- Ria hasn’t danced Kathak since her dad passed away.
- She’s struggling to impress her school’s western dance team.
- Her mom just planned a trip to Bangalore, India, during competition season.
- Ria tells her team she’s going abroad for a prestigious dance solo.
- Ria’s flight seats her next to extremely cute, only slightly infuriating film student Kabir—who’s looking to feature a dancer in a short-film competition.
- The dance must be Kathak.
- Ria is definitely going to fall for Kabir.
- All they have is fourteen days.
My feet glide along the floor as I look at myself in the mirrored wall, my breathing uneven. Music echoes around the room as I dance, almost in autopilot. I frown. Something feels off.
So I close my eyes, letting my mind drift to another time: eight years ago. That always helps.
In my mind, I’m moving freely, floating on air. I’m the only one on stage, and I can see Mamma and Baba smiling at me from the audience as I leap around, performing the same movements I’ve rehearsed over and over for the last few weeks. I’m moving. My heart is thumping. I feel free.
I open my eyes, and I’m back in my stuffy high school dance room. I’m eighteen now. I’m still dancing. Not kathak, contemporary. I’m not the only one on stage anymore; there are ten of us. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter. I’m still moving. We are all moving in sync, our bodies flowing and rising and contracting and sinking together, the movements smooth, soft, and powerful all at once. It’s perfect.
Until it’s not.
I trip, bumping into Juliana, who gives a reassuring smile. It’s minuscule. If I were on stage, the audience wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Hailey Johnson, the team captain, does.