Dancing on Achilles Wings, Chapter 16
I see Prissy running towards her brother. They are putting him in an ambulance. I watch as Tone is getting arrested right on the sidewalk. He’s talking to himself desperately trying to scream out to Prissy that he hadn’t meant to do it. It was chaos all around.
“Prissy…it was my fault…it was my…” I start saying.
I don’t think she hears me. Either she hears me or she doesn’t care. She looks over at me as though just recognizing I’m even there and she screams out, “DESTA! You got to get DESTA! You have to let him know that Prince was hit!
I’m panicking internally but when Prissy jumps in the ambulance to ride to the hospital with Prince I realize that she has a point. I have to tell Desta what happened to Prince. I had to let him know that Prince was just hit by a car after the fight with me.
I’m running towards the building where the competition is taking place. With all the chaos going on I can run right inside but it’s clear when I get in the building that the people inside the competition have been completely isolated from all the shit happening outside. There is someone performing on the stage right then to an upbeat dance song. As I run in I immediately make a mad dash towards the back.
As I get to the back I see Cornelius and Ana. They are standing with the rest of the people from the dance team.
“Desta…” I am saying.
My mouth is so dry as I try to get the words out.
Ana shakes her head, “You’re bleeding, Santana. Sit down for a second…”
“NO! I need to talk to Desta.”
“He’s walking out to perform,” Cornelius states, “You can tell him after.”
I look out on the stage. Sure enough, it was too late. Desta was heading on stage right now. He looks like an angel walking out on there.
That’s when I feel an arm next to me. It’s Rosa. She looks over at me as though she has a real worry about me.
“What happened to you?”
“There was an accident. Prince got hit with a car,” I state.
I wasn’t sure it was exactly an accident. Tone had just fucking snapped and there was no way of really controlling him. I want to explain this all to Rosa but right now it seems like she has something else on her mind.
“You have to tell him as soon as he leaves the stage,” Rosa explains, “But there’s something you need to know. I think I fucked up.”
“Desta and Prince weren’t who I caught in the bathroom having sex. I caught Prince and Matias having sex. Desta was there but he was just a bystander. I thought you were in a relationship with Matias this whole time.”
“Are you joking?”
All of a sudden I feel even more like shit. It’s like Prince getting hit was a stab to the heart and finding out Prince never actually had sex with Desta while we were together in the first was place was someone turning that knife.
“It was a misunderstanding. I thought you were in love with Matias,” Rosa explains, “It’s such a relief to know you’re with Desta. He’s awesome.”
“I’m glad you feel relieved because he’ll probably hate me forever after this.”
I don’t want to be upset with Rosa. I knew she wasn’t the type to cause all this confusion on purpose but it didn’t matter. I take a few steps away from her going to the other side of the waiting area. I want to be alone right now and being around Rosa isn’t helping. I just keep thinking about how much Desta is going to be pissed when he finds out what happened. He’s going to be so pissed when he finds out what I did.
Then I see him on stage.
“This song is dedicated to someone who I love deeply,” he says in the microphone, “You know who you are and I hope you’re watching.”
All of a sudden a slow, classic song starts playing.
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream (bung, bung, bung, bung)
Make him the cutest that I’ve ever seen (bung, bung, bung, bung)
Give him two lips like roses and clover (bung, bung, bung, bung)
Then tell him that his lonesome nights are over
Sandman, I’m so alone (bung, bung, bung, bung)
Don’t have nobody to call my own (bung, bung, bung, bung)
Please turn on your magic beam
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream
Then all of a sudden the old school song takes a brand new spin. A trap beat comes over Mr. Sandman while Desta lunges out into dance. Desta moves almost as though he is possessed. He dances and spins around him lifting away gravity. The lights were twinkling with every step as Desta spun in delicate circles, his legs billowing out.
He was almost like a small bird learning to fly for the first time, flailing around to the sounds of a trap beat and finally taking off with outstretched wings and wind sweeping under feathers.
I saw all his vulnerabilities in his dance.
I saw all his weakness.
I saw all his missteps.
I saw all his mistakes.
And like that young bird when it was done he took off across the stage. A bird will fly across a field and fall to the ground without a second thought as to why. But oh now that he has learned to fly.
Oh now, that he learns to fly.
This was the revenge of Icarus. His wings spun gold. I realize now that it was the sun who needed to beware because he was bright enough to melt it.
“That was perfect…” Cornelius states, “Are you crying Santana?”
