Forgive meeee. It's been so long. I'm very sorry. But, like I said last time I updated, I'm in year 12 and it's hectic and it's my last eight weeks of school before exams and everything, so this is probably my last update until the end of October (sorry!).
When Kat opened her eyes again, she felt a fair amount of disorientation. She was laying on her other side facing the wall. Her pyjamas were soft and fluffy, not covered in sea salt. Her clock said six thirty. She rolled over and looked to the other bed. Abigail was snoring softly, her hair dishevelled and in her face.
Heart pounding, Kat sat up. Had she honestly dreamed everything? It had been so unbelievably real. And that's when she remembered that it had been real. A memory from last year had seeped into her dream, and had warped into a weird atmosphere where her memory changed as her dream-self realised something was up. She could feel herself start to hyperventilate and forced herself to stop, but all she could think about was that night and how fun it had been and how uncharacteristically Sammy had acted. He'd said that he felt alive and that the morning always brought something new… and the next day when Kat had gone to her first-year class – because it had been last year that it happened – Miss Raine had been ranting about the puddles all over the studio and how she didn't understand how they had gotten there.
The tears had started and Kat furiously wiped her cheeks, but more soon followed. She got up, pulled on her dressing gown, and went out in the hall. As she went, she still checked for the cake crumbs on the floor.
A few people were already up and getting breakfast or doing exercise. She was surprised that Abigail wasn't doing sit ups with the rest of the obsessed. She went directly to the bathroom and inspected her face. It wasn't too bad. She dried her eyes and pulled her blonde hair into a messy bun and then went out into the living room.
Tara and Ben were sitting on the sofa in their pyjamas with bowls of cereal watching Sunrise. They were sitting fairly close, too, which left Kat wondering if they were still just friends or what. She could never really tell what was happening in Tara's love life.
"Hey Kat," said Ben, tilting his head back. "How'd you sleep?"
"Delightfully," Kat replied, in the most chipper voice she could muster. She supposed it had been delightful. The dream, that is. Waking up had only emphasised the feeling of loss that Kat couldn't seem to shake.
In the kitchen, Kat stared at the contents in the fridge for a good three minutes before letting the door swing shut. She wasn't hungry. Again. Sighing, she turned away. Abigail was just walking in, already dressed, her hair immaculate.
"How'd you do that?" said Kat, who had only seen her ten minutes ago fast asleep.
"Get ready so quickly."
"I'm efficient." It hadn't really answered the question, but Kat decided that trying to figure out the wonder that was Abigail Armstrong was probably futile. "Are you eating?"
"I'm not really hungry," said Kat honestly.
Abigail guffawed. "Seriously? I'm going to have some fruit. I can cut you some if you want."
"That is a very nice offer Abigail, but I'm good."
"You can't dance on an empty stomach," said Abigail. "I should know. Do you really want to collapse in front of everybody like I did?"
"Don't freak out. I'll get a muesli bar when I leave or something."
Kat made her way back to her room and got dressed, pulling on her new turquoise leotard. Then she went to the bathroom and re-did her hair so it was pulled back and neat. Back in the hall, she bumped into Christian. They did an awkward side-stepping dance. Kat forced a laugh which sounded surprisingly natural and stepped aside to let him past. Christian smiled and thanked her. Huh. Maybe they could be friends. Or fake friends at least.
Back in her room, Kat sat on the edge of her bed. She felt terrible after last night's dream. Yes, it was a great memory but it highlighted her intense feeling of grief that had settled in the pit of her stomach and she hated it. Abigail came in jabbing at her phone. "You're looking glummer than usual," said Abigail.
"Would you be texting my brother dearest?" said Kat, changing the subject.
"None of your business."
"You like him, huh?"
"It wouldn't matter if I did, he's sort of living in Argentina."
"But you do like him, don't you?"
Abigail glanced up from her phone and frowned at Kat, but there was a hint of a smile on her face as she returned to texting.
"What happened between you two over the holidays?" said Kat.
Abigail sat down on her bed cross-legged. "We went to Argentina."
"Ugh, no, I mean… were you together or…?"
"It was just a summer fling, Kat. We're not getting married or anything."
"So you were together?"
"Oh my god, yes, okay? Happy? Now stop pestering me about this."
