The Healing Horse, Ch. 36: The Moment of Decision

Photo of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow

Chapter 36 continues on a high note as young Karen blossoms into a dancer and a fine young lady. In the first scene, Mama gives her something wonderful. Can you guess from the picture? Hint: the building is a famous ballet theater in Moscow, Russia. The ballet troupe performs all around the world.

(Photo of Bolshoi Theatre courtesy of Moscowjobnet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 1: Tickets to the Bolshoi

Months passed. The weather cooled, and the holiday season arrived. One Monday, after a long day at school, Karen changed into a black leotard and pink tights in her bedroom. She did not have a lesson, but she always felt more like a dancer when she dressed the part. She admired her image in the mirror behind the barre Gilberto gave her, then began her warm-up with pliés and bends.

From the front of the house came the sound of Mama opening the door, followed by the jingle of her keys as she dropped them into the china dish on the cherry entryway table. “Krana Layala, I’m home!”

“Hi, Mama! I’m warming up to practice my ballet.”

Mama’s high heels clattered on the hardwood floor, then she peeked around the half-open bedroom door.

“I have a surprise for you.”

Without pausing her routine, Karen turned to face her. She did not want to lose her training time. “Thank you. I’m sure I’ll love it.”

She moved into the next position, but Mama handed her two theater tickets. She glanced at them and returned to a normal standing posture. “The Bolshoi? Here in California?”

“Yes, the Bolshoi Ballet Company is here to perform Swan Lake. And we have tickets.”

Karen threw her arms around her mother, and tears of joy flowed from her eyes. “Oh! My goodness, Mama! You completely got me by surprise. Thank you.”

Mama kissed her on the forehead. “Ah, my Krana Layala, life is full of delightful surprises.”

Karen wondered what she meant by that.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 35, Scene 3: April’s First Lesson

The Dance Lesson, a painting by Edgar Degas

Sometimes, encouraging someone to try something new and challenging isn’t enough. You need to stand by them and hold their hand. That’s exactly what happens in this scene. 

(Image is of a painting, The Dance Lesson, by Edgar Degas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 3: April’s First Lesson

The next afternoon, Karen got off the school bus at April’s house and carried her dance case up the path to the wide front porch. Mrs. Roth came out through the dark wooden door to greet them.

“Hi, sweetheart!” She hugged her daughter and smiled at Karen. “Karen, it’s so good of you to help April this way. Let’s go in so she can change into her new leotard and tights.”

Karen held up the little suitcase. “Okay, and I need to change, too.”

They raced through the livingroom to April’s bedroom.

“Everything’s pink, April. That must be your favorite color.”

“Yes, it is.”

The girls pulled their dresses over their heads. Karen slipped into her leotard and tights, then helped April get into her new dance togs. They were just like Karen’s. Mrs. Roth stood back with a big smile on her face. As soon as April had her shoes on, she raced for the front door. “Let’s go!” The tap shoes clattered across the hardwood floor.

Karen followed her and they sat together in the station wagon’s back seat while Mrs. Roth drove. She knew the way, so she must have already gone to meet Gilberto.

At the studio, she parked. “April, are you ready for this?”

No answer. Karen looked at her friend’s brown saucer eyes. “Don’t be scared, I know this is new. Gilberto’s the kindest teacher you ever saw. And if he can teach me to dance, he can sure do the same for you.”

April blinked back tears and looked down. “I’m sure you’re right, and I know I can trust you, Karen. Let’s go.”

Mrs. Roth led them to the door and held it open. Karen held her friend’s hand as they walked in.

Miss Devine stood up from behind her desk and hugged Karen before turning to April. “You must be April, our new student.”

“Yes. I’m here to learn to hop and not fall over.”

Gilberto walked in from the studios. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Roth. She will do great, I can tell from looking at her. I have a studio set up for today’s lesson.”

He led them to the brightly lighted studio. “This is the barre. You can hold on to it to help keep your balance.”

Karen and April grabbed it, Karen with her strong right hand, April with both hands.

“The shuffle is the first thing you learn. It’s the most basic tap dance step, and it will help with your balance.”

He taught April the same lesson he had given Karen when she started learning. Karen did the shuffle along with him. April caught on easily.

