1. The butterfly effect
I once read about a thing called the butterfly effect. The concept that a butterfly, with a simple flutter of its fragile wings, stirs the winds building pressure and intensity in the air. Until all the way across the world a devastating hurricane is born. A blink of those eyes hardly more than a flutter of butterfly wings turned my life into a devastating storm all its own changing everything. But how can one not be changed standing in the eye of a hurricane? And meeting him was no simple trick of timing either, it felt as if fate were pushing us together against all better judgement. Of course as a twenty-four year old college student I didn’t really give a damn about fate.
I arrived at my first class of the semester thirty minutes early. It was a ballet class, the last in a long line of Gen eds that I’d managed to skip taking my freshman and sophomore years. I was early because it was an annoying habit of mine to show up thirty minutes before I was supposed to be somewhere. Someone was already in the room though, which surprised me. I sat to put on my shoes and watched him for a moment through the open doorway.
He was extremely graceful, I finished tying my shoes and stood a few feet left of the center floor trying to stay out of his way. Beginning my old warm-ups, I lost track of the world and what I was doing. Soon I realized that except for my soft footfalls, the room was silent. He'd stopped practicing, I could feel him watching me. Suddenly he spoke from directly behind me, “Watch your alignment.”
I whipped around and was so startled that I fell off my pointes. I watched his reflection as he reached forward to grab me around my waist. This small movement hindered gravity's attempt at a funny joke.
“Whoa, be careful.” he said with a touch of laughter in his eyes.
He pulled me back up on my feet and we stood there like that for a second. Facing each other, breathing, soaking in the shock.
With him so close I couldn’t help but take him in. He was so tall he towered over my tiny frame. He was lean and toned, and he had almost shoulder length hair that was black as night. His eyes were deep green, When I looked into them directly I saw an underlying hint of silver in them.
I couldn't help but think I must look ridiculous next to him. My stature was petite and my skin was pale. My waist length platinum blonde hair had been tied up in my customary bun. I had always been told I looked like a porcelain doll. I supposed that was true, my big storm gray eyes and pale skin often had people mistaking me for a highschooler.
“Are you alright?” He asked softly, breaking my reverie. His voice was deep and slightly twisted by an accent I couldn’t recognize.
“Yeah,.....I um......I’m fine” I stammered back, “Thank you, um...”
“Medrout, Dimitri Medrout.”He shifted slightly as he spoke but it only seemed to bring him closer.
“Oh, well thank you.” I backed out of his grip, but he reached forward and snagged my wrist. I involuntarily drew a sharp breath as his fingers closed around my bare wrist.
“Now, you should tell me your name,” he said smiling, not seeming to notice the wildfire dancing between my skin and his, “It’s only polite.”
“I’m Eva.” I don’t know why but the simple act of telling him my name seemed heavy in the air twisting and wrapping around the pair of us.
“No last name Eva? Just like Cher and Beyonce?” his half smile gave away his humor.
“My last name is Orion.”
He looked at me intently, his brow furrowed slightly, “Have we met before?” he asked softly.
“I don't think so. I would definitely remember....” I trailed off. We were still for a moment and I felt like he had his own gravity, something pulling me toward him.
“Am I interrupting something?” The voice was like a whip crack in the room. Dimitri and I backed away from each other so fast I almost tripped again.
I looked at the woman in the doorway, and at the same time as Dimitri said “No” very loudly
I scampered to the far corner of the room to collect my things. I could wait somewhere else until class started. I needed to get away from him to clear the haze in my head anyway.
Dimitri and the woman were speaking too quietly for me to hear but the few words I did catch weren't in English. I looked at the pair of them in the mirror and saw Dimitri looking at me, gazing not looking away. After a few moments of what sounded like an argument to my untrained ears, she left the room.
“I should go.” I said as I made toward the hall. Dimitri turned to look at me in the corner instead of staring at my reflection, “Eva, put that stuff down and come here. Try that turn again.”
I made my way back across the room to his side. He gestured for me to turn.
I attempted to do it but almost fell for the third time this morning. Dimitri held a hand out to steady me. I caught it.
“Okay,” he said, “What you need to do is lengthen here.” he used his right hand to extend my already lifted arm into a more extended high fifth. He also pushed my shoulder down with his left.
“There, try it again,'' I bit back a small noise that tried to escape when his hands left my person.
I did the turn, he was still behind me, and my breath caught in my throat.
“Beautiful.” he breathed into my ear. “Good, Eva, now we should get ready for class.”
He was right a few moments later the other dancers started to trickle into the room. I stashed my bag in one of the cubby holes on the wall which were intended for such a purpose. As a class we all stood at the bar. The air tasted of nerves and anticipation. Dimitri came and stood behind me at the bar. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I turned and gave him a small smile.
Then the Woman from earlier came into the room, now in full dancers attire and nodded to us. Then she sat on her knees on the floor and gestured for us to do the same.
“Let's get to know one another.” she said, smiling encouragingly. The lot of us sat in a large circle, like kindergarteners.
“That’s better.” She said, looking the circle over as if taking an inventory, “Now tell us your name, and major, as we go around the circle, Starting with you.” She looked at the girl on her immediate left.
“I’m Ashley. I’m sort of undeclared at the moment.” The girl said. She had unnaturally red hair and Cunning green eyes.
“I’m Melody, I’m a political science major.” This girl, on Ashley’s left, was quiet and had dark eyes and raven hair that was just chin length.
“I am Dimitri Medrout, English major.” He was sitting next to me and he spoke with such calm confidence.
My turn, “I’m Eva,” I said, “Double Major Mythology and world language.”
