Balance

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Part Two: The Language of the Arts


Balance

Wednesday, June 18th, day 18

In a nutshell, class began on Wednesday. Lee didn’t seem too surprised to see me when I arrived with my sports bag. I had steeled myself, thinking he was going to force me to dance somehow, but instead we got into Araunah’s silver convertible, drove to the market, and bought a bag of lemons.

“Why did we buy lemons at the market?” I asked sceptically. We were in the kitchen at Virginia’s, and he waited while a girl in a chef’s hat sliced one into six pieces.

“Here. Eat one,” he instructed me. I was about to ask why, but decided against it. the sour juice burned in my mouth. I didn’t hate lemons, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be eating them raw like this.

“Now what?”

“What does the lemon taste like?”

Well, gee. “It tastes sour.” And gross, with no cream or sugar…

“Exactly. And what would make that lemon taste better?”

“Um, sugar and cream?”

He raised his brow at that, but went on. “Why?”

Frustrated now, I said, “because it’s too sour and sugar makes it sweet, and cream compensates for the horrible acid content. You know that’s bad for your teeth, right?”

He ignored my jibe, but snapped his fingers as though I had just revealed something big. “Compensation!” he exclaimed. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about. The sugar compensates for the sour, and the cream compensates for the acid. Balance!”

I gazed at him, trying to hide the fact that I was questioning his sanity. Look who’s talking, said that stupid little voice in the back of my head. You see people who aren’t really there. “Yeah, so?” I said to both of them. only Lee gave me an answer.

“You see, Hanuara, art is a language. There are many principles to this language, which are applied to every art form. The first principle, no matter what you do, is balance. Balance keeps things equal, and prevents inequality”—obviously.

But I understood exactly what he was talking about. Forcing the pain away, I remembered Adam saying something like that. we had to get our balance before we did anything else, or else we would fail. It was as simple as that. if we tried to do anything while fighting to stay upright, it would look awful. And it would probably be dangerous, too.

“You saw Jada Allens dance, am I right?” To my surprise, he tossed all the lemons away.

“I saw her.”

“Remember how you could draw a line straight from the top of her head to the toe she was spinning on? She was perfectly balanced, otherwise she would fall over. And do you remember when Sophia and I danced? Whenever she depended on me, my movements had to compensate for all of hers so that we could do other things. If you get balance out of the way, you don’t need to worry anymore. Do you get that?”

“Huh.” Fancy that.

“What are you thinking?” His blue eyes were suddenly light and friendly, as he peered at me casually.

“My mom sent me here because she thought I wasn’t balancing my modeling and my life.”

His small smile barely reached his eyes. “So you see my point.”

The contraption we were standing on consisted of three telephone poles at the points of a long triangle, with the two poles at the end about twenty feet from the one pole at the beginning. Running parallel to the ground, about a foot and a half up, were two cables, stretched tight. They both started at the beginning pole, but then they got farther apart until they reached the poles at the end.

I had never seen anything so odd in my life. But when Lee told me to get on it, I was dumfounded.

“Here, like this.” He stood on one cable, and I stood on the other so I was facing him. our toes were touching, and our facing were inches apart. We clasped hands.

“Now we have to move across this to the other end.” There was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes that I immediately distrusted. It would be impossible, I was sure it was impossible and he was going to make me do it anyway just for laughs. But I gripped his hands tightly and shuffled my feet to the side.

I tumbled to the ground, with him barely managing not to fall on top of me.

“That’s not funny!” My face burned with embarrassment, as he rolled on the ground. I angrily brushed off the seat of my shorts. “And what is the point of this, anyway?”

He was on his feet in one fluid move. He almost couldn’t stop laughing long enough to answer me. “What were we just talking about, Hanuara?” his accent thickened as he tried not to choke.

My chest puffed out. “Are you trying to say this thing is an art form?” I jabbed my thumb at it.

He sobered up. “No, this is your lesson. Now come on, let’s try again.”

This time I let him make the first move.

“Just relax,” he told me. “Lean into me, and find your balance.”

Easier said than done. I fell off four more times before I managed to move three whole steps with him. In a row. I just felt really awkward, wondering what Sophia would think if she saw us. Or Julius, for that matter.

Ah, Julius.

He had called me non-stop since the last time I had seen him. I could tell he really did not want to come back and face my father. I didn’t want him to, either. even though I didn’t want to admit it, my parents were both under a lot of stress. I had refused to accompany them to drop Monica at the rehabilitation centre in West Eastern. Despite myself, I had lain in bed for the entire time they were gone, crying my eyes out. Change was not my favourite thing. I wanted to hold on to the resentment I felt toward Monica, not wanting to admit that she had a real problem that was out of her control. I wanted to paint a picture of myself where she was crazy and out to destroy me to ebb the guilt. I didn’t want to be wrong. Only Julius had kept me from going off the handle, anymore than I already had. Once we had met in secret in the back garden, kissing in the moonlight…

And the next thing I knew, I was face first in the grass, with Lee shaking his head as he hauled me up.

“You’ve got to focus, Hanuara.”

My determination to conquer the dumb balance-thingy disturbed me, but I didn’t dwell. The sun continued its slow descent, and it was about to set when we finally made it to the end, without one mistake on my part.

“I did it!” I jumped from the shaking cables, doing the jig. “I did it, Lee.”

“Yeah, good job. Honestly, I didn’t think you’d get it today.”

I was caught between smacking him and hugging him. I did neither, because I was suddenly aware of ice-blue eyes watching from the second floor of the building. She didn’t look away when I met her gaze.

“Thanks for the faith, Lee. Can I go home now?”

He raised a pale eyebrow.

“I mean, I had fun today even though this was kind of hard, but I should probably be getting home…” Why was I backtracking? I didn’t have to explain myself to him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Hanuara.” And when he gazed up to where I had noticed Sophia, a radiant smile lit up his face. I took it as my cue to leave, dialling Julius’s number as I went. Before I climbed into my waiting limo, I caught sight of Lee and Sophia leaving Virginia’s. Catching me watching them, she glared back, piling her hair up and then letting it fly, waving like fire.

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