Chapter Four

And you can cage the songbird
But you can't make her sing
And you can trap the free bird
But you'll have to clip her wings
`Cause she'll soar like a hawk when she flies
But she'll dive like an eagle when she dies
 

When I was younger anytime I’d have a fight with my friends, or I was upset, after my dad and I talked we’d have Oreos and milk, I liked this tradition. It always made me feel better.

Oreos are what my mother calls “comfort foods.” She doesn’t particularly enjoy my eating comfort foods. Especially since I have auditions. She’s not picky about my weight, and she never tells me to stop eating, she just wishes I’d eat healthier snacks.

“It’s not like I don’t buy you fruits and vegetables to eat instead of the sweets Brenna.” and she’s right. She does. Our fridge is always stocked with apples, bananas, carrot sticks, peaches and things of the sort. Why eat something like carrots when Dad goes out and buys Twinkies and Oreos?

My father and I were laughing and stuffing our faces with Oreos when the garage door opened and my mother flew into the kitchen with an armful of bags from her latest trek to the grocery store.

“Hello! Darling...why are you two eating cookies? There are plenty of apples in the fridge!” She put down the bags and opened the refrigerator door, and pointed.  “Red and green!” My dad and I smiled cookie crumbs all over our lips.  She sighed and threw her hands up.

“What am I going to do with you two?”

“Send us to the circus?” I asked wiping a milk moustache from my lip.

“Be careful what you wish for, I might do just that young lady.”

“Can I come too?”

“Zac....” she laughed and hugged him. My parents are really cute, they rarely fight, and when they do it’s over really little things.  I’ve
never seen them stay angry at one another for longer than a day. They always seem so happy together. I felt lucky to have them. Most of my friends spent weekend shuffling between parents, and holidays were always tense, full of arguments over who gets the kids this time.

“Honey, did you finish those things like I asked you?”  My mother was now putting groceries away.

“Well..”

“Actually, Siobhan...I was talking to Brenna and I think she can pass on this one.” I took a deep breath. All hell was about to break loose.  This could be bad, I surveyed my surroundings, closest duck and cover place was going to he the kitchen table.

“Don’t be silly Zac, this is a very important audition for Brenna. This is Éan, they are a very reputable company.”

“I just think she can miss one audition, you know...live a little?” My mother’s lips tightened, her hands gripping the counter.

“Brenna honey, would you mind brining this upstairs?” she handed me a roll of toilet paper.

“But Mom...Daddy said I could...”

“Brenna, what your father said right now is something I need to discuss with him. Alright?” I looked from my mother’s tight lipped expression to the determined face of my father.  I had a sinking feeling that I would be going to the Éan audition with my mother in a week, regardless of what my father had to say.

I trudged upstairs, staking out my position at the top of the stairs, carefully hanging over so I could see through the spaces in the steps.

“Siobhan...”

“Zac, really, why? Why did you do this?” my mother had her arms crossed tightly across her chest. She was shaking her head.

“Siobhan, let me explain. I went upstairs today to see her, and do you know what? She was crying. Do you know why?”

“No Zac, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

“Siobhan, she has no friends, they’re angry with her, she never sees them.  She’s unhappy. She needs a little breathing room right now alright? I just think maybe we should back off a bit. Maybe we should giver her a little space.” My father was putting more groceries away.  My mother paced in a small circle and took a few deep breaths.

“Zac, I thought we agreed that we were going to do what was best for Brenna. Maybe right now, her friends are going out doing things, and because she’s dancing she can’t...but what would happen if every time she was supposed to dance her friends were calling her out? She’d never get anything done.  We need to teach her that discipline. We can’t just let her quit or run away every time something doesn’t go her way. That’s part of the dedication and hard work...part of the sacrifice that goes into an art like this.”  My father sighed.

“I know Siobhan. I know, and I understand that, I’m just saying, maybe, maybe she needs a break. Okay, you know...let’s make a compromise alright?”  My mother nodded.

“Brenna goes to this audition, and then we send her to LA to stay with Taylor and his family for the summer. You can make a list of classes or whatever and if she wants to go, she can... if not, let her relax a bit, have some fun. Be with people her own age for a while.”  There was a long pause. My mother was thinking, weighing all the possibilities.

“I...I have to think about that Zac. I want her to go to this audition, and if she makes it, this would be a great opportunity for her. Imagine it, she’d have a place with a leading Irish dance company. She’d be working with top choreographers and dancers and producers.” My father opened his arms. I couldn’t see much, it looked as though my mother was crying.  “I just need some time.”  he nodded and held her for a while.

I went to my room and waited. I wondered how long my mother would need to think about this compromise that had been suggested. I pulled out the list again and looked at it.  I flopped down onto my bed and stared at the ceiling.  I let my eyes wander around the room. I allowed my eyes to screen the shelves around my room, all filled with trophies and photographs.  Getting up, I walked over to
where my very first trophy was sitting.  I’ll never forget the day I won this trophy, because it was the first trophy I’d ever won for anything. I was so proud of myself, and right next to the statue sits a photograph of me and my parents the day I won it. Me, only six years old, grinning toothily at my Uncle Taylor who was taking the picture. My mother looks as though she were crying, and my father has a big, goofy smile on his face.

“Do you remember when you won that?”  My mother’s voice filled the room. I paused, and turning to face her, smiled at the memory.

“August of  2011, I was only six.”  My mother came up behind me and gently picked up the framed photograph.

“You were great even then.”  Her eyes were glassy. I hated when she got weepy on me.

“Mom, I’m not great, okay?” I took the frame from her and put it back on the shelf, blowing a little dust off the top of the trophy.

“Don’t ever say that, Brenna, you are the best, and you should never believe otherwise.” I sighed. I didn’t want to argue with her today. Not this fight.  I felt like I was in a constant battle with my mother, over my talent.  It isn’t that I don’t believe myself to be talented, it’s that I know I’m not the best, and my mother fails to agree with me. Maybe it’s her way of supporting me, her way of saying she knows how well I can do. Whatever it is, it bugs me.

“Okay mom, whatever you say.” she sat on my bed, and patted the spot next to her. Beckoning me to sit beside her.

“You know Brenna, your father and I only want what’s best for you. I know sometimes that may seem like we don’t understand but, we do.” I sighed. “Anyway,” she continued, “we decided it would be best for you to go to the Éan audition, and then, you can spend some time in California with your Uncle Taylor.”

“Really? I get to stay in California?!” I hugged her. “Thank you!”

“Thank your father, it was his idea, and he talked me into it, against my better judgment. He thinks you might learn something from Evan and Viola.”   She was now staring off into space. “What other than how to be a beach bunny, I have no idea.”

My mother thought Taylor’s children were “idle products of the Valley.”  This, roughly translated meant she believed they were lazy.

“When do I get to go?” I was mentally packing for my trip already.

“The Éan audition is in a week and a half, and your father still has to talk to Taylor about dates and flights and the like, but I would assume we can have you shipped out in two weeks. So, end of June.” I jumped up and hugged her again.

“I have so much packing to do!” I began rummaging through my closet for my suitcase. This was going to be the best summer ever.