“Oh double major, how impressive ,” I heard Ashley whisper to Melody. Their muttering and giggling was ignored as we all turned our attention to the boys.
“John,” said the tallest, most mean looking male ballerina I had ever seen. He had shaggy blond hair and blue eyes. “I’m in the process of getting my Pre Law degree.” He glared around as if daring any of us to jump up and shout “liar pants on fire”.
The next guy spoke with a very distinct southern drawl, “ Hi I’m Eli, I'm studyin’ Mathematics.''
He had a farmer's tan and was extremely athletic looking. His hair was golden brown and his eyes were hazel.
The next guy who sat on his left must have been his brother because he looked exactly like Eli and had a nearly identical voice. “I’m Cole, I'm doin’ computer science.”
The Woman nodded to them and introduced herself, “Dania Medrout, I am your professor.” She looked around at all of us, “you may call me Dania or Ma’am. Don’t call me professor as it makes me feel old, understand?”
We all bobbed our heads like ‘yes’.
“Good, the expectations of this class are simple; to be here and work hard. You have a two-week long assignment to get us started, get a partner and together choreograph a pas de deux.”
I restrained a groan, I was not a fan of partner work, a pas de deux, a partner dance.
Dania looked around and then as if she had just counted us said, “As there is an uneven number of us one of you boys will need to work with me. Although, this will not earn you any special favor. Alright, Now split up and get to work.”
Cole partnered with Ashley and Melody partnered with Eli. They both moved off into separate corners. Dimitri looked at me with a small flicker of something dancing in his green eyes.
“Partners?” He asked. The single word felt heavy with connotation. I decided not to read into it , instead I nodded and we both stood and walked over to the last vacant corner.
“I have an idea for our project, If you’re willing to hear it.” Dimitri said hesitantly.
“I’m drawing a blank on the whole thing so please.” I said, gesturing for him to continue.
“I have some music, we can get together and I’ll play it for you. Would you like to meet up here to work on it? Like on Saturday?”
“I can’t Saturday, I work weekends at my mom’s shop. How about Friday? I don't have any classes on Friday.” The ballet class was a Monday, Wednesday elective and as a senior I had actively decided to leave my Fridays empty, with the thought it would be the day I would work on my senior projects.
He beamed and nodded, “That definitely works.” he said.
Dania suddenly stood up.
“Alright class, for the next half of the lesson I’m going to teach you a combination.”
I started toward the center with Dimitri by my side. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to look to my left and see him there. Although we had met less than an hour ago, I felt the stirrings of something ancient and foretold.
“You’ll need your partners for this activity.” Dania announced, holding John at her side with a terrifyingly piercing stare.
“Oh, okay, Dimitri,” I said, offering him my hand. He took it and gave me a small bow.
Dania threw her brother a questioning look over her shoulder and then took her place in front of her own partner.
“Alright, now this involves a lift so be prepared,” Dania called out to the class.
Slowly the class worked through the steps of the combination and by the end we could do the whole thing. Of course it would need some polishing but even I could tell it was a good start.
That Friday I parked my silver VW bug in front of the Walker fine arts building and climbed the stairs to the third floor where the dance school was. The halls echoed faintly with the lack of people. On most weekdays this floor was filled with music, chatter, and the rumble of tap shoes but on fridays it was all but abandoned.
I changed my shoes and set my bag in one of the cubbies. Dimitri walked into the room as I was finishing stretching and warming up.
“Eva the exquisite.” He said by way of greeting.
“Hey Dimitri, Ready to get this going?” I responded trying to shove down the pleasure of being called exquisite by such a handsome man.
“Yep” he said, plugging in a portable stereo to the wall and turning it on, “I Even brought the music.” He hit play and the most beautiful song I have ever heard filtered around us and through the air. The lyrics were beautiful and sad. I found myself captivated by the story of a man and a woman who fell in love through music and then fell apart because they didn't listen to each other.
Once the song ended I looked at him.
“Who wrote that? It was perfect.”
He looked down at his hands and didn’t answer. After a few moments of soft silence he said, “My sister wrote the melody, I wrote the Lyrics.”
“Oh.” I wondered if the broken love story was actually his “what is it called?”
“Eyes Wide Open.”
“Wow, you are really talented,” I said with wide eyes.
“Eventually I shall have to take you dancing and get your opinions on those composers.” He said with a smile in his voice
“That sounds horribly like you're asking me out,” I replied, trying not to smile.
“Let's get to work on this dance Miss Eva.” He said changing the subject. The Pas De Deux didn't take long, we worked together so seamlessly that where he ran out of ideas mine fit perfectly. In an hour we had the rough basics all plotted out and we started to pack up our stuff.
“Would you like to go get a drink with me sometime?” He asked as I was zipping up my dance bag.
“I don’t like to drink usually.” I said quickly, half surprised by the question.
“I meant like coffee.” He said gently.
“Oh,” I blushed slightly, “Yeah, I could actually go for some of that right about now.”
“I know a great shop, not far from here.” he slid his hands in his pockets as he spoke. It was the most vulnerable action I’d seen him take.
“Cool, usually I only drink at my mom's shop. But I’m up for something new.” I said pulling the hair ties out of my platinum tresses and finger coming my mop into some semblance of order.
“Alright, the one we're headed to is owned by my good friend.” he looked like he was holding back a smile as we walked through the building and down the stairs together.
“Shall I meet you or do you want to carpool and come back for the other car later?” I asked when we hit the front doors.
“I think you should follow me there, I don’t plan for It to be a short drink.” He said with a mischievous grin.