The Awkward Dance

The artist Pink's song Family Portrait from her album Missundaztood words touched me causing me to tear. What if harsh words were left between to loving people only to destroy their relationship? Pink's song helped me imagine it perfectly leading me to create a short story taking the elements of Pink's song from the point of view of a young girl.

This in conjunction with another song I love Stay with Me by singer/songwriter Michael McLean first introduced to me in the video On The Way Home, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In that song is this part: "...an awkward dancer on a crowded floor...." I took that part of the song and Pink's Family Portrait song to inspire Awkward Dancer.

I hope you enjoy this dramatic short story.

The Ballet

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To see the dance and song makes me think of a violent ballet. The characters move in synch--jerking movements; yet, the grace of interaction is unmistakable.

Their faces show a mask of emotion that changes as each song starts. So many different songs, violent in nature and biting in content screech through the air.

A moving and singing orchestra of contempt and bitterness play along with the main characters. The supporting cast dance to and fro with uncontrolled excitement and boisterous disregard.

It appears the cast does not support them at all—having a separate ballet with different emotions unchecked.

One moment laughter and another wailing songs escape the cast as the two leading dancers continue their ballet, moving in time with each other.

I do not enjoy the show. I tire of the ballet, the fighting.

I wanted to think of the fighting as a ballet because it makes it easier to deal with what comes after the bitter exchanges between them.

Each time they do that dance, that awkward ballet, the eye of the storm passes and lasts for an indefinite time before the storm returns.

The timing never is right. The storm's eye passes without warning but comes at the predictable time after the storm has lasted.

I have never known a storm to last more than a day or two before one of the dancers takes a bow to end the dance.

Players

Mom and Dad are the main players here. The supporting casts or nonsupporting cast are my brothers and me.

I am the oldest, 12 and my brothers are four and five. We are six kids in all, the triplets Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego are four and the twins Nephi and Lehi are five. I am the only girl, and from the looks of it, six kids will be the end of our family because Mom and Dad do the awkward ballet too often for more.

They leave that to me, a rising star. I wouldn't want to curse any new player to perform on this stage, this family anyway.

I don't know when it started, but I do know that it has existed as far back as I can remember. I know that it is my fault that it began and will continue. I know that the first bitter dance started because of something I did.

At first, the dance was gentle, and the songs were soft. I noticed how fluid the movements were as the dancers moved. I was a young girl when I saw the swelling motions around me.

I did not know what the feelings meant, but I knew as the two people that I loved danced and sang ever so mildly that I included myself in the show trying to express myself in any manner.

Stage

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I would smile or cry-dance depending on how dark the dance-feeling seemed and it worked for a while. When I grew older, I noticed if I entered the stage with my cry-dance or interrupted their dance it made the ballet continue rather than change the dancing.

I noticed that my presence helped the dance to last, but it was still a gentle and beautiful exchange. I saw that Dad would bow out of the dance most of the time and I came to understand that was how the dance was supposed to work.

Mother was a beautiful dancer and stole the show each time. I envied her because I wanted to dance the way she did and steal the show. So, I began to follow her movements and sing her songs.

My voice was not as forceful as Mom's. My songs were not so artful and brilliant. When I sang and danced, I was sent off stage and removed from the show.

I thought I needed to try harder to convince Dad to bow at my songs, which became increasingly tense and my dance was never graceful.

Once my Dad almost started dancing with me, because his songs were always quiet and controlled. He said to me that time,

You are just like your mother. You are never satisfied.” He ended his song quickly. His dance stopped, and he looked almost regretful.

I sang back to him, “Finally. I want to be like mommy! She always gets the last word.” I sang some more songs and Daddy would not sing back. He took my hand and would not dance. He led me off stage and did a different dance with me for the first time, a quiet peaceful dance.

This dance was gentle and sweet, patient and then he bowed. Daddy bowed to me and ended the dance, and I stole the show.

That is how I know it was my fault that the dance changed with Mom.

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The Co-star

This dance was gentle and sweet, patient and then he bowed. Daddy bowed to me and ended the dance, and I stole the show.

That is how I know it was my fault that the dance changed with Mom.

I was seven when Nephi and Lehi came. I did not like the dance that followed these two players.

Mommy and I hardly sang or danced anymore. When we did, it was always me being sent offstage.

I did not like Nephi or Lehi's contribution to the show, but they were so silly with their songs and clumsy with their dance that I fell in love with them.

I let them steal the show, and I took a bow. I started to be supporting cast that blended into the stage.

I danced a little, but I sang no songs. Mommy and Daddy did not seem bothered that I was no longer a leading player.

Once or twice I tried to sing, and I noticed that mommy did not dance so gracefully when I did anymore.

I also noticed that Daddy spent less time onstage and his dancing and singing became stiff when he did star.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego joined the cast when I turned 10. They came so quickly it stopped me from dancing at all. I featured in no roles and made sure I did not require a leading part.

I would only be an extra who did not dance very much. Too many clumsy dancers on the floor. Mommy could not dance the way she used to dance, but her singing grew icy and edgy—no longer gentle.

Daddy seemed to want to dance alone, and he would not bow to mother anymore to end a show. Sometimes I thought the show would never end!

I started this new dance when I tried to be like mommy. Daddy still bowed to me, but he never really noticed that I stopped dancing and singing leading parts.

The boys were used to this new ballet. They were so involved in their dancing that they did not notice how violent Mom and Dad would dance.

What I found strange is that when we left our personal stage and went public, the family dance became gentle again. Mom and Dad would sing sweetly to each other and would notice that I still had the talent to sing and dance softly too.

At home, the harsh dance returned, and the strangely beautiful ballet would continue.

I found a new dancer and singer at 11 years old. We did another dance together, and the song was not sweet.

It left me empty after the dance. It was not beautiful, yet I cried at the end. I noticed at 12 that I started to dance and sing like mom did when Nephi and Lehi were preparing to enter the stage.

I found out that I would provide the next dancer and singer to the family. Mom danced and sang a different style and tune to this expectant start.

Dad stopped dancing and sang most of the time after learning of the coming attraction. His songs were lamentations.

I just wanted to hear a sweet song, which the new dancer, a 13-year-old boy, sang to me at first. Though his dance left me alone and I would not hear his song again.

Now our ballet is strange and awkward, and I am the star again. I just needed a little limelight on the stage.

Now my awkward ballet features me. My name is Melody and my new co-star will be Harmony.

© 2012 Rodric Johnson

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