I knew it would happen. As soon as I declared that I wouldn’t say sorry anymore, guess what happened? It was like a bad case of hubris.
This time though, it was Delphine I had to say sorry to. We were driving back home from dropping Lu off for her theatre club. It was all pretty mellow. Then Delph said, ‘When are we going to ask Miss Hannah about strapping up my right foot? You know, so I can go on pointe.’
I think she knew it was coming. After all, she was looking out the car window when she said it. Something’s in the air at the moment, you see. Emotion seems to be seeping out of all the cracks in the night sky.
I had to tell her what Miss Hannah had said to me. That you can’t go on pointe on only one foot. It wouldn’t be allowed because it wasn’t safe. I said it when I was changing gears, up and down the steep hills, the sheep in the fields watching us go. I thought, stupid me, that the disappointment would be coloured with new-fancy-London-inclusive-dance-school-dreams. I only half-noticed Delphine’s face begin to disappear into the glass.
‘See, Delph,’ I said, ‘not all dance revolves around pointe.’
Boy oh boy.
Thank God this kid doesn’t cry much normally. I don’t think I’d be able to survive it. That accolade is given to a more-emotionally-laden Lu. In fact, Lulu had cried like a swollen river just the night before.. Delph though, she’s more the hard-as-celestial-bronze type. That kid can really swallow a tear down. Or a shower. Until this very moment.
‘Why do I have to be different?’ she sobbed. ‘Being different sucks.’
I was wondering when I was going to hear these words. Painful words to hear. When Delph said them however, they were hers to say.
I had the audacity to agree with her.
A pair of blue eyes pierced me. ‘How do you know? Nothing is wrong with you. You’re not different.’
The sobbing turned to screaming. ‘Stop saying yeah!’
I turned to my wonderful, mermaid-haired daughter. ‘You’re right Delphine. I don’t know know how it feels. It must feel terrible. I’m just sorry. If I could take it away, I just would. If I could give you my feet, I would.’
She cried again. I started driving again. I stopped at the shop since I had to get milk and eggs. Delph stayed in the car like a silent stone.
‘We need to take Fin for a walk,’ I said when we pulled up in our drive.
Delph didn’t move. I got Fin and we drove on to the sand dunes. Fin squealed off through the marram grass as happy as any animal had a right to be. She ran after the rabbits, though it’s highly likely she’ll never catch one. Meanwhile Delph’s tears dissolved into the sand.
‘Why pointe?’ I asked her. I mean, you have to ask, right? It’s got to be talked about. Otherwise it seems that nothing will heal.
‘All the tv programmes I watch,’ she said in a thick undertone, ‘they all go on pointe. That’s the dancer’s dream.’
‘Right,’ I said. ‘Can you still be a dancer without going on pointe?
The shoulder under all the hair stopped to shrug. The purple coat bobbed as if uncertain.
Many more moons will wax and wane before this question sees its way home. The good thing is that I’m old and canny enough now to know how to wait.
‘I’m sorry again Delphine. I really am.’
The marram grass brushed her. The sand swallowed her sighs. Fin shot past on another improbable quest to find a rabbit. Delphine stuffed her hands in her pockets. And we went home. The Craic will have to continue.