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THE DANCE  by Sue D. L. Smith 

The can-can dance was coming to town, and Maryli just knew she couldn’t attend.  Her parents would have a fit if she ever went dancing.  Maryli had been practicing the can-can in the barn on Sundays when her parents were out in the fields or gone to town.  She would prop up the old vanity mirror against one of the cow stalls and pose and preen, turning this way and that in her shorts and T-shirt, with a bandana around her neck.  She didn’t have a can-can dress, but she knew how to dance!

Slowly, she would lift one leg forward as high as she could, then the other.  She would pretend she had on a can-can dress and wave the imaginary hem from side to side, sashaying and prancing, her feet keeping a steady rhythm on the hay-strewn floor.  She had learned to toss her hair flippantly and keep a smile plastered on her face to let the pretend audience know she was enjoying herself, because she really was!

Oh, to be admired by a crowd!  Oh, to hear the clap of hands!  Oh, to know she was pretty and that all eyes were on her as well as her fellow dancers!  This is what she loved—the dance—and she knew, growing up on a farm, that her chances were next to nothing of making her dreams come true.

Slowly, Maryli came to a stop.  Beads of perspiration had trickled down her neck and moistened her T-shirt, front and back.  But she was glad for the workout, glad for the feeling of freedom and elation she had had for a little while.  She wrung out her bandana and tied up her hair with it, then headed out the barn door to go do her chores.


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