The following is the original first chapter from my work-in-progress novel, Becoming a Confident Fire Eater: The Story of a Pretty Girl Who Can Dance. This material is copyrighted. I’m currently querying literary agents to represent my work, which is New Adult/Literary Fiction.
Before I Knew There Was a Word For It
At seven years old, I never would have thought that one day I would become a fire eater. I had considered becoming a teacher, a psychologist, even an astronaut, but not a fire dancer, who would amaze audiences with feminine grace and dangerous stunts, all done with the demure of an educated, maternal, polite little lady.
From early on my fair skin was tanned to a healthy glow and my hair was blonde, bleached from many hours spent playing outside under the open sky. I grew up with my parents and an older brother. My father was on the road a lot. As a truck driver, he was often gone although when he was home, he was present. When I was old enough to know of the NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, he reminded me of my Dad. We all joked when Dale Earnhardt’s face was on cereal boxes for his NASCAR fame, because my Dad was spot-on him. Dad exercised daily, and was a wizard when it came to building things, including our home. We lived on a back road just south of Cincinnati, Ohio, in a Kentucky town that consisted of farms and little more. We grew vegetables in our garden, when to church on Sundays, and generally lived a typical life for a Midwestern family.
On one of his breaks from the road, Dad came home and presented me with a 45 record. It had a single song on it that was on the top 10 charts, and its very existence as a gift to me meant everything. It meant that my Daddy was thinking about me even when he was gone.
I practically wore the record out. In addition to wasting time outside in the sprawling valley of a backyard we had, I would play the song inside my room until I knew every lyric and beat. Although I didn’t know the word for it yet, I choreographed a dance to the song, with the intention of sharing the dance with my Dad to show my gratitude. I spent two weeks working on the dance while he was on the road, “driving his life away,” as he referred to it. When he returned to our valley home, settled in for the evening, and popped open a can of Pepsi, I saw my opportunity.
“Daddy! I have something to show you.” I was excited, but nervous. I didn’t want to forget any parts of it, but knew that I could make it up if I did, since he didn’t have anything to compare it to.
“Alrighty, doll. What is it?”
“You have to come to my room.”
He followed me, as tired as he was from long hours on the latest delivery, and stood in my doorway. I cleared the floor of stuffed animals and other toys. I put the record on. I quickly took my place and stood in my opening pose, and when the music came on, shared the dance that I had made up. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t technical. But it was expressive, and he loved it. “Great job. I thought you’d like that album. Love you, doll.”
Perhaps that reserved, yet sincere, response was all I needed to set me up for a lifetime of performing arts. Fire just happened to become my forte. ~CH
I hope you’ve enjoyed this! I’ve worked hard on the first few chapters of this novel, and have decided to cut them because they were slowing down the beginnings of what is, I’m told, a fast-paced page-turner. 🙂 Please share your thoughts in the comments section – I’m always happy to receive constructive criticism.
Peace, love, and fire,