Of Sirens and Beasts-Part 1 #OnceUponNow

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This story is entered in the #OnceUponNow contest hosted by Target. Voting for the contest starts on Monday (June 13) at 8:01 pm Est time and ends Tuesday (June 21) at 3:59 pm Est. By voting for the FIRST chapter (THIS CHAPTER) during this time frame, you can help it win a chance to be published! The top 25 voted stories go on to the next round. I will be so grateful if you vote.


As Coach Matson's words sink in, an image of me sporting a tutu and scoring a touchdown appears in my mind. The picture isn't bidding adieu any time soon. In an office with twelve teenage football players, silence never happens. Except now. Coach dropped the news we'll be taking ballet.

"Why?" I'm the first to get the word out. The image in my head changes so my cleats are now ballet slippers.

"It will help with your coordination," he says, leaning back in his seat, the springs squeaking in protest of his weight. There is no way I am squeezing on tights or a unitard, and somehow forcing my size fourteen feet into ballet slippers. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't make it happen. "With the Beasts losing every game this season, we need to try something new. Do you understand, Cal?" His eyes zero in on me.

I duck my head. "Yes, Coach."

Coach types something out on his phone before laying it down as a paperweight on the purple construction paper cards from his daughter. "The girls that suggested this to me said they could only take twelve of you to start with. If it goes well for the twelve of you, they'll have the rest of the team join in."

Breck shoots his hand up in the air.

"Yes?" Coach's phone lights up and his eyes flick to the screen.

"Are we going to have to dance in a show? If so, excuse me as I go break my ankle now."

Out in the hall someone knocks on the door.

Coach stands, sighing. "No. I expect you to be at every class." He opens the door, and twelve teenage girls walk into the room in a single file line. They face us, staring at us with green and blue eyes. Each of their hair is colored unnaturally in bright hues. Two have even bleached their hair white. This has more the impression of being the most bizarre police lineup than an introduction of dance teachers to their students.

Next to me, Reed nudges my shoulder. When I look at him, he wriggles his eyebrows. I roll my eyes.

The girl on the far left steps forward. "I'm Amaryllis and these are my sisters. We're the ones who will be teaching you. Every weekday evening you'll come to our house for lessons. Your coach will text you our address."

"Your house?" Reed asks.

She smiles graciously. "That's where we typically teach."

Breck crosses his arms. "We don't have to perform in some froofy recital or something?"

Reed snorts. "Did he really just say froofy?" he whispers to me.

I nod, smirking. "We're not going to let him live that down, right?"

"Absolutely, we aren't."

Amaryllis clears her throat. Her gaze meets ours, and we mumble a quick apology.

Without an order from their sister or a word from Coach, Amaryllis' sisters exit the office, never having uttered a sound.

"We'll see you all tonight then," she says. "Wear something comfortable, unless of course you wish to wear tights." She brushes her arm across the door, closing it behind her.

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