Tears are coming down my face. I hadn’t noticed Cornelius join me. The crowd is breaking into applause. I don’t know why it is that I’m feeling this emotion that I’m feeling right now. Is it happiness for him when the judges all put up 10s or is it sadness of having to confront him.
As he gets off the stage he sees me and he runs towards me but before he gets to me I take a step back. I’m so afraid to talk to him.
“Santana?” Desta states.
“We have to go,” I tell him tears still in my eyes, “We have to go now.”
The drive to the hospital is hard. It’s awkward. Cornelius is in the front seat and Ana is driving. I look over at Desta.
“Say something. Say you hate me. Better yet hit me. Punch me. Do something.”
I couldn’t take the silence any longer. The car is dark as we’re driving and every second that passes as we make our way to the hospital is killing me internally. I look over at him. Tears are in his eyes now and now my tears have dried.
He doesn’t return my stare, “Why would I punch you? I don’t want to hurt you. Why would I say I hate you? I love you.”
“It’d make this easier.”
Why did he have to be so fair? I deserved it. I had already explained to him that I had attacked Prince. I wanted the fight. If I hadn’t it wouldn’t have led to Tone trying to run me over. It wouldn’t have led to Prince pushing me out of the way. He wouldn’t have been hit. The worst part of it all was that I didn’t know if he was alive.
Desta looks over at me, “None of this is easy. These perils get harder and it will hurt. I don’t blame you for what happened.”
“You don’t get it. My insecurity is the reason your cousin is in the hospital.”
“Stop fucking saying that. It’s not OK.”
“Sometimes your ankles hurt and you can’t dance but you have to keep going,” Desta explains to me, “You take your weakness and you make it your strength. That’s what it all means. That’s what it means when you dance on Achilles heels.”
I want to argue with him. I want to push him away but I don’t. I don’t do any of those things. I can’t possibly push him away. I pull him closer.
There it is. Put your head on my shoulder. Cry on my shoulder. I’ll never let you go. I’ll never doubt you again.
“You have to be strong for Prince, Desta,” Cornelius states, “That boy next to you. He loves you. I can see it. Don’t ever let that go. Don’t ever lose that. There was a time when Kendrick was lost. But love always finds its way. It always does.”
“Kendrick…” Desta states, eyes wide all of a sudden, “He didn’t come to the performance…”
Cornelius shakes his head, “No he said he had to go deal with something.”
“Turn this car around!” Desta states.
“Desta what are you talking about?” I ask, “Prince is in the hospital we have to get there.”
“We do but we have to do something first,” Desta states, “Kendrick is going after my father. Kendrick is going to kill my dad. We have to stop him.”
Ana quickly turns the car around. I look over at Cornelius. I can tell he’s worried. He doesn’t blame Desta for anything but he’s worried. If Kendrick really was anything like me then he wouldn’t hesitate to destroy anyone who wanted to hurt Cornelius. It was my fault for letting him know what he had done to Cornelius in the first place. I can see Cornelius breathing heavy in the front seat.
Ana leans over, “It’s OK. We’ll get to him first…”
“You don’t get it,” Cornelius explains, “Kendrick has come so far. He’s come so far from the person he used to be. He can’t go back.”
“We’re here for you,” Desta states, “We’ll make sure we get to him. OK. I promise. We’ll stop him from doing something he can’t take back.”
Desta reaches over to Cornelius holding him by his shoulder to offer some support. A part of me wishes he wouldn’t have made that promise so fast especially when we pull up onto the street that Priscilla lives.
The street is covered with cops. And there is an ambulance there. Something has definitely gone down. Something had definitely gone down.
I watch as Cornelius breaks down. It’s clear to me now that none of this was about protecting Tray. It had always been making sure Kendrick didn’t do anything stupid. The tears I see right now let me know why Cornelius kept being attacked a secret. He had been trying to stop Kendrick from doing what Kendrick had just done. He had been terrified of what had just happened.
His worst nightmare had come true when he points, “That’s Kendrick’s car.”
We pull up to the scene and I look over at Desta when he sees someone being taken out of the house. It wasn’t going to the hospital. It was going to the coroner. I watch as Desta approaches the men. They try to stop him but I immediately interrupt.
“That’s his father,” I tell them.
They allow him to look. I think Desta is going to break down. I think he’s going to have some sort of effect. Even after all the horrible things his father had done in his life. Desta doesn’t have any sort of emotion though. He just looks down at the body.
Tray was murdered. I see the gunshots from here.
I grab Desta pulling him up inside of me making sure that he felt safe in my arms. I hold him tightly making sure that he knew he wasn’t alone. He would never be alone again.
