by Catherine R. Proppe
Once upon a time in a small country town just north of here there lived a little dance. The dance was a favorite of the townspeople because they loved to see it twirling and skipping with the wind. They had grown so used to their town dance that no one could remember a time when they didn’t have it. No one, that is, save Old Dewey Ferguson. Old Dewey could remember when the dance first came to town, because he was there the night that it happened.
It was a windy spring afternoon when the dance arrived, whirling and skipping with the wind. It was the kind of afternoon when the air has a special balminess to it, even though there is still a hint of cooler weather.
The dance had no sooner made its way to the park in the square when all of a sudden the sky turned very, very dark.
The dance was afraid of the dark sky. The darker the sky got the more afraid and alone the dance felt. It looked around and saw that everyone was going home and rolling up the windows in their cars and hurrying along the street. They all seemed in a terrible hurry. The darker the sky got the colder it seemed. Then the rumbling began. The dance began to move with short little steps. It thought the storm was coming to take it away. It thought the storm was going to hurt it. It wished the storm would go away.
Suddenly, the rain came. Great, big droplets of rain splattered on the pavement. Soon the whole world seemed wet and windy. The wind pushed and pulled the trees and shook the leaves and the branches. Cars turned on their windshield wipers. The windshield wipers made a swish, swish sound.
The wind made the rain move very, very fast. It soaked through people’s clothes and plastered their hair to their heads. Ladies and men hurried faster, clutching their packages and coats and children close to them. Houses and buildings with their lights shining through the windows looked warm and safe. Nobody wanted to be outside.
When the dance heard a crackling shattering terrifying boom it jumped high, high up into a tree and crouched there, cowering in the branches. Then it happened again and the whole world lit up. The dance cringed against the tree. It wished the storm would go away.
After what seemed like a long, long time the sky stopped lighting up and crackling. The rain kept falling and making little dots in the puddles. The trees dripped drops off their leaves. The awnings dripped water. Little streams ran along the side of the road down into the sewer, they looked like tiny rivers. The cars still had their headlights on because by now it was nighttime. The rain didn’t whip against things anymore. It just fell straight down. Things seemed much nicer now. It wasn’t scary anymore.
The streetlights and the headlights reflected pools of light off the street. They didn’t do that when the streets were dry. The rain made a soft pitter-patter sound when it fell. The traffic whished. Finally, the dance stopped feeling afraid. It climbed out of the tree and stepped down on the ground and slipped and fell in thick, dark mud. Yech.
Then it saw a huge shining puddle. It dabbled a bit in the puddle and saw that the mud washed off. It dabbled a bit more and washed off more mud. It jumped right into the middle of the puddle and washed off all the mud. The water splashed up all over the place!
Jump, splash. Jump, splash.
Little step, little splash. Big step, big splash.
Step, splash, step.
Hop skip step splash skip splash step.
Skip splash hop splash skip splash splash.
Hop hop. Splash splash.
Step splash hop hop.
Skip splash step hop skip skip splash. There were puddles everywhere!
The dance whipped through the streets. It wanted to jump in every puddle in the whole world! It brushed against a bush and drops rained down. It pulled the branches on a tree and a shower came down. It was an exciting and delightful evening.
“What did the dance do then?”
Well, while the dance was playing in the rain it came upon a song that was playing in a tavern. It stole inside the tavern and lured the song out into the street. They danced and sang the whole night away. People woke up to see what all the commotion was about. They looked out their windows and saw all the patrons of the tavern streaming out into the streets into the rain following a song and a dance. Didn’t these people have enough sense to come in out of the rain? they thought. They all seemed to be having a wonderful time, though.
Soon it seemed as if everybody in town was out in the rain. They danced and they sang with the song and the dance. It was a magical evening.
No one is still alive who was actually there, save old Dewey Ferguson. But he tells the story to everyone who wants to hear it. The people of the town know the legend of the dance, even the smallest child can tell the story of the night the dance arrived in the small country town.
They even have a special name that they use when they talk of it. Forever afterward it’s been called The Evening of the Dance.
by Catherine R. Proppe, 2013