Disclaimers: I own nothing Lord of the Rings.
Hey guys. This is the new first chapter. I'm going to be rewriting most of the beginning chapters, and perhaps even change a few things in some of the later ones. I'm also not going to comment back on your reviews like I use to. I heard that we're not allowed to respond back to the reviewers anymore. Sorry about that. Feel free to email me. I like talking to you guys.
Oh, and Rohwen, a good friend of mine, got me into this awesome song called Nemo by Nightwish. The chorus reminds me of this story and the reasons of why I titled it what I did. I would post the lyrics, but we're not allowed to do that anymore either, so just go and listen to it. You'll see what I mean. :)
You're My Light in the Dark
I don't know why, and probably will never know, how I got myself into this. I'm at a low point; no, I don't want to commit suicide or anything like that, but my body and mind are completely dead. Then again, that's what gymnastics does to you when you go fully into it; training elite. Everyday is the same: you wake up at 5:45, go to the gym, then ballet and school, and then off to gym again. By the time you get home, it's 10:00 at night. Except for Sunday, that's my only day off, and even that's not enough of a vacation to get your mind back on track.
"Kate, wake up! You have to get ready for gym!" My mom poked me in the sides and pulled the covers off of me. She then left the room and continued to get herself ready for the hour drive she had ahead of herself to get me to the gym.
'Argh, everyday is the same routine and it's a living hell. Nothing new and damn, I'm still tired! Why does it feel like I never even went to bed?' I grumbled to myself. I crawled out of bed and limped my way to the bathroom. 'And on top of everything else today, I just had to bruise my heels on those stupid front tucks on beam yesterday. Just my luck!' I took a ten-minute shower, threw on a leotard and sweats, and tied my hair back in a pony. I then limped my way downstairs into the kitchen where I found my mom braiding my little sister's blond hair, getting her ready for ice skating.
"Why are you limpin', Kat?" my little sister, Lauren, asked.
"Front tucks... beam... heels... ouch," was all I said. I made my way around the kitchen as fast as my heels would allow, picking up various foods and throwing them in a plastic shopping bag for my lunch.
I dropped my lunch next to my gym bag, and made sure I had everything I needed.
"Have everything?" My mom asked while tying the end of Lauren's braid.
"Alright, let's go; we're going to be late if we hit any traffic.
"Hey Jill," I said while walking tiredly into the locker room, "Bright an' early, as usual."
Jill happened to be my teammate and best friend. It was one of those unlikely friendships; she was loud and crazy, a lot like Lauren (who often hung out with us, despite our protests in the beginning) while I was the one who was shy and always seemed to have my nose in a book. We had become close because of our sport and the long hours of doing it together. There were only three of us that did the double practices, and as mean as it may sound, our friendship had started because of our annoyance of the third that joined us for those horrible mornings.
"Yeah, hey Kat," Jill looked up from her bag. She had rather big circles under her eyes, giving her the resemblance of a raccoon.
"Up late doing homework again?"
"Yeah. I swear my teachers are trying to kill me. You have no idea how lucky you and Jen have it doing your mom's private tutoring school."
"We might not have homework, but man are you lucky that you don't have to take ballet or deal with Jen. It's the pits." I dropped my bag down next to hers and plopped myself down on the bench. "Do you think
Nelu's in a good mood this morning?"
Nelu was our gymnastics coach. He was Romanian and didn't speak much English. He had dark hair, big eyebrows, a mustache that covered the majority of his upper lip, and a scary face which turned a nasty shade
of purple whenever he got angry - which happened to be very often. It was like the guy had permanent PMS.
"Doubt it. He never is," was Jill's depressed reply.
"Hey guys," Jen, the teammate that we disliked, walked into the locker room just when I started taping heel cups to my feet. "Yay, just the three of us again. What a surprise." She slipped her bag to the floor
and looked at her hands. "I am not doing bars this morning; my hands are ripped to shreds! Nelu can just kiss my ass; there is no way I'm doing bars."
"You say that every morning and yet you always end up doing bars," I pointed out dully. It was irksome, we all felt the same, and her talking about her pain constantly seemed to make our own that much worse. All of her complaining was getting tiresome. She hadn't even been there for two minutes and I was already restraining myself from stuffing her head in the trash bucket.
