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Happenstance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , Chicago, IL
Late again. Oh, it's okay, miss, she'll be here soon. Pink tutu, blonde hair, Winnie-the-Pooh sneakers. Five-year-old ballerina, bag full of ribbons and nothing to do. Humming, she approaches the stairs and stops, like a climber before Kilimanjaro. Grabs the railing, raising a foot the size of a dinner roll, making the first step. They say that's the hardest, but she won't learn that until much later.

One-and-two-and-three-and-four. One-and-two-and-three-and-four. Finally at the top, her head cocks to the rhythm of a Chopin nocturne with longing arpeggios and falling decrescendos. But to a five-year-old ­ballerina, it is content in its label of “pretty” for now. Inching closer, she immediately jumps back, knees straight. A resounding pound shakes the floor once, now twice, and thrice, until eventually she realizes. One-and-two-and-three-and-four. This pounding is the beat, the drum if you will, that leads the music's ­heartbeat.

She pokes her head into the studio, feeling the warmth of the thinned Amazonian bodies packed into the class like sardines. One-and-two-and-three-and-four. She looks around to find not one of the bodies wrapped in synthetic leotards and un-matching leg-warmers as the culprit.

Who is doing that? It hurts my ears. I'm hungry. Who is it?

The curiosity of a five year-old will lead to broken arms, scraped knees, and tummy aches 90% of the time. But that last 10% holds something irreplaceable; A special wonder that cannot be achieved later in life. Little does this five-year-old ballerina know that she is about to meet the one person she will call “home” for a long, long while.

Peeking in closer, she sees the source of the pounding. A tall, elegant man sits on a throne, legs crossed right over left, one forearm resting on the arm of the chair, decorated fingers pointing down like a weeping willow. He observes his kingdom of art with a chin that never droops, and his movements are as unapologetic as his bright flannel shirt. His other free hand holds a long wooden cane with a golden tip. One-and-two-and-three-and-four. Stunned by a sense of regality this five-year-old ballerina has never known, she leans too far and falls through the doorway.

Don't look up, you're really in trouble now. I bet that stick isn't just for keeping time. I'm hungry.

Fearing for her short and unfulfilled life, she glances sideways, only to see the proud and endearing chin turn ever-so-gently in her direction, the white-maned king smiling directly at her. Not smiling down at her, as she was expecting, but at her. Through her, rather. After what seems like a decade of minutes, he lifts his decorated hand and gestures her to come closer and motions to sit next to him. He looks down and says nothing more than, “Watch.” And she does. And that pounding is no longer frightening, but becomes a familiar and nostalgic comfort. One-and-two-and-three-and-four.

And for the next 10 years, she has a father. And maybe he was meant to save her, and maybe she was meant to save him until the cancer.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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SonicMHAnimeLuverThis 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. said...
Feb. 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm:
Aww, this is such a sweet story! It also made me sad...but it was so beautifully written! Excellent Job!!
 
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