but it had been already dark. So I told her I had to do homework with one of my mates. She’d seen right through me.
I’d got better with time.
Clearly Zach had had no practice. He is lying, that’s for sure, but what about?
I take my time to get my bag, carefully folding the paper back in, and observe him as he types into his phone. My stomach hardens again. He doesn’t want me here then, not really. All the rest, it’s been lip service. I have no training, I would not teach. He’s right. Who in their right mind would hire me?
‘See ya,’ I say as I head for the door.
‘Hey, Christian, can we swap numbers please, just in case?’
I stare for longer than is polite, then I mumble my number to him. My phone beeps. He’s sent me a text straight away.
‘Now you’ve got mine.’ He hitches his satchel over his shoulder and leads the way out, letting the door slide shut behind us. ‘Tomorrow, eight o’clock. I’m looking forward to it.’ Then he walks away towards the car park.
And I just stand there like a dumbfounded fool.