Surprisingly, Kat kind of liked the idea of Abigail and Ethan together. She had always been protective of her brother, especially with the whole Tara-Ethan-Christian debacle, but somehow she felt that Abigail was good for him, and he for her. Particularly since Abigail had softened lately. She had a hard exterior, but really she was just like everybody else. She had suffered after Sammy had died, and she deserved some happiness after the confusion about her feelings for Sammy.
"So are we practicing this afternoon?" said Abigail, standing up and grabbing her bag.
"Maybe. I'll see what my schedule is like," Kat replied, grabbing her turquoise tutu and folding it delicately into her bag.
"Dedication is the key," was all Abigail said as she left the room.
Kat struggled through class and noticed Miss Raine frowning at her at one point, probably wondering why the girl who passed her exams last year had gotten so terrible within six weeks. Kat felt like she was letting the woman down, especially since Miss Raine had given her a second chance. Her mood was worsened when it was declared during English class that Peter Pan rehearsals were running for two hours that afternoon. As she left class, Abigail levelled with her and told her that their practice would have to wait.
So at three she found herself in the biggest studio, with Zach handing her Tinkerbell wings, watching as Christian put on Peter's jaunty little hat with the feather and wondering what dancing with him was going to be like now that they were being "friends." Even in her head, she couldn't shake the quotation marks from the word.
Tara was excitedly bouncing on the balls of her feet beside Kat, brimming with excitement over getting to play Wendy. Kat had to admire the girls unfaltering enthusiasm about everything ballet. Kat still loved to dance, but it seemed impossible without Sammy now.
Zach clapped his hands. "Okay guys – starting off with Pan and Tinkerbell. Everybody else to the sides."
As Kat went to the centre of the room, she wondered if Zach had purposefully started with her to see if she had improved in the day since he had seen her. She met Christian's eyes as he placed his hands on her waist and felt a dull ache in her heart. She wondered if he felt the same, or if he was still pining after Tara. Kat supposed she shouldn't expect anything more – she figured that Tara and Christian would be on-again-off-again until graduation.
The music started and Christian lifted Kat and for a second, just a split second, she felt a little better. Flying. How Tara felt when she danced, like nothing could touch her. And then the inevitable happened and Kat's feet touched the ground again. She tried to filter her feelings into the jealousy Tinkerbell was supposed to be portraying, but knew she was failing dismally when she noticed Zach out of the corner of her eye, frowning slightly. He stopped the music halfway through and stood with his fists on his hips. "What's going on Kat? You had this dance perfect before the holidays."
Before the holidays? Was that really how he was saying it? For some reason it made her feel angry. "That was before my best friend was killed, yes," she said. She had surprised even herself. There was a tense silence in the room as Zach struggled with what to say. Kat didn't give him the opportunity. "Sorry. I'm just in a bad mood."
"It's… okay. Maybe take a breather?" said Zach. "Tara, we'll do Peter and Wendy."
Kat took a swig from her drink bottle and sighed when she saw her reflection in the glass window that looked into the hall. When she turned back to see Christian and Tara dancing, she decided that she'd had enough practice for today, and grabbed her bag and left.
Ben caught up with her as she was exiting the Academy. He grabbed her arm and spun her around. "You lied to me, Kat. You said you were fine, but you're not."
"Oh, god, Ben, honestly. I'm just having a bad day. It's normal to miss my friend. I had a dream about him last night, that's the problem," said Kat, trying to sound light-hearted.
Ben frowned at her. "No. It's something more."
Lie, Kat told herself. "It's just Christian. Seeing him with Tara. Seeing him with anybody. I still have feelings for Christian," she blurted. Well, it was better than, "I feel like everything is falling apart and I might have depression because I can't feel good or normal about anything and I just don't care anymore and I miss Sammy so much it has become a physical pain in my chest that doesn't stop even when I'm sleeping."
Ben raised his eyebrows at her. Maybe he didn't buy it. Kat knew people often misread Ben. He saw a lot more than he let on, and he'd been through a lot more than people had originally thought. But he sighed and said, "I don't know how to help you."
"I don't expect you to help me Ben," said Kat, smiling. "But… what's going on between you and Tara?"
Ben frowned. "I'm not sure. Everything's been kind of up in the air since the Prix. And I know her and Christian talked the same day. But… I really don't know."
"You like her, don't you?" said Kat.
