An animal trainer
“Don’t eat that!”
A New Dance
By Sarah Robertson
It was Bernie, my little brother, who woke me up that morning. “I’m going to be a professional animal tamer when I grow up!” He shouted, prancing around my room in a ridiculous circus clown costume.
“Go away Bernie.” I moaned and stuffed my face into my pillow.
But for some reason in between Bernie’s loud foot steps as he climbed down the stairs combined with my mom’s off key singing coming from the kitchen, I couldn’t manage to get any more sleep. I trouped down the stairs and into the kitchen where Bernie was already stuffing his face with food.
“Good morning Kate!” Mom crowed, whisking me a plate with two doughnuts on it, a blatant attempt to soften me after our argument last night. “Did you hear the owls hooting around midnight?” Mom asked. “Maybe they will be in the newspaper tomorrow!”
That was the problem with living in Boring, OR. Nothing interesting happens.
“Mom,” I answered sarcastically, still fired up from our disagreement, “I didn’t hear them. Neither did the newspaper people. Because we were all ASLEEP.”
I had left the house and was walking across my family’s farm, wondering how I should spend the last four days of summer vacation. I could go down to the candy shop and spend my $4 I had saved up. Or I could just spend the time wandering aimlessly around our cornfields. I sighed. There was one thing that I wanted to do, I thought as I looked down at my reflection in a horse’s water trough. A girl with straw-straight blond hair and icy blue eyes stared back at me. I sighed again. The thing I really wanted to do was to take dance lessons. But they cost too much money and, even Bernie, at the age of four, would know that. Ever since my father passed away two years ago, when I was ten, my family has been very poor. That was what mom and I had been arguing about last night. The cost of dance lessons. Obviously, I had lost the argument. How would I ever end up learning to dance? With that thought I steered myself towards Mr. Song’s house.
Mr. Song was technically my closest neighbor but he lived three miles away. Unlike all the rest of the families from miles around, who had been here for generations, Mr. Song moved here recently. He came from the city only a few years ago. While it was obvious that he had no clue how to run a farm, he never gave a reason for his move only saying he was seeking the simple life.
Maybe it was because that he wasn’t really from these parts that he never seemed annoyed at my questions, unlike my mother, and he actually answered them. Although, his answers were rarely straightforward. Nonetheless, I always found myself at his house if I had a problem.
Mr. Song was sitting in his garden, his short black hair and old blue overalls stained with dirt, a large, unripe tomato in his hand. It looked as though he was about to take a bite.
“Don’t eat that.” I advised. “It would taste horrible.” Mr. Song bit into anyway, and the result was rather funny. He made an immediate retching noise and spit the bite of tomato out onto the ground.
“Oh, well,” Mr. Song sighed. “I was never much of a gardener. Now, what do you need Kate?” I began to retell the fight with my mom.
I had just finished my tale as Mr. Munchers, Mr. Song’s old barn cat trotted over and curled up in his lap. Mr. Song scratched Mr. Munchers head thoughtfully and said with a twinkle in his eye, “Your mother said that you couldn’t be taught how to dance. Not that you couldn’t learn.” My huge grin at the idea faltered almost at once
How could I teach myself to dance? Is that even what he meant? Mr. Song must have guessed what I was thinking, because he answered as if I had spoken my thoughts out loud.
“Make your own.”
I left Mr. Song’s house thought deep in thought, working out our conversation. Watching the stalks movement in the wind swept cornfield, I slowly began to understand. For me dance isn’t just graceful movements learned through years of practice. It’s song, a mountain ready to climb, the sight of a setting sun. A dance is so wonderful it can’t be explained.
The evening suddenly felt like magic. I laughed and ran through the cornfields, swishing and swirling on occasion. Soon the awkward circles became a pattern, a design. A dance! The evening breeze tickled my hair, the owls hooted and slowly my voice came to join their odd, yet beautiful song. And with a tickling-glowing, buzz sort of feeling, I realized for the first time, in a long time, that I felt truly happy.
I know the moral of many children’s tales is to follow your own path, Write your own story. But the moral of mine is to write your own dance.
© 2013 Sarah Robertson