the waiting
As the late Tom Petty once said; The waiting is the hardest part.

Cera isn't much to look at. Another pretty face. Blond hair, big hazel eyes. In the world of ballet dancers, and performers in general, she thinks she's rather plain. But her dancing is good, and she loses herself in the music. All music. Any music. She can listen to the oldest, twangiest country, and still manage to find a way that ballet steps fit in. It's her passion. It's her dream. To one day be a household name in the very small community of households who actually care enough about ballet to talk about it amongst their friends and family. That's what she wants. It's what she's wanted since she was little.

Waiting for the call to find out if she got a part is excruciating. She's done everything she can think of to keep herself busy. Practiced at her barre. Gone for a jog around the neighbourhood. Practiced some more. Cleaned the whole house, at least to the best of her ability. She can't reach high enough to dust some of the shelves, and the vacuum isn't working properly, which just makes her huff in frustration and shoot it a dirty look. She contemplates kicking it, but knows that she'll be in trouble if she does so. Daddy works hard, he doesn't need to come home to an even more broken vacuum because she kicked it.

She's contemplating just standing in the middle of the living room and spinning in circles, because that's all she can think of to do, when the phone rings. Sitting on the coffee table, it's bleeping at her in a way that sounds more intense than it probably is. Can a phone sound sinister? It takes her a minute of just staring at it, innocuous and black on the shiny table, before she realizes she should probably answer it.


"Hi, is this... Cera Sheffield?"

"Y-yes. It is."

"Cera, this is Sandra from the Quincy Arts Center. I understand that you auditioned for The Nutcracker recently, yes?"

"I did. Yes. I... yes."

"Well, congratulations young lady. We're pleased to offer you a role in the Snow Corps de Ballet. Practices start this Monday, from five to eight."

"... thank you."

"You're very welcome. We'll see you on Monday, and congratulations again."

She stares at the phone after the line goes dead, barely managing to push the button to hang the handset up, replacing it in the cradle to charge. She can't believe it. The Snow Corps de Ballet.

She actually got a role.

"Daddy!" Her voice is high and, okay, a little screechy when she picks up the phone again to call her father. He's working, but he won't mind. Her excitement is palpable, and he can tell already that this is a good shriek. "I got it, I'm in the Snow Corps!!"

He tells her that's wonderful, laughing when she screams again, and lets her babble for almost five minutes before gently telling her that he has to go. One of the bathrooms is flooding, and he needs to deal with it. She pouts, just a little, but lets him get off the phone, tossing the cordless into the air with a joyful air once they've hung up. She's so happy, she feels weightless. Except... now what is she going to do? What does a twelve-year-old girl do after being given the best news of her life?

She's daydreaming when her phone goes off, the special ringtone she's assigned to the ballet company, and she has to shake herself awake from where she's been... sleeping with her eyes open? That's the best way she can think of to describe it, and she feels dreamy when she answers the call, putting it on speaker because moving is hard.


"Hi Cera, it's Jen. How's it going?"

"Oh, you know!" Cera stretches one leg out, pointing her toes and stretching her calf muscles. "Getting by. What's up?"

"What's up? The Nutcracker has been cast, and you're asking me what's up??" Jen laughs, and Cera laughs again, because she'd been trying so hard to sound casual. Her stomach is a mess of butterflies, and visions of a frothy white costume are dancing in her head like sugarplums.

"Okay, so hit me with it." She starts to bite her nail, then thinks twice about it, and fiddles with her mother's ring instead.

"You better be prepared to work your ass off, Clara."

Cera's world stops. Just then, for just a moment. Her heart isn't beating, she isn't breathing, all she can hear is that wonderful word. Clara. The role. The part that dancers dreamed of. Everyone knew The Nutcracker, everyone knew who Clara was, it was the role. And Cera is going to dance it.

Somehow she manages to get the details from Jen, who she can tell is grinning just from the sound of her voice alone, before she screams for the first time. Laziness is forgotten, and she's on her feet doing a Snoopy Dance/Jig hybrid. When Carter appears, attention drawn from her scream, he raises an eyebrow at her, a smile growing over his face slowly.

"Good news, I take it?"

Cera stops, mid victory dance, and zeroes in on her boyfriend. In the span of about four seconds, she's tearing across the room and leaping into his arms, trusting him to catch her. He always catches her. From her new vantage point, with her legs wound around his waist and her arms around his neck, she smiles down at him, practically squirming with excitement.

"You are looking at this year's Clara in Champaign Urbana Ballet's yearly production of The Nutcracker..!" She's squealing again by the time she's finished making her announcement, because Carter is spinning her around, and she's dizzy but in the best way possible. She ducks her head into the comfortable spot where Carter's neck meets his shoulder, muffling a happy giggle against his warm skin.

"I think this calls for a celebration, Princess," he murmurs, somewhere over her head, and she feels him turn toward the hall he just came from, adjusting his hold on her and carrying her toward the bedroom. She doesn't know for sure what the celebration will be, but she has a few ideas.

Life is good.