Dance of Dreams – PP (Polished Personal) Exam

Although the following song is unrelated to my personal response, it did inspire quite a bit of my piece and connected well to the text:


the nature of human longing and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams.

Response to an excerpt from The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah


Dance of Dreams


If I could extract anything from this life of unpursued desires, it’s that they always come back. If I have learned something from this life of forgotten dreams, it’s that they never disappear. No matter how you try to hide them away somewhere in a box, the memory of what you let go will always be stronger than what you held on to.

It’s said that in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are, and if that’s true, I guess that this war of conscience has shown me who I am: a beast who undermined my own longing in the excuse that it would make for a better future – and yet here I am, years later, pining for the past. Yet the war still rages on in my mind: why did I step away from you?

The desire that I walked away from all swivels down to that one night of the school dance three years ago. Each regret is a strong gust of wind; each one swirls around me and pushes me this way and that, depositing me back to the memory of that night: a night that would produce more regrets than successes.

And what I’ve done over the years is take those regrets and lock them in a box and toss them down the stairs into the attic, never to be seen or opened. I guess, that’s what I’ve tried to do; for my conscience gnaws at me to go down there and open up that box, and my true longing is to just go back to that night. So, with a deep breath, I will. I open the box.

I remember the way I practiced my waltz all those years ago – a box-step as some would call it. I’d rehearse each movement perfectly down in the attic until there was not a single error in the length of each step: such was the dance of dreams I had prepared for you.

I remember the way you looked the morning of the dance: cascading jet black hair that framed your gorgeous face just perfectly as to accentuate the sharpness of your jaw and cheeks. I remember the way your ears poked just out of your hair, so beautifully, as if to testify to your purity and grace. I remember the way that I loved you on that morning; I loved you for saying “yes!’ when I asked if you’d go with me, I loved you for your radiant smile when I complimented your dress, and I remember how I longed to feel you in my arms that night; I held no other desire than to see and feel and know that you were mine. You were my dream, and you were right there, but instead I chose what would forever envelop me in a nightmare.

For I had not told you that I had a biology exam the next morning: DNA and organs were the only topics on my mind, yet had I paid attention to my own vital, life-giving organ, I would have realized the true test was the war. I could fight the war of biology and study my brains out, or I could embrace the waltz with you and love my heart out.

I wanted to get into the most prestigious university in the province: far from home and requiring all of my academic effort. So, I made that decision: the one that still haunts me today.

I stayed home. You texted me at 6:30, trying to remind me that the dance was in an hour, and I had to pick you up at 7:00.

I stayed seated. You texted me at 7:00, trying to ask me where I was if I wasn’t at your doorstep.

I stayed studying. You called me four times at 7:15, the voicemails that went from morose and understanding, to pained and accusatory.

And then, the next morning. Both of our eyes bloodshot: hers from last night’s tears, and mine from last night’s lack of sleep. I couldn’t meet her eyes ever again, so how could I even speak to her?

I aced the exam; but I failed in her heart. I failed in my heart.

And I did end up going to that university to study all sorts of things about the human body. I’d lost the war when I left the town for university.

She was right there, and I took the memory of my love for her and locked it away in a box. And now I find myself thinking about her: the lover I lost.


I use the word as though somehow she fell out of my pocket, or somehow I left her down in some rotting cellar, smelling of must and mold. It suggests that it wasn’t my choice; as though I was forced to leave her waiting and crying in her room. As though I had no choice but to lose the war that waged in my heart.

I close the box. I think about my room upstairs; all sorts of assignments and textbooks scattered across the floor and over my desk: taking up all the room that this mind has. And yet, there will always be the part of my mind that my desire for you all those years ago shall claim. There is the side of me that wants to leave this house right now and drive back into town to find her: to take her in my arms and make up for our forgotten box-step years ago. There is the side of me that wants to go upstairs and immerse myself in all of my work: the part of me that tries to forget about the box.

“You’re just feeling down,” he says, trying to comfort me. “A little hard work will get that dream out of your head, and then you’ll get over it.”

