Poll Dancer, Chapter One



Gold Rush: This is actually one of my favorite moves, although for the longest time, I thought it was called “the Face Plant.” With a name like that, it looks pretty much as you’d expect…

– From Push and Pole Fitness Tutorials, Vol. 2


Gold Rush: This is one of my favorite moves, although for the longest time, I thought it was called “the Face Plant.” With a name like that, it looks pretty much as you’d expect…

Push and Pole Fitness Tutorials, Vol. 2

Hair braided neatly out of my face? Yup. Sports bra holding my girls in place? Got it. Hairspray to keep my booty shorts from riding up? Always.

After re-applying my lipstick a second time and double-checking the view from my phone’s video camera, I was ready. Although I’d done half a dozen of these videos over the past few months to promote my new pole fitness classes at the local dance studio, I still got nervous every time. But social media brought in business. The only way to get over the nerves was to do the thing, so I wiped my palms against my shorts, adjusted my top one more time, and took a deep breath.

Finally, I hit “record” and moved into position. “Hey, everyone, I’m Mel from Push and Pole Fitness. I’m going to do one of my favorite short routines to give you a hint of what we do. If you like what you see, come on down to my studio on Central Ave. We’ve got classes five nights a week. The number’s in my bio. And don’t forget to follow me for more videos. I put out new tutorials each week, so you can practice at home between classes.”

Gripping the cold metal bar with one hand, I walked in a circle, then spun around, flashing a smile at the camera. “Don’t worry. This isn’t first class stuff. Just a taste of what you can achieve one day if you put your mind to it.”

After a word to my phone, music blared from the Bluetooth speakers in the corners.

Every dancer has favorite songs for different moods. When I did exhibitions or contests, I preferred something with fast and slow sections to show off a variety of talents. But live streams were short, quick. The purpose was to wow the audience, show my best moves.

To blow off steam, nothing beat Whitney Houston circa 1987. Even though she was before my time, my mom used to listen to her when she’d work out. Wherever we lived, the two of us would dance together, making each new place feel like home. Whitney’s songs brought me fond memories—and gave me a much-needed jolt of enthusiasm. Blasting “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” I started my routine.

Step, step, dip, twirl, down, up. Spin, climb, twirl, flip. Down to the floor, ending in a split. After the second chorus, I climbed, scooting my way to the top before clamping my legs around the pole, wrapping my torso around to the front, and balancing in a seated position. I paused for dramatic effect, looking directly at the camera.

My legs parted, and I dropped.

The ground shrieked toward me. Seconds from the bottom, my legs snapped together, my hands tightened their grip, and I halted.

At least, that was how it was supposed to work. How it did work, the last two hundred times I exhibited the move.

Not today, though.

I fell, as planned. Then the front door of my condo flew open. The condo where I lived alone, where the door had been locked thirty seconds ago. No one else should have a key.

My head snapped involuntarily toward the sound. Time froze. My ex-boyfriend Gary stumbled across the threshold. I couldn’t for the life of me think what he was doing in my home. He never lived here.

Then I realized he wasn’t alone. Wrapped around him was his coworker, Lindsay. I’d never liked her. Her shirt flew through the air, hitting me in the face.

My mouth fell open. They crashed up against the wall next to the door, not even noticing my presence. At the same moment, I finished my drop. Unfortunately, I closed my legs a split second too late. My ass slammed into the ground. Ow.

Before I’d even finished registering the pain—much less processing everything else that happened—my phone started to ring. My best friend’s ringtone.

“Not a good time, Lana,” I muttered.

Finally, Gary and Lindsay realized they weren’t alone. They looked over at me, still entwined. I couldn’t stop staring at them. Couldn’t speak. The room shrank until it contained nothing but them and me. And the incessant blaring of my ringtone. Lindsay’s face.

Gary’s voice broke into my stupor. “What are you doing here?”

“Me? What are you doing? And with her?” I jabbed a finger in Lindsay’s direction. Last time we spoke, they were just friends. Although friends didn’t text in the middle of the night.

“We thought you were at work,” she said.

“Oh, well, that makes everything okay, doesn’t it?” My voice rose with each word, reaching a pitch I’d never heard before. “How did you get in?”

“I used my key.”

Something he certainly didn’t get from me. “Why do you have a key?”

“I made a copy awhile back, in case I needed it for an emergency.”

Closing my eyes, I forced myself to count to twenty before I answered. “Okay, Gary. Let’s pretend that makes sense, although you should’ve told me. Why did you keep it after we broke up?”

He stuttered. Nothing he could say would make things better. My phone rang again. The sound pierced my brain like needles. Near hysteria, I grabbed the device from the tripod where I’d set it up.

Oh, no.

As soon as I got my hands on the phone, everything made sense. With a start, I realized exactly why my best friend kept calling me. The video was still recording. Posting on Facebook Live.

My routine.

Gary’s entry. Making out with Lindsay.

My fall.

The revelation that my ex kept a copy of my key to use my house for sex. Ew. Ew. Ew. I needed a shower. And to change my locks.

But first, I needed to turn off my phone. Because as I stood frozen in horror, with all these thoughts reeling through my head, the reactions kept rolling by. Thumbs up. Laughing. Heart. Laughing.

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