Emerald Grace

Emerald Grace
(aka The Ice Maid’s Change)
by Miles Rost

As night fell, Amy looked into the small bonfire that her friends had set up for the night. She was alone, sitting by herself in awe of the fire. Sayaka and Chieri were off gathering up wood, while Yumi and Michiko were off getting marshmallows and chocolate from a nearby roadside shop.

I don’t understand. Everything I know about life and existence is in my head, but why is my heart feeling empty? She asked herself.

Second by second passed, and as Amy’s clothes absorbed the smoke of the bonfire, Amy pulled out speakers and her iPod from her backpack. After setting her speakers up, she moved her iPod to a song…a medium-paced celtic song that Michiko gave to her called “Emerald Grace.”

She sat for a few seconds, as the first vocal strains of the song started to play, and a thought immediately came to her mind.

Dance.

She looked around for a few seconds more, and the thought came back to her.

Dance.

Only 20 seconds passed before Amy stood up. She looked at the circle around the fire, a ring that was able to hold two people side by side, and looked upward. As the second refrain started, the accompanying sound of cymbals and triangles joined in, and Amy started to sway. She closed her eyes and just let herself go in thought as she swayed to the music.

What good is knowledge without a root to be grounded in? She asked herself, calling up her memories, I used to be grounded in family, and in life. She looked at herself in her memory, and remembered a time a few years ago when she used to dance.

Amy, make sure to let yourself move with the music, her dance instructor told her You have God’s grace, just let the music be your worship.

Amy looked on this memory and smiled.

She was right. I had been fighting against God for so long, I didn’t understand what He was giving me, she thought.

After a few seconds, a flute joined in, and Amy started to move around the fire in a counter-clockwise circle. She moved her hands upward, her arms following, in a smooth motion. Her hands, upon reaching the apex, moved downwards toward her chest, and outward in a T. She twirled and smiled as she danced to the flute and the triangle, getting into the movement and remembering the fun she used to have dancing.

The vocal strains came back for a third time, and as the voices sang, Amy lifted her hands up and continued dancing. As the voices died out, and the drums introduced what Amy called the “Base Plain” of the song, Amy started her prayer in dance.

Father, I understand now what you have been telling me, she thought, The knowledge that I have is a gift, and it needs to be used for you. You have given me a view of my life that I never would have seen with my own devices.

Amy knew that she had a choice to make. To continue the dance of life that she was dancing, or to walk from it. This would be the point of no return for her, and as the drumbeat descended, Amy made her choice.

Iesu, our Father sent you to give me life, a free gift. I have fought you before, but I will no longer fight against you. I love you, Lord, and I ask of you to enter my heart and enter my life. My life is yours, so I ask for you guidance.

The drums ended, and the haunting vocals came back for a fourth and final time. Amy moved her arms to the voices, while her legs stood still. As soon as the drums started, she went back to movement, praying along with.

I am The Ice Maid. I am Amy Kuruyama. And I am your child, Father. Lay your hands on me now as I pray this in Christ’s holy name.

As the final notes of the song played, she went down to her knees and the finals word of her prayer escaped her lips.

“Amen”.

At that moment, the bonfire roared and Amy jumped backwards, falling backwards over a log. She fell with a thud, but as she sat up, she felt alright. And she was laughing.

“I bet you anything, Amy,” a voice cried out from the other side of the fire, “that you would not noticed me while you were dancing.”

Amy quickly stood up, nervous and embarrased and looked across the fire. She eased as she saw that it was Sayaka.

“You dance well. Very well. Apparently, there are still some things that we do not know about you…”

Amy just blushed as she quickly sat down, turning off her iPod.

“You don’t have to hide it, Amy. We are friends, and fighters.”

Amy looked up with a smile, when she opened her mouth.

“And now, we’re sisters.”

Sayaka immediately shot her head up from the ground and looked straight into Amy’s eyes.

“You mean…that…”

“Was a dance of prayer. He found me, and I said yes.”

