The Family Secret

Family Secret wp“Oh, John! You must come!” Angie’s holler drifted up into his office.

Breaking the pencil in his hand, John inhaled deeply. He exposed his teeth in a Wallace and Gromit style grimace that was intended to resemble a smile. His footsteps fell heavily on the stair treads as he made his way down to the kitchen.  Once there, he observed his eight-month-old daughter on hands and knees poking her finger in a puddle of drool on the floor.

Angie, in the same position next to Ella, pointed while exclaiming, “Look! She’s drawn the number three.”

“Huh,” he muttered, “It does rather resemble a number.”

John’s smile was genuine as he went back to work. He remembered thinking that maternity leave would be charming and serene. The reality was that moments like this were oh-so-brief.

He and Angie had had one of their worst fights when she told him that she didn’t want to return to work. John missed the wife who wound her hair into a bun, wore heels, challenged his theories, and studied journals with newly published papers in their field.

That woman had been replaced with a tennis shoe wearing mother in sports clothes who talked non-stop about her offspring.  “Ella’s special, John,” Angie said daily.

When Ella gained motor control of her fingers, she covered every flat surface in their house with numbers, numbers and more numbers. Instead of drool she used crayons, markers, paint brushes, and chalk.

“There angular gyrus area of Ella’s brain, the area that processes spatial information is much more active than we see in most brains,” the specialist told them.  “You may have another Einstein on your hands.”

“See John,” Angie commented as she settled their daughter into her car seat. “I knew Ella was more advanced than the other kids in her playgroup.”

Raising a gifted child was challenging. As Ella grew, she became increasingly demanding, dictatorial, and driven. Their social life became an inverse function. For every Facebook and Snapchat follower gained when they posted news of Ella’s accomplishments, the family’s real friends  – the ones they socialized with – reduced in quantity.

There was one area where all three family members enjoyed themselves. When Ella danced she was awkward and blissfully unselfconscious about her movements. Everywhere she twirled, things on tables and shelves spilled, broke, or were knocked to the floor.

The specialists could never explain why Elton John’s music ALWAYS evoked spontaneous dancing in Ella.  It made her parents laugh, even as they picked up in the aftermath of her events. This particular nuance of their daughter’s character, John and Angie agreed, would be kept quiet.  It was fun, albeit embarrassing; how could it ever possibly matter?

——–

Ella and her parents survived her childhood. She graduated at the top of her class at MIT. She had a job waiting for her at the nation’s leading nuclear energy developmental firm. No one, at the time, knew that the department head where Ella was about to work was a former Elton John groupie.

———

Story Prompt: WriteOn: in 500 words or less tell a story where dancing ruins lives

Here’s a few Tiny Dancer tunes and Karaoke music to play with.

Tiny Dancer music & more

 

2017 – 50th Anniversary Celebration of Elton John and Bernie Taupin team

Filmmakers & directors are invited to enter a competition to create an official music video for Tiny Dancer, Bennie and the Jets, and Rocket Man

Click here to learn more: www.eltonjohn.com/thecut

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