After a few minutes, he stopped and looked at his watch. “That’s enough for today. Practice at home, and you’ll be dancing like a star before you know it.”

April looked up at him. “But we just got here.”

Gilberto turned to Mrs. Roth. “It’s always a good sign when the time seems to fly, but we’ve been shuffling for nearly an hour.”

April’s eyes got big, and she hugged Gilberto’s legs. “Oh, my gosh! I love it! I love dancing!”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 35, Scene 2: Taking Action to Help a Friend

bright red tomato and cross section

Have you ever wondered if encouraging someone to try something you both knew would be difficult could lead to any good? Or would it lead to more disappointment and tears? I’ve asked myself that question many times, and the answer has always been to go ahead. Because if I did not give the encouragement, the result would be worse than disappointment and tears. It would be living entrapped, with unfulfilled potential, and unable to move forward to the fulfillment every human needs.

(Image from fir0002 flagstaffotos [at] Canon 20D + Sigma 150mm f/2.8, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 2: Taking Action to Help a Friend

Karen’s new sense of identity helped her develop the self-assurance she needed to share what she knew. Before she met Pegasus, she would never have opened up to April or anyone else. Now, the words and feelings flowed. The sense of restraint disappeared. The quiet part of her fused with the effervescent. Their union made her both willing to listen to those who could help her reach her potential, and eager to teach others what she learned. She did not have to pretend anymore.

Pegasus had enlightened her. He had made her strong by teaching her how to face everyday life, and how to find the light of hope in the glare of experience. This set herself free.

Over the next few weeks, Karen and April bonded. Even though there was an age difference of several years, their similar circumstances united the two. They were both smart enough to understand their cerebral palsy gave them a different perspective than most people had. They accepted themselves, their lives, and their circumstances and held their heads high, conscious of their own dignity. Their beliefs about themselves differed from those of the stereotypical disabled person. There was no arrogance or haughtiness, no self-pity, no sorrow or excessive unhappiness—nor was there any self-condemnation or self-criticism. It wasn’t in their nature to loathe themselves any more than it was to single out more disabled classmates to make fun of. Within themselves, they didn’t feel less than others, though they felt sadness and sympathized with those who were harassed and bullied because of their disabilities.

This did not mean they were complacent. Both girls did their best to strengthen their bodies and minds, but they did not waste their time yearning for a cure for something that was incurable. They were normal, everyday children. They sang, they played, and they welcomed each day with gratitude and an appreciation and reverence for what they had.

One day, as they rode home on the bus, April turned to Karen and said, “I told my mother about your dance lessons! She said I could take dance lessons, too. But I don’t know if I could do them, or if they would help me. What do you think?”

“I’m sure you could do them, and I’m sure they would help you! I’m as sure as I am that I learned to hop from Gilberto. The experts said I would never walk, but Gilberto taught me to dance. The experts told Mama to have the heel cord cut on my good right leg, so my left leg could catch up with it, but now my left leg can shuffle and hop, and it gets stronger every day. Gilberto’s the greatest, and he brings out the best in you. Besides, I bet I can be there with you. Maybe we can even take some lessons together!”

When Karen got home, her Mama was in the kitchen making dinner. She put down the tomato she was slicing. “We need to talk.”

Karen gulped. Was she in trouble? “Sure. About what?”

“About your friend April. Her mother phoned me.”

“About dance lessons?”

“You already know, then?”

“Yes. I told April how much fun they are and how they improved my walking, and she said her mother gave her the okay.”

“Oy vey! I wish I’d known. Mrs. Roth wanted to know if little April could come to one of your classes to see what they’re like. I followed my intuition and said yes, but then I hoped I hadn’t created a problem for you.”

Karen hugged her mother and gave her a big kiss on the cheek. “Intuition is always right, Mama. Can you call Gilberto and let him know? I’m sure he’ll love April.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 35: Sharing Dance, Scene 1: Meeting April

photo of small yellow school bus

Here we begin a new chapter as young Karen begins sharing dance with others, and making friends everywhere she goes. 

(Image courtesy of Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 1: Meeting April

In September, on the first day of the new school year, Karen waited on her front porch with her brace on. She inhaled the sweet scent of the sycamore trees and stared down the sunny road. The yellow school bus had stopped at an intersection a block away. She hopped down the steps to the curb and waited while the driver pulled up in front of her.

