The Earth is for Dancing by Lorca Damon
YA contemporary*Paperback/eBook, 258 pages
Published June 9th 2012
Sam is a fifteen-year-old drug orphan living with her custodial grandmother who is stricken with late-stage Alzheimer's. She struggles to fill the role of caregiver to her grandmother while keeping her little family a secret from the authorities who would send Gamma to a state facility and Sam to foster care. Just because her life isn't hard enough, there are still boys to have crushes on, essays to write for horrible English teachers, and a squad full of bullies to torment her on a daily basis.
A little while later there was a knock on the back door and a faceless hand held out a long plastic-sleeved package on a hanger to me. “Put this on and come outside,” someone I’d never seen before ordered ominously.
“What’s this all about?” I asked suspiciously, unnerved by the presence of way too many people in my yard. “If you people wake up my grandmother, I swear I’ll break your legs.”
“Just go. And hurry,” he whispered secretively. And nerdily. This guy spent way too much time playing Jedis versus Empire.
I took the hanger and unzipped the long plastic garment bag to reveal a shimmering pink gown covered in tiny crystalline beads. Like I would be caught dead in a dress like that. Seriously. If ever a dead body was going to sit up and slap someone, it would be me if anyone tried to bury me in a prom dress. I felt a little better now that I knew Other Sam was part of this. Surely he wouldn’t let the cool kids recreate the bloody prom scene from Carrie in my own back yard. And if he did, I seem to recall that it went really well for Carrie for a while there at the end. Well, until she bit the dust, too, I guess.
I had not shaved enough to wear a dress like this, so I tore through the house, dress flying behind me. I raced upstairs and took the world’s quickest cold-water shower (did I mention the water heater runs on gas?) before hurrying through something that resembled fixing my unkempt hair, trying to pile it on top of my head in a hair-do that looked like it would go with this kind of outfit. A few dots of mascara from my long-forgotten stash of make-up, and I was as presentable as could be expected. Except for my shoes. Since I didn’t own any dressy shoes, I hid my old knock-off Converse high tops under the length of the dress, hoping they wouldn’t show when I walked. Nothing ruins the effect of a beaded gown like dollar store canvas sneakers with frayed laces and goat droppings caked in between the treads.
Downstairs, I tried the back door again, but just like before, I was ordered not to come out yet. I heard laughing somewhere out in the yard, but this was a different kind of laughter than what I was used to. This sounded like someone was actually happy instead of plotting evil against a fellow human being. I really hoped they didn’t wake Gamma, since I didn’t know if she’d be able to tell the difference ever since the Flying Spam episode.
When the door finally swung open, Other Sam stood framed by the strange light glowing from outside, wearing an ink-black suit and a stunning red tie, his thick blondish hair gelled and spiked into submission. He held flowers in one hand and a small, shining crown-like tiara in the other. “It’s Friday. I believe there’s a dance tonight,” he said, smiling hugely.
I couldn’t help but grin back. I was standing in my old kitchen wearing the most ridiculous thing that had ever hung off my body, but I still smiled like a genuine Homecoming queen. I took the hand that he held out to me and stepped out onto our creaky back porch, then gasped when the loud applause broke out.
There were dozens of people there, all dressed for an evening of dancing under the stars. A live band, made up of the skinny people I had seen earlier emerging from the beat up van, played soft music from the side yard while kids that I recognized from our school beamed at me. White lights had been strung from the trees and in a net-like maze of light over the patchy grass beside the house, providing a soft glow over the crowd.
“Shall we dance?” Other Sam asked, snaking an arm around my waist and leading me down the wooden steps to the makeshift dance floor glowing in the late dusk.
About the author:
Lorca Damon is a young adult writer and teacher. Her fiction focuses on the very real issues that teenagers actually face today, scenarios she learned from her students in the juvenile correctional facility where she teaches. She is the author of an Amazon bestselling title on autism, Autism By Hand, as well as a book of bizarre humor essays entitled It Was Like That When I Found It. Her two previous titles, Autism By Hand and It Was Like That When I Found It, are available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.
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