The cold January wind crept through the cracks of the window. Snow piled up outside as everyone left the parking lot. Jamie stood in the empty studio with only the emergency light left on in the center of the ceiling, massaging the bottom of her foot as she stared out the window. Ben would be expecting her, wondering why she wasn’t outside. With the snow accumulating she shouldn’t keep him waiting, but she wasn’t ready to leave the studio. This was the worst part of her daily routine. The air in the room was beginning to chill her now that the heat was turned off for the night.
The beaten up ballet slipper fell from her right foot as she began to rub from the heels to her toes. The soreness in her joints had gotten worse since her group started their new routine for the upcoming show. Every day, Jamie was at the studio with the younger girls rehearsing. Jamie stayed the longest, though, until everything in the studio was still but her. She had worked hard for the center part and for the solo. Just because she got it didn’t mean her tired body could rest now.
She slid down to the wooden floor. She extended her toes out and elongated her legs, giving them a good stretch as she reached forward. Leaning back, she wished that Clare was here. Clare used to stay longer with Jamie to do extra stretches and talk. They would wait for Ben to pick them up and go back to the house, where they would eat dinner with everyone. The house was always full of light and talk of the upcoming shows or events. Now Jamie stood by the barre doing her stretches by herself while Clare went off with the other girls or went to her new home with John. All Jamie had at the house was Ben—everyone else had moved on.
Ben stuck his head through the door, his bright blue eyes a beacon in the shadows. A chilling wind followed him inside, his navy blue hat dusted with snow.
“You’re not done yet?” he asked, tilting his head slightly.
“Now I am,” Jamie said. She pulled sweat pants on over her tights and gingerly slid her boots on over her sore feet. Ben handed Jamie her jacket and opened the door for her. Outside seemed almost darker than the small studio. There was no cars on the road and the street lights were getting blurred by the snow. The car was running in the first parking spot. The wintery wind was like a sharp slap to Jamie’s pale warm face.
Jamie held her hand up to her face, remembering the day that she and Clare had fought.
“You should have told me!” Clare yelled as she threw all her clothes into a bag.
“I thought you knew.” Jamie pleaded as she paced behind Clare. Clare didn’t stop packing.
“You knew I didn’t know, and you kept it a secret.” As she threw stuff into her bag a leotard got caught on the handle of the drawer. It shot backwards right into Jamie’s cheek, leaving a red mark.
In the car Ben looked ahead. Jamie watched as he moved his hands over the steering wheel but didn’t put the car in reverse. The headlights flashed onto the walls of the dark studio.
Jamie’s dark brown hair, escaping from a busy bun on top of her head, was streaked with sweat and snow. “What’s going on?” she asked.
Ben turned. “Have you talked to Clare yet?” Jamie looked away. She felt miserable enough about what happened. “Jamie, you need to talk to her soon. We can’t afford to keep living in the house alone.”
Jamie massaged her knee as she looked out the window. “It’s not all my fault, Ben.” She pulled her jacket around her tighter, watching the snow accumulate on the hood of the car.
“No, but you did a lot of it. She wanted the solo just as much as you did.” Jamie stopped massaging her leg. She squinted in an attempt to read his expression. In the dim light she saw his eyes, moist and partially covered by his heavy lids. His shoulders slumped slightly forward as he turned forward.
“Jamie, I can’t keep living alone with you.” Jamie let the jacket loosen around her as she reached out and tried to hold on to Ben’s hand.