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Icky, Gooey

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Sway, sway, lean, sway.

The nausea was irritating her. It had been all day. She would sway sometimes, and then stumble every few feet. It was annoying. Annoying. But she could handle it. She was fine, even though the other students kept giving her funny looks. They didn't matter.

She could handle this.

Lean, stumble, sway.

She almost bumped into another kid. She almost touched them. Disgusting.

She was pretty close to falling over after jerking away to avoid their shoulder. They gave her a dirty look afterward, but she was still fine. Rock, stumble. All she had to do was get to her locker, and continue on for a few more class periods. That's it. Just a little further.

Locker number 431. Locker number 433. Locker number 437. She could barely read the numbers through her blurred vision, but if she squinted hard enough she could make out the almost incoherent shapes. It hurt her head to read them.

Locker number 441. Locker number 445. She was almost there. Lean, lean, sway. Locker number 447. Just a few more.

Sway. Locker number 449. Lean. Locker number 453. Rock, sway. Locker number 457. Stumble. Locker number-

 

Fall.

 

She let out the most pitiful groan when her head knocked against the floor. Her ears were ringing, and her vision was doubling, and she didn't have enough strength to move.

"Hey, my ear bu-," a voice called through the ringing, but she couldn't pin point where it was coming from. "Woah, wait. Are you okay?" The voice grew closer as it spoke. It made her anxious. She didn't want them to get anywhere near her, but she could now feel the presence of someone next to her body. Don't touch me. She snapped herself back to reality, and used all of her strength to force herself up into a sitting position.

"I-I'm fine," she stated in a strained voice. She steered her eyes in every direction she could. She could make out blobs of colors surrounding her in a muddled and disorganized circle, and to her left was a slightly less blob-like figure. They were more detailed. They were closer. She shyed back on insinct.

"Are you sure," the person closest to her asked. They leaned forward, apparently oblivious to the distance she was attempting to put between them. "You fell pretty hard, and you ripped out my earbuds."

"Earbuds?" she questioned in the same strained voice. She looked down at the floor. Under her thigh was the cord of a pair of bright red earbuds. "Oh, I'm...sorry." Her movements were morose, but she reached down anyway to pluck the pair from under her leg. The faint sound of music played through the device. The beat was nice. Calm and soothing. She liked it.

"Don't sweat it." the person told her. They sounded worried. Concerned. "Are you sure you're okay?" There it is.

"Mhm, yeah. I'm perfectly f-fine." she insisted. She looked back toward the figure again. Her eyes fell into slits, and she tried to focus on them. Smaller details fell into place as she attempted to examin their face to the best of her abilities.

Short, brown hair. Slim face. Feminine features. Her voice was feminine too. She figured they were a female, but that was all she could gather. Her eyes were starting to hurt from trying to focus. Her head was beginning to throb, too. Lean, rock...sway.

"Here are...your ear...buds." she said quietly as she held the pair out. Lean...rock...

Black vision, a faint thud.

The girl next to her tried to wake her, but to no avail.

- - - - -

 

"You don't have a concussion from the fall, and we were able to get you fed, so you're free to go home, Miss Rylee Myers."

Rylee went home that night with simple instructions to eat more often. Her mother fussed her, and she cried on the ride home, so Rylee did as she was told. Even though it made her feel worse. She ate food, and she took her medicine with it.

She returned to school the next day with a doctor's note and the burden of make up work for her last few class periods. She figured it wouldn't be too hard, so she didn't fret too much. First period, second, third. The day droned on like normal until right before lunch.

"Hey!" someone called from down the hallway. Rylee ignored it. She figured that they weren't calling for her, but she was wrong. "Rylee!" the voice called again, so she twisted her body this time to check.

Short, brown hair. A feminine face. A feminine voice. "Hey, you're-" Rylee started, but she didn't allow herself to finish. Her name is...

"I'm Morgan." the girl, Morgan, stated with a smile. She stopped a few feet away from Rylee.

"I'm-"

"Rylee, I know."

"Right. You just...said it."

"Yup."