"Yeah. I mean… she feels so strongly about things and she's so passionate and… well, I won't go on about it. I think I could be good for her. With everything that's happened to her last year… all the Christian angst, Saskia, breaking her back, losing her friend… I think I can be good for her."
Kat nodded. "I think so too."
"Maybe you could say nice things to her about me?" said Ben.
"Ben, at the end of the day Tara will make her own decision based on her feelings. She knows how amazing you are. Everybody does. I don't want to try and sway her if she feels differently."
"Even when you're still in love with Christian," said Ben quietly. It wasn't a question. "Kat… you're the best friend I've ever met. I don't know if I could make that kind of sacrifice."
Kat didn't know how to respond. She wanted Tara to have it all. Tara deserved it. She worked hard and had pushed through a broken back to continue dancing and had been cruelly manipulated by Grace and… yes, she had her faults. Everybody did. Maybe Kat's was that she loved too strongly. Then, when the thing she loved was taken away from her, she hurt too much, she was broken, irreparable. Sammy, Christian… Tara, back when they'd taken a break from their friendship.
"If you told her, she would back off," Ben added.
Kat knew that was true. But even though she felt so strongly, she couldn't face those emotions. She was scared of them.
She was scared of everything these days.
Kat dreamt again that night, about Sammy. She was standing on the edge of the road where the accident occurred – she had only visited the place once, with Ollie, and had told herself she wouldn't do it again. Some guy in a chicken suit was handing out pamphlets. The tree where a wreath and flowers had been placed since the accident was bare.
And suddenly Sammy was jogging towards her, earphones in, looking focused. He stopped near the chicken man and dialled on his phone, and began talking. Kat approached, slowly, as if floating almost, until she was right in front of him. He was leaving the voicemail for Tara; the one Tara had let Kat listen to once after the funeral. He finished and pocketed his phone, and turned to look out at the water in the harbour.
"Sammy," Kat whispered. He didn't glance at her. "Sammy?" He continued to ignore her. He adjusted an earphone. He changed the song playing. "Sammy!" she shouted. She had some crazy notion that she could stop it from happening, that if she stopped this then everything in the real world would change too.
He turned around and headed to the road, jogging on the spot as he checked for cars and suddenly the dreamscape became distorted, the sky darkening, the world tilting, and Sammy walked to the centre of the road and stood there, and a speeding car hit him and he tumbled over the car and onto the tarmac, and there was a screech of tires and the chicken man's fliers went flying through the air as people ran to help him and blood pooled by his head and his eyes were open and expressionless.
She jolted awake with a gasp, her heart pounding. She looked around the room in her panicked state, her breathing coming out fast, realising it was a dream but at the same time realising it wasn't a dream. Of course she didn't know how the accident had happened. Nobody really knew. Not even the chicken man, who'd had his back turned on impact. The driver had said that Sammy had just run in front of his car, but with no witnesses and the victim dead, who could say otherwise?
Abigail's eyes were opened in the dark room, like a raccoon. "Are you okay?"
"Um." Kat blinked a few times. "Bad dream. I'm fine."
"Do you dream about the accident? Different scenarios about how it could happen?"
"That was one of the scenarios just then," said Kat.
"He went and stood in the middle of the road and waited for the car to hit him."
Abigail rolled her eyes. "That isn't even plausible."
"Sorry, I can't control my dreams," said Kat sarcastically, lying down. After a little while, when Kat didn't know if Abigail had drifted back to sleep or not, she murmured, "Abigail?"
"Does it still hurt?" She didn't feel she needed to clarify what she meant.
"Of course. I think it will always hurt," said Abigail. "He was a one of a kind person. None of us would be friends if it wasn't for him. He was-"
"The glue that held everybody together," finished Kat. It had been said so many times since he had died that she could easily predict when somebody was going to say it.
After that they were quiet, and soon Abigail's soft snores filled the room. Kat stared at the ceiling. She hadn't spoken to Tara about this. Since the farm, they hadn't spoken much about how they felt. It was like they were both protecting themselves from their own and each other's pain. And now Tara was so preoccupied with third year and the production. Kat had no doubt that Tara would get into the company, or if not the company than some other amazing job that would see her become a principle dancer. She had something to work for and keep her mind off Sammy. Kat didn't, and that was the problem.