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Dancing with Ice

Blue Bonnets Over the Border

It’s raining at the Bellingham Games, but it’s Washington, so that figures. I’m a highland dancer. I’m dancing, not at a competition where I belong, but at a Country dance performance. What have I done?

Guilt-ridden

Sad

Missing

Homesick for strength

The platform is wet from the rain. My knees are bandaged from arthritis. I shouldn’t be dancing, but I do—whether it’s stupidity or courage, I don’t know. At least the country dancing doesn’t make my knees ache as badly as the highland dance.

Oseoarthritis: Degenerative joint condition. I’m twenty.

First quarter of first step, I fall. Wham. I fall hard, my feet slipping out from under me.

I don’t give into defeat easily, stubbornness and highland dancing go hand in hand—you have to stick it out. My heart tells me I can’t do this, and I ignore it.

In a moment I am up again. The music of the bagpipes courses through me. The tune I know in my soul—Blue Bonnets, the dance. I pick up the rhythm once more, scarcely missing a full beat. If I had been in competition, I wouldn’t have been marked down much. Here, performing in a crowd where I stand out, the only one tallying my mistakes and lack of skill is myself.

Oh God, I want to dance again.

Winter Piano

The piano music is the music of my soul. I sneak out to the living room, waiting until the house is quiet and everyone is in bed and asleep. The carpet is soft beneath my bare feet. This is secret, my secret.

I’m not performing; or at least, not for human eyes.

The Christmas tree lights are on—all the colors of the rainbow, bough-shadows on the walls outlined in light like stained glass. I turn on the stereo—softly, softly.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a ballet dancer instead of a highland dancer. Would my knees have given way if I’d chosen a different dance form?

I make up the movements, self-conscious at first, but not for long. Sway, turn, use your arms, the picture of gracefulness—strength and precision softened. I am a faery dancing before the Christmas tree. I am unseen, except by One.

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