Rylee shuffled in her spot, and she allowed her eyes to wander. The hallway was slowly emptying of other students as everyone rushed to lunch. Only a few stray people at their lockers remained. "So, uh. Sorry. 'Bout yesterday." Rylee apologized without meeting Morgan's gaze.

"Nah, it's fine." Morgan told her with a wave of her hand. Rylee flicked her eyes back toward the taller girl. Her face was calm and kind, but her posture was stiff, and her body was swaying from side to side ever so slightly. "Actually, I was...I was wondering if you wanted to maybe have lunch together? Or somethin'." Rylee's eyes widened at the offer. "Only if you want to, though." Morgan added.

"Why?" Rylee blurted out, but quickly began to shake her head. "I mean, that came out wrong. Sorry."

"It's fine." Morgan assured with an awkward smile. "I just figured...You seem cool. Thought it'd be nice, and, I don't know. I was also wondering what happened yesterday." Rylee cocked an eyebrow.

"So you're asking me to sit with you at lunch, because you're curious about what happened yesterday?" Rylee summarized.

"Ah, what? No, no." Morgan pressed. "I mean, yeah, I'm curious, but I also just wanna hang with you, too. Like I said, you seem cool." Rylee shrugged.

"I mean...sure?" Rylee said with a quirk of her eye. "I don't really sit with anyone else, so it's fine." Morgan piped up just a tad at Rylee's last statement, but she didn't press any further. She simply nodded and smiled. Smiled. She smiled like she seemed to always do. "I just have to go to my locker first."

"That's fine."

That's fine.

Everything was fine with Morgan.

Even at lunch everything was fine with her. They hardly spoke. They only exchanged a few sentences. Morgan had asked what happened the day before, and Rylee told her that she simply hadn't ate in a while. When Morgan asked why, Rylee stayed silent. She didn't elaborate, didn't explain. She just continued to pick at her food and place it in her mouth every now and then. Those were the only words that either had said aloud throughout the whole lunch period, and when it was over they said their goodbyes and went to their next class.

Morgan didn't speak to Rylee for a while after that. Rylee figured she was just like everyone else: pretending to be concerned when all they were really feeling was curiosity. She tried to not let it bother her.

- - - - -

 

Rylee had to walk home in the rain today. She always walked home from school, and she always walked to school, too. Even when it rained. This was nothing new to her. She didn't have a problem with the rain. She could simply change once she got home, but apparently other people didn't seem to think so.

"Need a ride home?" someone asked from the white car slowly rolling to a stop next to her. She hadn't even noticed it until now.

"No, tha-" Rylee began to decline, but she caught sight of the person in the driver's seat.

"C'mon, it's raining." Morgan said with a smile. Rylee clamped her mouth shut, and simply jumped into the passenger seat. She didn't say a word. The silence was just like when they ate lunch together, but Morgan wasn't as keen on not speaking this time.

"Where do you live?" she asked as she rolled her window back up.

"A few blocks down this road." Rylee said without looking at the girl next to her. Morgan nodded, and continued driving down the road Rylee pointed to.

"Why are you walking home in weather like this?" Morgan questioned. She was trying to make conversation. She sounded sincere, but Rylee didn't trust it.

"I always walk home." she answered, but it did little to actually answer the question.

"No, I mean...why don't you take the bus?" Morgan pressed. Rylee visibly stiffened in her seat. She turned her body so she was facing more toward the car door rather than the windshield in fron of her. She just shrugged, so Morgan dropped it.

"So, uh..." Morgan tried. "I like- I like your sweater. It's cute."

"Thanks." Rylee told her with a monotone voice.

"No problem." she replied. And then, "Now that I think about it, you always seem to be wearing baggy sweaters. Is that like a fashion statement or something?" Morgan smiled at Rylee with a goofy grin. She was trying to make a joke, of course, but when she looked over to the other girl her smile dropped. Rylee was as stiff as a board, and she was practically pressed into the door next to her.

"I-I'm sorry." Morgan apologized after clearing her throat, and the car fell into silence once more. It stayed silent the whole way to Rylee's house aside from her insctructing Morgan to stop the car, because they had reached her stop. She shuffled out of the car as quickly as she could, saying goodbye in a hurried tone before running to her front door.