The folding doors opened, and she climbed the steps. Mr. Hinton, the driver, smiled. “It’s so good to see you again, Karen. I missed you all summer. We have someone new joining us today. We’re going to pick her up next. She’s come all the way from New Jersey to be with us, and you’re just the person to make her feel welcome.”

This was a big compliment, and Karen gave him a smile. “I missed you, too, and I’ll make sure the new girl has at least one friend—me.”

She took her usual seat, and Mr. Hinton drove six blocks before stopping in front of a house that was not on his route last school year. The front door opened and a spindly little girl in a red and white checked dress, with her black hair in a pageboy, scampered out on her tippy toes. A lady who must have been her mother walked alongside her toward the bus. The lady stood five-feet-four-inches tall and had black hair in a shoulder-length cut with the ends turned under. She wore an A-line house dress of blue and white striped denim, and a white apron tied around her waist.

The little girl tilted forward in a trotting gait, a sign of spastic diplegia. This kind of CP made people’s muscles so tight that they walked on their tiptoes. Spasmodic contortions distorted her face as she climbed the steps and stuttered a response to the driver’s greeting. Was she nervous, or were these part of the CP, or both?

The lady followed her onto the bus and held out her hand to Mr. Hinton.

He took it, and they shook. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Mr. Hinton, and I want to welcome you and your little girl.”

“Thank you. I am Mrs. Roth, and this is my daughter, April. It’s nice to meet you, too.”

The girl tottered down the aisle. Karen smiled and twisted to the left so she could pat the empty seat with her strong right hand. Mr. Hinton winked and whispered to Mrs. Roth. She looked at Karen and mouthed the words, “Thank you,” before returning down the bus stairs and waiting outside.

“Hi! My name is Karen, and welcome to our school bus! Please sit with me.”

The girl smiled. “My name is April. Pleased to meet you, Karen. Thank you for inviting me to sit with you.”

This kind of CP affects both hemispheres of the brain and the speech center as well. Karen automatically tuned out the stuttering, just like she did with Tammy. “What brings you out to California?”

April giggled. “Well, it’s warmer than New Jersey.”

Karen giggled too. “It’s always warmer on the West Coast than on the East. What grade are you in?”

“I’m in second. I love reading. Reading storybooks is my favorite pastime.”

“So, you can remember what you read?”

“Yes, of course I can! I wish I could remember not to stutter and fall over, too. I have to play sitting down because my balance isn’t good. If I stand up very long, I tip forward and fall.”

“I’m thirteen and starting eighth grade, and I completely understand. I have a balance problem, too. It’s getting better because of my dance lessons, but I gotta keep at it. Gilberto, my teacher, has taught me hopping, skipping, and jumping with my leg brace on, so I’m a lot more confident.”

April’s eyes opened wide. “Really! You dance? Your mother gives you dance lessons?”

“Yeah, she does. It’s fun, and it’s another form of therapy. And most important, I love it, too.”

They continued chatting until the school came into sight.

Karen said, “I can’t believe we talked all the way to school.”

“Yeah, me, too. You’re so easy to talk to.”

Mr. Hinton turned into the school courtyard and swung the handle that opened the doors. “We’re here, you guys! Be careful going down the steps.”

All the ambulatory children followed Mr. Hinton off the bus in a single file. Karen insisted April go ahead of her, since her new friend was on the aisle seat.

“Karen, maybe I can sit next to you on the way home?”

“Sure, and at lunch, too. Do you know where your classroom is?”

“Yes! My mother and I toured the school last week, but I have to hurry!”

April took off in her scamper gate, and Karen walked to class.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 34, Scene 5: Radical Acceptance

seagulls flying in blue sky

In this scene, young Karen learns an important lesson. That she can accept herself, her disabilities, and her limitations without giving up her goal of living a normal life. Click this link to learn more, and then enjoy reading this scene.

(Image by Secretlondon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 5: Radical Acceptance

At the end of the month, time had passed, and the weather had warmed into summer heat, but Karen still struggled with the castanets. She put them into the pocket of her shorts and walked to the ranch. Pegasus stood under a tree, out of the sun.

