“I take dance, too. I used to, not right now. Someday I’m going to be Marie in the Nutcracker.
Uncle Ross takes me to see it every year.”
“How nice.” Sandy focused on the water brushing against her feet.
“Do you like it, too? It’s my favorite story of all time.”
“I’ve heard it’s wonderful, and I do love the music. But isn’t the girl’s name Clara?”
“Sometimes it is. But Balanchine says it’s Marie, so it’s Marie.”
“The choreographer.” The man eyed her as though she was some kind of fake. He was a good people reader, Sandy supposed. “You’re a
“I know who he is. I’m surprised she does, that’s all, at her age. As I said, I’m not really a dancer, not that kind of dancer, anyway, and no, I haven’t seen it. Someday, I might.” She saw those eyebrows raise again at her ‘that kind’ comment. Maybe he was a very good people reader.
“You should come with us!” Rosalyn looked up at her uncle with wide eyes. “Ask her to come. She should see it, too. Everyone should see it.”
“Rosie, she doesn’t even know us. You can’t ask a stranger to go do something with you. How often have I told you?” With a shrug, he met Sandy’s eyes. “She’s ridiculously friendly, and no matter how often I explain what stranger means, she doesn’t get it.”
“Yes, that, too. I’m sure.” Sandy couldn’t help a grin at his expression that said the girl exasperated him but he was also fully enamored of her.
“Thank you, Rose, but I wouldn’t dare. Your uncle is right, you know.”
“It’s okay. He looks gruff when he wants to, but he’s really nice. He’d never bother you.”
Ross rolled his eyes. “Rose. Stop now, please.”
Sandy chuckled. “Gruff? Is that a word kids know?”
“She’s a big reader, and she hears everything.”
“And I’m older than I look. Everyone thinks I’m like five years old, but I’m nearly eight. I’m just short and I have a baby face, like my mom.
I’m smart, too. I understand things, even if people think I don’t.”
“I bet you do, and I bet everyone treats you way too young, right?”
Sandy was too entirely charmed by the girl.
“I understand. I’m the baby of six kids, all boys except me. I never got to do anything while they ran wild and did whatever they pleased.”
“That’s not fair.”
“No, it wasn’t fair, but now I do what I please and take care of myself just fine. Someday, you’ll show them. Right?” Fine was maybe not quite accurate. For nearly seven years, she’d been working a job that made her have to shower in near-scalding water every night when she got home just to wash off the idea of it before she could fitfully sleep.
She had her own place, paid her own bills, and didn’t have to rely on anyone, though. And she was tough. She’d made herself tough after a childhood of being too sheltered on one hand and too much left to fend for herself against her rowdy brothers on the other hand. So she was fine enough.
Ross’s expression now told her she’d said something she shouldn’t have, but Sandy couldn’t figure out what it might be. Little ones needed to understand things changed as they got older, that eventually, their lives and choices would be their own. More of them needed to know as much. She wish she’d been told as much.
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