"Hey, wait up!" Morgan yelled from the car. Rylee twisted her body around right as her hand touched the doorknob. The other girl was jumping out of her vehicle and running over with her head ducked down. Once she was under the cover of the doorway's overhang she pulled a slip of paper from her pocket. "Here." she stated simply. Rylee looked down at the sheet in her hands with her eyebrows knitted together.

"What is-" she started, but when she looked up Morgan was already running back to her car while waving goodbye. Within moments she was jumping in and backing out of the driveway only to make her way down the street and out of Rylee's sight.

Rylee didn't have much of a choice, then.

She unfolded the paper. Inside was a phone number, and Rylee didn't get why those numbers were scribbled onto a piece of paper meant for her.

- - - - -

 

Rylee never texted Morgan. At least not for a while. They would acknowledge each other in the halls in between classes, but other than that there wasn't much communication between the two. Rylee was still wary of her. She didn't know what to think of the girl.

But then a few weeks later the rain decided to come back twice as rough as the last time. Everyone in school was jumping into their own cars, or taking the buses, or calling their parents to pick them up, but Rylee couldn't do any of those things. Her mom was always at work at this time. She needed the hours. So Rylee was ready to trudge through the downpour as she gathered her things.

"Want me to take you home again?" Morgan asked as she came up behind Rylee. Rylee jumped at the sudden noise, and pivoted on her heel just as Morgan was about to place her hand on her shoulder. "I only went down that road last time to bring my friend home, but it isn't too far from my house, so I don't mind." Rylee wanted to yell at Morgan to never try and touch her again, but she pushed down the urge to answer her question instead.

"Ah..sure." Rylee mumbled, but it was loud enough for Morgan to understand. The taller girl smiled down at the other brunette, and soon enough they were rushing through the falling water to get to Morgan's car. It was only a matter of moments before Morgan was starting up the vehicle and driving the it to the parking lot's exit. They rode in silence once again, and this time Morgan didn't need to ask for insctructions. She remembered how to get there. It was a fairly simple route.

Down the rode and into Rylee's driveway, and soon enough Rylee was grabbing her backpack and putting it on her shoulder before she stepped outside. Morgan hadn't even mentioned that Rylee never texted her. "Thank you." Rylee said, then paused as her hand made contact with the car door handle. Morgan gave her a questioning look.

"Something wrong?" she asked, and Rylee shook her head.

"No." she stated. She looked back over her shoulder at the girl in the driver's seat. "Um." She felt bad. She felt bad for allowing Morgan to take her home, and for accepting Morgan's phone number, but never using it. She should have at least texted her once, but she didn't, because she was scared, and she just felt bad. Morgan deserved at least some sort of reward for trying so hard to be nice. "W-would you like to come inside, maybe?" Rylee blurted out before she allowed herself to think about what could happen if Morgan touched her things. She tried her best to not lock eyes with the other, but she did anyway. Morgan did nothing but smile at Rylee's words.

"Sure." she replied with enthusiasm, and Rylee really couldn't grasp why Morgan seemed so excited to break through her shell. Even just a little bit.

So the two girls ran inside of Rylee's house through the pouring rain. They stomped their feet on the rug inside her house and then made their way upstairs. Rylee held open the door for Morgan, then closed it behind herself and offered a spot to the girl on her computer desk chair. She tried her best to push away the invading thoughts that told her to throw Morgan out of her room right that instant, but they nagged at her mind without shame. She decided it would be best to direct her mind elsewhere.

"Are you sure this is okay?" Rylee asked. She bit her lip and twitched her fingers against her thighs covered in baggy jeans.

"Yeah, it's perfectly fine. I don't have practice today, and I don't have homework, so I'm not busy." Morgan replied with a wave of her hand.

"Practice?" Rylee questioned. Her eyebrows raised at her own words. She didn't normally try to continue a conversation.

"Yeah." Morgan said as she spun around in Rylee's chair. She smiled at the other girl who was sitting at the end of the bed. "I dance and stuff. At the studio a few blocks from the school."

