The Brightest Stars

Submitted into Contest #54 in response to: Write a story about someone looking to make amends for a mistake.... view prompt

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General

“Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing-” Benjamin Alire Sáenz

People do bad things, but some people make one mistake that changes everything. The mistake consumes them. I am some people.

Scars were a sign that you had been hurt, but you had healed. Scars fade, but they remind you of what had happened. She didn’t have scars because her wound was fresh. It never got time to heal. Three years had passed, but it didn’t matter how much time had passed when her wound was cut open so frequently.

…….

“Davina, would you like to explain the assignment I just gave the class?”

Miss Alison knew I couldn’t, it was her way of putting me on the spot because she knew I wasn’t listening.

“I’m sorry, could you please repeat what it was?” I ask her.

Her lips press into a thin line, and she rolls her eyes. It isn’t news to her I wasn’t paying attention. She just pretends like it is.

“I was telling you guys to get your presentations ready for the exhibition show in two weeks.”

I sigh inwardly. The last time she heard me, she took it as a sign of rudeness. I was sure she hated me.

The exhibition show is definitely not something I’m looking forward to. Every dancer talks about passion and dancing what you’re feeling, but it’s so much harder than that. I wasn’t made to dance. My body doesn’t work that way.

The show is worth at least 40% of our grade. This will be the third year I fail. Showing up was worth at least 10 points out of the 80 we were graded on, but I never showed up. I didn’t deserve to dance.

“Now girls, go work on your Rond de Jambe.”

“Yes, Miss Alison.” They chorused, looking at me like why bother with this one.

“You dance like you have two left feet, Davina. The steps aren’t that hard,” Miss Alison said as she walked past me. The girls giggled and my face burned in embarrassment.

If only she knew.

I was born with two left feet because of a severe hox gene malfunction. These were definitely rare. It just so happened that I was a girl born into a family of dancers with a disability that prevented me from dancing. Sad, right? I know. Being in a dance class is useless, but I owe it to Mabel. I owe it to her so they can never find out.

It wasn’t always meant to be this way though. It never mattered until it did. It never mattered until Mabel stopped dancing.

She was going to be the dancer, and I was going to be the writer. She always said I would write her biography as she traveled the world, dancing in different countries. If only we knew. We never would have bothered to dream.

“Davina Allister, we need to have a talk,” Miss Alison said. We knew it was important when she used our full names. The other girls smirked. They knew what was coming. I did too. I wondered how I had escaped it for so long. It wasn’t that I wanted to leave, it was that I needed to. I don’t deserve to be here, but I can’t leave because I promised her I’d live out her dream since she couldn’t.

I followed Miss Alison to her office.

“Do you know how many teenagers would give anything to be where you are? You go to Idyllwild Arts Academy. I will not hammer how important it is that you make this exhibition show count because I expect you know what is at risk here. Show up! This is your last chance to make this work or we give your spot to someone who values it.”

“Yes, miss,” I reply, my face instantly becoming warmer. I couldn’t steal her dream and mess everything up. I had done that for three years now. I needed something to go right. I was getting up to leave when she smiled at me. She had never smiled at me.

“And Davina?”

“Yes, miss?”

“Feel the music. Dancing is so much more than your body movements. Feel it. Become it. Let it consume you. Your fears, your hopes, your wildest dreams. Tell a story only you could know so well. Feel the emotion. There has to be a story worth telling, right?” She’s right. There is a story worth telling, it just isn’t mine.

…….

“If you tried hard enough, you could be a dancer!” Mabel exclaimed after she made me practice her audition piece with her. She was going to be a contemporary ballerina. I just knew it. I scoffed.

“I’m being serious,” she said.

“I know. Thank you,” I smiled at her, but she didn’t look convinced. The truth was, even if I could dance, I’d never be able to dance like she would.

“Even if I could dance, I’d never be as good as you are, Sirius.”

She blushed. Dad called her that. He said she was the brightest star in the sky. Mum called me Canopus. It was a nice enough gesture because she knew we couldn’t both be Sirius. It still made me feel bad, though. Like they thought I was second best.

But Mabel, she always called me Canopus, and suddenly it didn’t feel so bad. She claimed that Canopus was as bright as Sirius or even brighter. It just didn’t seem that way. She said we were the brightest stars in the sky. I was fine with it. She made things okay.

