The Healing Horse, Ch. 37: Giving Away the Brace

photo of rainbow with clouds in background

Chapter 37 continues the adventure, as Karen’s long hours of practice pay off.

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

Scene 1: “…like the perfect daughter…”

During the holiday break, Karen practiced dance all day, every day. She was dancing when Mama left for work, and she was still dancing when Mama returned. Instead of wearing out from all the practice, she grew stronger every day.

On January fourth, right after break ended, Karen ran from the school bus to her front door. In her bedroom, she changed into a leotard and tights and began her warm-up without wasting a minute. Plié, plié, plié. But then she heard a familiar step on the front porch.

“Mama, is that you? You’re home early.”

“Yes, my Krana Layala. Miss Devine called, and Gilberto has an opening at four-thirty.”

Karen ran to the front door and was in the car without another word.

A few minutes later, she raced ahead of Mama and through the doors of Gilberto’s studio. “Hi, Miss Devine! I’m here!”

Miss Devine smiled a hello, and Gilberto walked in from the hallway to the studios. “Hi, sweetheart! Hi, Katie! So wonderful to see you both. I missed Karen and wondered how she was. Maybe, next time we have a holiday break, you can find a few minutes to telephone and let me know how you’re doing? I wish you well in my thoughts every day. You’re not just another student to me. You’re like the perfect daughter I never had. I need to hear from you every few days.”

Karen beamed and threw her arms around Gilberto. “I missed you, too. You’re like the father I never got to know. And I practiced all I could during break.”

“All you could?”

“All day, every day.”

“Why am I not surprised? Let’s dance.”

He laughed and did the shuffle down the hallway to a studio, with Karen pirouetting behind him.

In the studio, Gilberto put on some music, and Karen performed her shuffles flawlessly. Between her eyebrows, wrinkles appeared from concentration. Her lips opened with the slightest bit of her tongue showing, and then they smiled with the smile that Gilberto had taught her to wear while dancing—the joyful smile that expressed the happiness of dancing.

She did the shuffle hop, the shuffle toe back, and the shuffle hop toe.

Gilberto clapped his hands with the music. “You’re doing it. You have those steps down perfectly. And your left foot taps as clearly as your right. Your balance is perfect, too.”

They went through more of the elementary steps, and she showed him that by practicing all day, every day, she had mastered them all. Her goal had been to make her hushed left limp sound as crisp, clear and strong as her right. Now, her leg was doing just that. Her repeating rhythmic rhymes resounded like ringing bells.

Gilberto smiled in his gentle way, and his eyes filled with tears of joy and pride. “It’s time to move you up a grade.”

When she heard that, Karen felt as if she were a rainbow floating in the clouds and shining with light.

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


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