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Nashwaak Review - Volume 9-10

On the Brink

by Lenora Steele

1969. You are twelve years old; your brother is seventeen. You are caught somewhere between Eddy Arnold and Bob Dylan....somewhere between your mother and your brother.

Your brother is laughing at your tap shoes, at your enthusiasm for Don Messer's Jubilee– your foot tappin', hand clappin' attempt at rhythm. Your mother is telling you, that's right, that's it, you've got it. Your brother is smoking grass on the stoop. Your mother has gone twice to knock on the back door window to tell him to come in....it's cold. He says he can't, that Don Messer drives him nuts. Your mother tells you to keep it down. Your brother will die of pneumonia. She doesn't know about the grass.

You do and it is glorious to have a secret. A big secret. And something in you is telling you that you are on your way. You can almost see the path you'll choose. The tap shoes hurt your feet. Your heels blister. Your big toe has worked its way through the patent leather. But you are hanging on, holding out. You curl your toes, ignore your heels, and tap, tap, tap.