Dancing on the Edge
by Kit Bakke
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Twelve year-old Dot is not a dancer, but after her mother’s sudden and senseless death, she finds herself dancing on the edge…of everything. After her whole world unravels in seconds, Dot is propelled on a voyage to discover the meaning of her past, and of her mother’s greatest gift to her.
With all familiar anchors swept away, Dot’s trip becomes a struggle between finding that gift and running away from a future that feels so bleak. Pack your bags for a memorable, powerful journey into life in the wake of profound loss.
From Chapter 1: The Red Tsunami
No one had expected Dot’s mother to die. It was a freak accident, Dot heard the medic say when he screeched the van into the Emergency Room driveway of the hospital and doctors and nurses ran out to rush Thea’s prone body through a door labeled Major Procedures. Although everyone moved quickly, it was already too late to do anything but talk.
Staring at the blue yarn or the yellow walls wasn’t enough to block the pictures of that cloudy Saturday afternoon. Dot couldn’t stop them from unreeling over and over again in her mind. Against her will, she watched her mother and herself leave their neighborhood branch of the Seattle Public Library, as they’d done hundreds of times ever since Dot was two years old, happily loaded with two weeks’ worth of adventure, fun and, just possibly, wisdom.
Next she saw her mother and herself outside the library entrance, holding their books and pointing at the clouds in the sky with their free hands. Dot remembered every word of their discussion about the definite preponderance of nimbostratus formations. They agreed it might rain soon, so they decided they’d better take the bus instead of walking. Most of Dot and Thea’s decisions were like that—choices made together after an interesting chat. Thea always said she learned as much as Dot when they talked like that, which always made Dot feel good.
Dot stared harder at the tufts of blue, trying like crazy to hang on and not go past the cloud conversation. But she failed, like she always had this past week, and the next memory reel started up, the one where she walked to the corner with her mother. For the millionth time Dot watched as she and her mother stood waiting for the light to change so they could cross over to their bus stop. Then came the completely and totally unstoppable scene—the part when the big red trailer truck roared by and its huge, sticking-out side-view mirror hit Thea right at eye level. Dot heard the damp thudding sound echo again and again as it smashed the top of her mother’s head and broke her neck. It was over in a flash.
Dot never imagined the world could change so fast. One second she had a mother, and the next second she didn’t. One second she was an ordinary kid with ordinary problems, a second later she was an orphan who was afraid of everything. It wasn’t just her mother who had lost her hold on life.
Kit Bakke spent the last half of the 20th century as a political radical (SDS and the Weather Underground), a pediatric oncology nurse, and an information technology consultant. In the 21st century, she became a published writer. Her MISS ALCOTT'S E-MAIL has led to further writing adventures, including being a founding member of Seattle7Writers (www.seattle7writers.org) and a chapter in HOTEL ANGELINE. Her latest book, DOT TO DOT, is a story of travel, discovery and possibly magic. Young teens, if they are good readers, like it, and so do adults.