by Grier Cooper
For Indigo Stevens, ballet classes at Miss Roberta’s ballet studio offer the stability and structure that are missing from her crazy home life. At almost 16, she hopes this is the year she will be accepted into the New York School of Ballet. First she must prove she’s ready, and that means ignoring Jesse Sanders – the cute boy with dimples who is definitely at the top of Miss Roberta’s List of Forbidden Things for Dancers.
But Jesse is the least of Indigo’s concerns. When she discovers her mom is an alcoholic, it simultaneously explains everything and heaps more worry on Indigo’s shoulders. As her mom’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Indigo fights to maintain balance, protect her younger brothers from abuse, and keep her mother from going over the edge. When the violence at home escalates, Indigo realizes she can no longer dance around the issue. At the risk of losing everything, she must take matters into her own hands before it’s too late.
Headlights appear and we both turn our heads. The car screeches to a stop inches away from our feet. The passenger window rolls down. “Hurry up and get in,” Mom says. “Mrs. LaRue is watching your brothers. We have to jet.” It’s the freaking Christmas voice.
She eyes Jesse. “Oh,” she says. “Who do we have here?”
Why me? “Mom, you know Jesse. Jesse Sanders. Remember?”
“Right.” Her hand flies to her mouth dramatically, like she’s starring in her own private soap opera. She giggles. “Of course I do.”
I quickly get in. “We should go. Right, Mom?”
She giggles again. I roll my eyes as I close the window. Jesse smiles sympathetically.
Mom guns it and I fall back against my seat. “How was rehearsal, sweetie?” She swivels her head to look at me.
Right then, I know we are headed for trouble. “Mom! Mom, look out!”
There’s a tremendous thud as she drives onto the turnaround island in the middle of the driveway. The car bucks and lurches sideways. My head whips back against the seat rest.
“Jesus, Mom! You just drove on the island!”
She giggles in response. “Now, Indy, you know I don’t see well at night.”
“Mom, hey! Slow down!”
She doesn’t break speed as the car crashes down off the island. She pulls a Hollywood stop on her way out of the driveway, narrowly missing an oncoming car. The driver leans on his horn but she doesn’t even seem to notice.
“Are you hungry?” she asks. “Cuz I’m hungry.”
I stare at her like the four-wheeling lunatic I now know her to be.
And Jesse saw the whole thing.
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