NAS Soundtrack #3

If Hozier’s Take Me To Church is Patrick’s theme, then without doubt, Sia’s Chandelier is Libby’s – she even had the bleach blonde hair with chunky fringe (though Libby’s hair is 2′ longer and she’s not 12!).

The ballet clothes remained in the box under her bed until nine o’clock, but after half a bottle of wine her resolve collapsed. Hyssop was out, at Patrick’s no doubt, and without the tabby’s calming influence she needed to dance. She pulled on a spaghetti-strapped black leotard and her favourite long black legwarmers – they were so old they’d frayed at the heels, but she’d never throw them away. As usual, she left the shoes until last, flexing her feet, stretching her hamstrings, laying her forehead on her shins before she slipped padding between her toes and eased on her lucky black satin shoes.

In her head, the music had started, the opening strains to Swan Lake, but this time her role wasn’t a cygnet. This time, she’d take on the role she was born for, the role she’d never got to dance on stage – Odile, the black swan. She’d watched Tamara Rojo claim the role, turning through thirty-two fouettés and Libby knew, one day, she’d do the same, but she’d be better. She’d be better, because she’d be England’s own prima ballerina.

But instead of ruling the Coliseum, here she was, performing substandard, rusty turns in a cottage in the Lakes. In the home of Margaret Keeley, another dancer who should’ve been a prima ballerina but had it ripped away from her.

The imaginary music ended, but Libby shook her head and moved into first position, ready to start again. Her ankle throbbed, unused to the punishment after only a brief warm up. This time, she’d do it perfectly.

Halfway through, with sweat pouring down her back, a knock on the kitchen window stopped her dead. Was it Patrick, coming to check she was okay? Patrick? Why was he her first thought? She unfastened her shoes and kicked them under the sofa, hiding the evidence.

There was a second round of knocking. A persistent caller – not how she pegged Patrick. Robbie maybe, was something wrong?

Libby hovered by the door to the kitchen, peeking to see who it was, but the efficient LED lights under the wall units meant she could see nothing but her own reflection and the silhouette of a male. What if it were Patrick? She stepped forwards, as did he. It wasn’t Patrick. It was Jack.

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