I wondered how I could claim she was the person I loved the most with what I did two weeks later.

……

“Wow! That was amazing.” Dad honestly looked impressed. I had never seen him look that way when judging anything we presented before him. Our parents want us to go to Idyllwild Arts Academy. It was the school they met and fell in love. We were meant to be showing him what we had come up with for our audition pieces.

Mum always told him not to put too much pressure on us. I was sure it was because she didn’t want any unhealthy competition between us. Three years later, I realize she knew it would break me. That was what she was avoiding.

I saw it in his eyes that day that nothing I did would ever compare, but I kept trying. Big mistake. I tried all the time to make him notice me, to hold on to his affection. That was my biggest mistake because you can’t lose something that was never yours.

I never wanted to get into Idyllwild because I knew people would treat me like I was Mabel’s sister. I never felt creative enough and even though we shared everything, I didn’t want to share Idyllwild with her. It was her dream, but I did. I ‘auditioned’ because Idyllwild was mum and dad’s dream too, for both of us.

“Girls, please remember that this isn’t a competition. I’m sure both of you worked very hard on your audition pieces.”

I wanted to scream in his face that it wasn’t an audition piece, that term only related to performing arts.

It was too late anyway. It was too late the second Mabel played ‘Feel the Light’. He judged both of us before I had a chance to read my story. He condemned it from the beginning. He had no faith in me, but that didn’t excuse what I did.

……

So yes, there is a story worth telling, but she won’t tell it. Mabel wouldn’t dance anymore and mom and dad didn’t pressure her. I wish they had. Maybe it would have taken off some of the guilt I felt.

I needed to do this for her because she couldn’t.

“Yes, Miss Alison. I believe there is,” I finally replied.

She smiled at me like she knew I would figure something out. Maybe she didn’t hate me.

Only this isn’t about the exhibition show. It’s about so much more. It’s about three years ago. The dance video I selfishly deleted that would have gotten her into this school.

I hadn’t told her the truth till this day because I was so sure it would break the already fragile state our family was in. No, that’s not true. I didn’t tell her because I was afraid she’d hate me. If everyone else thought I was a monster, it wouldn’t hurt because I thought I was too but, if she thought so too, it would make it true. I would never stop reliving the moments in my head.

Her audition piece. I couldn’t dance, but I relived that moment in my head; the moment I realized I wasn’t good enough. When my admission letter came and she got nothing. I would never stop reliving the moments she sat on the porch and tore through countless letters. She did, every single day, until the day I went to her dream school and she told me to enjoy it for the both of us. I would never stop reliving the moments she came to watch the exhibition shows, and I saw her heart break. I couldn’t perform, not while she was watching, but it wasn’t like I knew what I was doing anyway. She was meant to be the one on that stage performing. I should have told her the truth.

……

“Davina, what are you doing here?” Miss Alison asked, placing her reading glasses on the table.

“You were right Miss Alison when you asked me if there was a story worth telling. There is, but I can’t tell it.”

She looked confused for a few moments before the realization of my words dawned on her. She was shocked, and so was I. I was still processing my actions as I was taking them.

“I can’t tell it alone because it’s not mine alone to tell.”

“You’re not making any sense Davina.”

“I know. But I need your help. I need you to teach me ballet before the exhibition show.”

“That’s impossible. No one can learn ballet in two weeks. Ballet is an art-” I had to cut her off before she rambled on and made me lose my train of thought. I hadn’t even decided if this was a good idea.

“Yes, you can. I’ve been in your class for three years. I have picked up a few things. You taught me that ballet is only 50% movements. I have the movements in my head and the emotion. Teach me the movements.”

She pinched her forehead, and her eyebrows creased. It was the look she had on her face when she thought about things too hard. “Fine, if it’s what you want. I’ll teach you. We’ll have extra lessons every day until the exhibition show. I have only one condition if I help you though and that is, you can’t give up. I won’t allow you to.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” I tell her immediately. I thank her as she nods and I leave her office. I wasn’t going to let her slip through my fingers, not this time.

I don’t believe we just lived between hurting and healing. For a long time I thought we did, but I don’t think so, not anymore. Yes, we hurt each other, but we also forgive. We heal. We hurt the people we love the most without meaning to. We're human. But it isn’t okay to be a coward. We had to give them closure to let their wounds heal. I knew that now, and even if she hated me, I would never stop trying to earn her forgiveness.

