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Betsy And The Talent Show
Betsy loved to perform. She was always making up little plays to put on in front of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She loved to sing, she adored to dance and she was at her happiest when she was the centre of her family's attention.
So, as soon as her school talent show was announced, Betsy started to make plans. "I'm going to sing a song," she announced over dinner that night. "And I'll probably make up a dance routine to go with it."
She spent all evening, searching through her wardrobe for the perfect costume and practising her moves.
By bedtime, Betsy's idea had grown even bigger. "I'm going to do impressions of all the teachers to make the audience laugh when I first come on stage, then I'm going to sing a song, with a dance routine."
Betsy fell asleep and dreamed of bright lights, roaring crowds and fame and fortune.
The following morning, Betsy's plan had become even more enormous. "I'm going to do impressions of all the teachers, then I'm going to sing a song, with a dance routine to go with it, then I'm going to do a magic trick!"
"Betsy, I think you have to stick to just one or two talents," Mum told her, as they ate breakfast.
Betsy frowned "But I don't want it to be over too quickly. And I want everyone to think my act is amazing!"
"I'm sure it will be," Dad promised her. "Just do your best. Whatever happens, we'll be in the audience, cheering for you!"
All week, Betsy practised her song and dance routine. And, just in case she was allowed a little extra time on stage, she practised doing funny voices, to make the audience laugh. She rehearsed a little sketch she'd written and she went over and over her magic trick, to make sure it was truly spectacular.
Finally, on the night of the talent show, Betsy ate her dinner, put on her costume and excitedly headed back to school. Her parents wished her luck as they dropped her off in her classroom and went to take their seats in the hall.
Betsy had butterflies in her tummy as everyone filed down the corridor and took their place backstage. She couldn't wait to get on that stage! She paced around, barely paying any attention to any of the other performers as they came and went. All she wanted was to get out there and do her thing.
At last, she heard her headteacher call her name. Betsy skipped onto the stage, ran into the centre, right beneath the bright spotlight and she smiled out at all the faces in the crowd...
...And she froze.
This didn't feel like all those times she'd sung or danced in front of her family. She knew them. But here, in front of her right now, were what seemed like hundreds of strangers, all staring at her. Betsy squinted against the bright lights, looking for her parents, but she couldn't see them.
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She tried to start her dance routine, but she couldn't make her arms or legs move. It was like everything had stopped working.
Betsy's heart was hammering against her ribcage, thump, thump, thump. She could feel sweat beginning to trickle down her face and her eyes started to fill with tears. She turned and looked at the side of the stage, trying to get a teacher's attention. She wanted to tell someone that she'd changed her mind.
But then, out there in the darkness, Betsy saw a hand rise up into the air. She squinted to see it better and the hand began to wave. Slowly, the fingers curled and Betsy realised that someone was giving her a thumbs up. She shuffled towards the edge of the stage and finally, she saw her parents, in the centre of the crowd, smiling, watching, cheering her on, just like they said they would.
It was like a switch had been flipped. Betsy took several big, deep breaths and bounded back to the centre of the stage. She launched into her song and dance routine and, the more she sang and danced, the less scared she felt. In fact, she started to feel good. She started to feel amazing!
At the end, everyone in the audience clapped and cheered. Betsy took a little bow and gave her mum and dad a big thumbs up.
The rest of the talent show passed by in a blur. At the end, Betsy rushed into the audience to find her parents. "I did it! Did you see me? Was I good?!"
"You were brilliant," Dad told her. "I couldn't be prouder."
"I couldn't have done it without you two," Betsy said, smiling first at her dad and then at her mum. "It was really scary at first... All those people looking at me. I nearly didn't do it."
"Well, I'm so glad you did." Mum told her. "Because you were fantastic. But hey, if you don't want to do the talent show next year, you don't have to."
Betsy gaped at her. "Are you kidding?!" She shook her head. "Oh, Mum. I'd do it all over again right now if I could! And as for next year, well... Just you wait. I have big plans. I'm going to do some ballet, some acrabatics, a song, a magic trick, some jokes, some impressions..." She sighed. "The longer I'm on that stage, the better!"
And with that, Betsy and her parents made their way home, with Betsy spending the whole journey planning her next big performance.