This story is fiction, of course, but I’d like to think that I have accurately portrayed the wonderful spirit of the inspiration whom some of you know.
Gabriella forced a smile at her older son as he peered over her desk while she spoke on the phone.
“Yes, Mrs. Fredericks, I understand. It’s not snowing now though. Are you sure you don’t want to squeeze in your lesson this afternoon? . . . All right; how about next week? . . . Okay, I’ll wait to hear from you. Thanks for calling.”
Gabriella hung up the phone, determined not to cry, especially with Benjamin still peering at her with instinctive concern.
“Did another lady cancel her dance lesson, momma?”
“Yes, Benjamin. Mrs. Fredericks.”
She rose, walked to the glass front door, and stared at the industrial-gray clouds through the orange lettering that warmly proclaimed “Gabriella’s Dance Studio.” It still wasn’t snowing, but Jennifer Fredericks was her sixth cancellation today just because it was supposed to snow. It had snowed last week, and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the weather was washing away one of her busiest periods of the year. Last week’s snow certainly hadn’t prevented the bills from arriving.
She looked down at Benjamin and his younger brother Caleb who stood about a foot shorter at his side. For a brief moment she saw Benjamin with orange paint on his nose when he and Caleb had “helped” her letter the door. She had never entertained any other name for her studio. She had always been Gabriella, never Gabby, even when she was as young as Caleb. She had told her mom how much she loved her name because it sounded like a ballerina’s, and ever since she was three, becoming a professional dancer had been her dream. It hadn’t come true, but she was making a living teaching what she loved and it thrilled her when her students began to move around the room without counting or looking at their feet.
A few flakes of snow began to fall here and there.
Gabriella began to wonder if this studio had been a mistake.
It wouldn’t be my first.
Always she made her decisions with tremendous faith in Life and in others. She could not fathom that Life was mostly disinterested or that people would lie to her or take advantage of her. Even now that she had experienced this, once in dramatic fashion, she still believed that such behavior on the part of others was an aberration.
Whatever her trial may have been, there had always been the dancing. Just putting on her dance shoes made her joyous and when she was in perfect sync with her partner and the music, then the moment became infinite and time irrelevant. Life even seemed to smile in her direction.
Just then Caleb came squealing out of her office and ran down the hall into the dance room. Benjamin was right behind and laughing just as hard. They quieted, however, when they heard the phone ring again. They re-entered their mother’s office as she was reaching for a tissue. The brothers had a quick consultation, and Caleb, who could not yet see over the desk, walked around to where Gabriella sat.
“Won’t anybody come dance with you, momma?” asked Benjamin.
Gabriella just shook her head “no.”
“Bendy-em and I will dance with you,” said Caleb who could not yet say his brother’s name quite the way it was supposed to be said.
The source of Gabriella’s tears changed in an instant and Caleb was startled by how quickly his mother gathered him into her arms. She grabbed Benjamin by the hand and whisked the boys down the hall and onto the dance floor. She half ran to the music system and pushed “play” with Caleb still in her arms. Soon they were laughing at themselves in the mirrors as they waltzed around the room. Benjamin laughed and clapped and when it was his turn, he stood on Gabriella’s feet as he often did when they danced. His mother’s shoes, however, never touched the floor and she marveled at how quickly this had become the best day that there had ever been at Gabriella’s Dance Studio.