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Excerpt from Letter to Dana

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Dean Martin’s deep voice had a slightly scratchy sound to it as it emanated out of the record player and floated around the room. My five-year-old self stared up in wonder at my grandfather—Nonno, as I called him—who was demonstrating a few basic ballroom dancing steps. In addition to my Grandma Nonna’s regular “make-Gabriel-the-only-decent-man-left-in-the-world” classes, Nonna had decided that every proper Gentleman should know how to dance. The result—my first dance class with Grandfather Nonno.
I clutched my stuffed lion, Salix, tightly as I watched Nonno intently. Gracefully, his feet glided across the shiny wood floor of his study, perfectly on beat. My grandfather’s loving grey eyes peered out at me through wrinkled eyelids as he invited me to join him. Still gripping Salix, I arduously scooted off of the huge, squishy armchair; my new, shiny black shoes making a nice ‘tap’ as they hit the floor.
Nonno took my free hand in his, and coached me gently, counting softly. One, two, three. One, two, three. After a few lousy attempts, my excitement plummeted as I realized how difficult this whole dancing-thing was. Nonno, sensing my frustration, knelt down to my level and looked me in the eye. “Gabriel, now I want you to close your eyes. Can you do that for me?” His voice, gravelly, yet soft; stern, yet gentle, was one of my favorite sounds in the world. Eager to please, I nodded and obeyed. “Now, I want you to take a deep breath and relax…Atta boy…Just breathe.” Yes, I thought, his voice was much better than the sound of the ice cream truck, or mama’s lullabies, or the crunch of fresh snow under your boots. “That’s phenomenal. Now, just listen to the music. Breathe it in. I want you to inhale the melody through your mouth, and exhale the rhythm through your feet. Okay?”
I listened intently to the notes swirling around me. They were beautiful. Almost as wonderful a sound as Nonno’s voice. Concentrating hard, I focused on breathing them in, note by note. They tasted good on my tongue, felt warm in my lungs. I could feel the rhythm now inside me, bursting to get out. Nonno’s voice came quietly. “One, two, three. One, two, three…”
My feet followed the rhythm inside of them. One, two, three. One, two, three. I was doing it! Dancing! I could feel the vibrations in my toes. Opening my eyes, I could see Nonno beaming at me excitedly. “That’s it, Gabriel! You’re part of that music now. Once you breathe it in, it lives inside of you forever.” Nonno, I realized, was one of the few adults who always made perfect sense when he spoke.



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JRayeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm:
Very, very good! An awesome introduction to whatever story you're working on, that I REALLY hope you post! :) Awesome job, keep it up!
 
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