The best treasure is hidden in plain sight
“He can’t be serious. He really can’t. It has been months, years... since…He can’t possibly...” Aria thought as her eyes stayed glued to the computer screen in front of her. The words in their bold black print looking too strong and sharp to touch. Each letter hit her like a series of black shiny bricks, slowly but surely slicing through and defeating her eyes and mind. The bricks continued incessantly as her vision rescanned the textual wall in front of her. As though hypnotized by the characters in their view, Aria’s eyes raced over them ceaselessly, dizzying her, yet she stayed stuck in that whirlpool unable to escape and barely able to comprehend.
When Kayla walked into the living room, she spotted her friend looking like a zombie. Though her hair sat perkily upon the crown of her head in a ponytail, and her blue ribbed dance top and grey yoga pants looked lively and perfect to a tee, the body they encased seemed lifeless. Eyes, bloodshot and shoulders slump, so, that the strap of her top was falling, both from clear exhaustion filled out this view.
Kayla searched for a reason to this altered state. Checking her watch as she searched for clues, none seemed to hit her. Giving up the search urged by the alarm on her phone sounding, Kayla slammed closed the laptop that sat in front of her zombie friend.
Suddenly at the sound of the close Aria started, as if set free from some captivating spell, she sprang back to life. Checking her phone, and immediately grabbing her gym bag on the floor next to her, with a quick glance to Kayla she questioned. “What are you waiting for? We're gonna be late for class!”
Kayla stood there too shocked to answer, as Aria flew out of the room.
Then, the thought came to her, Aria’s eyes had been glued to that screen during her undead moment. The cause must have been on it. Her hand reached out to grab it, but the glimpse of her watch reminded her they were already late, so she vowed to abduct it later if Aria did not address her strange behavior herself first.
“OMG! Whose this girl?” and variations of such echoed throughout the studio as Aria entered and waited for class to begin. She had hoped that class would not have started yet, to avoid her teacher’s curt reaction to Kayla and she arriving late, but now her teacher’s tardiness was feeling more like a disadvantage. The constant chatter of her classmates made her heart race as she quietly slipped into the corner and prepared herself to start class.
Kayla’s entrance was not so quiet as she tripped, into the studio thinking she had to rush. A few of the girls acknowledged her fall but all the others remained glued to their phones and tablets, searching feverously to find out more about their current topic.
There could never be anything better to keep a group of teenage girls focused and intrigued then a celebrity mystery, especially one of the romantic kind , and even more one tied to a teenage heart throb.
“What the…” Kay exclaimed, getting herself back together. “Class hasn’t started yet, I guess?!”
No one replied. Kayla surveyed the room finding everyone otherwise contented, even Aria was once again zoned out and stretching. Kay’s fear for her friend returned and frustration broke her.
“What the Hell is going on?” Kayla nearly screamed at the huddled girls, breaking them out of their current efforts. Some of them began to shake at the harshness in sweet Kayla’s voice.
One spoke up. “Chill Kay. Class has been pushed back a few minutes so we’re checking out the latest scandal to hit our generation in Hollywood.
“Who’s pregnant now?” she asked almost systematically.
“No one…that we know of. No. It’s nothing like that.” The girl replied back.
“I can’t believe you haven’t heard!” Another chimed in.
“Heard what!?” Kayla replied more frustrated.
“About Jacob!” she replied.
“What about Jacob!?” Kayla continued to tug.
“Apparently his whole stepping back out of the spotlight isn’t just some play to sell more of his solo album. Rumor is while he was writing this new album certain things became clearer to him and he realized a lot he’d been denying.”
“As any good artist should while creating honest work.” Kay commented.
“Well one of these realizations was really major. It hit him really hard. He’s been tweeting about it like mad since.”
“Really, and what is it?” Kayla fished for what she hoped would be the last time.
“He realized that there’s this girl, this girl he knew a long time ago, they were like best friends, that he had lost from his life, and that she was the real reason he writes and sings, and that most ,if not all, of his songs have been about her, and for her alone. He realized that he has been in love with this girl since the day they met, that she was it for him and now she is gone.”
Aria’s daze broke and her heart began to skip beats. Her breath was becoming shallow.
“He realized he lost this girl on his own merit and is pleading desperately to find her.”
Kayla’s eyes made an attempt to look at her friend in the corner but she censored them.
“Isn’t it romantic?” One of the girls added.
“Are you kidding?” another replied. “The sooner that boy gets over her, the sooner one of us gets a chance at him.”
“Like that’s ever going to happen!” yet another piped in as Kayla made her way over to Aria who was slightly squirming at this point.
“Please!” the second girl replied. “Why do you think any of us are still dancers?”