…….

I go up to the roof of the abandoned building now. The building we discovered four years ago. I hadn’t been here with her in the last three years. The star-shaped scar on my wrist flickers under the glow of the stars. It was once a wound, but it was fading and would disappear soon. Emotional wounds weren’t as forgiving.

I lay on the roof, look up, and see the stars. They illuminate the darkness and I feel safe. The audition, the lies, the betrayal- they now linger in the distance. It’s not as intense.

I see them. I know I do. Mabel taught me how to look for them, but I never checked, not until today. The sky’s two brightest stars.

“They’re like us,” she said, “They regularly appear together. They’re like two sisters crossing the galaxies together.”

August 14, 2020 11:54

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108 comments

14:45 Aug 16, 2020

Loved it! I really liked the ending! '“They regularly appear together. They’re like two sisters crossing the galaxies together.”'

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Doubra Akika
15:01 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you so much 😁! I’m happy you liked it!

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16:09 Aug 16, 2020

You're welcome! :D

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Romneya Quennell
17:56 Aug 17, 2020

Wow. This is really, really good. I love finding gems like this! Beautiful narrative, prose, everything. I loved how you seamlessly blended the past and present in the story. There were a few things I caught. Like this part: 'People do bad things, but some people make one mistake that changes everything. The mistake consumes them. I am some people.' The last phrase 'I am some people' should be 'I am one of those people' because 'I' is singular. Another thing I found was the sentence '“You were right Miss Alison when you asked me i...

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Doubra Akika
18:37 Aug 17, 2020

Thank you so much for the compliment! You have no idea how much it means. I have taken all your suggestions into consideration. My editing could be a lot better so thank you for pointing those out 😂. She does have a disability and it prevents her from being able to dance very well. But she never actually even made an effort to dance so that’s sort of something else hindering her. I don’t know if that makes sense but that’s sort of something I was going for😂.

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Romneya Quennell
23:19 Aug 18, 2020

Oh okay, that makes a lot more sense now:D You are most welcome! xo

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Doubra Akika
23:29 Aug 18, 2020

Yeah😂. ☺️😁!

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Josh C
02:50 Aug 15, 2020

Hi Doubra, I gave it a read as requested and I love the writing and characters. The dialogue and internal conflict all works nicely. It took me a couple of reads to catch what the narrator actually did, which I can say is because I read it too quickly, but I think this could have been expanded. I was a little confused - was the performance piece video-only? I read it assuming that they would perform it live, in which case I didn't quite understand how deleting a video would have ruined Mabel's chance at getting in. Also, if Davina is such...

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Doubra Akika
11:26 Aug 15, 2020

Thank you so much 😁. The audition pieces could have been anything. Davina wrote something for it but Mabel’s was a video because she’s a dancer. What Davina has to perform live is a dance at the exhibition show. I think there are bits about it in the story but I guess I should have explained it better. Thank you so much for reading though and for taking time to comment!

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Yolanda Wu
23:17 Aug 14, 2020

I absolutely loved the portrayal of the characters and the language used. I really like this line "I don’t believe we just lived between hurting and healing. For a long time I thought we did, but I don’t think so, not anymore. Yes, we hurt each other, but we also forgive." It was just so beautiful. I was also immediately hooked from the beginning by that quote. I know it's from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which is one of my absolute favourite books, my friends are all sick of me talking about it and forcing the...

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Doubra Akika
00:34 Aug 15, 2020

Thank you so much 😊. I’m so happy you liked it, and yes!! I’m so glad you noticed 😂.

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Pragya Rathore
16:40 Aug 15, 2020

Sorry to become the third wheel in your conversation, but man, I LOVE that book! Glad to meet a fellow fan :) It was because of that book that I read The Grapes Of Wrath :p

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Doubra Akika
17:51 Aug 15, 2020

The book was amazing 😂. I haven’t read that. Is it any good?

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Pragya Rathore
18:43 Aug 15, 2020

It's better for those who like classics so much that they're willing to keep up with the slow-paced plot :) But you might want to give it a try. Who knows, you might like it as much as Dante ;) I'm honestly freaking out because I love it whenever I meet a fellow reader :p

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Doubra Akika
18:50 Aug 15, 2020

😂😂 I’ll definitely check it out then!! Just added it to my list of books to read!

