It was the biggest moment in Emmalina’s life so far. Even bigger than her last Christmas, when she received her first book. Her very own book! She was going to learn how to read. And about time, too. Every respectable young woman of five should know how to read.
She already knew how to tie her own shoes, and she had the most magnificent tap dance shoes she had ever seen. Shiny and black, with black satin ribbons for laces. Emmalina loved the way the lights bounced off the smooth toes, and the way they clickety-clacked as she pranced across the wooden floor of the stage.
Tonight would be extra special. That cute boy in her kindergarten class would do a tap dance duet with her in front of all the kids from school, all the teachers, and the parents of each and every child all the way up to sixth grade!
She and Kevin would dazzle everyone as they tapped their way to the song Tea for Two. Emmalina would wear her fanciest dress and hat, and Kevin a suit, vest, and bow tie. She could almost hear the thundering applause as she and Kevin took their bows and curtsies after their stellar performance. She shut her eyes and pictured the curtain rising on the two of them.
“Emma, dear, they want an encore,” Kevin whispered in her ear. He knelt down in front of her wheelchair and slipped her shiny tap-dancing shoes on her feet.
As he bent over to tie the threadbare laces, she stroked his full head of white hair. “You know I can’t dance any more,” she whispered.
“It’s okay. I’ll push your chair and we can improvise, just like we used to.”
Before she could object, the telltale scratch of a needle on the ancient 78 rpm record began the song. Kevin stood in front of her, bowed, and asked, “My lady, may I have this dance?”