I roll my arms, crack my knuckles, and gently nudge my toe against the mat to begin the song.
As the opening beats of the music pump through my stereo system, I feel the outside world slowly melting away. I shake my feet and tense myself for the first few arrows. I land the combo, accomplishment tugging at my mouth until I smile.
And then it begins. My world narrows down to animalistic instinct as my feet dance across the plastic pad. Left, up, left, down, downleftupright, upupup, gallop, sashay, double jump, stick it--!
Worries about my job, about my sister, about my rent are instantly forgotten as my face reddens with concentration. I can only feel; I cannot allow myself to think. My heart drums against my chest like a throbbing metronome as my hair slaps against my back. Move your feet. Breathe. Watch the arrows. I begin to pant as a difficult section of the song plays itself out. My feet never miss a step; my heart patters in time with the music.
The song envelops me completely as I hop back and forth, slamming the soles of my feet against the sticky plastic of the pad. I whirl in a neat circle, my eyes dry and unblinking and I blurrily allow the rainbow arrows to direct my searching feet.
I forget everything.
And it feel so...liberating.
When I play this game, I am able to misplace my apprehensions for a time; the everpresent, arresting trepidation that holes through my stomach from the moment I open my eyes to when I shut them and wish for sleep...it simply and utterly vanishes.
The world stops turning for me when I dance.
And I live for it: for the fleeting second of freedom, for the electrifying adrenaline high; however brief the respite from life is, I welcome it with open arms.
The song slowly peters out, and I place my feet in the proper places to complete the song, my chest heaving with pants and my eyes blinking sweat out of them.
Then it ends, and I fall back against the carpet, lungs shuddering, my hands quivering with fatigue.
I continue to stare at the screen, waiting, hoping, daring to ever cross my index and middle finger in anticipation.
A letter pops up on the screen: the grade that defines my ability.
I grin exhaustedly, reveling in my success, and for this instant…I am truly happy. The moment prolongs itself into a sleepy silence, and I am content in the stillness.
The phone rings.
A wave of dread breaks over me.
I am dragged back into the real world.