Chapter Nine.

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Songs for this chapter are:

Coloring- Kevin Garrett

Shiver- Coldplay

Halsey- Roman Holiday

"Excuse me, sorry!" I move out of the strangers way.

When he passes, his hood falls down. I don't recognize the man. He's wearing a black coat and gray windbreaker pants. He nods at me, being friendly enough. Our apartment building has to have at least thirty units and I've seen nearly every person or couple who live here, but not this guy. He might have just moved in. He doesn't respond to me so I keep walking. 

People in New York are just so nice. I could have moved a little further north to Toronto where everyone is nice. Less guns there too, that's a plus. 

When I reach the corner of my street, I break out into a run. I wait for the pain to ache in my knee, but it's bearable today. I pick up my speed. My Nike's hit the sidewalk with hardly any noise at all. I need to use this time to have my brain decipher a few things. First, Dakota's behavior. She's barely spoken to me since she broke up with me, and now she's acting like we will see each other every day. 

She was so worked up over her audition and I wish there was something I could do. I can't go to one of the most prestigious ballet academies and knock on their door claiming racism without any proof. Especially with all the madness going on in the country as it is. I'm positive that she's right, that they won't cast a non-white lead in a major production, which is complete bullshit. If I cause a scene or stir, it could backfire. The last thing that I want to do is to cause her to get too much negative attention while trying to build a career there.

The shit that I'm used to helping her with is so different than this. Our problems were much heavier back then, yet so much lighter. Much more time sensitive. Life and death. I don't know what to do with practical, day to day problems like school, and I don't know what to do with this disgusting of ignorance. I could actually help solve our old problems, not this one.

This is one of the few times that I would like to be Hardin for about an hour. I would rush down to that campus, pound on the door and demand justice for her. I would convince them that Dakota is the best ballerina they have there. Despite her reminder that she's not a "Ballerina" yet, but hopes to be one day. I never knew the ballet world was so intense and so structured. Ballet to Dakota is what hockey is for me, only ten fold.

She's been dancing since she was a kid. She started with hip-hop, moved to jazz, and settled on ballet in her teens. Believe it or not, beginning ballet as a teen is a huge disadvantage and in some circles can be considered too late to begin. But Dakota smashed those assumptions during her first audition at the School of American Ballet. My mom sent her the money to go to her audition. It was her birthday present. She cried grateful tears and promised my mom that she would do her best to make it up to her.

My mom didn't want to be paid back, she wanted to see the sweet neighbor girl rise above her circumstances and make something of herself. Dakota came running through the house with her letter waving above her head. Her hair bounced above her head and her eyes were wild with excitement. She was screaming and jumping and I had to pick her up and flip her small body upside down to get her to stay still long enough to shout her news into my ear. She was so happy. I was so proud. Her school may not be Joffrey, but it's an exceptionally rated academy and I was damn proud of her.

Hardin would go marching down to that academy. I can see him now, parking his white Ford Capri on the lawn of the school and threatening to shove his foot up the Master's ass unless they recast the role. But sadly, I'm not Hardin and I don't want my foot shoved anywhere. All I want is for her to be happy and for her talent to be recognized. I want to fix this for her, but this is seems to be out of my control. If she asks me to take it further, to help her raise her voice- I will, but for now, I'll wait. As frustrating as it is, I can't think of one realistic solution to this specific problem. I should have asked her what else is going on, there has to be more.

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