Chapter 49

 

 

Now the new semester was upon us.  I could not believe how fast it was passing by. Sandy and I are both so consumed with work and classes, we don’t have time for any type of socializing. It’s a hectic pace, but I wanted to make sure I would give every class my all.

One evening, Henry Watson walked into our dance class one evening with some news. No one minded much. Most of the staff and students at Gail Stanton’s studio knew him.

“Excuse me, Alona,” he politely interrupted. “ I wondered if I might share some news.”

Alona smiled and took a step back. “Of course, Henry. What is it?”

A murmur passed through the room, and we all looked at each other. What could be so important to make Henry feel the need to interrupt our class?

I began to think it had something to do with his gala event.

He beamed.  “Thank you so much, everyone, for letting me have this time…and especially you, Alona.”

“Oh, it is my pleasure, Henry.” It’s no secret Alona is one of Henry’s biggest fans. Since he was the one in charge of The Radio City Music Festival. In fact, he had even donated his time to paint some murals for the big event.

“I just wanted to let you all know that the gala here turned out even better than I thought possible.”

As he spoke, I couldn’t  help but notice how he tries to keep his composure. He looked right at me.

I gave him a warm smile.  To let him know, he had a friend in me.

He shoved his hands inside his coat pockets. “I am happy to report that almost all my paintings were sold. I think I have two left, and they are close to selling as well. Now, because of this, my agent, Trina Michaels, is preparing another event for me that will be set up in London next month. I am keeping the details of it under wraps for now, but I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am. I am also looking forward to seeing my family. Thank you all again. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“We are so happy for you, Henry, and we wished you nothing but success, ” said an excited Alona.

The class erupted with a big applause.

“Thank you all.” He smiled, turned, and practically glided out the door.

Later that evening, my mind was on Henry.

What is going on with me? Why can’t I get him off my mind? Henry is my friend. I know that, so what is wrong with me? I have known him for over a year now. I need to stop getting so weird about him.

I admired his art, and we have a lot in common. Henry and I had been spending a lot of time together since Sandy has been working tirelessly on her routine. She had a big ballet and jazz routine coming up, and has been so tired the past few weeks. The big performance is scheduled for the end of this month. Sandy is making sure all her plies and leaps are perfect. I miss hanging out with her, but Henry and I are picking up the slack.

Not to say that I am not busy, but whenever I get the chance to step out, I do. And it’s always with Henry. We talk a lot about art, and just the other day he asked if he could paint me. I think I will have the painting any day now.

Well, I better get to bed now. Classes will resume early tomorrow, and there is a chance I may perform at Radio City. I hope it works out. It would be amazing. Okay, now I really need to get to bed.

Later that week, Henry called me, “Mia, I finally finished your painting.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, Henry.”

“Yes, I really hope you like it.”

“I’m sure I will love it.”

“I think it really captures you.”

Wow, I’m so flattered. Is he flirting with me? I spend a few minutes in silence considering it.

Then, I heard Henry ask, “Mia, are you there?”

“Yes, Henry, I’m here.”

“Oh good. For a second, I thought I had lost you.”

“I’m sorry, Henry. I was just speechless.”

“Speechless?”

“Yes, at the thought that you would take the time to paint me.”

“Mia, it was my pleasure and I appreciated the inspiration for the gala event.”

“Well, thank you and I don’t know what to say.”

” It’s okay luv.”

A few minutes later, I agreed to meet him back at the dorm. He’s going to bring the painting to me. It’s so thoughtful of him. Not only did he spend so much time working on my painting, but now he’s going to personally deliver it to me. That’s another thing about Henry that I really liked. I’m so lucky to have him as a friend.

About an hour later, he comes by the dorm. I tried to keep my cool when I answered the door.

“Hello, Henry.”  Did my voice actually just break?

“Cheerio, Mia.”

I smile back. I can see the painting hidden behind his back. It’s wrapped in plain brown paper.

“Come on, Mia. I can tell from your face that you want to see the painting.”

“Well, I’m not going to lie to you. I really do.”

He nods. “Okay, but first you need to close your eyes.”

I frowned.  “Are you serious?”

“Yes. I can’t show it to you until your eyes are closed.”

I don’t want to argue with him, so, defeated, I closed my eyes. “Fine.”

He holds up a finger in the air. “Okay, wait a bit.”

As I closed my eyes, I hear him pulling something inside. He makes so much noise, it’s hard not to notice. “Wow, Henry. Sounds like a pretty big painting.”

“Oh, nice try, Mia. But I’m almost done.”

“Okay.” I laughed

“Come on. No peeking.”

I squinched my eyes tighter and pout. “I am being good, Henry.”

“Okay. I am going to count to three, and then you can open your eyes.”

I sighed. “Alright.” Man, where is Sandy when I need her?

“By the way, where is Sandy?”

No way! Did he just ask about Sandy? “She’s at rehearsal. Another intense day for her.”

“Well, tell her the pieces she wanted for the studio are ready.”

I nodded. “Sure will.”

“They’re just some dance paintings Ms. Stanton wanted.”

“Oh yes. I think I remember her asking.”

Henry begins to laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“You, Mia. Did you not  notice you were talking, and your eyes remained closed this whole time?”

“Well, I said I was not going to peek.”

“Yes, I can see that.”

“Now, can we get on with it?”

“Yes. On the count of three, open your eyes. One. Two. Three.”

Before I opened my eyes, I take a few steps forward. I’m not expecting what I see. I can’t believe how lifelike this painting is.

“H-henry th-this i-is so beautiful,” I cried.

He takes a step forward. “Mia, are you okay?”

“I loved it!”

“I’m so glad. This painting was inspired by the dance you did in class.”

I blinked “Which one?”

“Remember the contemporary dance you told me about over lunch?”

“Yes, I do.” I remember it, but how in the world does Henry remember it? “So, what do I call it?”

“I called it ‘Mia’s dance.’”

I’m taken aback. I swallowed back tears. “Thank you, Henry. This is lovely.”

“Don’t mention it, luv, but I never meant to make you cry.”

“These are happy tears, Henry. So, how much do I owe you?”

He shook his head. “No, Mia, this is a gift.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes. It was my pleasure.”

I hugged the painting to my body. “Well, I love it, Henry.”

“You inspired me, Mia.”

All that night, after Henry leaves, I can’t stop staring at the painting. I love it.

Sandy got home, took one look at it, and whistles. “Oh, Mia, this is so beautiful.”

“I’m blown away by it.”

“ Henry really captured you,” Sandy said in awe.

In bed that night, I was grateful  for the painting Henry made for me.  This gift was truly special.

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