Step Step Seven Eight by Diana Cadello

One. Two. Three. Four.

Right arm out. Fingers splayed.

The dance begins.

I’m crying, because none of this makes sense. Mothers are supposed to be forever. Life is a concept graspable only in its infallibility.

Left arm down. Clenched into a fist.

There’s a hand in mine, begging. Sister dear, I hope you know how hard I tried to be a mother for you.

Down, to the knees. Arms striking the air like butterfly-edged spears.

Father, you can’t be the distant storm cloud anymore. Please. The computers and the codes won’t notice your absence. But we will.

Right arm scrapes the ground, legs extended to the farthest poles.

If I can’t believe in NeverNeverLand and nonsense, what about music? What was it Mother always said? ‘The earth has music for those who listen’? I’m listening.

Push up with both arms. Jump. Arms stretching up, up, up, feet firm beneath.

Step, step, step. Watch me, Sister dear. Watch me Father. Do you see me fly? There’s music out there for those who listen, a dance for those who dare to follow it.

Arms leading, sweep about, let the body fly on its point around and around.

I’m not allowed to cry. One of us has to be the stoic adult. The bulwark. But this isn’t crying, is it? This is laughter and movement and body over mind. It’s like my body’s weeping where my eyes have forgotten how. And it feels like relief.

Fall back. Arms straight to catch the weight. Right leg up, toe pointed.

Back hits the floor. Bear the slight pain. Arms reaching up, fingers scattered.

Sister, don’t cry. No, Santa Claus didn’t come this year. Why? Well, Santa had a bit of trouble buying toys. I know, I know, but I have to work now. Why? It’s complicated. Daddy’s having some trouble just like Santa Claus.

Rise up slowly, legs curling in, head up, arms joining and twisting.

Come on, Sister, you’ll like this, I promise. See? The shoes have little ribbons, just like the bear mommy gave you. Pink ones? Alright. Listen to the teacher, but most of all, listen to the music. The music will make you fly.

Spin slowly, arms curling up hesitantly to the sky. Face down.

Teach me. Teach me how to fly. Teach me how to re-assemble myself out of music and movement and find all the pieces of myself I’ve given away.

Five. Six. Seven. Eight.

Leap.

They say ‘the spotlight’ with such aplomb, such awe. So why am I afraid? Sister dear, I see you there, below me. For your smile I’ll be brave.

Father, you came. For you I’ll be a child again, how does that sound?

Touch. Touch. Beat. Beat. Stretch. Breath. My feet have wings.

Look, my arms are cloud-born horses prancing in their traces.

My body’s made of silver wire.

My legs are saplings, easy to bend but not to break.

I see your face, Father. And there, your first smile.

My first laugh.

The world claps as you find yourself a man, and I a child.

The curtain rises.