Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Girl and the Flamingo

For Pamela

Once upon a time there lived a little girl who loved to dance. She lived in a village beside a tropical rain forest. Each morning just after the sunrise and before it was time to do her chores, she walked into the deep green forest. She walked until she came to a big circle field shimmering in the golden rays of the early morning sun.

In the middle of the field she stood silently with her eyes closed and her arms above her head. For a minute all was still. And then she began to dance.

First she danced slowly, her arms swaying like tree branches in a gentle breeze. Her movements grew bigger and soon she was swirling and shuffling around the circle. She moved with freedom and playfulness, with beauty and grace. She danced all the ways she had learned from the forest. She twisted like a river, she splashed like the rain. She flapped like a bird and slithered like a snake.

The animals of the forest loved to watch her dance. The mouse lived closest to the field and he noticed first when she began to dance. The mouse told the toucan, the toucan told the jaguar, the jaguar told the snake, and the snake told the monkey. Soon all the animals of the forest were gathered around the edge of the circle to watch the girl. When she danced fast the animals would clap and hoot and stomp to make a rhythm for her dance. When she danced slow they would sway side-to-side in a silent trance.

But there was one animal that never came to the dance. The flamingo. He stood on one leg  in the shallow part of a river not far away, feeling lonely and covering his head with his bright pink wing.

In days gone bye, all the animals used to watch him dance on his long, elegant orange legs. But since the girl started dancing nobody came to watch him dance anymore. He became increasingly unhappy while dancing on his own with never more than a few passing insects to appreciate his performance. Soon he stopped dancing at all.

One morning he was brooding over his unlucky fate when he decided to take action. He came up with a plan to win back the love of the forest animals that he felt he deserved.

That day while the girl was still in the forest, the flamingo crept silently into the village. He climbed through the window to the girl’s bedroom and stole one of her dresses. Then he found a broom standing against a wall and he stole all the fibers from the end to make a wig.

Early the next morning, while the sun was still sleeping, he went back to the village and hung up a blanket over the girl’s bedroom window. He knew that she woke with the sun. If a blanket blocked the sunrise then she would sleep late, right past her normal dance time.

The flamingo put on his disguise to impersonate the little girl - the dress he had taken from the girl and the wig he had made from the fibers of a broom. He walked into the forest along the girl’s normal path to the circle field. And there, in the middle of the field, he began to dance.

Following their normal routine, all the animals came to watch the morning dance. But soon they realized something was wrong. The little girl’s legs were skinnier than normal. And her beak was bigger than normal. And the way she moved was all wrong. The monkey broke the silence, shouting “That’s not the girl! It’s the flamingo. Look at how funny he looks in that disguise.” All the animals saw it and began to laugh.

The flamingo was so embarrassed that he turned redder than normal. He stumbled out of the clearing and ran and ran. Eventually he got tired of running and hid himself beneath a bush. There he cried.

The girl missed her dancing that morning because she slept an hour later and had to do her chores as soon as she woke. She was puzzled that she had woken so late and that there was a blanket over her bedroom window. She wondered about her missing dress and the missing fibers of her broom.

Later that day she decided to skip lunch and go dance in the forest to make up for the dance she missed. She knew that the animals might not come watch her at this unusual time of day, but she loved to dance even without an audience.

On her way through the forest she heard a loud sobbing sound. She stopped and saw the flamingo crying under a bush. There were her missing dress and her missing broom, torn and tattered and worn by the flamingo. The strange sight startled her for a second. But soon all other thoughts were pushed aside by concern for the crying bird.

“Dear flamingo, why are you crying”? she said.

The flamingo looked up and saw the very girl that was the source of his problems. When he heard her concern for him he started crying even harder.

“Since you started dancing,” he said with heaving breaths, “nobody comes to watch me dance anymore.”

The girl picked a leaf to mop up his tears and then handed it to him so he could wipe his runny nose.

“So I made a disguise to look like you so the animals would come watch me dance again. But my costume didn’t fool them and everybody just laughed at me. Buuaaaa Haaaa Haaaa…” he bellowed.

Seeing the flamingo’s tears, her own eyes began to fill with water. She put her hand on top of the flamingos ridiculous wig.

“Flamingo”, she said with a shaky voice, “I’m sorry I hurt you. When I was a little girl I saw you dance and it was so beautiful. You are the one that introduced me to dancing. Without you, I would have never have discovered how much I love to dance!”

The flamingo heard this and his tears stopped. He felt warm inside and proud. “Really?”, he said.

“Yes”, she said, “Would you like to come dance with me?”.

He nodded his head and got up from under the bush. He removed his costume and followed her to the circle field.

And there they danced together. At first she copied the slow graceful movements of the flamingo. Then he chased her swirling and shuffling around the circle. They took turns leading and following. They danced all the dances of the forest, and some new ones that had never been danced before.

Nobody came to watch them. But when they finished, breathless, they hugged each other and agreed that it was the most fun that they ever had.

Each morning afterwards the girl and the flamingo met outside her village. They walked together to the circle field and stood in the middle. Slowly at first, they began to dance. The mouse always noticed first. The mouse told the toucan, the toucan told the jaguar, the jaguar told the snake, and the snake told the monkey. All the animals of the forest came to watch them.
And together the girl and the flamingo made the most beautiful dances that the forest had ever seen.

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