She laid her strong right arm around his neck. “Hello boy.”

“Kitten, I hear sadness in your voice. Want to tell me about it?”

“Remember the castanets Gilberto gave me when school got out? You were sure I could learn. Mama thought I might. She said give it a month. And I have for at least an hour a day for a month. My dance steps are better, but not the castanets. I guess it’s time to give up.”

Her magical horse looked into the distance and watched the seagulls wheel in the blue sky over Santa Monica Bay. “No, that’s not giving up. You tried for a month, and you tried hard.”

“One hundred and fifty percent.”

“And you can strengthen your hand with Miss Kimiko’s therapy. You don’t have to use castanets. They did not work out for you. So, you did not give up.”

“But what about living a normal life?”

“Most normal lives do not include castanets.”

Karen laughed as she recognized the wisdom in this. “I can live a normal life. I just have to take my disabilities into account.”

“Yes. It’s called radical acceptance.”

“What will you do with the castanets? Give them back to Gilberto?”

“No, I will hang them on the wall above my bed as a reminder to accept myself as I am.”


She wasn’t sure what he meant. “Perfect? Me?”

“Yes. You are perfect exactly as you are, and that’s the perfect place for those castanets.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Scene 4: A Month of Castanets

Drawing of castanets and how to hold them

Young Karen is determined to live normally, and she does not give up easily, but will the castanets teach her a lesson of humility? You tell me. Use the comments section below.

(Image from Nordisk familjebok (1910), vol.13, p.1221 [1], Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 4: A Month of Castanets

That night, Karen read the book about the girl who grew up to become a ballerina, and all night long, she danced in her dreams. The next day was Saturday, and she woke up feeling great.

After breakfast, she dressed in a clean leotard and tights before warming up at the ballet barre Gilberto gave her. It was time for the third gift.

She wrapped the castanet loop around the second finger of her left hand, and with the right, clicked the other castanet against it. But the harder she tried to hold on to the castanet, the more her wrist tightened and pronated. Instead of flexing to hold her finger upright, so she could click the castanets together like a real flamenco dancer, it bent the other way. She kept on all morning, although the outcome remained the same.

At noon, she put on a big apron before toasting bagels and spreading them with lox and cream cheese, one for her and one for Mama. The aroma was heavenly and brought her mother into the kitchen. They sat at the kitchen counter to eat.

“Mama, I’m having a lot of trouble with the castanets. I can’t seem to get the hang of them.”

“Oy vey, my dear. I heard you trying all morning. Why don’t you ask Pegasus?”

After cleaning up and changing into her riding clothes, Karen walked to the ranch. She needed some time outdoors, anyway. She found Pegasus grazing in the pasture behind the barn and showed him what happened when she tried to click them together.

“Kitten, you need to become like the character in Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. If you only looked once, you wouldn’t have rescued me. Sir Gawain came back on the fourth day, and you kept coming back, too. It will be the same with the castanets. Keep trying, and you will master them.”

“You’re right, boy. I have my inner source of courage. This will be like everything else. I’m on a quest to take my rightful place in society. I may have CP, but I intend to live normally. And that includes playing castanets.”

They went for a ride, and then she rode Pegasus home and practiced all afternoon. Mama fixed dinner, and Karen brought the castanets to the table.

“Mama, I’m not getting anywhere with these.”

“Try for a month. If you can learn, that’s good. If you can’t, at least you will have tried.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 34, Scene 3: Summer Surprise

Painting by Edgar Degas. Danseuse à la Barre

Young Karen practices her dance steps every day, and her teacher (Al Gilbert in real life) sees this. At the end of the school year, and the beginning of the summer vacation, he gives her tools and inspiration to keep her tapping until fall.

I find inspiration in telling my story and helping others. Where do you find it in your life? Please share in the comments. Can we at Whispers of Hope help you with it?

(Image of painting Danseuse à la Barre by Edgar Degas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 3: Summer Surprise

The months passed, and the school year too. On the last day of school, Karen hopped down from the bus and ran into the house.

“Mama, I’m home!”

“Wonderful, sweetheart. And guess who just called? One of Gilberto’s students wanted to go to a party, so you get an extra lesson.”

