The Little Dancer

Submitted into Contest #135 in response to: Write about a casual act of bravery.... view prompt

6 comments

Asian American Fiction Kids

That’s my little sister Reyna over there, but I call her ReyRey. My mom says it’s easier for me to say “ReyRey” than it is to say “Reyna.” That doesn’t make sense to me, and I just like to say ReyRey better, but that’s what mom says. Do you see her with the white and blue dress on? Yeah, that’s ReyRey with her black hair pulled back into a ponytail. And that’s my cousin Ligaya next to her in the yellow dress. No, not that one, the one with the white ribbons in her dark brown hair, dressed in the yellow ducky dress. We call her “Li-Li.” I guess we give the girls nicknames in my family. But not us boys. My name is Romy, not RoRo, just Romy. No nickname here. Maybe it’s because I’m nine years old, and the girls are both only six – they’re too young to go by their real names.

Today is a big day for ReyRey. She’s about to go on stage to perform with her dance troupe, and she is a little nervous. She doesn’t want what happened last time to happen again. What’s that you say? Oh, what happened last time?

Well, a few weeks ago, I was coming into the house from practicing my jump shot in my backyard. I’m the star of my third-grade basketball team, but you got to keep practicing. Just ‘cause you’re good doesn’t mean the work stops there. You got to keep pushing to get better, don’t ya know?

Anyway, I walked into the house, and I heard an awful lot of noise upstairs. ReyRey was screaming, and I mean loud. Then I could hear my Dad. He didn’t like it when ReyRey screamed or cried. I walked upstairs and saw ReyRey standing in her dress in front of the TV. That's right, the same blue and white dress she’s got on now. She was facing Daddy who was sitting on the couch.

“I don’t like how these stockings make me feel!” ReyRey said, stomping on every word.

“ReyRey, these are the same stockings you wore to school just last week,” daddy said. “They were fine then. Why aren't they fine now?”

“But I don’t like them with this dress!”

“I don’t understand. You look really cute in them!”

“No, I don’t, Daddy! I hate them!”

“Come here,” Daddy had ReyRey sit on his lap. He tried to comfort and calm her down. She was breathing hard - almost hyperventilating - and shaking, so finally, Daddy said they could stop and would try to practice again later. After dinner ReyRey did the same thing as she did earlier – she couldn’t practice.

Later that night when I was supposed to be sleeping, I could hear Mommy and Daddy talking in the hallway outside my bedroom. They leave my door open when I go to bed on account of, they think I’m scared of the dark, but that was a long time ago, when I was eight years old. Since I’m nine now, I don’t need the light on when I go to sleep, but I haven’t told them that, yet.

Mommy was saying that ReyRey was being extreme about wearing the stockings, but it was really about being afraid of dancing in front of people. Mommy was always good about seeing the real reason for things. Daddy said stuff too, but I couldn’t understand him because he likes to talk more quietly. Plus, a lot of times he just huffs and grunts instead of saying words. I think that’s what happens when daddies get older – they make up a daddy language all their own.

A few days later the performance was at the fairgrounds. ReyRey had agreed to go, but she wasn't so sure. She had on her dress, and they found new stockings that she said would be okay. We were outdoors at a horse racetrack. It was before lunch, but the sun was already shining hot and bright. It was a race day, but there were performances before the races started. The event was for cultural dances, and ReyRey was doing the Itik Itik, a folk dance from the Philippine Islands, where they dance like ducks. I don’t think they look like ducks, but that’s what they tell me.

When they called on the dancers, ReyRey moved to her spot. She was in a group of 10 girls. Li-Li was with her. The music didn’t even start, but ReyRey ran to Mommy who was in the crowd and hid in her arms. After a minute pause, the music started, and the girls finished the dance without ReyRey.

I was supposed to play the bandurria with my Filipino orchestra in the next act, but instead we left and went home.

No one talked about anything on the drive. Actually, no one talked about the dance anymore after that. I think Mommy and Daddy felt bad. They thought they had forced ReyRey into dancing. So, after that no one said anything about dancing, or practicing, or the dance group, or even ducks. It was like it never happened. Daddy took me to bandurria practices in the afternoons and ReyRey stayed at home and watched TV with Lola.

Then a few weeks later, after dinner, ReyRey put on her blue and white dress and asked Mommy and Daddy if she could practice Itik Itik.

“ReyRey, you don’t have to do it anymore,” Daddy said. “It’s okay.”

“I know, Daddy, but I want to do it,” ReyRey said. “I can do it.”

Mommy jumped in. “I know you can do it, but you don’t have to, ReyRey,” she said. “Are you sure? It’s totally fine if you don’t want to do it anymore.”

“I know. But I can do it," ReyRey said. After a long pause she said, "I want to do it.”

ReyRey practiced at home for a few days, and with the group at rehearsal. She didn’t scream about the stockings anymore.

And that’s how we got to today. ReyRey walked right up to her spot when the dance was about to begin. She didn’t look like she did the last time. She was breathing much slower. She looked over at Li-Li before the music started and then they started dancing. She did the whole dance and didn’t make one mistake. They even looked like ducks this time. ReyRey finished the performance without running to Mommy – at least not until after the crowd had stopped cheering.

“I didn’t even cry, Mommy,” ReyRey said looking up.

But Mommy and Daddy did.

March 04, 2022 21:46

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6 comments

Sara Al Hafiry
03:15 Mar 10, 2022

The last sentence makes a huge difference

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Eric Ang
04:16 Mar 10, 2022

I thought hard about putting it in. Thank you for your feedback.

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Kaitlyn Isaacs
13:42 Mar 09, 2022

Awww that was such a sweet story

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Eric Ang
04:15 Mar 10, 2022

Thank you!

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Eric Ang
06:52 Mar 08, 2022

Thank you!

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Sharon Hancock
01:50 Mar 08, 2022

Awe that’s such a sweet story. I have 2 daughters so that hits home for sure. It’s very realistic…my girls have felt the stage fright pressure, too. I’m glad the parents in the story let her do it in her own time. 😻

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