“What a great question to start of the week before our big showcase with?” The teacher stated prancing into the room. “Thank you, Elissa.”
Phones flew away into bags as the girl rushed to join in their traditional circle. Smirks were thrown at Elissa bountifully and it was clear no one was going to end there.
As the teacher turned up the music for their warm up, ironically a song by Jacob’s band, laughter spirited out through the circle making the teacher send stern looks all around and noticing Kayla’s and Aria’s absences in it.
With a quick scan of the room she found her most focused, dedicated and responsible dancers, not to mention by far her best, in the corner. She walked over to the two to see what the problem was.
Aria had become pale from shock and dazed once more, a symptom that was seeming to be her body’s favorite defense mechanism. She shook like a small earthquake too from the music. Kayla just stood over her trying to calm her, worry taking over her face.
The teacher instantly became very apprehensive at the sight. “What’s wrong?” she asked Kayla as she approached.
“I think she is just a little anxious about the show case.” Kayla lied.
“That doesn’t seem like her.” The teacher replied confused. “Are you sure that’s all?”
“She might have gotten some not entirely good news this morning, too.” Kayla artfully worded.
“Well.” The teacher replied. “I’m so sorry. You two are definitely my best students and the most dedicated and there is no way Aria is going to be able to really work today. So why don’t you take her home and I’ll work with you two later if it is needed.”
“Sounds good.” Kayla replied relieved.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Inquired gently after giving Aria a couple of hours to calm down and get her head wrapped around the situation. Looking at Aria’s still rather pale face she reworded her question, “Why didn’t you lean on me? You could have just told me that you weren’t up to class today or that something was wrong?”
“No. I couldn’t. I couldn’t have.” Aria replied weakly. “No one is supposed to know. No one should know that I know…”
“I was right there with you, you forget sometimes I guess, you forget that I was there. I was friends with him too. Even if I wasn’t as close as you were, I was really close. I understand. You don’t need to hide any of this from me. I’m the only one you have that can understand this.”
“I’m sorry.” Aria replied, tears starting to flow down her cheeks. “My mind’s just so…mixed up right now.”
“Why now?” Aria continued. “ Why all of a sudden does he wanna come back? It’s been at least 3 years since…”
“Sorry Sweetie” Kayla comforted wrapping her arms around her best friend once again. “I don’t have any of those answers for you. All we know is that he is putting it out there to the public. Which isn’t the best, but I can kinda see why he did it.”
“Yeah,” Aria agreed.
Silence fell again for 15 minutes.
“So Aria?” Kayla inquired
“Yeah.” Aria replied more composed.
“What are you going to do?”
That question resounded in Aria’s head for days as she tried to put things back to normal. To her surprise actively thinking about the issue at hand helped her act as though it wasn’t happening. As the days progressed and they approached their dance showcase, the daily and still rather incessant Jacob talk became more of a more welcomed sound to her ears. The girls' gossiping, and their attention to detail negated any need for her to check the sources herself in order to receive updates on the situation she found herself in with Jacob. Many of Jacob’s latest posts were about things and information she was already well aware of. Nothing was showing up new, a fact that allowed Aria to breathe easier and focus on what could be the biggest dance showcase of her life.
Their teacher, more in an effort to motivate the gossip queens of the studio to put more effort into their dance than some teen heartthrobs twisted love affair, had announced that quite a few major choreographers and casting directors would be in the audience at the showcase. She even mentioned a few were possibly bringing surprise guests. This idea of course partially backfired giving the girls yet another gossip topic as to who would be coming, but for both Kay and Aria the news kicked them even more into gear. They knew what a huge opportunity this could be and became driven to not only make up for the short and insignificant time they lost in the craziness, but to work their bodies raw by adding in a new duet to the lineup.
Such a suggestion as adding to a brand new dance to a show so close to the performance would normally solicit an accusation of insanity from their, or really any dance teacher, followed by ofcourse an immediate "no", but knowing the stakes and the ability and talent of the dancers making such a plea, she allowed it and offered all support and guidance she could give. The girls opted for co-choreographing between just themselves and to leave the piece as their own surprise.
After much deliberation they choose a song, one that they both knew they could have a strong instant connection to, which was important due to the time restraints. The song was by Jacob’s old band. It was the band's first hit and a song that both Aria and Kay were involved in. It brought them back to a simpler time, before things got so complicated.
Though they both were very cautious of the choice at first, once they were working with the song it proved to be the best thing they could have done. Working through the song was cathartic for Aria and while she worked through the moves, her mind was able to work through the mess that Jacob’s change of heart and his families’ absence from her life had caused. For the first time in a long time things were clear.