Karen grinned. School was out for the summer. She was thirteen years old, and she could spend the summer practicing her dance steps and riding Pegasus. She changed into her dance togs and twirled out to the car.

At the dance school, Karen hurried ahead of her mother. She wanted every minute she could get with Gilberto.

“Hi, Miss Devine! I’m here.”

Gilberto came out of his office. “Hi champ! Come on back and let’s get started.”

In the studio, he took her through her warm-up and practice on her steps.

After a few minutes, the studio door opened. Mama and Miss Devine carried in a long wooden pole.

“Surprise!” they said together.

Karen looked at them and at the pole. What were they talking about? It wasn’t her birthday or anything special

Gilberto took the pole from them and leaned it against the wall. “Kitten, you know today is the last day of school.”

“Yes! I can practice dance all day, every day, all summer. And ride Pegasus.”

“I know you will, so I got you some presents to make the summer extra good.” He dug into his pocket and took out some pieces of wood that looked a little like sea shells. “These are castanets.” He clicked them together. “They will help you make your left hand stronger and straighter.”

He handed them to her and picked up a gift-wrapped package from the table. “Here. Go ahead and open it.”

Karen put the castanets on the table and took the package. “Thank you.” She blinked back tears. She knew Gilberto liked her, but she never expected gifts from him.

Under the glittery wrapping paper was a book about a little girl growing up to become a ballerina. Karen sighed. “I will read this over and over.”

“And I hope it will inspire you every time.”

“But what is this pole?”

“It’s a barre like this.” Gilberto pointed to the long pole attached to the wall of the dance studio.

Karen understood. Why had she not seen that? The tears broke. “Oh, Gilberto, thank you. I will use the barre and the castanets every day, and I’ll read the book every night before I fall asleep, so I can practice my steps in my dreams.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


The Healing Horse, Ch. 34, Scene 2: Big Hugs

mWell… this is unusual. First, her dance teacher offers extra lessons for free, and then he says he wants to be her father. Shows how hard work and a positive attitude can pay off. Not just for young Karen. It will pay off for everyone when she grows up and teaches. Here’s a video of grown-up me leading an exercise class for people with disabilities.

Scene 2: Big Hugs

At the studio, Mama and Angie hugged hello.

Gilberto came out of his office. “Katie, I’ve been wanting to talk with you about Karen, and this is a good time.”

She followed him into a small room with a table pushed against a wall for a desk, a couple of chairs, and a filing cabinet. They both sat down. She thought about what he had just said. Should she worry? Was he going to say her daughter was not making enough progress to continue? But he was grinning.

Gilberto looked her in the eye. “Your little girl is much stronger. Her posture is straighter, and she can transition between steps. Her left leg is carrying weight better. I’m impressed. A lot of kids start dance lessons full of enthusiasm, but then lose interest. But a few really love dancing. They practice at home and never miss a lesson. They become stars or teachers when they grow up, and your Karen is one.”

“So you’re happy with her progress? I was afraid…”

He smiled and touched her shoulder. “She’s doing great. In fact, I’d like to give her more lessons.”

“I don’t think I can afford…”

“What I mean is, sometimes a student gets sick or has to miss a lesson. I rarely know until an hour before, when the mom calls. You live close. Maybe you could bring Karen over. She could get the time slot. No charge.”

Katie felt her eyes fill with tears and cleared her throat. “She’d love that. She’s home from school about three, so after that would be fine. You really feel she has potential?”

“Yes. And you should see how the other students respond to her. They want to dance like Karen. To them, she’s not disabled. She’s an inspiration. Dance can change her life, and she can use dance to change the world.”

“That’s my girl. She’s full of life, and she never gives up.”

Gilberto smiled again. “From now on, she’s my girl, too. I’ll do whatever it takes for her to succeed.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.


Finding a Side Gig as a Disabled Parent by Jillian Day

Image courtesy of Pexels.

[Editor’s note: Jillian Day created to help people all across the web make their sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. A close family member, who has a visual impairment, had trouble finding a dinner recipe online that he could read easily. This inspired her to start she’s not chasing after her little ones, Jillian enjoys being outside, whether she’s fishing, hiking, or geocaching with her family.]

