Story Contest 2018 #1 - Outstanding Stories (Senior) »

Never Say Never

“Never Say Never” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Swathi Maddi, Global Indian International School, Queenstown, Singapore.

Never Say Never


This is it. The moment I have been waiting for my entire life. The moment it all falls into place. The moment, I finally emerge- as me…...

Dancing. That was the very reason I lived. The very reason I woke up every day, to the very reason I slept at night. Always resting in anticipation till the next time I can dance once again. Here, now, as I prepare for the upcoming recital with everything I have, it’s all I can think about- as it consumes my every thought.

Step, weave, leap. Step, weave, leap. ‘Come on Cassie, you know that you can do better than this. Where is the zest I know you have?!’ shrieked Ms. Goulet- my dance teacher. If only I can go by one day- One. Day. Without her crazy shrill pestering. We have been practicing for hours now, and for hours I have been following through the same choreography over and over again. Yet, no matter how many times I leaped with the grace of a majestic deer, the sharp essence that once fueled my every breath, just wasn’t there. Flowing this way, then that, gliding forward and back, had never been more unattainable. Just then, the music peaked to its climax, rising up so high in its enthralling tune that every fiber of muscle in my sinuous long frame clenched for the final sauté. Hardening to the point of clotting into solid ice……

then I jumped…...

…and came crashing down with a thundering stroke that echoed throughout the vast hall, like a sonic boom. The orchestra screeched to a halt, as all strings and woodwinds faltered in their notes in complete stupor. A silence so impenetrable, and enveloping descended into the frigid air, freezing all sensation in my lean frame. Almost as if I had dived into a frost-bitten fjord mid-December.

That’s when the screaming began.

A blood curdling scream that wrenched my heart into a scrunched-up pound of flesh. A scream so piercing and tipped, that it sliced through the dense atmosphere- shattering it into a fractured mirror. Sliced- with the efficiency of a freshly honed blade- at last relishing its first draw of blood. All life seeped out of my body, as the searing spotlight burned my retinas, froze my blood, and made the world black out into an endless pitch…


The first thing I felt-after what felt like centuries- was the venomous pain in my right ankle. My heart thumped slow and strong in my chest- refusing to give. A substantial blackness layered over my every sense- numbing them so steadily that it felt like floating seamlessly through the calm, still waters of the Dead Sea. Gosh, if it only felt this peaceful when I was awake. Wait. I am awake……...

……aren’t’ I?

Gradually, my hearing returned with the building whine of white noise. Where was I? Why couldn’t I see anything? Why couldn’t I remember the last thing I did? All I can remember is this grim silence. Damn if I ever had any limbs. Limbs. Then it all came back crashing with the ferocity of a freight train.

Dance. Madam Goulet. The Sauté. The fall.

My pointer twitched with abrupt jolt of it all.

“She’s alive! OH, Dear god, Catherine! I almost thought I LOST you!”

“I believe you might have already, Miss. It’d be a miracle if she can ever dance again.”

Air. Dead air punched through my weak lungs- kicking them to full thrum all at once. My heart began pounding hard enough to bruise against my ribcage- threatening to break free. Warm blood- life gushed through every vein, igniting every nerve-ending in my body. My long dark lashes feathered to the rhythm of a hummingbird’s heart, and snapped my eyes open- to a brilliant blinding light- the spotlight. I gently rose on to my weak legs as they trembled beneath me on the verge of collapsing. While pushing away the reaching hands and the fiery anguish I felt in my ankle- I stood.

“I will dance. Who said that I couldn’t?! Only I will ever have that say. ‘Never say Never’, my mother consistently chanted till she began turning a motley purple. And so, I will. I will dance through the pain- dance through these shadows. I shall dance until the very sparks that raced through my lungs come alive once more. Comes alive with the savagery of wildfire and cleanses me of sin. Until I rise up from the ashes like phoenix that never dies. Rising into the shimmering, illuminous light of glory. But until then, I dance; and there is nothing you can do….” I take deep breath. Just one more push Cassie. Once more push. “…to stop me.”

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