Richelle has ended up in the hospital due to her snapping hip syndrome, where she receives a visit from someone she knows well. But whether Richelle will listen to what her visitor has to say is another matter...
Main characters and cast
- Briar Nolet as Richelle
- Jessica Lord as Lola
Richelle was sitting up in her hospital bed, surveying the surroundings of the small side ward off the main Orthopedic Inpatient Unit she was occupying at Toronto General Hospital. It was quite comfortable: there was a bedside locker on her left, along with a couple of chairs for visitors; a winged armchair on her right; a radio with headphones mounted near her bed; and a large television set mounted on a cabinet against the far wall in front of her. All the luxuries of home, in fact. But Richelle didn't want to be in the hospital. She wanted to be dancing at The Next Step with her friends. Then, she felt a slight twinge in her hip and was instantly reminded of why she had to be here: snapping hip syndrome.
Richelle thought back to the events that led to her being here. Yesterday, she and the rest of A-Troupe had been filming their qualifier video for Regionals at The Opera House. But the day before that, Richelle had heard her hip snap while practising in Studio A and, fearing she would lose her pointe solo spot in the video, decided to carry on despite getting a bad diagnosis from the doctor. Lola had noticed Richelle's injury and tried to persuade her otherwise, but Richelle refused to listen and forced Lola not to tell anyone. On the day of the shoot, Richelle had opened her locker and discovered the shank of one of her new purple pointe shoes had been snapped — an act to which Lola had confessed, saying she did it to prevent Richelle from dancing and making her injury worse. A-Troupe went ahead with the video shoot at the venue, Richelle performed her pointe solo, and all seemed to go well.
But this morning, Richelle had felt a sharp pain in her hip as she got out of bed at home. As she was going for breakfast, her leg suddenly didn't seem to want to support her and she had collapsed in agony. Richelle's mom immediately called for an ambulance, and Richelle had been brought into the hospital.
Still, things weren't all bad. Richelle had been given painkillers for her hip, and had been assigned a friendly red-haired nurse called Charlene — or Charley, as she liked to be called — who decided that, as Richelle was a teenager, she would rather have a bit of space and privacy than be on the main ward with the other, adult female patients, and so persuaded her colleagues to let Richelle have this side ward. Having helped Richelle settle in, Charley had to go and attend to her other patients, but said she would be back in a while.
Richelle's mom had also left, saying she was going home to pack a bag for her daughter's hospital stay containing day clothing, pyjamas, a toothbrush, toothpaste and everything else Richelle would need. She would also call Richelle's dad to let him know what had happened — as well as Miss Kate at The Next Step, asking her to have stern words with those "so-called studio heads", i.e. Emily and Michelle. "It's because of them you're in here, honey!" she had said firmly.
Richelle's mind drifted back to the present. For a bit, she watched the activity through the large window overlooking the main unit, but nothing much seemed to be happening apart from medical staff talking to patients, and staff members hurrying past on their way to goodness only knows where. Richelle decided she might as well get some rest until Charley returned, and settled herself comfortably into the bed. Her eyes began to close and, try as she might, she just couldn't keep them open...
Charley must be back already, Richelle thought sleepily. She opened her eyes and saw not Charley but Lola, who was sitting in one of the visitors' chairs. Richelle sat up in bed.
"Lola? What are you doing here?" Richelle asked.
"I came to explain why I did what I did," Lola replied. She opened a shoulder bag she had with her and produced a familiar-looking object, placing it on the bed. Richelle recognized it instantly. It was one of her purple pointe shoes, its broken shank mended with duct tape.
"How did you get hold of that?" Richelle wanted to know. "I took those shoes home after the video shoot."
"Never mind that now," said Lola. "Just listen to me, Richelle. Please."
Richelle wasn't sure if she wanted to listen, but decided to do so anyway. "All right," she said.
"I became concerned when I realized you had snapping hip syndrome," Lola explained. "I tried to stop you from dancing. I knew you couldn't dance with an injury like that. But I just couldn't get through to you. All you were concerned about was your pointe solo spot in the qualifier video. You were determined to dance no matter what. So I tried to do the right thing by doing a bad thing, and broke the shank on that shoe. I hoped it would stop you. But it didn't."