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Yolanda Wu
00:41 Aug 15, 2020

I've read the book so many times, I just recognised it immediately. :)

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Doubra Akika
01:38 Aug 15, 2020

It made a lot of sense though. (Referring to the book) There was a lot to learn and the writing was... can’t find the right words 🤣

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Yolanda Wu
01:43 Aug 15, 2020

I know, I always gush about the writing in that book, and squeal whenever i read it.

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Doubra Akika
01:57 Aug 15, 2020

Thank goodness it’s not just me then😂.

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Andrew Krey
02:51 Sep 12, 2020

Hi Doubra, I really liked your story, you build great dynamics between the characters - they're all interconnected yet Davina has a different type of relationship with them all. I really liked the line when she thinks maybe the teacher doesn't hate her after all. I also liked the way you tease the betrayal throughout the story. Each time we get a little more information about it, and the suspense builds each time. That was done very well. As for suggestions, I would just say that sometimes in your writing you show, and then also tell....

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Doubra Akika
09:17 Sep 12, 2020

It was definitely helpful! Thanks so much for reading and now that you've pointed it out, I can look for ways to fix it. Hope you're staying safe!

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Andrew Krey
09:38 Sep 12, 2020

Great, glad it was helpful! :)

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Megan Sutherland
17:20 Aug 20, 2020

Great story Doubra, and I loved the ending!

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Doubra Akika
18:29 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks!

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Yoomi Ari
21:44 Aug 19, 2020

I wish I could flow with dialogue as good as you do! Not only do you carry the story, you take the readers on a long, eventful train ride with you:) Great job!!👌🏼

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Doubra Akika
22:00 Aug 19, 2020

Thank you so much! Your comment honestly means a lot 😁.

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Yoomi Ari
15:14 Aug 23, 2020

:)

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Niveeidha Palani
09:59 Aug 19, 2020

Hi Doubra, I'm here as per your request, It's good! A few minor mistakes: 1. As I read your story at the beginning, I noticed that you changed between tenses, you used present tense at first, ("I sigh inwardly" and then you used past tense for the rest of the story. 2. You had a few grammatical mistakes here and there, but that's no worries, we're all learning! :) Glad to read this story!!! And of course, never stop writing! :)

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Doubra Akika
10:52 Aug 19, 2020

Thank you so much! I’m still working on my tenses😂. And yes, we’re all learning every day 😁. Thank you so much for checking this out. Stay safe!

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Niveeidha Palani
21:58 Aug 19, 2020

No problem, and have a great day! Stay safe too! 😷

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Doubra Akika
22:01 Aug 19, 2020

I will. Thanks!

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16:44 Aug 18, 2020

This story was beautiful, Doubra. Your description was perfect, and I could practically feel both of the sisters' pain in my own heart. That is extremely hard to do, so kudos to you for that. Amazing. Outstanding. Beautiful. -Brooke

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Doubra Akika
17:03 Aug 18, 2020

Thanks a lot for checking it out 😁! Your comment means a lot honestly!

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17:04 Aug 18, 2020

Of course! It's my pleasure! Aw, thanks! ❤😊❤😊

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Doubra Akika
18:16 Aug 18, 2020

🥰

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:15 Aug 18, 2020

This is a cool story. I was grabbed my the title because it reminded me of that saying - the brightest flame burns quickest. That's not where you went with it, but it's still a clever play on the duel meaning of 'star' you use in the story. It does take a bit of concentrating to get what's going on, but there's enough for the reader to figure it out. It's a fine line between over and under explaining, so it's very helpful to get reader critique like you have in the comments. You use some excellent language and the foreshadowing works rea...

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Doubra Akika
17:01 Aug 18, 2020

Thank you so much honestly😁. Your comment means a lot.

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21:07 Aug 15, 2020

Oh Gosh Doubra! I read this like it was a film! Everything was so accurate in my head and I pictured everything, every moment, so smoothly. This was outstanding! Inspirational, in-depth, true, with a message, and I love that when reading; there's a message. This touched my movie-spirit Doubra, and I immediately thought of a dance film I once watched, not with this plot though, but equally as beautiful!! B.R.A.V.O.

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Doubra Akika
21:17 Aug 15, 2020

Thank you so much Chi Chi 😂. Your comment definitely means a lot! I’m so happy you liked it!

