And we just danced. We did it all night long and all over the gardens. It was funny to practice this way, in a real palace, with someone who could understand how awful I was at it. The movie required me to dance with a beautiful princess for a few minutes (seconds in the movie) and I really wanted to nail it. So they brought someone to help us and there he was. It was ridiculous to have known him for so many years and, at the same time, having no idea who he really was.
Our dance teacher was Alexander Frost. I had seen him for the first time the day I arrived at high school. The thing was that that place was my third high school. Because of my parents work I had to go from here to there. But this was the one where I would do my last two years and then it would be off to college, wherever that might be. I saw Alex that first day but didn’t thought anything of him. Not once, during those two years, did I really speak to him. Maybe greet him in the hall if I happened to be late for class or in the bathroom but that was it.
And now, here he was. I’m afraid I never cared about my fellow classmates in high school. It was clear for me that the friends I had made there were only temporary. I didn’t want anything to do with them after finishing the time I had to spend there. This may seem like a hash thing to say but I was just fed up with all the moving and changing. College would be another change and, for me at least, it would be my real ticket into having friends and so on. I just had to jump those last hurdles to get there.
Besides, and I should have said this before, people in my high school were not precisely interesting nor the nicest. I know my parents tried to do their best so they put me in the best school they could think of. Academically speaking, it certainly was. I learned a lot more than many others did at that age but, nevertheless, school is not only for learning. School is supposed to be the place where you make those first social connections and when you get into society as such. Well, I didn’t.
When I got to college, I was the happiest person in the world. Also very frightened and shy but happy nonetheless. I wanted to make it big in life so I took my film studies pretty seriously. I worked hard and did everything that was asked from me and even more. Of course, I created my first social links here and it was a lot easier than in school, where everything seemed so convenient and mandatory. Not in college. There, I felt I could be anyone and no one would mind and some would even like me that way.
So when I first so Alex on set, I felt myself going back to school. I cannot lie: it felt like being stabbed and bleeding profusely for hours. I know how it sounds but I hated high school. I hated it. I felt like a mouse constantly trying to survive, running around, feeling a thousand eyes on me and then none at the same time. I felt scared and hopeless every single day there. And that was the same thing I felt when Alex came on set: insecurity and anxiety.
We had been rehearsing for hours that day and I think, because I was tired, I did not properly realize what had happened. So that night I slept like a baby and didn’t even think of the whole thing. But next morning, it was like being back in high school. I’m not proud to say that I had to vomit early in the morning. It was lucky that I hadn’t had that much to eat. I brushed my teeth and got on set smiling and trying to be the same that the day before but that was clearly impossible.
Mistake after mistake, the director would correct me. He’s such a great person but even I knew I was sucking hard. I was awful every single and he got tired. He told all of us that instead of rehearsal we would have our first dance lesson. My co-star, Veronica, was a very experienced dancer. She had worked in theater for a long time so she knew her way around the dance floor. But me, I had no idea. And it was then when the director brought Alex in and, shame on me, I laughed.
It has to be one of the most awkward moments of my life. I didn’t laugh for hours or anything, it was just one laugh and then closing my mouth and noticing how everyone was looking at me as if I had killed someone right there. Then I greeted Alex and we just went on with the lesson. He said it was better if I danced with him first and then Veronica. So that day she left early and we were left alone to practice like mad. Soon, I forgot everything about high school and the weird moment that had occurred before. I wanted to be good, great even, in this movie so I really focused on getting it right.
This went on for two more weeks. Meanwhile, we would shoot other scenes in other places. We traveled to Vienna for the filming and it was so beautiful we all felt we had already won several awards. After a particular difficult morning of filming, the director decided we could have the afternoon of. We would begin again the next morning but then Alex appeared, out of nowhere, and told me I had to practice hard as the next day would be the shooting of the dance scene.
Surprisingly, he told Veronica to go and rest. I had already danced with her a couple of times by then and I thought it was very odd not to practice with her for the last time. I danced with Alex in a room they lend us at the palace where the filming was taking place and it was just amazing. I almost felt myself float and Alex told me I was doing a great job. We also went outside, to the gardens, and danced there, as another scene would take place down there. The place was really quiet and we only stopped when a security guard came to see what was going on.
The next day, I rocked the dancing scene. We did it again a few times and Veronica hugged me hard when we finished. She was thrilled that the scene had gone so smoothly. We watched it a couple of times on a small screen and everything looked great: the lights, the costumes, the production design and, of course, our dancing. We went back home a couple of days later, having wrapped up the movie. I knew it would be a great piece one they had it finished and I looked forward the premiere.
Back at my house, I was surprised to see that Alex had sent me a box containing a big bar of chocolate, raisins covered in chocolate, a video game and a paper that happened to be a printed email in which a restaurant confirmed a reservation in his name. He had highlighted the name of the place, the address and the time. So naturally, I was confused. A guy was practically asking me out. But that wasn’t really the problem. The thing was that bar of chocolate had always being my favorite, I loved raisins covered with chocolate and the video game was one I had always wanted but never had.
I went to the restaurant, trying not to look like I had tried too hard with my clothes. He was already there so we sat down and ordered and then started talking about the movie, the dancing, exchanging data for future work opportunities and, finally, his gift box. Then, as we were having our main courses, he looked at me and I noticed his eyes were watery and his skin was a bit red. He doubted of his words but finally asked me if I knew who he was.
It was funny because I realized then that I had never told him anything about high school. We just got the lessons going and that was it. We hadn’t said a word about the past and now he was asking about it. So I answered:
- - Of course I know.
- - Why didn’t you say something? – He said, almost scolding me.
- It happened so long ago. I don’t like to remember those days.
Then he shed a tear and, before I could ask anything else, he changed the subject and came back to his old self from the movie set. We had a nice dinner and he even took me home. Just as I had opened my door, my cellphone started ringing in my coat pocket. It wasn’t an incoming call but and SMS. I almost dropped it when I read it. It was from Alex.
- - I have loved you for all these years. Sorry. Have a nice sleep.