"Oh." That's pretty cool. But she didn't say that part out loud. Morgan stopped spinning in her chair.

"So what kind of stuff do you do for fun?" Morgan asked with her hands behind her head. Rylee thought for a moment.

"I like to...," she paused. She wasn't sure of her answer, but she pressed on, regardless. "I like to play piano and stuff." Morgan smiled at the answer that was very similar to her own.

"And stuff?" Morgan laughed. It took Rylee a moment to realize what she had done, but her face broke out into a smile a few moments later.

"Yeah. And stuff." Rylee confirmed with a laugh. The first time she had showed any sort of joy in front of Morgan. The taller brunnette couldn't help but smile even wider, and when Rylee met her eyes her hand flew up to cover her own grin. Morgan wondered why she did that, but she was learning. She was learning this girl in front of her, and she didn't say anything about it.

The rest of their time spent together that night was full of timid laughs and slightly quelled doubts.

Rylee went to bed with her first text conversation from someone other than her mom in a long time.

- - - - -

 

"Can I see you dance?" Rylee asked one day as she and Morgan were hanging out in her bedroom. Morgan piped up from sifting through Rylee's CDs. She looked at Rylee with an unreadable expression. "I mean, you said that you have this competition in a few months, and that you haven't picked a song yet, so maybe you can get some inspiration or something." Rylee rambled, but Morgan just shook her head with a smile.

"No, it's perfectly fine." she laughed. "I don't mind letting people watch me dance."

"Are you sure?" Rylee persisted. Morgan placed the CDs back in their rightful place, then stood with her phone and an auxillary cord in hand.

"Yes, I promise." she assured as she walked over to Rylee's stereo. "This okay?" Rylee stared at Morgan's outstretched hand that was inches away from brushing against the stereo. It was one of the many objects in her room that Morgan hadn't touched yet, but she gulped and nodded, regardless.

Morgan plugged one end of the cord into her phone, and the other into the stereo's port. She stood still for a few moments as she scrolled through the hundreds of songs in her library. At some point Rylee could see her pause as if in thought, and then afterwards she hurriedly tapped the screen and set the device down on top of one of the speakers. The taller female made her way to the open space in the middle of the room, and then the song started a few seconds later.

Morgan stood perfectly still, eyes closed with her hands lifted toward the ceiling. She looked like she was reaching for the sky, like she was getting ready to fly with gentle wings. The lyrics started, yet she remained stagnant on the carpeted floor. Then a few eight counts later, the peacefulness left her features. It was replaced by a look of silky determination, and suddenly her body was moving.

Her limbs swayed, and her hips rolled. Her face showed the emotions that her body couldn't portray. Even her fingertips were dancing with her. Rylee couldn't look away. She couldn't even believe her eyes. She knew that the ocular balls in her head had a habit of faking images, but this was something that her cloudy mind could never come up with. It was impossible to create this scene with just her imagination, so she watched on with a fervor that said, "I need to see more."

Morgan's body was in no way sexual at this moment in time. It was simply beautiful. Simply human. Effortless. It was as if she could do this without music. Music. Music. Music.

Yes, the music. Rylee recognized this song. She knew it from somewhere, yet she swore up and down that she had never listened to this band in the entirety of her life. She took her eyes off of Morgan for just a moment to look over at the phone lying on top of her stereo, and that's when she saw it. The bright red earbuds were placed next to the cellular device, and Rylee knew now. Her eyes grew wider, and her breath caught in her throat as she watched her newfound friend finish the song off with a weightless wave of her hand.

"That was..." Rylee tried. Morgan smiled at her.

"Yeah. The song from the first day we met. I know." she spoke between small panting breaths. "I figured it was fitting. First time we met. First time you see me dance." She laughed at her own words. Rylee couldn't help the adoration that plagued her eyes.

"That was...beautiful." Rylee told her. Morgan laughed again with a small pink tinging her cheeks.

"Thanks." Morgan said with a smile. "Maybe next time I can show you at my house. I have a room there specifically for dancing, so I'd have a lot more space to move."