As Richelle listened, she began to experience awful feelings. Lola had been trying to help her. She'd been trying to persuade Richelle that dancing would worsen her injury, and she should pull out of the video shoot. And what had Richelle done? She'd been selfish and mean towards Lola, her friend. It was all too much for Richelle. Large tears welled up in her eyes, then she lay down and started to cry. "I'm sorry, Lola," she sobbed. "I'm really sorry..."
"Don't cry, Richelle," Lola said gently. "Don't cry..."
"Don't cry, Richelle!"
Richelle looked up through tear-filled eyes. It was Charley who had spoken. But there was no-one else in the room. Lola had gone.
Richelle sat up in bed, and Charley took a box of tissues from the top of the bedside locker. She passed it over, and put a comforting arm around Richelle's shoulder. "There, there. Don't cry. You'll have me start..."
Richelle took some tissues from the box, dried her eyes and started to calm down. "What happened to Lola?" she asked. "The blonde girl who was in here just now?"
Charley looked puzzled. "What girl? I'd only just come back, and I found you crying. There was no-one in here except you."
"Oh," said Richelle. "I guess I must have been dreaming."
"It must have been some dream to upset you like that," said Charley. "Never mind, it's all over. How are you feeling now?"
"Much better, thanks," said Richelle, and smiled.
"That's good," Charley said. "It's visiting time now, and your folks have just arrived. I'll go and fetch them."
"Thanks, Charley," said Richelle.
Charley went out of the room, and Richelle moved to place the tissue box back on top of the locker. As she did so, she heard something fall onto the floor beside the bed. What was that? thought Richelle. She looked down, and couldn't believe what she was seeing.
It was a purple pointe shoe, its broken shank mended with duct tape.
- This fanfiction is set the day after the Regionals qualifier video shoot in Season 5's concluding episode "Pointe of No Return", and was inspired by Miss Kate telling Emily and Michelle towards the end of the same episode that Richelle is in the hospital. It also takes place before "Where's Richelle?", the concluding episode of The Off Season: Season 2 - The Scholarship.
- The purple pointe shoes are purchased by Richelle in "Richelle on Pointe" during the Off Season between Seasons 4 and 5; the shank of one of them is broken by Lola in an attempt to stop the injured Richelle from dancing in "Snap Decision"; and Richelle fixes the shank with duct tape in "Pointe of No Return".
- I wasn't sure when writing the fanfiction if Richelle would be back dancing at The Next Step in Season 6, and so decided to leave this open-ended. "Where's Richelle?" was still some seven months away from transmission when I wrote and published the fanfic in December 2017, which explains why here Richelle collapses in agony at home and her mom has to call an ambulance; and on-screen says she knew she was in trouble with her hip when she got home, and her parents took her to the hospital. Thankfully, I've resolved this in my mind by assuming Richelle is simply glossing over the details I've described in the fanfiction during her voice-over at the start of the TV episode.
- I had originally titled the fanfiction Richelle in Hospital, but didn't realize until much later that Canadians — as well as Americans — say "in the hospital", and not "in hospital" as in the U.K. As I normally use Canadian English spellings and terms on The Next Step Wiki for the sake of consistency, I have therefore adjusted the title accordingly.
- Richelle's nurse Charlene — known as Charley — was named in memory of one of my cousins, who died suddenly in June 2017. She had red hair, and so I gave Charley in the fanfiction hair of the same colour.
- I used the website for Toronto General Hospital as reference while I was writing the fanfiction. However, I should point out that, as far as I know, there is no side ward in the Orthopedic Inpatient Unit at Toronto General — certainly not like the one I describe here.
- From the outset, I had decided to end the fanfiction with a mysterious twist. The Season 3 episode "Do the Right Thing" has Margie disappear into thin air, leaving Chloe questioning if she was real; and so I decided to have Richelle wonder whether her visit from Lola was a dream or not.
For the collective works of the author, go here.