She sighed and picked at her hands, which probably weren't covered in bloody and painful rips like she was making them out to be. "I know," Jen sighed. "I just hate coming in the mornings." I snorted at her statement and ripped the sports tape with expertise, rolling my ankle around to test the make shift cocoon I had made for padding my pained feet.
"Hey, Kat, the third Lord of the Rings movie is coming out next week," Jill cut in before Jen could say anything else.
"Oh, yes! How could I have forgotten? I can't wait!" I said excitedly, my mood raising a little.
"Don't know how you did manage to forget that one; all you said for like two weeks after you read the books was that you wanted to see the last movie so badly," Jen commented with a hint of distaste, "I still don't get what you see in that Elijah dude."
"Hey, don't you go talking bad about my Mr. Baggins!" I said in mock hurt before turning back to Jill. "You are going with Lauren and me to see it, aren't you?"
"Jilla! Panda Bear! Jeneefera!" Nelu shouted from out in the gym.
"Shit," Jill muttered. She leaned over and proceeded to bang her head against the wooden bench in dread.
"Why can't he just say our names right? Damn Romanians! And why the hell does he call you Panda Bear?" Jen questioned.
I shrugged. "How the hell should I know?" I replied, "You know how weird he is, he even had to ask me how to say it because he refuses to learn English."
We walked out into the freezing cold gym. We still had our sweats on, but the fact that we would later have to take them off and wear nothing but our leotards wasn't a very pleasant thought to look forward to.
"Nelu! We NEED heat!" Jen complained to our coach.
"No heat. Move and you get warmer," Nelu said.
"That's easy for you to say! You don't have to work out in this condition!" she continued to rant. For once I actually agreed with her, though I wasn't going to admit that out loud. I looked down at the hard mats we were standing on, which happened to be very cold - my sock clad feet were already turning painfully numb. I wiggled my toes experimentally and winced as the joints cracked with stiffness.
"Don't even bother fighting with him. Mihai said no heat until it snows. And since he owns the place and pays the rent an' all, what he says goes," Jill said pulling at the sleeves of her fleece pull-over down to cover her hands and crossing her arms across her chest, trying to keep herself somewhat warm.
"Dude, it's the middle of December and it still hasn't snowed. New England sucks, man. Different weather every year," I commented.
Approximately an hour and forty-five minutes later, I found myself very tired, covered head to toe in chalk, and finished with my appointed program for the practice. I scraped the chalk off my grips with the grill brush and sprayed a squirt of water on my chalky, dry, and raw hands.
I glanced up and chuckled to myself when I heard the pit bar ping and an "Ooof!" as Jill dismounted a double back timer onto her back, foam blocks and chalk flying up in the process. All I could see of her over
the padded hole was her hand waving frantically in the air. Shaking my head, I went over and helped her out.
The first thing I noticed when she took her spot on the opposite side of the chalk bucket was how her face was covered with tiny bits of the blue pit from the foam blocks. It was almost comical. I let out a snort against by desperate attempts to hold it in.
"What?" she asked with an eyebrow raised, blowing her bangs out of her eyes.
I full out grinned at this point and sang, "I'm blue da ba de da ba di... " She gave me a little push, her hands making a lovely chalk mark on my shoulder and she started chuckling as well. It was almost sad how we managed to amuse ourselves during practice. It must have been our lack of sleep combined with our body fatigue. Either that or we were going crazy because of it all. Romanian boot camp could do that to you.
"Girls!" Our laughter immediately ceased at Nelu's yell. "You finished with your program!"
I scrunched my face up at the known debate ahead of me and sighed. "Yeah, Nelu, I finished my routines on floor and my dismounts off bars. Can I please stay on bars and work on my release?" I asked hopefully.
"No, go beam. Front tucks."
I cringed. 'Oh, hell no. I barely was able to push myself through full routines on floor and ten dismounts off bars. I am NOT going to kill my heels more.'
"Nelu, I can't do front tucks." I pointed to my heels, "Ouch."
"Okay, do releases and after practice when Mihai gets here then go beam and do front tucks."
And I had actually half expected a different answer. Damn, damn, damn! I couldn't do those. I'll probably end up hurting myself. Well, more so than I am already. "Nelu, I can't stay after practice, I have to go to school."