Rylee politely declined her offer, but that didn't stop her from admiring Morgan just a little bit more now.

- - - - -

 

There was no rain on the car ride to Rylee's the next time, and the car wasn't nearly as silent, either. Faint music was playing from the car's speakers, and Rylee was simply enjoying the noise. They had both come to accept that their car rides were moslty speechless, and that it's okay for things to be that way. Although every now and then small talk would emerge, and they would both try their best to indulge in the sound of each other's voices.

"How come you never want to go to my house?" Morgan asked. Rylee's head turned toward her friend. Morgan's face was void of any emotion besides the small quirk of her uppper lip, and it made Rylee wonder why her friend was asking. She shrugged.

"I don't know." she tried to answer simply, but when Morgan glanced at her she knew that she couldn't avoid giving her a real answer.

"No offense, Rye, but you're bad at lying." Morgan said with a chuckle. Rylee didn't find it funny, though.

"I'm not lying. I don't know." she tried again. Morgan shook her head.

"Look, I know you're lying." Morgan replied with a more serious shift in her tone. Rylee stiffened. "Sorry if I sound intruding, I just don't like it when people lie, okay. Like, if you're scared to go to other people's houses then that's fine. I would rather you tell me the truth than lie, though." Rylee gulped and shifted in her seat.

"I don't-"

"Yes, you do."

Rylee snapped her jaw shut. Her teeth ground together, and her hands clamped down on the cloth of her too-big-sweater.

"You wouldn't understand." Rylee finally said, and she could hear Morgan scoff.

"Wouldn't understand?" she said with hurt, and Rylee couldn't grasp why Morgan was so frustrated. "Just tell me the truth, okay. It really annoys me when people-"

"I don't want to touch your stuff."

"-lie, and...wait, what?"

Rylee inahled deeply. "I don't want to touch your stuff." she repeated, slower this time. They both paused for a few moments, and Rylee couldn't help but look over at Morgan. Even though she had sat in this very spot many times she couldn't help but feel like her skin was crawling just by touching the pleather material.

"So," Morgan started. "You think I"m dirty or something?" Rylee rolled her eyes and cussed under her breath.

"No that's-" she said. She rubbed at her eyes and scratched at the tips of her fingers. "I knew you wouldn't understand." Rylee finished.

"Understand what?" Morgan pressed. "You kinda have to elaborate on stuff like this." But Rylee was shaking her head with tears pricking at her eyes. Within a few moments they were pulling into Rylee's driveway, and the girl was jumping out of the car to head inside her house.

"I don't get it!" Morgan yelled from her car, and Rylee stopped dead in her tracks to turn around and face her.

"You're not the one I'm afraid of!" she yelled back, then hurried inside and ran up the stairs to her room. She didn't hear any doors open behind her. She's not coming. She won't understand. She'll end up just like everyone else.

Rylee practically fell onto her bed. She hadn't even bothered to turn on the lights, simply allowing the tears to fall down her cheeks as her skin ached from everything it touched, even the clothes on her back. Everything she came in contact with made her feel as if she was spreading a disease, and this only made her sobs grow in volume. She couldn't stop. She couldn't stop. She couldn't.

"Hey." a soft voice said from her doorway. Rylee's entire body locked into place at the sound, and her eyes snapped open. Her sobbing ceased almost immediately. She didn't turn around to look, she didn't need to. She recognized Morgan's voice, and she could only wonder why the girl had followed her inside. After hearing a soft sigh fall from Morgan's lips, she could then hear footsteps padding across the floor. Silent tears still dripped down her cheeks as she listened to Morgan shuffle around with a few objects in her room. "Get up." Morgan stated, and suddenly the light was on. Rylee flinched, but Morgan didn't stop. Music began to play through the bedroom and bounce off of its walls, and Rylee knew this was their song from the moment it started up.

"Get up. Please." Morgan tried again, making her way to stand in Rylee's line of sight. Rylee looked up at her with tears in her eyes, but she complied. She pushed her body up and stood next to her friend. "Move." Morgan instructed. "To the music."