“I couldn’t do it…”
We turn completely shocked when we see Kendrick standing there on the sidewalk with other people who had come out of their homes to see what was going on. Kendrick was behind the lines.
He wasn’t involved.
“How?” Cornelius states.
“It wasn’t me,” Kendrick states, leaning over to his lover’s chair and giving him a kiss, “If I had done it, it would mean that I had to leave. And I would never leave you.”
I watch as Kendrick and Cornelius kiss. There was a love there that was so inspiring. For some reason it made me squeeze Desta even tighter wondering if one day we could have that kind of love. The kind of love that would make you sacrifice what you wanted because you knew that it would mean a lot to your other half. Kendrick and Cornelius were beautiful. I see Kendrick, bent down, kissing the tear stained cheeks of Cornelius. He wanted nothing more than to revenge the person who had stolen Cornelius’s legs but he sacrificed that for love.
It was beautiful.
“If it wasn’t Kendrick then who was it?” Desta asks.
That was a good question and in a matter of minutes we find the answer to that as the police march them out of the house.
We watch as Desta’s aunts are being taken away. All of them in handcuffs. All of their heads held high.
And as they are handcuffed and taken off to jail I hear them say, “Take care of the kids…”
She says it to Cornelius who nods with a promise.
I am sitting in the waiting room knowing that Prince was in surgery. I look over to Prissy who is sitting next to me. Santana has gone to get us something to eat. Cornelius is asleep on Kendrick’s lap. Ana has gone to get them an overnight bag.
“Did you know they would do what they did?” I ask.
“I had an idea. I had an idea when they invited him to stay at the house. They told me to make him comfortable and then they told me I should leave and ask Uncle Cornelius if we could stay with him for a while at your performance,” Prissy explains.
It sends a shiver up my spine. I had thought they were so weak and now finally my aunts had taken a stand. Finally.
“It doesn’t matter,” I state.
“Are you not upset?” she asks me, “He’s still your father…”
I shake my head, “No. He did this to himself. There’s only so much you can push someone before they push back. And you can’t control how hard they push back.”
Knowing my aunts were the ones who pushed back were a shocker but then again I knew that it was all adding up. What my father had done to Cornelius, what he had done to me, what he had done to Prissy. My father was the one responsible for turning Tone into the monster he was. My father had dug his own grave and my Aunts had put the dirt over it.
I still remember the look on their faces. Priscilla, Tonetta and Claudia all stone-faced. No sort of emotion. The only thought on their faces was the same that I had thought.
It was over.
“We are in this together still?” Prissy asks.
We were stuck on a wheel of destruction in my family that we couldn’t get out of. And my Aunts had made sure that they broke the wheel.
“I know Prince will make it through. He’s surrounded by love”
“He’ll pull through. Keep an eye out. I should go check on Santana,” I tell Prissy, “He’s taking a while to get back with the food.”
I get up at that moment and walk over to the cafeteria where I find Santana. I think he would have been alone but I see what’s been holding him up. He’s having a conversation with him. My stomach turns when I realize who he is talking to. He’s talking to his ex Matias. For some odd reason his ex had come to the hospital. I watch in the distance as they hug. It’s a slow hug. It lasts longer than I feel comfortable with at first.
But when they stop I watch as Santana turns and walks away not takin another look. Matias leaves as well.
Halfway back towards me Santana notices me watching him.
“Didn’t see you…” he whispers.
“Didn’t mean to spy on you,” I respond.
“You weren’t spying,” he laughs, “And after all the shit I did, I’m the last person who can accuse my boyfriend of being jealous. That is if you are still my boyfriend.”
I laugh, “Of course. Well that does depend on what you were talking to your ex about.”
I’m joking of course and he grabs me in a headlock. He pushes me up against the nearest wall, “Matias was saying goodbye.”
“He’s going back to New York,” he explains, “He’s going to turn himself in. He’s going to clear my name from the drug charges against me.”
“Serious?” I ask, “Oh my god! This is big!”
“Right. That means I can go back to New York soon. Go back to the school I attended. Try to pick up where I left my dreams.”
I look at him. I want to be happy for him. I am happy for him. It was just that I didn’t think that it would mean that he would be leaving me. It made sense though. The only reason that he had come to the Bottom was to run away from the charges that he had back in New York. Now that he didn’t have those charges then he had no reason to stay in a place like the Bottom.
“I’m so happy for you…” I state.
I try to clear my voice and repeat what I said again but it doesn’t come out any better. I feel so fucking selfish. I should be celebrating for the little bit of happiness were experiencing even in a time like this.
“I know. I can’t wait to show you around,” he says.