Sayaka squealed in happiness, and gave Amy a big hug.

“This is so unbelievable. It’s like God is putting everything into place.”

 

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Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)

by Miles Rost

The day of reckoning had come.

In a gigantic building just off the main drag in downtown Portland, Oregon, nearly 700 people milled around the ground floor. On the 4th floor of the building, it was announced that there would be a major banquet occurring. The announcement of the 15 new dancers of the Portland Ballet would happen at the same time as the banquet.

For half of the dancers, this was a happy occasion for them. For the other half, it meant certain doom as they couldn’t even gain a pound. And for one man, it was an opportunity to not only get a chance at a possible paying gig, but a chance to eat. It would sure beat eating ramen and cream of mushroom soup every night.

Larry Burnell’s admission to the audition was a complete accident. A street person, he was not someone people would think as having any sort of talent. In fact, most people thought of him as a complete bum.

The day before the audition, he was walking from his claimed piece of a sidewalk down 1st Street close to the Morrison Bridge, walking towards the Union Gospel Mission to get a blanket. He saw a red envelope on the ground and looked at it carefully. The name on the envelope was close to his: Lawrence Burnett, and it was addressed to someone at Portland State University. He looked inside and saw his ticket.

He went back to his small camp and rummaged through his stuff, picking up a small harmonica case. He pulled the harmonica out and picked out two $100 bills. It was all he had left, and he was going to use it to try and take advantage of this situation. He went to the local YMCA and took a shower, cleaning himself really well. He even was able to use some floral shampoo that someone left in the showers. After changing into some semi-nice clothes that he used for interviews, he went to a barber to get a shave and a haircut.

He went into the shop looking like a bedraggled 45 year old, and came out looking like a university student. The most important part was complete. He took a dollar and made a call to his mother, who lived in North Portland. While they were estranged, he still  had some stuff there at her place. He asked her if he could come up and pick up a couple items from his boxes. She agreed, and that evening, he had his dancing clothes in his hands and ready to go. He went back down to his pad, and had one of his neighbors watch his stuff for the night. He would return the next night.

He slept at a cheap motel that night, so he could have a great night’s rest. He knew that would be important.

He went to the information desk at the gigantic building that day, refreshed and looking nothing like his bedraggled self the night before.

“Can I help you?” the lady at the counter asked.

“Yes, I am here for the audition.”

“Name?”

“The envelope says Lawrence Burnett. I’m afraid that they got my name wrong.”

“What’s your actual name?”

“Lawrence Burnell.”

After a little shifting, she gave him his numbers, and told him to go to the third floor to wait. He did as they said, and waited. He waited for nearly 3 hours, and his number was finally called.

“Number 699!”

“Right here!”

“Come with me, please.”

He was led to a large ballroom and a long set of tables with 7 judges behind it.

“You are,” the head judge started to say, flipping his chart up, “Lawrence Burnell?”

“That is my name, yes.”

“What do you do for a living.”

“I am a man of the road, most times. I’m a student at this time, though.”

A man of the road?”

A hobo, by name.”

“You….are a….hobo?”

“I hope that I don’t have to repeat myself…”

The head judge just sighed, and put on his best air.

“Are you here for the food, by perchance?”

“Actually, I have been trained in the arts in prior years and I believe that I can do a great job with the Portland Ballet.”

Well, before you can eat, you gotta dance like Fred Astaire.”

“Wouldn’t Mikhail Baryshnikov be more like what I’m going for?”

The other judges bust out laughing at the head judge for such a mixup.

“Can you dance?”

Of course I can dance. You bet I can dance.

The judges gave him the piece of music. It was one that Larry recognized very well, as he danced it in the 1980s with the Sydney Ballet in Australia. Dancing to the song “No Promises” by Icehouse, he did his moves. All of the members of the judging team were shocked that a man of the road would be so good at this.

He ended the performance, and the judges looked stunned. The head judge then cleared his throat.