"You mean dance?" Rylee asked with a stuffy nose. "I don't dance."

"No, I mean move. Move with your soul. Let the music guide you." Morgan clarified, but Rylee shook her head.

"No, I-"

"Please." Morgan pressed. "I won't watch you, I promise, but it will help. I promise that too."

Rylee stared long and hard at Morgan's face, and before she knew it she was nodding and allowing her body to move to the song.

Her movements were stiff and robotic at first. She wasn't quite sure what to do with herself, but she continued anyway. Morgan said it would help. Morgan came back for me. She repeated these words in her head over and over again, and suddenly she was weightless. It was as if she had transcended into another plane of existence. The room disappeared, and so did the doubts and the contamination in her mind, and the only things around were the music and her best friend dancing next to her. They didn't touch at all throughout the entire song, but they didn't need to in order to feel each other's heartbeats.

It wasn't long before they were both breathless and falling to the ground in panting heaps with more than enough space between their bodies.

Morgan turned her head toward Rylee and smiled through the lack of oxygen.

"A person's body is meant for more than just looks. It's a vessel for your soul."

- - - - -

 

After that day Morgan would spend time between her own practices to teach Rylee how to dance. Morgan had something new to offer almost everyday, and Rylee was more than happy to learn, albeit nervous.

At first her movements were stiff and rigid, but after a few weeks of practicing her body began to adapt to the natural flow of just moving. It wasn't anything too exerting, but Rylee was learning the basics, at least. Ever so slowly dancing became a part of her world. It became a part of her identity. She would dance at home by herself when Morgan wasn't around, and it would just feel right. Her body was beginning to feel right, but just a little bit. Just a little bit. But a little bit was all someone needed to start something much bigger.

No matter how many times Rylee would get frustrated, because she couldn't land a move properly, or something made her skin crawl when she thought about how silly she might look, the art of dancing always came back to her. That's how Morgan knew that it was working, and as much as she loved to be there to watch Rylee grow, she couldn't stick by her side all the time.

Competition was soon. Very soon. Morgan had been practicing day in and day out for the past few weeks or so, leaving only a minute fraction of time to teach Rylee anything.

"I promise I'll get back to helping you as soon as possible. For now, just keep doing stuff by yourself. You're doing great."

That's what Morgan would tell Rylee. She meant it, too.

And eventually Rylee needed that promise. Eventually it got to the point where the two hadn't seen each other outside of school in a whole week. Eventually Rylee started to worry; allowing her thoughts to plague her mind with doubts that seemed ridiculous to everyone else. Rylee could feel the disease coming back with full force into her body again. Even when she danced in her bedroom to her favorite songs it would always come back a little bit later.

Rylee needed reassurance. Which is how she ended up trudging down the street from school, not to her house, but to the dance studio that Morgan took classes at.

A little bell jingled from the front door as she walked inside. There was no on at the desk, so Rylee took it upon herself to make her way further into the building. She could hear faint music coming from the back, so she followed the sound.

Once close enough, Rylee could recognize the beat as something Morgan had showed her once. Not their song, but one that was close to both of their hearts. She allowed the rhythm to pull her down the hallway, to pull her toward the door, to turn the knob, and to finally step into the well air conditioned studio. The sight before her was not one she hadn't seen before, but it brought her a sense of aching calm.

Morgan was dancing. God, was she dancing. And she was alone too, jus wrapped up in her own little universe, moving to the sounds that came from the speaker at the other end of the room. She twisted and turned and, just like before, Rylee couldn't take her eyes off of her. This was Morgan in her natural element. This was her moving with everything she had, and having plenty of room to go with it. She didn't seem to be going off of a routine either. She was simply free styling to the sound of her own heartbeat, and Rylee wanted to join.

Even though she was wearing baggy jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt, she set her bag down and waltzed right into the middle of the dance floor. Normally she would sit back and watch her friend, but something in her lit a fire that blew her feet forward. She hadn't danced with Morgan in what felt like years. She wanted her heartbeat to mix with Morgan's. She needed her heartbeat to mix with Morgan's.

