My alarm blared in my ears, as I sat up, turning my lamp on and shutting off the alarm from my iPhone. I plugged it to the charger, since the battery goes away very quickly. It annoys me, but I have to deal with it. I made the bed, my morning routine and packed up my duffel bag. I stuffed my phone into my purse, and locked the door to my apartment behind me. I hurried out of the block, into the cold morning air, adjusting my scarf and my beanie. I took the bus to the academy, and as soon as it dropped me off, I ran inside, otherwise I would be late. The halls greeted me with the familiar smell of new, as I made my way into classroom 405. Mr. Karpov was already there, along with Mrs. Kramarenko, Ivan, who is playing Dracula and another man, with light brown hair that I've never seen before.
"There you are. Ms. Olson, get ready. You will first warm up, and then we will begin. But first, allow me to introduce our choreographer, Mr. Henderson, from New York City Ballet. He has come here because he is familiar with this ballet, of course." Mr. Karpov stepped aside, and I shook Mr. Henderson's extended hand gently.
"A pleasure to meet you, Ms. Olson." He smiled, and I was beginning to blush but I bit my cheeks to prevent it.
"Likewise, sir. And please call me Lilibeth." I smiled back.
"Wonderful. Well, if you and Ivan would be so kind to take places and start warming up. We still have more dancers coming in, the rest of the cast that is." Mr. Henderson turned back to talking with Mr. Karpov, so I dropped my duffel bag, removed my black fleece jacket and put my hair up in a bun with my lucky scrunchie. In less than a minute, Nastia, Pavel, Dmitri, two other guys that I've never seen before and two other girls walked in. Nastia came up to me, eyes glistening with happiness.
"I can't believe I'm playing Lucy!" She giggled. I rolled my eyes playfully. Nastia, like me, is a child at heart, and she's only two years younger than I am. My face hardened at the sight of Pavel, but he ignored me. What a jackass. He's playing Arthur Holmwood, so I don't get to dance with him, thank God. Dmitri is playing Van Helsing, and I'm glad he was chosen for the part.
"Class, just keep warming up for the next forty-five minutes. When the alarm rings, you may stop and prepare for class. This is a new production, so you must work extra hard for this." Mrs. Kramarenko announced. I placed my hands on the barre, and began to stretch. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dmitri looking at me, and as always, I turned pink. I continued to stretch, my fingertips touching the tips of my toes, my left leg extending over the barre, my back arched. The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss played, and it is one of my favourite classical music pieces. I continued to stretch, when suddenly the alarm blared. That was fast.
"All right, cast! Take your usual places. Lilibeth, your partner is Ivan, obviously. Nastia, pair up with Pavel. Dmitri, Aleksei, David and Valeri, stand aside. The brides, Olesya, Natalia and Olga, stay aside too for now. Right now, we are to work on the pas de deux at the very beginning. Lilibeth and Ivan, get ready." Mrs. Kramarenko ordered. I stood next to Ivan, who glanced at me sideways. I gulped. Aleksei is playing Dr. Seward and David is playing Quincey Morris. Valeri is playing Renfield, the madman. Mr. Henderson stepped into the front of the room, eyeing us.
"Lovely. Now-" He was interrupted by the door swinging open, when Nikolai, from one of my classes, walken in.
"Sorry I'm late, but there was rush-hour traffic." He said casually, setting his stuff down. Mrs. Kramarenko rolled her eyes, and Mr. Henderson shrugged. My guess is that Nikolai is playing Jonathan Harker.
"As I was saying, the first scene is all about Vlad and his wife, Princess Elisabetta. Before he goes out to battle, they share a dance. Ivan, Lilibeth, just follow my lead." Mr. Henderson signalled for the music to start playing, and a very sinister tune began to play. It was smooth, but sinister. Mr. Henderson began to dictate the moves, and Ivan and I, like true ballet dancers, went naturally with the flow. He twirled me around, and like in the film, I made sure my facial expression was that of a woman in love.
"Stop. Okay, that was good. Let's start from the beginning." Mr. Henderson commanded. I placed myself in front of Ivan again. This adagio is not as difficult as I thought it would be, but I'm not going to get comfortable. These choreographers enjoy changing the steps quite frequently. The tune started to play, as I once again twirled, then Ivan led me across the floor, where he picked me up, then put me back down. I moved my arms in sync with the music, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. Henderson looking pleased. When we finished part of the adagio, for now, there was silence.
"Mr. Karpov, you made a wise choice in selecting these two as the leads. The audience will love them." Mr. Henderson spoke, smiling warmly at us. I turned a beet red, and smiled back nervously. Did he really mean that, or was he being sarcastic?
After the day was over, I was in a rather joyous mood. I arrived home, took a hot bath and phoned my mother on Skype, since I intend on telling her about Grandma Claudia's madness. After a few rings, she finally picked up.
"Mother, have you spoken to Grandma Claudia lately?"
"Um... nope. Why? Is something wrong?"
I hesitated. " I spoke to her the other day. Mother, I fear she is truly a madwoman." I started.
"Hmm... why am I not surprised? Whatever your grandma tells you, don't bother yourself with it. You know that she's been like this for ages. Since before you were born." My mother said in a casual tone, but I was not convinced.
"Did she say something?" My mother interrupted my train of thought.
"Sort of. It was stupid really, but still, she frightens me." I admitted.
"Relax Lili. Just focus on your career and don't bother with the nonsense of your grandma." My mother reassured. I smiled half-heartedly, but she's right. I must focus on my career.
As I was getting ready for bed, there was a knock on my door. I looked through the peep hole, and it was Ksenia.
"Hey. Is something going on?" I asked as I opened the door. She shook her head.
"An invitation came for you. Good night." She handed me an envelope and walked away. I closed the door and locked it, going to my room to examine the envelope. My name was printed on the back in cursive handwriting. The envelope was plain but a shimmery gold in colour, and I carefully opened it. I expanded the sheet of paper, and read it:
Dear Lilibeth Olson,
I hence invite you to an All Hallows Eve ball to take place at my manor, just north of Moscow. It is to take place on Thursday, October 31 at 9 o'clock sharp. Please bring your own mask.
- Love, Vlad.
I blinked. What? I turned the paper and the directions to the location were written. Holy cow... I placed the invitation on my bedside table and turned off my bedside lamp. For a long time, all I did was stare at the ceiling, pondering over what just happened. Mr. Topalov just invited me to a Halloween ball, and I have no idea as to what to wear, or if I even want to show up.