I was an active, mischievous child. I blame it on the woods. I grew up on sixty acres, free to roam wherever I pleased. My days were filled with creek swimming and deer hunting (not literally, I would just try and sneak up on them until they ran away). I was so used to my freedom that when my mother would take me into the ‘city’, I never understood that my freedom was restrained. I couldn’t run around the mall or grocery store as I pleased. I had to stay close, no matter what.
It was May of 1989. I was three years old. I was to start this wonderful thing called ballet in the coming fall but, for the time being, I had to sit with my mother as she volunteered at the yearly recital. This performance was no small affair. Every child in town took dance from my aunt. Tickets were hard to come by and families swarmed the doors to get the best seats. It is a miracle no one has ever been injured (that I know of).
It was Wednesday which meant dress rehearsal. All of the girls sat in the audience to watch, hair up in buns, faces slathered with stage makeup. They were the most beautiful girls I had ever seen. I watched in glee as they twirled on the stage but, as the hours went by, boredom began to set in. Mother was keeping a close watch on me but when three girls ran up to ask ten questions each at the same time, I knew this was my chance.
I had been eyeing the curtain that surrounded the floor of the stage since we’d arrived. My imagination had taken off as soon as I’d seen it. It reminded me of the carousels at department stores where I would disappear to far-away places until my frantic mother finally discovered my hidden location. There could be anything under this curtain and I had to know what it was at once.
I glanced at my mother and noticed that she was preoccupied but I knew it wouldn’t last long. I slithered out of my front row seat and crawled to the curtain, excitement building at the possibilities. I stood up precariously, and put one hand on the curtain as I leaned in.
Unfortunately, I was unaware of the definition of a curtain at my three years, and more importantly, the idea of it being flimsy.
I fell right through the curtain and into the orchestra pit, an estimated four feet below the floor I had so recently been standing.
I hit the floor hard and immediately began screaming. Parents rushed to my aid and yanked me out in a moment’s time as my mother pulled me into her arms. I was okay, though terrified. The exciting adventure I had so eagerly awaited had been nothing but a nightmare. My father arrived a few minutes later to take me home. All was well in the world, once again.
A more sturdy fixture was affixed to the stage within a few weeks. It remains there to this day, twenty-four years later.
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