And that's exactly what she did.

She moved with Morgan in every which way she could, and Morgan didn't skip a beat when she realized her friend had joined her. She continued with her flow, and Rylee had no trouble mixing her own into their little show.

They danced, they moved, they created art out of thin air, and it was beautiful. So beautiful, that Rylee almost didn't notice when her friend had to stop for air.

As Rylee turned in place, she saw Morgan one moment, and the next she was no where in sight. Rylee grew confused, but it didn't take her long to look down and see her friend crumbled on the floor while desperately trying to catch her breath. Rylee immediately stopped the second she realized that the taller brunette was not okay. She instinctively grabbed the nearest bottle of water, then ran straight to Morgan who had begun to cough so hard that her body shook. Morgan's hand reached out and took the bottle of water from Rylee's pale hands and practically downed half of the bottle in a few gulps. She came back gasping for more air, but it seemed more refreshed than desperate that time.

"A-are you okay??" Rylee asked, and Morgan nodded her head with an uncomfortable expression.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." she replied, then gulped down some more water.

"Are you sure? What happened?" Rylee rambled. She wasn't very good under stressful situations. Morgan shrugged at her.

"I danced for a while. A lot. I didn't stop." Morgan told her friend. Rylee raised her eyebrows.

"Why didn't you stop? You're gonna hurt yourself if you do that." she said. She glanced down at her friend to take in her ruffled appearance.

"No, I'm fine. I do this all the time." Morgan admitted, and Rylee only grew more upset at that.

"Wh-...Morgan, why? Take a break sometimes." Rylee told her, yet Morgan waved her off again. The taller female looked away and took another sip of her water. Rylee sighed. "Morgan, what's been going on? I know you've been practicing for your competition, but there's something more going on here, isn't there?" Morgan turned her head away even further. Rylee could see the muscles in her jaw clench and unclench as if she was trying to hold her tongue. If she was, though, she failed.

"I guess," Morgan started with a breathy and quiet voice. "I guess I've just been stressed out." Rylee nodded, then fell back onto her bottom so she was sitting rather than kneeling.

"What's been stressing you out?" Rylee asked. She wiggled her toes inside of the sneakers she wore, her feet about a foot away from Morgan. Her friend turned her head and looked down at Rylee's shoe covered feet.

"Because of you." Morgan admitted. Rylee's eyes widened, and she felt the irresistable urge to begin apologizing before Moragn continued. "It's not anything that you've done. It's just-" Morgan averted her gaze away from Rylee's shoes and up to her face. "You're super rad, okay. Like, you're so beautiful and mysterious, and I'm so glad that this whole dancing thing has given you a way to get better. Sometimes, though, it frustrates me that I haven't done a better job of that. It's been months, Rye. Months, and I still have yet to even touch your skin, because you flinch away every time someone gets near you. I kinda get it, but you've still never told me why you do that. It's...frustrating to say the least. Not knowing why your best friend is terrified of human contact." She fell silent after that. The look in Rylee's eyes made her stop. She looked as if someone had just dug into her personal thoughts and shoved them in her face, which, in a way, was what had just happened. Even so, Rylee took it upon herself to respond.

"So...you've been frustrated because you're worried about me?" Rylee asked, trying to understand Morgan's point rather than feel guilty. Morgan nodded, and Rylee made a humming noise in the back of her throat. She turned her body and reached into the back pocket of her jeans. A phone revealed itself, and Rylee opened it and started sifting through her apps until she found the right one, then began to sift through that app's contents. Morgan watched in curiosity from her spot on the floor, only to perk up a few moments later when a song began to spill from the speakers of Rylee's phone.

"The song..." Morgan mumbled, and Rylee nodded, setting the phone down next to her.

"Hold out your hand." Rylee instructed, and Morgan did as she was told. She outstretched her arm toward her friend, and uncurled her fingers. Rylee inhaled deeply, then pushed her own hand forward. She inched it closer and closer to Morgan's until it was hovering directly above her's. Their finger tips were so close to touching, just a fraction of a centimeter, yet neither of them moved forward. They both sat stock still, as if frozen in time by the slow melody playing a few feet away.

