**Also switching to first person, lol**
Joan left me to it after our brief conversation, for which I was pretty grateful. I knew how to tell this story, but not to somebody that, well, that I might end up being friends with. Could I tell it in a way that wouldn't make me seem totally pathetic? Nope, probably not.
Later, after pointe class, I was talking to a girl called Charlotte. She seemed quite nice, but not the sort of person to really stand out in a crowd. Her pointe work was the same - not bad, not good, just mediocre. I didn't judge her for it. We hadn't all had to go through what I did.
"Hi," she said. "I'm new. How long have you been here?"
"Oh, about two days." We grinned at each other. "I was going to audition a while back, but you know ... things got me down. Well, actually I was in hospital. And then ..."
Charlotte looked flabbergasted. "No way? I was in hospital too! I had to have an operation on my knee because the cartilage became infected or something. Yeah, I don't really understand it either. I couldn't even walk for about two months."
Without even thinking, I blurted it out. "I had brain surgery."
"I collapsed at dance class, doing pirouettes. I'd never fallen before but I was really dizzy. They called my mum and she told them that I'd never fainted in my life, so it was probably serious. I went to the hospital, had a scan, and they sent me home. The next day they rang up and told me I had a brain tumour."
Charlotte's rapt attention was everything I'd looked for in the people to whom I'd told this story in the past. "It wasn't what I was expecting. And this was, like, a week before my audition, you know? And they told me I had to have brain surgery that Wednesday afternoon. It was Monday morning.
"So my parents rang up my dance teachers, who were kind of angry. I had this audition, and I had my exam in a couple of weeks too, and they asked my dad why I wasn't going to be there at such an important time and he told them I was about to have brain surgery. That sort of shut them up.
"I had the operation. I don't remember it, of course. I just remember waking up. I couldn't move, couldn't walk, couldn't dance... My school had a show in just three months time and they were going to have to recast it. But I told them I would dance it and I did. Of course I did. I couldn't let them down...
"I was going to audition the following year, when I'd got my strength back, but..." I looked at Charlotte, who was still listening hard. With embarrassment I realised I was almost crying. "My dad died in a car crash a month before the audition."