Since they were big enough to play outside, there was no need for any of the growing chicks to play in the sunroom. Gracie missed her time with just Bessie when they could run and leap across the sunroom floor.
After what had happened their first day in the backyard, she no longer danced except for a quick leap or a turn on one leg when no one was looking. She never wanted to risk being laughed at ever again.
Although all chickens dance from time to time, chickens do not dance the way Gracie danced. It felt right and good for her to dance as she did, and Bessie had enjoyed it too. They had danced however their hearts led them. But fear had tied up Gracie’s heart, and she was unsure if she would ever dance freely again.
Life has a way of sending the blessings we most need when we least expect them. Life’s next blessing for Gracie came in the form of a friendship.
The robin hopped over to the play fence where Gracie had just sat down to rest in a shady spot under the camellias. Gracie’s eyes were tracing the lines made by the sunshine and shadows where the others were playing. She imagined dancing along those twisty lines the way she had danced along the straight lines made by the shadows of the window mullions across the sunroom floor. It seemed so long ago, practically half of her whole young life ago.
“I saw you just then, when no one else was looking,” said The Robin. “You were doing a ballet leap, weren’t you? I am certain that is what you were doing whether you realized it or not.”
Gracie felt embarrassed, but her curiosity about this new word kept her timid heart from running away.
“Is that what it is called? Ballet?”
“Yes, I have seen the pictures on posters downtown, and I have heard the people reading the words aloud. It is called ballet, and you are a ballerina.”
Gracie was excited to share her dreams with someone who understood. She was even more excited to learn her special kind of dancing actually had a name.
“I love to dance. I told the one who tends this garden, ‘Peep. Cheep.’ And then I asked, ‘Peep? Cheep?’
“That was my Big Scary Thing. But I dared to ask anyway, and the answer was I could do anything my heart dreams.”
“Then why are you not dancing?” asked The Robin. “Is your heart no longer dreaming?”
A shadow troubled Gracie’s brow.
“Some of the others make fun of me,” she said. “But they might not laugh if you teach me what you know. Then maybe they would understand it is serious and not silly.”
Gracie took a deep breath and asked the question that was building in her heart. “Will you show me how to dance like the people in the posters?”
“Those pictures do not move, not even a little. They are like how we birds play The Frozen Statue Game whenever we see a cat who doesn’t see us.
“But I will show you how to make the frozen statues. You will have to figure out how to move from one frozen statue to another. I do not know that part, but I will share all I know with you.”
The sunlight danced in The Robin’s eyes as if there was a secret waiting to be told. Then she added, “It is what we songbirds do.”
“I can figure the joining up parts myself,” said Gracie. “I have dancing in my heart.”
“Then that will be the easy part for you, but you must also make The Bigger Scary Thing be no more. That part may not be so easy.”
“What is The Bigger Scary Thing?” asked Gracie hesitantly. “I thought there was only The Big Scary Thing. Once I was able to say that I was a dancer and wanted to dance, then The Big Scary Thing became just The Gardener.”
“You must perform your ballet dancing for all the others. That is The Bigger Scary Thing. Then perhaps it will become something else as well.”
“I’m not certain I can.”
“Then maybe you aren’t really a ballerina,” said The Robin and turned as if to fly away.
“No, wait! I am. I know I am. I can do anything my heart dreams here. The Gardener told me so. I will simply have to take a leap of faith when the time comes.”
“Then let’s get started,” said The Robin.