"Don't hurt yourself because you danced too much. Dance isn't the only way to cope." Rylee spoke into the cold air. "Sometimes you just need to sit back and think, or talk to someone. You get frustrated because I won't open up more, but that's exatly what you're doing to me." Morgan flinched at that, but her hand remained still.

"I get it, though." Rylee continued. "Sometimes it's hard to open up to people, which is why I haven't said much about my issues...I need you to understand that." Rylee looked away from their hands and into Morgan's eyes. She slowly dropped her hand down, and suddenly the tips of their fingers were touching, pressed to each other in the lightest way. Rylee's breath hitched, but she continued. "I have maggots in my body, Mor. Even in my finger tips, and I'm too scared to pass them onto you, or anyone else." Rylee felt a tear drip down her cheek, and she could see tears beginning to form in Morgan's eyes, too. "But I'll try my best to keep them in my body. Because you trust me."

The two stayed like that until the song ended, and someone came in to tell them that they had to leave. But even as they parted ways Morgan's fingertips continued to tingle.

She could even feel Rylee's touch as she allowed the man in a black cloak to take her away forever.

- - - - -

 

Morgan didn't make it to Rylee's the last time they tried to hang out.

She wanted to, but she didn't, and that's what made Rylee cry the most at night.

She blamed the maggots. She blamed the disease in her hands, and in her body, and in her soul for crossing over to Morgan's body and infecting her. She blamed the maggots that she had left behind in her car all those times she sat in it. She blamed herself for even asking Morgan to come over in the first place. She blamed herself for never being able to go over to Morgan's instead, because maybe she would have been the one taken away by the cloaked man instead of her friend.

Her beautiful, wonderful, amazing friend. She missed her so much.

Rylee sat in her room for weeks after that. She didn't go to school. She didn't try to eat. Her mother had to force food down her throat, lest she rot away with her decaying spirit. And even if she did eat, it would only come back up later.

It was as if Rylee had never learned anything from her Morgan. She had only fallen back further into the depths of her demise. She was more gone than when she started. She was more gone than the drunk man who decided to drive home on the night that Morgan was going to visit.

But she wasn't gone for long.

Because the dancing came back. It came back in a big whirl that Rylee didn't understand at first. It was like a small spark had been lit, but that spark was next to a bunch of TNT that exploded seconds later.

It happened when she was in her room, trying to cry herself to sleep for the hundredth time. She had an alarm set to wake her up at a certain hour the next day, but it was already the next day, and Rylee knew she wasn't going to sleep. Her alarm decided to go off at an annoyingly loud level of volume, and her first instinct was to slam her phone into the table, and continue to sob into her pillows, but the sound hit her ears before she could.

A sound with a certain rhthym that Rylee could never shake from her memory even if she wanted to.

"Right my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance?"

Rylee's heart swelled. A chance. A chance. A chance at what? The lyrics used to be so clear to her before, but what did they mean now? It was like the song had been translated into an entirely different language that Rylee could only decipher if she focused with everything she had.

So that's exactly what she did.

A chance. A chance to make something out of Morgan's memory. A chance to create beauty out of her pain.

A chance to love herself.

- - - - -

 

"Excuse me miss?" a girl with brown hair and baggy clothes said as she walked up to the front desk. The lady behind it lifted her head.

"Yes, is there something you need?" she replied. The brown haired girl nodded.

"You see, my friend...she used to go here, but...something very tragic happened." the girl continued. The lady behind the counter immediately knew who she was talking about. "I want to...I want to do something for her." She slid a paper onto the desk. The lady picked it up and examined the words, her jaw falling open ever so slightly.

"But, miss...you're not even a student here." she told her, and the girl nodded.

"I know...but please, I-" the girl tried as tears threatened to spill over. "I need to. For her. This is all she taught me. She deserves this." The lady behind the counter sighed.

"Okay. I'll talk to my boss about it." she told the girl, and she sobbed in joy and thanked the lady with all her heart.

She didn't win the competition, but she won something much more that day.