On another night during another week, Eli and Aurora sat in the sand on the water's edge. She hadn't felt like dancing for once so instead they sat while the water tickled their feet.
There was a comfortable silence but she broke it, "Why didn't you tell me your mom was Ally Andrews?"
He shrugged his shoulders, "I didn't think it was important."
"But it is! Your mom started one of the first elite dance program down here. She danced on Broadway. She—"
"Has cancer." Eli cut her off.
"But she's still alive. Cancer isn't a death sentence for everyone, Eli. She can survive this. She can fight it."
"She has been. But it's been a whole year now and I think she's fighting a losing battle."
"Don't think like that." was all she could muster but he sighed loudly.
"Look, I accept your sympathy and everything, but she can't dance anymore. And that just makes everything worse." His negative attitude was so clear when he spoke about his mom. But in everything else he seemed optimistic, or maybe that was just for Aurora’s stake. She was the most positive person on the planet. Her attitude was never give up; when you fail, just get back up and try again. But Eli wasn't like that. When his mom was diagnosed and got too weak to dance anymore, he quit so his dancing wouldn't be a reminder to her that she couldn't. If Aurora had been in that situation, she would have continued dancing to give her mom strength to survive. But it's easy to say what you would do when you aren't in the situation, just on the outside looking in. So once they had covered all the details of his mom's situation, they steered clear of the topic at all times.
Instead, Aurora explained her family life. Unlike Eli who had an older sister who lived in New York, Aurora was an only child. Her parents divorced when she was just a little kid and while her mom left to live with her new boyfriend in North Carolina, she stayed here with her dad.
He was a community college professor and a published author of two Gulfport historical books. He was either sitting behind a dusty typewriter at home or at the college. He didn't really care much about what Aurora did and she just came and went as she pleased.
Her mother had been the one who loved dancing. But she knew her life with her boyfriend was no place for a baby so she basically abandoned Aurora at the age of three, when she first started dance classes. As a kid, Aurora believed that if she just kept dancing, her mom would come back one day. But when she grew older, her determination to get in touch with her mother through dancing turned into a drive to succeed without her.
And she did. From a young age, she held first place titles in all of the local dance competitions. With Mary-Beth's training and her own God-given talent, she was one of the best dancers in the area. She worked hard every day and pushed herself past her limits in practice. But whether it was practice or an actual performance, it was more than just dancing for Aurora. She could lose herself within a dance and escape reality for a little while. When she tried to describe how it made her feel in detail, she couldn’t find the right words. Dancing was everything, simple as that.