The Orchid’s Dance – by J. Thomas Vella (College)

The stage lights cut through her tutu, giving her a luminescence unlike any of the other dancers. A glowing beacon of pink hue, she’s perfected each turn, twist, and twirl. The crowd’s mouths agape, marveling at the sight of her evolving beauty, their hands aching from applause. She lunges into the air, her hair caged in its bun. As she flips and floats, her true vision comes to fruition.
The tutu spreads and breaks in mesmerizing elegance as it transforms, blooming into the image of an orchid. Each petal peels from the leotard. She lands, her toes perpendicular to the stage. For a moment she feels weightless, transcendent, as she breathes relief. But her foot begins shaking. Though she struggles, she succumbs to the force of gravity, and the orchid wilts as she falls, its glow dimming. Managing to catch herself at the last moment, she regains her stature. She drops her head, knowing that it’s too late. They all saw.
Gazing into a sea of eyes she waits for the verdict. A buzzing fills her ears as she tunes out the delicate murmur of the attendants to hear the judges. Walking off stage she understands their deliberation well. Among the next contestants jostling backstage, her father appears before her, wearing that bright white smile she knows too well. He reassures her of next year’s possibilities as she has the realization. Once more the flower must hibernate, waiting for the coming season to bear its fruit.
As they leave, he remembers, and pulls out the box he had saved for her. She unwraps the gift within. An orchid. Alive and thriving. Perfect pink petals showing their natural beauty. The moment plants itself in her brain. In some years’ time her daughter will ask about the vibrant flower that lives in the garden, and though she does not know it yet, it will be her. An orchid dancing in a sea of grass.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Nutshell Narratives 2019-02
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