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Coming of Age Inspirational African American

The crowd's cheer was deafening.

So was Zanaya's heartbeat.

She really couldn't help it.

Her curly chocolate hair was neatly placed as a bun on top of her head. Her purple dress was gripped by her trembling ebony hands. Her feet shaking inside her silver sandals. Her palms sweating more than it should.

Was she nervous?

Another cheer erupted from the other side of the large red curtain.

A shiver ran up her spine.

So, it seems like she's nervous.

She hears the rush of footsteps of the make-up artists rushing towards their clients.

Zanaya gulped.

Very nervous, so it seems.

She looked up to see the other competitors warming up.

Competitor nine, Suzanne Miles, A blonde girl with blue eyes, is down a split and twisting her back to the other side.

Competitor ten, Clarice Gordon, a tall brunette, has her leg up against the wall and hands on the floor.

Competitor eleven, Elena Forrest, a very well known dancer in her region. She has a petite figure. Her black hair is complimented by her blue eyes. She has both her legs up two seats and is making an oversplit.

Another shiver ran through Zanaya's body. This is not healthy for her and her heart. She stared at the other competitors, as they laughed with no care nor hesitance at all.

Zanaya is this close to run back to the van.

She was gonna lose.

She was gonna lose.

She was gonna LOS-

A hand patted her head, cutting her thoughts off. She turned around to see her mother, smiling down at her. Zanaya felt herself smile nervously back.

They both share their curly brown hair, which Zanaya always ties and her mom show off. Their ebony skin which Zanaya always covered with long sleeves and jeans whereas her mom is proud of it.

Though their eyes are an exception for Zanaya.

Her green eyes are like forest green, Illuminating her whole face.

Zanaya held up her hand which her mother readily held and squeezed. That seemed to soothe a few of her nerves, not all, but some.

The host popped his head in and called for Suzanne Miles, who confidently strutted towards the stage. The crowd cheering and clapping as she smiled at them.

Zanaya really didn't want to compete now.

She was a bit lanky while so others were either slender or petite. She also just started to dance whereas the others practiced for years! She should've just stayed inside the van, safe and sound, but no. She had to walk out and face the audience of sharks, ready to criticize her every movement.

She's basically walking in a very thin line of rope.

Her mother laughed, meaning she saw Zanaya's anxiety getting the best of her. She placed her hands on Zanaya's shoulders and faced her daughter with a bright grin.

"You're amazing, Zanaya. Never forget that."

Her words made Zanaya feel good for herself, just a little. And so, she started to stretch and warm-up for her dance. Her mother just by the corner, for moral support.

Then Clarice was called to the stage. There were no cheers but a very loud round of applause.

While Zanaya lowered herself to touch her toes, a series of giggles made her conscious. She was surprised to see her mother quickly beside her and ushered her towards the toilet.

As they walk past Elena and her friends, they sneered and giggled, making Zanaya duck in shame.

They had to change her dress as the back part had a rip. Zanaya felt tears in the corner of her eyes. This was fate telling her to quit. She should have not joined this competition in the first place. It was too early for her.

When they came out, Elena was still there, smiling too sweetly in Zanaya's comfort. Even though the backstage was a hot place, Zanaya felt a cold shiver. She looked to meet Elena's confident smug face. She ducked her head fast.

She is definitely gonna lose.

Not with Elena being so good at this.

She's nothing.

Zanaya snapped back to reality when a hug was given to her. Her mother's warm embrace and soothing words finally let the dam in her eyes overflow.

Still crying, she saw Elena leap gracefully in the stage and the audience just loved it and erupted into a loud round of cheers and claps.

She can't be like that.

She's not Elena after all.

She's just-

A squeak took her attention faster than she could think.

She knew that squeak.

She pulled away from her mom and stared at her uncle Ben and a grinning Robert.

Not even looking at Uncle Ben, she stared agape at Robert.

He was handsome today, just as always. His black hair swept back and his smile was dazzling. His brown eyes twinkled in the dimly lit room. His white skin contrasted with his black hoodie and jersey shorts. His wheelchair was as shiny as ever.

He opened his arms and Zanaya reflexively went to take it.

While hugging Robert, she asked herself.

Why did she start dancing?

"Whoa! I want to move like that! Zanaya, do you think I can?"

"Of course silly! If not, I'll dance for you!"

"Promise?"

"Promise."

And their pinkies intertwined.

A promise was made.

Zanaya blinked and pulled away just as the host called for her. She turned to see a sweaty and grinning Elena.

For some reason, she didn't look as scary as she did before.

She looked back to her mother, Uncle Ben, and Robert, who gave her a thumbs up.

Walking towards the center stage, she inhaled deeply and closed her eyes.

When she arrived at the center, everything is silent. She exhaled and opened her eyes, staring at the hundred faces who were watching her every move.

Should she run?

"Please cheer for the new debut! Zanaya!"

She closed her eyes and posed, as the music slowly started to play.

"You're amazing, Zanaya. Never forget that."

And their pinkies intertwined.

And a promise was made.

Her green eyes looked directly at the judges, betraying no emotion.

And she danced,

and smiled

with confidence.

July 12, 2020 12:52

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15 comments

Cypress Grey
01:01 Jul 25, 2020

What a heartwarming story - it almost felt like a poem, actually. It was very graceful much like a dancer (I wonder if you meant for that?). Loved it! Keep writing and please feel free to read or critique my stories!

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Quill Porter
08:09 Jul 25, 2020

Omg, You saw my hidden intention? That's so amazing! Thank you for reading my story! I would love to read your stories!❤

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Cypress Grey
14:53 Jul 25, 2020

I'm so glad I got it right! You did a wonderful job :)

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Quill Porter
15:29 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you! I liked your story too!❤ It was so good!

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Kelechi Nwokoma
02:01 Jul 23, 2020

I really enjoyed this story. You nailed the description of the nervousness a person feels before a performance. Sweaty palms, shaky feet, accelerated heartbeat.. great job.

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Quill Porter
02:04 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Kelechi Nwokoma
15:40 Jul 24, 2020

You're welcome. Could you please check out my recent story, Next in Line, whenever you're free and give me feedback? I'd really appreciate it.

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Quill Porter
08:00 Jul 25, 2020

Sure! Will do.👌

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Adhi Das
05:42 Jul 20, 2020

Nicely done👍

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Quill Porter
14:32 Jul 20, 2020

Thank you! 😊

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Batool Hussain
13:01 Jul 12, 2020

What a unique name, Zanaya! Btw, I loveeddd the story. Mind checking out my new story and sharing your views on it? Thanks.

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Kelechi Nwokoma
01:59 Jul 23, 2020

I'm curious, Batool. Do you actually read people's stories? Because I almost always see your comments on a lot of people's stories, but you barely give much feedback on them. So is it that you're just advertising yours or you actually take the time out to help other writers? Not that I'm against what you do, because seeing likes and comments is really encouraging. . . .

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Batool Hussain
03:30 Jul 23, 2020

I do. For this very reason, I also take part in the Critique Circle every week. You may see detailed feedback on many stories from my comments because I truly want to help people. It hurts to see how many people think that I comment on their stories to gain likes and feedback. This is sad:(

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Kelechi Nwokoma
20:32 Jul 23, 2020

Other people think that? I didn't know.. thought it was just me. Also, I'm sorry you're sad about it... It's just the way you present your comments that makes it look that way. How old are you, btw? I'm quite a young writer and I want to know if you are, too.

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Quill Porter
01:46 Jul 13, 2020

Thank you so much! I would love to read your story!

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