The lion stopped only a few metres away from the mouth of a cave. Ntando slid off his back, her socks touching the icy earth. The lion turned his massive head and knocked Ntando onto her butt. The poncho prevented the cold from seeping in. But the lion’s deadly teeth were now clamped on the toe of her sock. Fear froze her. She could only watch as the mighty beast slowly withdrew the dirty sock from her foot.

“I can’t go barefoot!”

Then she clamped her mouth shut, horrified she’d shouted at a lion, and thinking: I must be dead. This can’t really be happening.

But the lion ignored her, and proceeded to remove her other sock.

Ntando glared, but the lion merely bowed and began to walk away. She took a deep breath and called, “Thank you!”

The beast twitched his tail, and then vanished into the snowy haze.

Ntando blinked, then took a long look at her feet. “I’m going to freeze without shoes.” She shrugged off her rucksack, and pawed through it. At the bottom was a pair of thin socks. She slipped these on and then put her red shoes over them, telling herself, “Only an idiot would wear heels in the snow.”

But it would have to do; she had nothing else.

Standing up, she dusted herself off, slid her pack back on and faced the cave. A breeze slid by her ear calling, “Help me.”

“I’m coming!”

But as she took a step forward, snowflakes surged out of the cave. They sliced her face, her hands her ankles. One tried to pierce through to her heart, but the malachite stone blocked its way.

I didn’t come this far to fail.

Ntando puffed out her chest and lifted up her arms. She pushed all the anger, the rage, the frustration and worry from her journey out through her hands and feet. She began to sway, to move, to dance. Wild and free, she flung her limbs about, feeling only the emotions that she’d harboured since the snow had first begun to fall.

Drip by drip, the negative energy drained from her pores. When it was spent, all that was left was her love and determination to find Vuyisa. Heat radiated from her body, pushing the snowflakes back. Ntando danced onwards, into the mouth of that cave, her red shoes tippity-tap-tap-tapping, stomp-stomp-stomping, kick-kick-kicking her way past the icy guards until she had reached The Lady’s chamber.

There she stopped and stared. At the back was The Lady, grand and terrifyingly beautiful, sitting on a throne of ice. At her feet was Vuyisa. Her friend’s lips were as blue as fresh bruise, icicles swept from her eyelashes like cobwebs, and her hair sparkled with ice crystals.

“Vuyisa!”

Ntando ran to her friend and embraced her cold, frozen form. Tears spilled forth, and dropped into Vuyisa’s damaged eyes. As Ntando’s love poured out, its heat melted the glass mirror fragments lodged there, and her tears washed them away.

“Vuyisa, I love you. I love you so much.”

And through her sobs, she felt her friend’s arms come around her waist and hug her back.

***

Tell us: Why do you think dancing makes people feel so good?