“Alright, we’ll tally up the score and at the banquet, you’ll find out the results. Please go to the door on your left and proceed to the banquet hall.”

He did, and when he got to the banquet hall, he looked around at the food that was set up. Being one of the last dancers, he got there just as they opened things up. A young lady approached him and smiled.

“Admiring the food aren’t ya?”

Is there water coming from my eyes?”

She laughed, and put out her hand.

“Jenny Carazzo.”

“Larry Burnell.”

He was so astonished by what he saw in the food, he didn’t pay much attention to Jenny.

“Oh my, they got ham. They have turkey. And…is that caviar?!?!”

Jenny seemed to be willing to finish his sentence for him.

They also have long tall glasses of wine up to…YAR!”

She made a big motion with her hands.

He smiled, and asked her if he could join her for the evening’s proceedings. She agreed, and they both filled up on food and drink. They had a great time, while some others were worried about their figures. After a couple hours, the head judge from Larry’s tryout came up to the podium and cleared his throat again.

“We are going to announce the lucky people who will have a position with the Portland Ballet this year. When your name is called, please assemble in a line at the front of the podium.”

5 names were announced, and the winners went up to the front and waved.

“The 6th member of this year’s troupe is Jenny Carazzo.”

Jenny jumped up and gave a hoot. She gave Larry a hug and bolted up to the front. To say that she was happy would have been a great understatement.

8 more members were called, and Larry just kept eating and drinking.

‘The last name on our list is a surprise, as it was someone that we didn’t know had prior experience. We have a former member of the Sydney Ballet in our midst, and I’d like to welcome the last person who will dance for the Portland Ballet this year. Mr. Larry Burnell.”

Larry’s eyes popped out of his head at this, and after swallowing the food that he was eating, he wiped off his mouth and went to the front. He stood next to Jenny as he heard the applause.

Jenny looked at him in shock.

“You actually had to audition, when you were a member of a troupe before?”

“Jenny, that was almost 25 years ago. Another place, another time. I’ve been homeless since ’99. I’m just happy to be able to do this now, and rebuild my life.”

“Me too, Larry. Me too.”

 

Live It Up

by Miles Rost

High school could be a cruel mistress sometimes. For many students, it was the epitome of social alienation and subjection to the whims of those who had the influence.

Kristy Parsons was one of these with influence, and even she fell victim to the whims of others.

It was a cool February afternoon, just after sixth period creative writing class. Kristy met her boyfriend in the hallway close to her classroom. 10 minutes between classes was enough time for her to get some “chest time” with her honey, where she would sidle up to him, lay her head against his chest, and release her stress. She saw him in his usual spot, and she quickly walked over.

He didn’t respond when she approached him. She knew that something was up.

“Well, hello there, Greg,” she purred, “Are you ready for some energy?”

“Not today, Kristy,” he said, flatly, “I’m breaking things off. You’re nice, but I just don’t want to be with you anymore.”

She was about to say something, but her throat could only give a small shocking “eep”.

Her day proceeded to get worse, and as she was walking down the stairs towards the exit, she heard the whispers of the others.

I hear her boyfriend dumped her for Gina Langston.
No way, it wasn’t Gina Langston. She’s still going out with Mark Blank. It’s clearly Shannon, the head cheerleader.
Poor Kristy, she’ll have no one to take her to the dance tonight.

She quickly ran to her locker, grabbed her stuff, and proceeded to skip seventh period. She arrived home shortly after leaving school, and proceeded to her room to cry. She was not happy with things, and the night was not going to go well either. She was required to be at the dance that night, as she was the head of the design committee and the person for which all music selections went through.

Until an hour before the dance was to start, she cried. Her mom came to comfort her, to give her what she needed to get through the night.

“He wasn’t worth your time, Kristy. I have a feeling that you’ll find someone sooner than you think.”

Great, Mom, Kristi groaned to herself, Old Spinster me is going to emerge soon. I doubt it’ll happen.

