Once upon a time, when being passionate about something meant making some sacrifices, a young girl named Claire Everdeen had a desire to become the greatest ballerina the world had ever seen. She would dance at every opportunity: In her living room, in her bedroom, she would even practice in the car on the short drive to school each morning. It didn’t matter what type of music was playing on the radio, Claire would practice her ballerina moves to it. If you were speaking with her for longer than two minutes, you would find that Claire’s feet, and gradually her body, would start moving to an imaginary rhythm that had appeared in her head. Since Claire had never known any different, she thought that she would be able to practice dancing forever. That was, until the day she was charged with looking after a large, purple egg.
Claire’s love for ballet wasn’t just about the music, it was also about the costumes and the make-up, and all of the effort involved in putting on a spectacular show. Claire jumped at every chance there was to put on a performance. She started by performing in her living-room when she was younger, gradually moving on to performing at her school’s talent shows and, now, after five years of attending ballet school, Claire was finally about to take part in her first grand finale at a major stage performance in a proper theatre. Claire’s family knew how important this was to her, so, with three days left until the big performance, her grandparents came to stay so that they could be there to watch her perform on stage for the first time. The night they arrived, was the same night an egg appeared in Claire’s bedroom.
The egg wasn’t in her bedroom when she went to bed, but it was certainly there when she woke up. Claire had rolled over from having wonderful dreams where she was adored by audiences the world over but, as she gradually opened her eyes, her smiled disappeared as she saw the object sitting on top of her dresser. Since it was sitting inside one of the most perfectly made nests Claire had ever seen, Claire rightly presumed that it was an egg. She just couldn’t let herself believe that is was a real one. The egg was a beautiful shade of light-purple, with various sized brown dots covering its shell. The nest was made from dark-brown twigs, each one placed to create a perfect array that any egg would be happy to rest in. At first, Claire didn’t give the egg much thought. Her younger brother, Toby, was often playing pranks on members of the family and, although this one seemed particularly out of character, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to discover the odd object here and there around her house.
Claire brushed her hair and went to leave her bedroom to get some breakfast. It was hard to dance on an empty stomach and Claire liked to practice for at least thirty minutes every morning before getting ready for school. As she went to leave her bedroom, however, Claire heard the egg start to rattle and shake in its nest. With her hand frozen on the doorknob, Claire turned around to look at the egg. Convinced she must have imagined the noise, she went to leave her bedroom again, this time keeping one eye on the egg. As she turned the doorknob and opened the door, the egg rolled out of its nest and towards the edge of her dresser. Claire ran over and used a dance move she had learned recently to reach out and catch the egg before it landed on her bedroom floor. She rested for a moment before gently placing the egg back in its nest.
For the three days leading up to her performance, Claire wasn’t able to practice her dancing as much as wanted. If she left the egg, even for a second, it would start to roll towards her and demand her attention. She took it to school, took it to bed and, most annoyingly, she had to take it to her ballet classes. Claire grew tired of looking after the egg, but she knew the egg needed her to survive, and this made her fall in love with it at least a little.
On the night of her performance, as she got dressed backstage, Claire could tell that people were staring at the egg she was carrying, wondering why she had it, and where she was planning on keeping it while she danced. Claire waited beside the stage and, before she knew it, it was her time to walk out on for the finale. She waited for the musical cue, placed the egg and nest down on the floor beside the curtain and made her way out on to the centre of the stage. She began dancing, feeling the music and executing each move with perfection and passion. Despite her focus, she caught glimpses of the egg out of the corner of her eye, rolling towards the audience. Claire couldn’t stop dancing, all she was able to to do was watch as the egg she had learned to love rolled off the edge of the stage, disappearing from her sight.
She completed her dance to rapturous applause and, as the lights dimmed, she rushed down the stairs at the front of the stage to see what had happened with her egg. Claire searched in panic for several moments before realising that the egg was gone. A tear formed in her eye as she made her back to the stage to take her final bows with the rest of the dancers. Claire knew she had been successful with her performance but was heartbroken thinking about what might have been if she was able to look after the egg as well as it needed to be looked after.
Claire gazed out into the bright lights and the applauding crowd and took a bitter-sweet bow.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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