Life After Taylah

By: Bella Jewel


AVERY - 2014

“Allegro, Avery. You seem stiff.”

I swoop my body to the ground, extending my hands and twisting in a graceful yet quick movement. I lift my eyes to my teacher, Lyn, and see she’s got her arms crossed over her heavy bosom. I’m not moving stylishly enough; she’s making that very clear. She’s got me doing a routine to a slower tempo, and it’s not my forte.

I lower my head as my body swoops towards the floor, and I gracefully spin again, lifting up onto my toes before extending my leg out the back and then stretching my arms out wide and bringing my body back down so my fingers lightly graze the floor.

“Smoother,” Lyn orders. “You’re not moving smoothly enough, Avery.”

I close my eyes, concentrating harder. Three seconds later, I’m on the floor. My ankle twists beneath me and I cry out angrily, full of frustration. Lyn sighs, and walks over, kneeling down in front of me. “You have to get this right, Avery. It’s essential. How are you to teach the younger students if you can’t get the move right?”

She has a point; I have to get it perfect. I’m studying to be a ballet teacher with the academy, deciding that perusing a dancing career wasn’t something I truly wanted to do. I want to teach, it’s where my strength lies. I’ve been at the Ballet Academy since my mother, Taylah, went missing ten years ago. These people became my family, teaching me to dance and find my outlet. It’s my everything. My only escape. My only passion. I want to teach other children, maybe give them the same escape I was lucky enough to have.

“Take a break for the afternoon. We’ve been training for three hours. Go home, practice the routine and we’ll start first thing in the morning. You’re doing so well with everything else, we just need to get this one right.”

I nod, rubbing my tired ankles. “Thanks, Lyn.”

She reaches out, cupping my chin. I look up into her tired, blue eyes and I can see the pain there. She feels for me. I know she does. Sometimes it’s not a good thing. I don’t like having pity; I just want to be normal. That seems like it’s something I’ll never experience in my life.

“You’re an amazing dancer, Avery. You’re compassionate and strong,” she says, softly. “You just have to let go.”

She stands without another word and leaves the studio. I drop my head, fighting back everything inside myself. I know I have to be better, but to be better I have to let go. I get up each day and my routine is the same: I work until lunchtime and then I spend a few hours here, practicing and helping out the other teachers. Then I go home, sit alone most nights and spend my time trying to think about anything other than her.

The years do not ease my pain; they only seem to put a coating on it. It’s never easy not knowing and that’s what it’s been like for us since she went. We just don’t know. There were investigations, there were questions, and there were searches and pleas. She never came back. We never found her. We don’t know if she’s dead or alive.

Our family fell apart.


I lift my head to see Jacob, my boyfriend coming into the studio. Our relationship is somewhat organized so I can’t say love or attraction factor in the equation. My father is rich and very well-known in our town. He happens to be extremely close to Jacob’s family and their businesses run alongside each other. It’s almost been set from day one for Jacob and I to marry. It seems logical. I don’t fight it. There’s more than one reason why.

Jacob understands me.

Jacob doesn’t make me feel.

Jacob is easy.

That’s the way I want it. If I feel, I’m letting her down—forgetting her. I can’t let her down. Not ever. It’s easier if I do as I am instructed. My papa encourages me to dance because it’s the only place I feel passion. I’m almost sure he feels like it will heal something in me. He’s always paid for it. Without his money, I wouldn’t be able to study the way I do, nor would I be able to help all these students learn. Without this studio, I’d never be okay again.

“Jacob,” I whisper, staring at the man who I have basically signed my world over to.

Jacob isn’t a bad man, but he’s not entirely a good man either. He has a short temper. He is very professional. He is all about work. I believe there is a part of him that wants this with me, but there’s also a part that doesn’t. For his company’s sake, though, he goes along with it. He stands to inherit his father’s business as well as mine if we marry. He’s not about to let that fly.

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