"Then go beam!" he snapped. He had on that scary face now. He's also turning purple. And is that a vein in his forehead throbbing? Yep, it is. That is not a good sign. Jill sent a look of pity in my direction.
I wanted to jump up and down and yell at the bastard. But that would only result in making my heels hurt worse, making Nelu angrier, and I'll have to go do the damn front tucks anyways. Hmm, plead? Yes, I was getting close to getting on my knees and kissing his feet, too. But I knew none of those would possibly work, so I stuck to silent fuming and cursing all of his decedents.
I ripped off my grips, chalk flying everywhere as I did so, and stormed over to the beam area and climbed up onto a high beam. "How many?" It took a lot of will power not to add a 'your highness' onto the end of that question.
"Oh, shit," I muttered to myself. I had a very bad feeling about this. It was like a feeling I had down to my very bones - this could not end well. My body was practically screaming at me and calling me an idiot. My brain countered back with I would be even more of idiot not to do what he tells me to do.
So, although it was against my better judgment, I started warming up. Even the frickin timers hurt. After taking ten or more minutes to do only about three timers, Nelu gave me a death glare and I knew I had procrastinated long enough. I stood at the end of the beam and knew it was either now or never. I couldn't stop the inevitable. With a deep breath and a prayer to some almighty power up above, I went for it.
I knew it was a mistake as soon as I did the hurtle and punched for the flip; but by then it was too late to stop myself without having my head collide with the four inch beam and braking my neck before falling the four foot drop to the hard mats below.
When my feet hit the beam, the unbelievable pain that shot through my heels and transferred down all the way to my toes and up threw my calves was instantaneous. It felt like I had landed on one huge giant nail that went through my heel bones. Although the fact that I landed somewhat short and on my heels hadn't helped matters much, either, considering that's what caused the problem in the first place. Since I had landed in a squat position, I was able to sit back onto my bum, clutching my feet, then proceed to roll off the side of the beam.
I was crying as I hit the mats. Honestly, who wouldn't be?
"Want some ice?" Jill asked while running over from bars.
"Ice would be nice," I said between the sharp breaths I was breathing in through clenched teeth. She nodded and ran across the gym over to the fridge. She returned quickly with an ice pack.
"You really shouldn't do any more," Jen said from up on the beam next to me.
"Try telling that to him," I retorted.
"Come on, get up Panda! Nine more!" Nelu yelled from across the gym.
"Nelu, she can't do any more. She's hurt!" Jill snapped back, placing her hands on her hips, motioning to the state I was in.
Nelu glared once more then threw his hands up, muttering Romanian, not even bothering to do it under his breath. "Fine, do ten beam dance with turty squats instead of tumbling."
The rest of the day progressed to be just as painful; during ballet class I couldn't plier because my thighs were really tight from those stupid beam routines Nelu made me do and I couldn't walk because my heels hurt so much I thought I was going to collapse every time I put any pressure on them. The evening gym practice was even more delightful. I had to do full program on everything, meaning I still had to do full routines with all of my high level skills. It didn't surprise me, really, I wasn't expecting the Romanian Nazis to cut me a break, anyway.
The only part of my day that wasn't too bad was school, but even that I couldn't enjoy because when my mom saw me icing my heels she said to me, "Stop being such a baby. Get over it already. So, your heels hurt. Big deal, you'll live."
That night I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. I had been tossing and turning ever since I had gone to bed, and although I was tired, I couldn't sleep due to the pain in my feet. I sat up and blinked sleepily, glancing over at the clock. It was quarter to three.
Damn. I blinked again, a few times, and the numbers still didn't change. Double damn. The glowing digital numbers were mocking me. 'You have to wake up for gym in less than three hours, ha ha!'
I rolled over and grabbed the advil bottle off the night-stand and chomped on two. I had already taken six before, but whatever. I really didn't care anymore. I probably cracked my heel bones. Yep, you go to the doctors and all they tell you to do is stay off of it for a couple of weeks. Whooptie fricken doo. One, I doubt my mom will even take me to the doctors. Two, if she does, do you really think the coaches are going to listen to you when you say that you can't do anything? And the lovely surprise of an answer is: no.
I laid myself back down and pulled the sheets over my head. I don't know how long I lay there, trying to smother myself in the blankets. I must have fallen asleep at some point, because when I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that I was not where I had fallen asleep.