We both know this isn’t true,” I say aloud to myself; to both the dreamer and the forgetter.

I walk up the unsteady steps as I feel my pockets for my keys. They’re there, but my phone isn’t. “Good,” I say, as I grab my coat and immerse myself into the slightly chilly outside.

As I drive, I can slowly feel the box shrinking: I can see it in that house’s attic simply fading away. By the time I’m back in my hometown, the box could fit in my pocket; and so could my regrets. I can feel myself winning that war over my heart: the dream of love slowly vanquishes the nightmarish enemy.

What I did was wrong, and I’m not even talking about her tears. I’m talking about mine: the ones my heart was crying as my eyes laboured over diagrams and dichotomous keys. My dream disappeared that evening three years ago – or so I thought. The longing kept turning me, swirling me as I ran up the stairs, trying to escape the monster of my past dreams that haunted me. I tried to outrun the steps that got bigger and bigger; I tried to drown them out with biological nonsense and the assurance that the present was better. Yet eventually, I let the stairs go on ahead, and realized that the past has a clarity I can no longer see in the present.

Now, the stairs stretch in front of me: the steps to her front door. This is the place I should’ve been three years ago at 7:00, and this is the place where I have now closed the box and won the war forever. I move closer and feel my feet already pulling me into a box-step, foreshadowing me for the dance yet to come. These stairs are sturdy and built well, and I do not waver in my steady march to the top.

I know that once I knock on the door, my dance shall begin. I shall hold that angelic beauty in my arms as we spiral together; somewhere far away from all the nonsense of nightmares, and into the land of longing. I know that as soon as my hand strikes the wood, my dance shall begin, and it shall be the box-step I have longed for: the dance of dreams.



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2 thoughts on “Dance of Dreams – PP (Polished Personal) Exam

  1. Z O O D Y,

    First of all, I had to do it to you. Second, HOT DAMN! Your romance writing is reaching new heights and it is very evident in this writing. The use of the symbol of the box, the box-step, the waltz, and the stairs are all used amazingly in tandem to create much more depth in your writing. Furthermore, even the writing itself is truly amazing, I personally loved the line ” ‘We both know this isn’t true,’ I say aloud to myself; to both the dreamer and the forgetter.” I loved how you were able to develop the plot in such a way – even in romance, an area where most people’s writing becomes very cheesy and cliche.

    Something to work on…. it truly is very difficult to find anything because it is very well written, but perhaps in some places it may help to join the paragraphs because sometimes it works well stylistically, but other times it becomes very choppy. Other than that it is quite perfect, in my opinion.

    Knowing you for some time now, the growth in your writing is utterly insane. Taking creative writing and AP along with your own personal efforts have allowed you to grow at such a rapid pace and also write like a beast! I swear if you don’t end up publishing something later on in the future, I will not be disappointed, but rather endlessly furious.

    Your homie,

    1. Dear Zain the … Surgeon

      First of all, no you didn’t. Second of all, I already know that my romance writing is elite level, so your words literally mean absolutely nothing to me.
      On a serious note, it is great to see that someone who I’ve known for so long believes that my writing stays true. I always look to you as a sort of accountability: because I know that you can tell if my writing stays genuine to me, and you let me know when it sometimes doesn’t. I did try very hard to absolutely hammer symbols from the text into my piece, so I’m glad that worked well. Honestly, preventing it from becoming cheesy was one of the hardest things, so I’m glad I managed to keep it unique as I was afraid of that.
      I do agree that it has a certain lack of rhythm to it and a choppy feel that makes it inconsistent to read, and I think this might have just been the stress and pressure of the exam. That said, there are no excuses – so I’ll definitely remedy that.
      This semester with you was a bit bittersweet. On one hand, I’m about 99% sure that we’ll obviously continue to be good friends well after high school and into the rest of our lives, but on the other hand, I’m a bit sad I won’t get to see this passionate and academic side of you. I don’t think you acknowledge your own immense development in work ethic and literary skill this year, so it just proves to testify how this class really made all of us better.
      I am looking at currently publishing something very soon – so stay ready for that. I think you’ll like it ;).

      Your brother,


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