She proceeded to get ready for the dance, wearing a beautiful peach-colored satin dress and dazzling up herself as best as she could. She was not looking forward to what was going to happen there at the dance, but she decided to do her best anyways. She could always be sad tomorrow.

She went to the dance, and entered the back entrance of the school. It was customary for those checking the designs and others to be in the back, so she was able to go in without much trouble. After informing the deejay about what he was supposed to play and what he wasn’t, she walked over to the main gym doors. She rapped on the doors twice, and proceeded over to a reserved table, where she sat. And continued sitting even after the first 30 minutes of the dance.

She looked at the people out on the floor, having fun and dancing. Tears slowly fell from her eyes, seeing the fun that she was supposed to be having with her now ex-boyfriend, and she started feeling a bit cold.

How can you see looking through those tears, Kristy?”

She looked behind her, and saw a young man that she never would have thought would even give her the time of day. She figured Brian Treadwell, the captain of the ice hockey team and the assistant editor-in-chief of the newspaper, would be pursuing one of the hockey girls.

“What’s it to you, Brian?”

“Well, I heard about what’s happened in the last 12 hours. A close encounter with a hardhearted man who never gave half of what he got. He’s hurt you, Has made you wish that you’d never been born.”

Kristy hung her head in acknowledgement.

“You pretty much hit it, though you’re a bit blunt about it.”

Brian smiled, and put his hand on her shoulder.

“He’s kind of an ass anyways. He’s not worth all the crying and worrying. He threw you to the side, and that’s a shame cause you got the lot.

Kristy looked at him, and blinked a few times, wondering what he was saying.

I know he’s Australian, but he really needs to start speaking a language I can understand,” she thought.

Brian put his hand on the table next to hers, then moved his fingers on top of her hand.

“Your hands are frigid. Let me warm your hands against the cold.”

Kristi seemed to do nothing as Brian’s warm hands transferred heat into her fingers, giving her new life.

“You, beside the dance floor, what are you crying for? Let’s live it up! What do you say?”

Kristi looked up at Brian. She looked deep into his blue-gray eyes and saw his heart. She knew he wasn’t joking.

“Which song should we dance to?”

“How about the one that’s about to come up?”

Kristi looked at him funny.

“How do you know what song is coming up”

Brian smiled, and snapped his open fingers.

“I know the deejay. He’s a friend of mine. And I told him to put it on when we go to the floor. Which should be now, as this song is ending.”

Brian squeezed her hand lightly and gave her a lift up onto her feet. She looked at him, and put her arm around his back. They walked out to the dance floor, and the deejay started to speak.

“Hey there, kids! Glad to have all of you on the floor. This one is a special request from a guy who thinks that there’s a wonderful girl that deserves better than what she had. Brian, buddy, this one is for you! Let’s live it up!”

With the last word, the song started up.

That night, Brian gave Kristy the night of her life. After having a good time at the dance and the after party, he dropped her off at home. By this time, she was grinning and forgetting all about her ex-boyfriend. This continues to the following Monday morning, when he drove to her house and picked her up for school. As they drove to school, Kristi opened her heart to ask a question.

“Brian, why did you come to me? You are the ice hockey captain, you could have anyone.”

Brian looked at her, and looked back at the road with a smile.

“I’ve been interested in getting to know you for a good while. You were on my screen since we both met up at freshman orientation. You just were busy with that other guy, and when you were down, I wanted to be the one to help pick you back up.”

She blushed.

“Besides, Ive seen your work. You’re worth your weight in gold. You’re pretty, you’re outgoing, and there should never be a reason for you to cry unless it’s a darn good one.”

She blushed even more furiously at that.

“I’ve had my eye on you for a good while, and I just felt like I needed to take charge and help you move on from this heartbreak. And quickly.”

She turned and looked at him, as they slowed down at a stoplight.

She leaned over and kissed him on the lips.

“Handle me with care, Brian.”