As she took a quick shower, she briefly wondered who had been on the beach’s pier at her usual alone hour but couldn’t think of anyone who stayed up late and wandered town. She didn’t get a good look at the person, but she could definitely tell it was a male. Then again, there weren’t many males her age in town that she didn’t recognize and who didn’t know her, so she questioned whether the darkness had deceived her. Either way, she had no idea who it was and hoped they didn’t disturb her again tonight.

Showered and ready, Aurora took off on her blue beach cruiser bike toward the dance studio. It was only three blocks up the street, but she enjoyed cruising slowly through the suburbs.

Gulfport was a relaxed town that extends for all of four miles. With a small population, everyone seemed to know everyone else, and the generations of their families before them. Gulfport offered an Old Florida charm; filled with vibrant culture and artsy creativity. The most exciting events were the Tuesday Fresh Market, Friday Art Walk and frequent dance recitals at the town’s huge hall. There was also a Beach Bash at the end of every summer, but it really was just a mixture of all the other year-round activities. One thing’s for certain, Gulfport’s appeal was the beautiful beach. You might think it would draw tons of tourists but in truth, this small community was the Gulf’s best kept secret. Always quiet, almost sleepy, Gulfport was all Aurora had ever known.

She parked her bike outside the studio and threw her dance bag over her shoulder as she pushed through the front double glass doors. Mary-Beth was seated at her office desk, working intently on her laptop so Aurora smiled hello and snuck by silently. She entered Studio A and set down her stuff to get ready. Standing in front of the wall-length mirror, she pulled her long auburn hair into a tight bun and connected her iPod to the main stereo. Aurora stretched and warmed up before losing herself within the dance. In ballet shoes, doing twists and turns was where she could really be herself. Any problem she ever faced could be fixed here.

As the song came to an end, Aurora struck her final pose, pausing for a moment to catch her breath. She then noticed that she wasn’t alone and turned to see Mary-Beth standing in the doorway.

“My goodness … that was … beautiful …” she whispered, putting a hand over her heart. “Is it finished?”

“No, not yet. I’ve just been working on a few transitions, trying to get it right.”

“Well you’ve got the time, and the skill. I can’t get over your choreography. You’re so talented, and everything just seems to flow perfectly.”

Aurora nodded and smiled, pulling a water bottle from her dance bag. “I’ll um probably run it a few more times and then call it a day.”

“Okay. Sounds good. Did you want to help out with the younger girls later?”

“Um … could I possibly help tomorrow instead? I … I’m working on choreographing something else too.” Secretly, she wanted to go home to sleep for the rest of the day, so she could go back out at night, but she didn’t say that. Mary-Beth didn’t know of her late night dance sessions on the beach and she probably wouldn’t approve. But she agreed Aurora could practice a little longer and take the rest of the day off.

The End

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