"Were you crying 'cause you didn't know what would become of us Were you so uncertain of my intentions Looking back I can say I shed a few tears of my own That's why I need you to tell me Tell me once again how you cried..." How You Cried ~ Melanie Doane
Life went on. Life without sunshine, yes, but as the days went by, they began to learn how to look at each other without crying, how to hold hands without wincing, how to speak to each other without remembering. They continued skating together every day, trying their best to make things seem the way they used to, but something was still missing. Their hearts weren’t in it. Though it had been almost three weeks since the breakup, there were still times... especially at night... when they’d be so emotionally drained from all the pretending that they had to break down. But the pain was a dull ache now, rather than a sharp pang that took over their every moment. It was almost worse, somehow... the feeling pushed back to a spot that would never go away... each knowing how much they loved their partner, but thinking they’d never again be together. Trying to smile, trying to be a team when they were longing to fall into each other’s arms once again... “It’s one, two, three, turn!” They were on the ice practicing a portion of their original dance, and trying to get a particularly complicated footwork sequence down. “What we’ve been doing is one, two three, then pausing, then the turn,” Em continued. “That’s why we’re messing up.” “So it’s one, two, three...” Mark took her hand and they went through the steps together. “Okay. I get it.” “Again?” Emily asked. He nodded, and they went through the sequence for the second time. “One, two, three, turn!” they chanted in unison as they skated. When they finished the pattern successfully, they laughed together. But standing by the boards, Marina sighed. It wasn’t the laughter she was used to hearing. It was too forced... they were obviously trying too hard. She decided the time had come to test them. “We work on the freedance now?” she called out after they’d mastered the steps they’d been working on. They stopped and looked back at her. “Sure,” Mark called back. “Why not?” “The slow section?” Marina suggested, waiting for their reactions. Now this would definitely tell her if the apparent reconciliation she’d seen over the past week was real. The partners immediately froze where they were and dropped hands. Em turned her back on her partner and stared at the wall. “Why that part?” she asked in alarm. “Why not?” their coach countered. “Well... I thought we had that part pretty much down,” Mark floundered. “And we needed work on... uh... on...” “We have done every other section but this one in the last few days,” Marina pointed out. “But we can’t do that part!” Em exclaimed desperately, trying to think of an excuse. “And why we can’t, please tell me,” Marina replied calmly. “Because... because...” Mark finally gave up. His partner saw him give in and a look of fear appeared in her eyes. Things had just been getting better, but this could send everything crashing down all over again. She cursed herself inwardly. How had she expected to get through this without having to skate romantic programs? She’d just have to find a way...They would just have to find a way. And so the music came on, and they began to skate. But in the story of their program, they couldn’t let themselves go. They were meant to skate as lovers... before, it had been real to them. Before, people would watch them and marvel at the tenderness, the passion and the romance of the program. Before, it had been natural... They managed to make it through once, but what their coach saw them skate was not romance. In their desperate attempt to erase all emotion, they hadn’t succeeded. Anyone could see the pain, the confusion, the absolute longing they were going through in that one minute of skating. Marina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Enough,” she said softly, as they stopped at centre ice, looking away from each other. “We will work more tomorrow.” Mark hurried off the ice in one direction, Em in the other. He slipped his skate guards on and struggled to regain control of himself. Just when everything had been going okay, when he’d thought he could hide, his heart had betrayed him again. He sat down and tried to collect his thoughts before... before it all started again, and the pain came rushing back. “Dave, hurry up!” a voice hollered. Kirsten exited the dressing room and noticed Mark sitting there. “Uh oh,” she murmured to herself. “Not again...” She walked over to him and sat down. “You okay?” He shook his head. “Far from it.” “Is it... something to do with...” Kirsten didn’t know how to put it tactfully. But luckily, she didn’t have to. “What else?” Mark responded bitterly. “I thought things were getting better... I thought maybe it was going to work out... but it was all an act. And not even a good one. I can’t even pretend I don’t love her.” She sighed. “I should’ve said something. I’ve been watching you guys... I’m sorry Mark, but you’re not a very good actor in this sense.” “I don’t know what to do,” he confessed. “I thought I could do this, but I can’t. I just can’t.” “Then tell her!” Kirsten exclaimed. “You’ve got to talk to her!” “But she said we can’t go back to the way things used to be,” he told her, depressed. “She thinks things are better this way.” “How do you know?” she retorted. “She could be thinking the very same thing about you!” “Oh, I’m sure she’s not,” he responded. “I mean, what if I told her everything, and she didn’t feel the same way?” “Well, it’s certainly not doing you any good sitting around here moping!” Kirsten said, exasperated. “You’ve got to do something. Talk to her!” Mark was silent for a long time. “Okay,” he said finally. “Maybe I will.” “Maybe?” Kirsten repeated. “I will talk to her,” he said to himself firmly. “Now that’s better,” she replied, grinning. Maybe they’d finally realize they weren’t meant to be apart... Mark got up, then turned back to Kirsten. “I’m sorry I spent so much time bothering you with all this.” “Without me, you’d be lost,” she said with a smile. “It’s worth a little time.” “Now I know what it’s like to have a little sister,” he laughed. “Nosy, but always right.” “Am I always right?” she questioned. “Yeah,” he responded, then leaned over and hugged her. As he drew away, he noticed Kirsten’s expression. Her eyes were wise and glued to a figure in front of them. Mark turned and saw his partner looking at him and Kirsten, aghast. “I... I think she might’ve seen...” Kirsten whispered quickly. “And gotten the wrong idea. I know she’s seen us together over the last two weeks. Oh, God. This is so not good...” They both watched as Em stared, then turned and ran from the rink, clearly crying. “Oh, Lord.” Kirsten couldn’t believe what was happening. “Oh, God. I don’t believe this.” Mark, on the other hand, was just standing there frozen, staring after Emily. “For God’s sake, go after her!” Kirsten said, jumping up and giving him a push. “Quick! Go!” And with that, Mark ran as if his life depended on it.
Onto Part XI...:OR
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