Finding a Side Gig as a Disabled Parent

by Jillian Day

Running your household, parenting your kids, and staying on top of the bills can be challenging for everyone — particularly so if you are also dealing with a disability. Sometimes the skills and hobbies that you’ve already developed can make additional income. If you’re receiving Social Security for your disability, you’ll want to be sure to stay within the income limits and check with a professional to be sure of your continued eligibility determination.

Possible money-making endeavors

Sometimes can parlay pre-existing skills into work you can do from home, such as accounting, floral arranging, tutoring, baking, coding, web page design, or editing. The availability of the internet has opened up options such as selling items on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. Many people do a brisk trade selling clothing, toys, books, furniture, and collectibles online. If you enjoy interacting with others online, you might manage the social media account for a business, community group, or individual. If you know more than one language, translation might be profitable for you. Some companies pay freelancers to transcribe spoken media to written text. If your communications skills are strong, becoming a virtual customer service representative might be the thing to try.

Finding work

Once you’ve decided on the type of work you hope to do, you’ll still need to find clients, customers, or a company to work for. There are several online sites good for helping people find freelance work. Here is a compilation of such resources. It’s a good idea to establish a social media presence for yourself. The sites you choose to use will depend on your target demographic. Consider word of mouth. Tell everyone you know about your new endeavor and ask your personal and professional networks for referrals. You might even have a virtual grand opening with specials to attract clients. Sometimes, the best way to draw attention to your product or service is to give away samples.

Get your own business card

A business card can be helpful with marketing your products or services. Since it’s a tangible object, people can take it with them, and I will remind each time they see it of your business. You can design your business card using an online template that allows you to customize it with color, a logo, images, text, and font you select. You can try this at no expense beyond your time and effort and the paper for the cards. Besides handing your cards around yourself, you can ask friends to place them at the counter in their own businesses and add them to community bulletin boards in coffee houses, libraries, college dorms, and even grocery stores.

Keep it legal

Even if your business will be only part time, and only when you can find time, it’s important to manage the legal aspects of it properly. Consult with professionals about tax issues, contracts, and remaining eligible for any government support you’re receiving. The more likely it is that your work will expand, the more important it is to have a business plan, which includes choosing a structure for your company.

As a parent with a disability, finding paying work with the flexibility your schedule needs is difficult. So starting your own side hustle can be a good way to go. One benefit of working for yourself is that you can start small and do the work when it fits into your schedule. Although the business may expand over time, beginning it on a small scale, doing something you’re familiar with, can be a great way to get started.

Whispers of Hope is a website, blog, and treasure trove of resources on living with a disability. Check it out for information on disability support, special needs advocacy, inspiration, and more.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 34: Gilberto Becomes Karen’s New Father

image of rotary dial telephone

This chapter is mostly sweetness and light. The title says it all… Hope you love it as much as I do!

(Telephone image by Ellinor Algin / Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Scene 1: Mama Katie Makes a Call

Weeks passed. Mama got Karen to every lesson on time, and Karen practiced every spare minute. Mama could not stop thinking about Gilberto and about how determined her Kitten was to master every lesson he gave her.

One afternoon after work, she sat staring at the telephone on her desk and listening to the tap-tap-tapping of her daughter practicing.

Most people don’t want to hear me talk about Kitten. The other mothers from the PTA have their own problems, and their children are so bad off—Karen’s problems are nothing compared. They’re my friends, and they support me just like I do them, but I need someone who sees my Krana Layala as the wonderful person she is, not as someone who’s slightly better off than her classmates. Karen has potential. Gilberto is someone who will listen. He’ll understand. Maybe he’s seeing her potential. Maybe he’ll have some ideas to help too. I should call him. He’s so kind, so warm, compassionate, and giving. I’ve met no one like him. He’s unique. I hope he won’t think I’m being pushy…

She dialed the studio’s number.

Angie answered. “Gilberto’s Dance Studio. How may I help you?”

“Angie, it’s Katie Hershstein. Do you suppose Gilberto would have a few minutes to talk with me? I could come over in fifteen or twenty minutes.”

“I checked his schedule, and I’ll pencil you in, Katie. We’ll see you, then.”

Mama replaced the phone receiver and held it down for a moment before freshening her makeup and rushing out the door to her trusty 1955 Bel Air.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.