Cadence.

Tersely,

with much avoidance in his voice,

“I can’t right now.”

She fluttered off down the hall the way she does every time this happens,

flapping her wings that grow when she sings her favorite songs.

This is the norm,

childlike questions asked and a firm, “No,” in response,

but still,

she treks on with her fairy dust in one hand and toy cars in the other.

Mama always told her how strong she is, how fierce she can be even when those around her aren’t.

Like a pinball,

her eyes shoot across the room at Mr. Lion as he sits upright on the sparkly pink chair Grandma got her for her 5th birthday, then to the red cowboy boots tucked halfway under her bed that Auntie Rene bought her for Christmas with the kind of heels that make a bold statement, and then quickly to the bright lights in the corner that Mama knew would help her see there are no monsters under the bed; the same lights she uses to shower over herself when she practices her dance routines in front of the long mirror that she calls her, “Show Glass.”

Cadence,

Cadence,

Cadence,” -

she graduates her voice from a whisper to a soft-spoken declaration that only she can hear, dances her latest routine in front of the mirror, under the bright lights that she knows one day will be big lights, and turns to curtsy in front of Mr. Lion to thank him for showing up.

Then,

slowly,

eloquently,

she curtsies in front of herself,

in front of her “Show Glass.”

All she needs is someone to show up,

and she will learn soon enough that the most important person to ever show up will be herself,

the most necessary will be Cadence,

because the show can’t go on without her.

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