No more than two feet wide, yet for her, like walking on the vastest sea; the thrill of it caused a squeak of glee and then silly gut-laughing that took her breath away. Over and over she danced till she finally tired of the game. Breathless, spent and deeply satisfied, she wondered back to her Mom’s side, looking ready for a snack and a nap. As they walked away, her Mom tucked away her phone with the photographic evidence to recall the joy in the years to come.
I returned to my mystery, a rare luxury to be reading in the park; a retreat from the demands at home.
Moments later I heard light footsteps that once again caused me to look up. The woman was a pair of decades older than me, but seemed able bodied and had a purposeful stride. She slowed as she approached the puddle and assessed the small strip of pavement around it that separated it from the muddy grass.
Looking down at her clean, waterproof galoshes she judged the state of affairs. With a grimace, and a heavy sigh of resignation, she tip-toed around the puddle, and returned to her forward pace. The condition of her heart was confirmed by the downward curve of her lips and the tightening of her brow. Somehow, the wonder of the puddle went unseen.
I watched her walk away. My gaze returned to the puddle and then down to my new shoes and back down the path to the woman. Something arose unbidden within me; a nudge, a hard push and then a decision to be made. Though moments before my comfy bench was a reprieve from a hard world, it now seemed a mile marker toward death of the soul and spirit. The nudge triumphed over apprehension of how I would look, or if I was being sensible.
Being of sound mind and limited budget, I removed my shoes; the feel of the grass and pavement were unfamiliar on my pampered feet. A tiny stone pricked my tender flesh and I considered abandoning the silly idea that I entertained. But, the looks on the faces of the girl and woman flashed in my mind and the nudge took over again. I gingerly stepped into the puddle and rendered a small yelp at the surprisingly cold water. I look around to see if I was being watched. I was.
A man was sitting under a cherry tree ensconced in a folding chair; his eyes peered over the top of his book but then looked away at my glance. I had a decision to make. Was it worth public humiliation?
I continued on.
I stepped from foot to foot, slowly at first, and then picked up the pace. Before long I was making respectable splashes and little - then big - hoots. One thing led to another and I abandoned myself to the thing rising within me; my spirit and His, a damp dance of joy… a moment in time.
Though mud clung to my feet and splashed on my rolled up jeans, I lingered in the wild wetness of it until I was spent, breathless and drained of the soul sludge that I brought to the park. Satisfied, I returned to my bench, picked up my shoes and book, and floated out of the park.
As I passed the man in the chair, he was looking at his shoes.
Ellen Carr 04/12/13
What a joyous story. I really enjoyed it and could picture the characters, including the writer, as they enjoyed or avoided the puddle. Well done.
Bonnie Bowden 04/12/13The title really drew me in. Isn't it ironic that such a simple experience can cause so much freedom and joy.
Margaret Kearley 04/12/13Wonderful! Fantastic to read, you've captured the very heart of the topic. Great writing - and a great title too!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/12/13This is simply delicious. I loved the juxtaposition between the little girl and the lol (little old lady). This was pure genius and an adorable reminder to live in every moment while giving praise to God for the little puddles of life.
Carolyn Ancell 04/15/13Oh, how I enjoyed this, and thought back to the many puddles I have danced in, even as an adult. But not in a while. When did the puddle-dancing cease? Why? I miss it. Hmmm. Food for thought. I will remember this story next time it rains. Maybe, just maybe .... Thank you.
CD Swanson 04/17/13This made my heart smile, and made me want to imitate the MC's dance. Great job!
Sarah Elisabeth 04/18/13I loved her "damp dance." So many great lines. You have a beautiful and clear writing style.
A well deserved win, congratulations!
Bonnie Bowden 04/18/13Congratulations,Tracy, on your 1st place EC award.
Laura Hawbaker 04/18/13Great writing! Congratulations!
Alicia Renkema 04/18/13Tracy, This was perfect from start to finish. Even the very words themselves, such precision and poetry to behold... What a beautiful word-picture you have created for us all, to give in to our child-like desires to dance in the splash of life that God has designed for us. Thanks you for this very special piece. I can certainly see why it took first place over all. Now I want think of something that I can abandon myself in today. Blessings...
Sherrie Coronas 04/18/13I loved both the precision writing and the heart-felt message of this piece. Great job, Tracy. Congratulations!
Christina Banks 04/18/13Beautiful! I can see why this piece won first place. Great writing, and congratulations!
Nancy Bucca 04/18/13Very well written; a fun story. Congratulations on your 1st place win!
Vince Martella 04/18/13Congrats on such a well deserved win. I agree with the former comment - precise writing indeed. Masterful!
Leola Ogle 04/18/13Congratulations Tracy on a job well done! God bless!
Beth LaBuff 04/18/13What masterful eloquence and richness of story! I love the ending! Super congrats on top honors!!
Bea Edwards 04/18/13Your descriptions were impeccable. I was completely engrossed and involved in each scene. Congratulations on your well deserved win!
Wilma Schlegel 04/20/13Congratulations Tracey! This was so much fun - I feel like I was there. It's a nice of reminder of that saying, "You don't stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing!"
Judith Gayle Smith 04/20/13Congratulations! What a delicious read!
Claudia Thomason 04/22/13That was a perfectly delightful story. Thank you for sharing.
Eliza Evans 04/26/13HUGE congratulations, Tracy!
Teresa Crumpton 04/29/13This delightful piece made me smile and want to dance. Well done!
Jackie Jeanty 07/01/13I really liked the "pass it forward" moment at the very end of the story. Very well done.
Allison Egley 07/01/13Oh, this is absolutely wonderful! Congrats on BoB, and I am SO glad to have met you at the conference. Enjoy your time as BoB, as I pass my crown to you. :)
Patsy Hallum 07/01/13WOW, BOB! A richly deserved award. This story is enthralling. It touches my heart. Congratulations!
Beth LaBuff 07/01/13Congratulations, Tracy, on Best of the Best with this masterful story!
Francy Judge 07/01/13Congratulations on Best of the Best! I remember loving this story the first time I read it--forget why I didn't comment then--but loved reading it a second time. Your beautiful descriptions captivate the scene and her thoughts...makes the reader want to try a puddle dance.
Larry Anderson 07/03/13It's been a long while (I'm nearing 68 yrs young), since my little feet stirred any puddles... but I do remember! Wonderful piece... and thanks for the precious memories! God bless! Larry A