Because sometimes my stories are inspired by holidays...
This week's children's story was dreamt up as a result of what feels like a million different things. Last night's blog on self-confidence was a factor, as was my recent weekend away. Whilst on holiday, I spotted one shy young lad, who didn't seem as keen to join in with dancing as all of the other kids. This story is dedicated to him, whoever he may be! And to everyone else who, like me (unfortunately), have two left feet!
Henry's Dancing shoes
Beach View Academy was a hive of activity, as Henry trudged down the corridor at home time. The teachers and students were excitedly preparing for the end of term disco. Brightly coloured balloons were being hung all around the hall and an array of beautiful decorations adorned the walls. Yes, everyone was looking forward to the school disco. Everyone except Henry.
Henry Williamson had two left feet. Every year, he pleaded with his mum: "Can't I just stay at home?" But every year, his mum insisted that he went to the disco, if only to look after his little sister, Rosie.
Rosie loved to dance. At weekends, she attended ballet class. On Thursday nights, she had tap dancing lessons. Sometimes, she even went with her mum to Zumba! Rosie had rhythm flowing through her veins. Henry, on the other hand... Did not.
Henry would sit and watch Rosie dance around the house, wishing he could join in. It wasn't that he didn't want to dance. He just didn't know how. Every year, when the end of term disco took place, Henry would get up to dance and the same thing would happen. He'd wobble a little, awkwardly shake his hips, hear some of the meaner kids in his class giggling at him and then he'd hurry back to sit on a bench at the edge of the dance floor, wondering why something that was supposed to be so much fun was always so terribly hard.
This year was Henry's last year at junior school and secretly, he was rather glad. No more junior school meant no more school discos and that could only be a good thing! As Rosie darted around the house that evening, tying pretty ribbons into her hair and practising her dance moves, Henry sat thoughtfully in his room, trying to think about literally anything else.
He packed his school bag for the following Monday. He made his bed. He polished his glasses and then polished them again for luck. But try as he might, Henry couldn't shake the feeling that this year was going to be just the same as every year before; another embarrassing display on the dance floor.
Henry barely picked at his dinner. And when Rosie rushed upstairs to put on her best dress, Henry shook his head at his mum. "I hate school discos," he confessed. "Everyone laughs at me, because I can't dance."
"Oh, sweetheart," his mother sighed. "It's your last one. Just enjoy yourself; it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks, as long as you're having fun!"
Finally, the time to leave for the disco arrived. Rosie was ready, but Henry shuffled his feet, anxiously. "Where are my trainers?" He asked, glancing around the hallway. "I can't wear my school shoes; everyone will laugh even more than they usually do!"
"Are they in your wardrobe?" His mum asked. "Quickly, go upstairs and check."
Henry dashed up the stairs and hurried into his room. He flung open the wardrobe doors and pulled out his slippers, his wellies and his football boots... But no trainers. In desperation, he sunk onto his knees and reached into the back of the wardrobe. His hands flailed as he sorted through bags and hats. But still no trainers.
"Henry!" His mum called up the stairs. "Come on, it's time to go!"
Henry sighed and was about to stand up, when his hand brushed against something unusual. He peered into the wardrobe and his eyes widened - there was a little handle in the back of the wardrobe! How had he never noticed it before?! Henry turned the handle very gently and a secret door sprung open. Blinking, Henry reached into the compartment beyond and was stunned to pull out a pair of blue shoes. He slipped his feet into them and was amazed to discover that they were a perfect fit! Henry rose to his feet and bounded down the stairs, faster than he had ever gone before.
"Where did you get those shoes?" Rosie asked, as they all left the house and climbed into the car.
"They were in my wardrobe," Henry shrugged.
As their mum drove Henry and his sister back to school, something strange started to happen. Henry couldn't stop tapping his feet. It was as though they had a mind of their own.
Once they arrived at school, Henry leaped out of the car and, with a quick goodbye to his mum, he grabbed Rosie's hand and ran towards the hall.
"I thought you hated school discos?!" Rosie shrieked, as Henry burst into the hall and confidently strode towards the dance floor.
The music started and a strange feeling seemed to take hold of Henry's feet. It was as though the secret shoes were wearing him, rather than the other way around! His feet twitched, then his legs began to move. The feeling spread upwards into his hips and then his arms. Before he knew it. Henry was dancing - actually dancing - around the hall, without a care in the world.
His classmates whispered amongst one another. "When did Henry learn to dance?!"
But Henry wasn't listening. His mum was right - he was having so much fun that he didn't care what anyone else thought! He was too busy gliding around the room, twirling, stretching, moving with a perfect rhythm. He jumped, he kicked, he pointed, he span. Henry felt freer than he had ever felt before! People began to clap. Henry began to beam.
But then, just as the song was coming to an end, Henry felt a snap. He glanced down. The sole of one of his special blue shoes had begun to separate from the rest of the shoe. He inspected it closer and to his horror, he could see his socks through the huge hole. He slumped down onto a bench and took the shoe off.
"Henry," Rosie called. "Come back and dance again. You were amazing!"
Henry shook his head. "I can't," he insisted. "You know I can't dance."
Rosie pulled a face. "What are you talking about? You just did!"
Henry slipped off the shoe from his other foot and sat, staring at his socks. His mouth drooped and he let out a long sigh. "It wasn't me. It was the shoes."
Rosie took her big brother's hand. "Nonsense," she said. "It was you."
Henry rose to his feet, aware that everyone's eyes were on him. He walked with faltering footsteps back onto the dance floor. A new song started and suddenly, Henry felt the strange, twitching sensation in his feet again. His legs began to move, his hips began to shake... He was doing it! He was dancing all by himself!
For the rest of the night, Henry whizzed around the dance floor. Nobody laughed at him, or called him names. In fact, everyone wanted to copy his moves! With every new song that played, Henry felt another burst of energy that seemed to come from nowhere and take over his whole body. He didn't feel nervous or shy - he felt free and fantastic!
By the time their mother had picked them up and brought them home, both Henry and Rosie were tired, but elated. Henry's feet were tapping all the way home, as he hugged the broken blue shoes to his chest. He danced through the door and up the stairs. He jigged along the corridor and grooved into his bedroom. Quietly, Henry opened his wardrobe and slipped the blue shoes back into the secret compartment.
Henry had no need for dancing shoes, anymore. He had dancing feet! And whenever he felt happy and free, Henry knew he'd be able to move just as well as anyone else.
With a great big smile, Henry turned out the light. He hopped into bed and danced into his dreams.