The challenge: Write a short story every Tuesday in 500 words or less. Post on your blog, share on twitter with the #shortstorytuesday hashtag. Tag two friends to do the same.
You can see the dance in nature’s victor circle. A stallion stamps his hoof in triumph over a rival, tossing his head and snorting his defiance. A peacock spreads his feathers wide, dazzling the onlooker with his prowess, marching to the beat of his own drum. I win, they say. I triumph. I defeat all comers, slaying their pride and elevating mine. See my victory? See my attainment? See my beauty? See my power?
I can’t say the same for my type of victory dance. It isn’t shown in the strength of a muscled stallion or the feathered display of the eyes of the peacock. Sometimes, a victory dance is in muted silence of suffering alone, where the dance is a ragged breath of one more day of defiance. A chest rising and falling, pushing the limits of expectation. A feeble hand raised, or maybe just a finger, because the exhausted limit has been reached in days of floundering pain. Where is the solace in trivial battles won, where age and decay eventually drag you down to the depths of mortality? Or maybe the battles aren’t trivial. Maybe they seem so to me, in this listless existence of mine.
A light breaks the darkness, a shaft of brilliance underneath a door. A tiny hand grabs mine. A pink bow drapes the cheek of an angel, with brown eyes and pigtails. Her dance is one of life, a victorious fist raised in rebellion to natural law. Death and decay only enhance the beauty of youth, and for her, I would die a thousand times to show the world her brilliance.
“What shall we sing today, Papa?” she asks.
I cannot answer, but the beep of the ventilator sets her rhythm. It always does. Voice raised, fists clenched, eyes bright, my angel sings. If Heaven could peer down to the affairs of man, surely it would look and listen for such a time as this. Purity in word, purity in motivation, purity in heart…these mean everything to the child who sees the pallor of death up close. They instinctively know that it wasn’t meant to be this way. Immortality was the intention, but death sprung from the deeds of audacious independence. One that spurned life, craved autonomy, and now leaves me a broken shell on a cold, hostile bed.
Where once my purpose was sure, now I am irresolutely clinging to a past of shredded memories. The surety is gone, replaced with uncertain confidence, the type that says I know my life meant something…but now, was it worth the heartache and the bliss? Was it worth the tears and the laughter? Was it worth the turmoiled storms and the smooth waters?
The angel silences her song.
“Did you like it?” she asks.
If only I could answer. I would say, You are my victory dance. And take another breath, my chest rising and falling.