“Well I was hoping you could come with me.”
I laugh, “With what money?”
“The money you won from the competition,” he states.
My mouth drops. I can’t believe what I’m hearing when he tells me that.
“Rosa just called me. The whole team is back at the school celebrating for us while we are at the hospital You won Desta. You won the competition.”
I jump in his arms! I lose it. Before I know it we are twirling around as though we are dancing right there in the hospital. He secures me never dropping me. Never letting me fall. Making sure that I stay close to him. I watch how he looks at me and I realize now that there is love in his eyes.
I love him back.
I hold him and we squeeze one another. And then we kiss.
He kisses me hard. His soft lips pressing into my skin but his emotions pressing into my soul. I have finally broken through that wall that was Santana and the love we feel for one another at this moment is the most clarity I ever felt in the world.
“Desta…” Prissy whispers.
I turn still being supported by him, “What is it?”
“It’s Prince. He’s up.”
“Can you stop cryin’ and being a little punk, you’re embarrassing me,” Prince states, “I’m too fine for this.”
I can’t help it. I almost lost my best friend. I am covering him with tears. He is telling me to stop but he isn’t exactly pushing me away. I know he’s only playing tough because there are other people in the room looking down t us.
“What if I lost you?” I ask, “What the hell would I have done?”
“Well if you lost me, I would hope that dickhead behind you would have taken care of you when I couldn’t,” Prince states.
He looks over at Santana who is standing off to the side. I know Santana feels weird being in here especially because he had some sort of guilty conscious.
“Of course I would…” Santana states, “Listen…I need to apologize about…”
“No reason to respond. You wanted Desta, you had to earn it. Show me you were strong enough. You did that. Now Tone’s ass…”
I knew that no one was going to press charges on Tone but I’d overheard Uncle Cornelius talking to Kendrick and explaining it is fully possible that the state might pick up some charges against Tone. I honestly didn’t think that was the worst idea.
“I’m going to hire an attorney. Hopefully we can get Tone the help he needs,” Cornelius states, “I promised my sisters I’d take care of you kids. That includes Tone…”
“So they really shot up Uncle Tray?” Prince states, “Fuck…”
I guess that’s all he can say at this point. He knows what my father was but I think like me he had somehow gotten used to the beast that my father was. He stares out into the room.
I quickly add, “All this means is you aren’t in the worst shape today, huh?”
He laughs, “Yeah. Could be worse.”
“How bad is it?” Prissy asks.
“The doctor says that he’ll need to go to rehabilitation,” Kendrick explains, “His recovery is going to be dependent on him.”
Prince shakes his head, “What if I never dance again? I can feel my feet—-it’s just—fuck, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to Uncle Cornelius—”
He stops realizing he was here complaining to a guy who we didn’t think would ever walk again. I look over at Uncle Cornelius. He looks at Prince.
“You never give up on your dreams. You will walk again. You will dance again.”
“Easier said than done.”
That’s when we see Cornelius push himself. Kendrick looks over at him, “Baby! What the hell are you doing?”
We’re all panicking at that moment as Cornelius does what he is doing. I know he is trying to prove some sort of point but I don’t get why. Prince wasn’t anywhere near as bad as he was. When he had gotten slammed by my father he had fractured his spinal chord. Prince just had some fucked up knees.
But for some reason Cornelius wants to let us know something. We were a family full of weaknesses. We had grown up in the Bottom. We weren’t supposed to succeed. We weren’t supposed to be shit.
“I have to try,” Cornelius tells Kendrick, “I HAVE to.”
He’s showing us as he pushes off his wheelchair that our weaknesses can be our strength. And here he was like a bird learning to fly again. His wings were no longer made of wax. Alone he manages to get on is feet. He is wobbly. My heart is racing. I’m so afraid that he’ll fall but then I see how close Kendrick stands to him. Kendrick would never let him hit the ground. And when I feel a hand on my shoulder I realize that Santana is just as close. Santana would never let me fall. Even through our weakness.
“That’s enough,” I say, scared to death.
But it’s Santana who leans in my ears, “It’s OK. He’ll walk again. He’ll dance again.”
I watch in shock and awe as Cornelius stakes his first step.
He took his weaknesses and he made them his strength. He was trying to set an example for us. He was trying to set an example for me. This is how you dance. You dance until you lose gravity. This was how you fly! He was trying to let me know there was a way out of the Bottom. The only way out of the bottom was up…up…up…
Cornelius takes his second step.
It was then that I knew that the sun itself would melt when he flew on his Icarus Wings and danced on his Achilles Heels.