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21:27 Aug 15, 2020

I'm happy you WROTE IT! :D

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Doubra Akika
21:39 Aug 15, 2020

😊😁

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Deidra Lovegren
19:41 Aug 15, 2020

I love the ending! I would just start at paragraph #4 and work in your words of wisdom later on. Grab my attention first -- everyone hates getting called out by a teacher! Use em dashes instead of hyphens. Watch verb tense throughout. Pick past or present tense, but stick to it. I think this story may work better in present tense.

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Doubra Akika
19:49 Aug 15, 2020

I hated that in school😂. Yeah, I’m still getting used to the verb tenses but I’ll watch it next time. Thanks for reading and commenting, D&D😂.

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Deidra Lovegren
19:56 Aug 15, 2020

Anytime, my friend. It's all good :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:01 Aug 14, 2020

Very poignant. Loved the quote in the beginning. Beautiful story!

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Doubra Akika
14:16 Aug 14, 2020

Thank you so much 😊.

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:23 Aug 14, 2020

You are welcome. If you have time, have a look at mine too. Thanks! :)

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Doubra Akika
14:25 Aug 14, 2020

Just did actually🤣.

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:26 Aug 14, 2020

I just saw that too! Thanks ❤️

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Hannah B
01:34 Aug 27, 2020

Beautiful story. You create real and sympathetic characters, and you pace your story very well. Enjoyable read!

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Doubra Akika
06:55 Aug 27, 2020

Thank you so much😁! Happy you liked it.

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This was such a great story. I loved how you referred to Benjamin Alire Saenz's quote at the beginning, he is my favorite author of all time. This story was really well-written and I really liked how you compared your characters to the stars. Great work!

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Doubra Akika
21:46 Aug 26, 2020

Thank you so much! I’m so happy you liked it. Your comment means a lot😊!

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Shreya S
14:32 Aug 20, 2020

Hey! You told me to read this, so here I am. Wonderful story and very well written! The concept of the stars was really good, and the whole thing about art too!

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Doubra Akika
16:04 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks so much! I’m happy you liked it!

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Thom Brodkin
11:46 Aug 20, 2020

You’re story is so readable. I am not a professional critic so I struggle to give advice but I read for the enjoyment of reading and I enjoyed this totally. You capture guilt, regret, redemption, hope. It is what writing is all about. You are a writer and there is no higher compliment.

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Doubra Akika
11:54 Aug 20, 2020

I struggle to give advice as well! I'm so happy you enjoyed it. And thanks for the compliment!

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Rambling Beth
11:18 Aug 20, 2020

This story was beautiful! The dialogue was touching, and your prose flowed really well. It almost makes me want to be a dancer, you described it so beautifully. Lovely story. :)

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Doubra Akika
11:20 Aug 20, 2020

I’m so happy you checked it out! Thanks so much! Your comment means a lot.

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Rambling Beth
11:21 Aug 20, 2020

I look forward to reading your future submissions!

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Doubra Akika
11:30 Aug 20, 2020

I do as well!

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Rayhan Hidayat
05:50 Aug 20, 2020

“I tried all the time to make him notice me, to hold on to his affection. That was my biggest mistake because you can’t lose something that was never yours.“ Maybe I was just in a sentimental mood but this line hit hard wow 😮 I love this Doubra, the emotions were spot on! Her envy towards her sister, her need for validation from her father, and then her quest for redemption were all portrayed in a way that was realistic yet vivid, which made for an awesome read. And the setup before the reveal of what she did was nicely done, kept me hook...

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Doubra Akika
09:01 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you so much😁! I’m so glad you liked it! Your comment made my day! Stay safe!

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Rayhan Hidayat
09:15 Aug 20, 2020

I’m glad I could make your day, you stay safe too and keep writing! 😊

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B.T Beauregard
04:54 Aug 20, 2020

Awesome job. Interesting concept, really creative and unique. One of my favorite things about your story are the nicknames. Genius idea. It adds a lot of personality to the characters. One thing I found a bit confusing is the ending, maybe try to more clearly express her intentions to do well in the exhibition for her sister. It took me a couple read overs to understand that bit. Overall, amazing story. Keep writing!! :)

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Doubra Akika
09:00 Aug 20, 2020

Okay I’ll definitely do that! Thanks a lot for reading!

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