For hours before the performance Aria listened through the music she was about to dance to, in order to both rev herself up and calm her nerves, as always, but the last of them, the duet, once it started it remained on repeat. She leaned back on the couch and closed her eyes as she let the music flow over her.
Every time it started it brought a new memory, memories of a time long before Jacob and his brothers’ names were broadcasted on National TV and on billboards internationally, when they were just the sweet boys whose house she spent more time at during her childhood than her own.
“5 minutes ‘til we’re on!” Kayla exclaimed while shaking Aria out of her musical coma. “Ready?”
“So ready.” Aria replied energy streaming from her eyes accompanied by a smile so happy it could cure cancer. Determination flavored her stride as she made her way towards the stage. Arriving just behind the curtain she found a silly strange sight, her fellow dancers giddy and anxious, not for the performance but for the “special guests” in the audience, the ones whose presence they were not previously aware of. Aria just laughed to herself about their childish behavior and focused on her future she was hoping would come from this moment on.
The music started and the whirlwind began. Before they knew it Aria and Kayla were being called for their special duet.
Their teacher announced the performance for them. “This final duet, though a late addition to our program, a very late addition to our program, holds special meaning to the two talented dancers performing it. As the lyrics say, ‘No matter how far, no matter how wide, I know you are always by my side, even as I enter a world full of lies, I know I will always find the truth in your eyes’ These words highlight the relationship these two girl have shared over their many years together.”
Electric, passionate, and exhilarating are the words that best described the performance causing the audience to go into an immediate standing ovation and every caster to wait for the two girls to exit from backstage. Like in a media blitz, Aria and Kayla worked their way through all; shaking hands, graciously accepting complements, learning names and taking cards, like pros.
Content with their success they began to look around trying to spot the other girls, now very curious as to what had created such a preshow effect. They spotted them all circling someone and still acting like love sick puppies and fan girls. High off their success, they mocked the girls as they headed over towards them.
With girlish screams and an “OMG Kay!” they approached breaking the circle. The second they got a look at the source of amusement both sent silent and numb.
“You girls were amazing! I’d love to work with you both, if you are interested.” exclaimed the man next to the girls source of shock. He was obviously yet another casting director and choreographer, one that they knew well of, a major player in the professional world, but Aria lacked control of her reaction to remain poised and professional.
Instead she stood there, mouth open in shock, face to face with Jacob. Desperate to relieve the clumsiness of the moment and to relieve himself from the sole company of the celeb crazy girls surrounding him he decided to speak.
“Always the last place you look , isn’t it? Who would have thought you were right in the last place I saw you? Hey Kay.” He started playfully as if they had never been apart.
“Hey Jake.” She replied ready to shake Aria out of her shock.
“You know each other?” The director, who was clearly with Jake, asked excitement growing in his voice.
“Yes.” Aria replied. “A long time ago.” She explained to the director.
“That’s fantastic!” He replied, nearly jumping with excitement as the girls had earlier.
“So you were looking?” Aria asked Jacob as though she was oblivious to his current media buzz.
“Maybe.” He replied trying to be smooth and cool.
“Well WE were looking for amazing dancers for Jake’s crew. For tours, music videos, and such. You two definitely fit the bill.” The director cut in.
“Well of course we do!” Kayla replied cockily. "We were his original crew."
All the other girl's jaws dropped. The casting Director had a questions in his eyes, but none escaped his lips.
“Just one question, Was it worth the search?” Jake asked.
“We might just have to see.” Aria replied playfully.
“Really?” Jake asked slightly defeated.
“Really!” Aria replied with a smile that brought his spirits back up.
“So you’re gonna be around again? I thought this whole fame thing wasn’t your scene.” Jacob inquired.
“Guess I don’t have much of a choice anymore now, do I.” Aria replied flashing all the business cards in her hand.
“Well we are willing to make it worth your while to go with us over those others.” The director cut in again.
Aria shot a glance at the man nearly prostrating himself at her feet, to prove her point and giggled a bit.
“So…” Jake started.
“We’ll see you around.” Kayla cut in. “Our public does await.” She exclaimed shooting a look towards the line forming behind their group.
“So here is my number.” Aria offered grabbing and pen and writing it directly on Jacob’s hand. “I’m sure we can work something out.” She replied to Jake, knowing his director, would hear.
“I’m sure we will!” he replied as she walked away confidently.
He quickly excused himself to the girls and made his way towards the door.
An action that was not entirely necessary due to the state of shock the other girls were in.
One ventured to speak. “She can’t be…? Can she?”
No one replied. They just stood their mouths gaping open, eyes glued on Aria as she made her way across the room towards the door, now the new target of adulation. Stuck in a comatose state they all silently questioned how, while Elissa’s blood boiled from defeat.