Amazing Kids! Magazine

Move to the Beat

By Sarina Patel, Contributing Writer

 

“Get ready for the 119th Ida MS Pumpernickel Festival!”

A sheet of white computer paper rippled in the wind, bending and creasing in all the wrong corners. In a messy scrawl, someone had written:

Com on 2 the fustivol. See the pompkin patch! Explur the maze. Purtisipate in the petato sack race! It wil be fun!

“I will personally track down the dunderhead who wrote this garbage and shove the student in a potato sack,” my best friend Bonnie threatened.

“2nd graders wrote that,” I reminded her. “Willa Pansy and Buddy Marshall. You can’t punish 2nd graders, Bonnie.”

“Alright, alright, I won’t harm Buddy,”she huffed,flingings her hands up in the warm air. We’d been slaving after school for 2 hours straight, fixing signs, making pamphlets, getting dressed up in colonial fashion (those corsets are brutal).

Willa, though!” she suddenly exclaimed. “Now there’s a girl who deserves a kick or two, the little brat,” her voice became sharper. Despite her delicate name and girly appearance, Willa was a 7-year-old karate prodigy with long brown hair who was a saucy little character around Bonnie and me.

Seeing my exasperated look, she sighed, “I’m only kidding.”

I glanced towards my watch and gave a little shriek. “Let’s go get dressed.”

For you shall go the ball, darling,” Bonnie said in an atrocious Fairy Godmother English accent. She clapped her hands and tossed her hair extravagantly.

“Oh, relax, will you?” Bonnie assured me in her prickly way as she yanked on the ribbons to my lacy white bonnet. She denied my suggestion to wear chokers. “We’re Little House on the Prairie, not over-the-top Cinderella doppelgängers!” she exclaimed as she swiveled me around to see how everything fit.

“Besides,” she reminded me, “those chokers are super awkward. I know for a fact that you hate uncomfortable clothing.”

“Well, when I go out there, at least I’ll get an ‘A’ for effort?” I weakly suggested. I was beyond nervous and had long passed anxious. Try horrified. No, mortified was a better description.

“All those people will watch you shine,” Bonnie encouraged me. She shuffled around the dressing room swishing her colonial dress around as she howled, “Fellow travelers, rise from you seats! Da-da-da-daa! Tap those feet!”

My brain only picked up on the “All those people” part. As my eyes watered up, Bonnie frowned critically. “Dear sheep, this isn’t helping is it?”

She smiled crookedly with her eyebrows raised and managed a small laugh. “You worry too much and you try too hard, Maisie.”

“In an area where you’re not good at, don’t you have to try?” I reasoned with her.

“Well…sure, you do your best…but if your best isn’t good enough…look, remember, this is optional.” Bonnie carefully considered her words, then offhandedly shrugged.

She flicked her wrist towards herself. “Me? I’m staying on the sidelines. And there’s no place I’d rather be,” she warbled, singing her favorite song, Rather Be.

“I’m not going to let the poor down because I was too wimpy to dance in front of some people,” I argued.

She suddenly dropped all playful pretense and doubtfully studied me. “You…are OK with dancing in front of these folks, right?”

The taste of accusation rose in my throat.

“Are you insinuating that I can’t dance?” I sharply asked her.

She laughed nervously. “Not insinuating anything, pal, only saying. You’ve never voluntarily danced a day in your life, and now you’re gyrating for charity.” Seeing my cutting glare, she amicably spouted, “Whatever gets you to move to the beat, I guess.”

Kaya poked her head into the room. She was a tall, straightforward, organized 8th-grader who coordinated all school-wide theatre productions. “Bonnie, take your place. We’re getting ready to start.”

Kaya looked at me curiously. “Hey! You! Maisie. Are you feeling alright? Do you need a mint or something?”

“Maybe a minute with Bonnie?” I squealed.

Bonnie shook her head firmly and all the freckles in her face frowned. “I’ve told you everything I need to say.”

Kaya sighed and cracked her knuckles. “This ain’t my first rodeo, kids. We’ve got a show to put on. Jules is out there performing his comedy knack or something, failing miserably, until you go out there and he can hide behind the scenes controlling the sound and lighting and whatever else he does. He has major stage fright, but you know what? He’s doing this for you. He told me to tell you to get the heck out here. So don’t prolong the inevitable, because eventually, you’ll have to come out in to the open. Don’t let everyone down.”

Bonnie nodded her head. Before I could say anything, Kaya ordered her, “Take 10 for your hard work, Red. After your Colonial Speech, you’re going to play goalie for Squash Soccer later and serve people at the Fall Festival Feast.” Then she grabbed me onto the stage and before I could register what had happened, the curtains rose on me.

I danced. I gyrated and convulsed, missing the splits and improvising the choreography as I went. Quite honestly, I performed. I don’t know if it was a good performance or a bad one, but after 10 seconds of silence and a deliberate cough or two, the crowd thundered with applause that may or may not have been forced, depending upon where Bonnie was currently positioned. I was happy, though. Every minute that I danced, $100 dollars went to the American Heart Association. The more I saw the green roll in, the more passionately I danced. I enjoyed the sequence— a jumbled macédoine of the intermediate moves of ballet, tap, hip-hop, and jazz.

So, what gets me to move to the beat? I asked myself after the performance ended.

A part of myself automatically answered, Helping others in need.