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You don’t realize how much you enjoy the thing that makes you happy.  This could be  talking to your friends, watching sports, rooting for your favorite team, maybe even dancing.  Well, dancing is my thing.  Dancing made me feel free to do what I wanted.  It was a way to escape from all of the negative things in the world. I was 17 and already had a full scholarship to college.  Everything was perfect.  Until, I lost everything.


I grew up in an average size household.  It was me and my little brother, Samuel, my mother, and father. My mother worked at a local Starbucks and my father couldn’t seem to keep a job for a month, constantly changing jobs and getting fired again.  This troubled my brother and I, but we decided to live with it.  I loved to dance.  I loved it so much that I begged my parents to get me ballet slippers.  After more than 3 years of wishing and begging, my mother gave me a pink rectangular box on Christmas morning.  “This is for you, I know how much you’ve wanted these.” She said.  I tore the wrapping away lightning fast as if it was a box of candy.  Underneath the wrapping there staring at me were a pair of ballet slippers.  “Thank you mom!” I exclaimed.  “There is a ballet school just across the street, you start lessons on Tuesday.” She responded.  After that morning I was never the same.  Starting at 6 years old, going across the street every week, and even staying after class to practice.  After 2 years, I won my first competition.  Winning that trophy felt like everything that I ever wanted was coming true.  And that was true, well at least for the next 9 years.  I kept going to ballet school and went up in the ranks.  Constantly winning and awarded for my achievements.  In 7th grade, I overheard my parents yelling at each other over my ballet training.  That afternoon my parents gathered my brother Samuel and I together in the living room.  “OOH, you’re in trouble!” Samuel squealed. “Why would mom and dad gather BOTH of us if I was in trouble, you idiot!” I exclaimed.  We make it to the living room, only to find mom crying on the couch.  “Sit down guys,” Dad said, “Your mother and I have not been getting along lately and therefore, we are getting a divorce.”  A look of shock went across my face.  Later that night Samuel asked, “What does divorce mean?” “It means Mom and Dad are not going to be married anymore and going to move away from each other,” I explained.  After I said this, Samuel started to tear up, in return I started to cry.  That was one of the worst nights of my life.


The next week there were numerous boxes piled up around the house as my father prepared to leave. “Will we ever see you again?” Samuel asked, still teary eyed “I’ll see you on the weekends, at least” my dad explained.  As the moving truck came into the driveway, I saw mom upstairs in the bedroom ripping pictures of her and dad.  I decided to leave her alone knowing she would probably just yell and me to go away.  So I kept my mouth shut, good thing I did.  Later that night mom ordered Chinese take out and went straight to bed when she finished here noodles.  “What’s wrong with mommy?” Samuel asked. “She is still sad about dad leaving and is very mad at dad,” I said.  Hopefully I was right.


It has been about 3 years since dad left. It isn’t the same without him, luckily I’m seeing him this weekend in his brand new apartment.  I rummage through my room packing for my dad's when Samuel comes into the room. “What if daddy doesn’t recognize us?” “Well, we’ve been away for 3 years he probably still knows and remembers us,” I respond, trying to think positively.  The weekend finally came after a hard week at school, today was the first visit with my dad since the divorce.  I was 17 now and drove my brother and I over to the apartment.  I walked up to the doorstep to the apartment door and rang the doorbell.  A familiar voice answered in return. “Hello kids!” Dad shouted in excitement “I’ve been waiting for you to come!”  I entered the apartment with my brother tagging along, still scared to see what the rooms looked like. The living room was cozy with a couch and TV set up, a kitchen off to the left and 3 bedrooms across the hallway.  “Well, this is it, welcome home.” Dad exclaimed. I ran over to the couch and started to sit down.  The couch was firm, like firmer than a brick.  This was not like home,  I ran over to my bedroom.  There was no decorations or anything in the room.  It was just beige with a window, and a bed that looked like it was from the 1930s.  This was still not like home. In utter aggravation of everything that had happened in the past 3 years, I sprinted out of the house not looking back.  I ran straight to my car in a mad dash to get out of that house.  I pulled out of the parking garage and headed back to my mom’s house.  I was so mad and angry at life at that moment.  I got onto the highway and all I could think about was my parents.  My parents divorce. The ballet slippers.  All of these things piled up in front of me.  I wasn’t paying attention to the road ahead of me.  Because of this.  I found myself in a horrible scenario.  I was going 90 on the freeway, the car in front of me going 65. Everything was happening so fast until I found myself flipped over in my car, not being able to feel my leg and the sounds of sirens all around me as I closed my eyes. And blacked out.


I woke up in a hospital room, a pain like no other hit me first.  It felt like a thousand needles poking through my skin.  I saw that I had an IV in my arm flowing fluid into my bloodstream.  I looked around and saw my brother, mother, and father.  I was so happy to see my parents together again.  “How are you doing Samantha?” mother asked.  “My entire body aches,” I responded.  “At least you’re alive.” Dad says in a cheerful yet serious tone.  I looked around the room.  There was a side table next my bed, flower bouquets littered the table, as well as balloons saying “Get Better!, or Get Well Soon, and We Miss You.” A doctor walks into the room.  “Hello Samantha, I see you have woken, how do you feel?” She said, farley quickly as if reciting off of a document. “My leg hurts a lot and I’m a little light headed,” I said.  “That is usual for this type of injury,” she responded. “How bad is it, is there a cut or anything,” I asked curiously.  “I was just about to tell you and your parents the options,” she said with a nervous tone, “I am afraid that your leg will not survive, with all of the pressure you put on it, you crushed the nerves and broke your bone in 3 ways.” she said, “Because of this we will need to amputate your leg.”  The pressure in the room increased as soon as she said this.  It was like a storm was brewing inside of the room.  “How much will this cost?” mother asked, impatiently.  “$30,000 dollars,” the doctor replied.  A look of worry went across my mother’s face.  “Okay,” she said, “We can do that.”  After waiting 2 days for the surgery for the amputation a crew of nurses and doctors came into my room.  “Now, what I’m going to ask you to do Samantha is to just breathe,” the doctor said, her voice so calming.  Except I haven’t even thought about breathing in a very long time.  The mask goes over my face and I breath slowly, a thing I hadn’t done in over 3 years.  The sleeping medicine wipes me out in 2 seconds, as I drift off to sleep, I think about my parents and what it will be like to wake up and find that I am missing part of my leg.


I wake up almost instantly.  According to my mother it has been 5 hours since I went down.  Instantly the pain from my leg is gone as I look down.  I see that my leg is gone, just a little nub of skin, where my knee should have been.  I instantly began to cry.  “It’s okay dear,” my mother says, trying to comfort me.  I begin to get out of the bed when I see a pair of crutches in the corner.  Well, there goes my career, my scholarship to college, my dancing.  I get out of bed and hobble over to the crutches and regain balance.  “Can I go?” I ask, pleading to leave the hospital.  “Yes, yes you can,” my dad says, with a smirk on his face.  The following weeks were hard, full of falls and therapy.  Eventually, I get the hang of the crutches and start doing regular stuff.  One morning my mother tells me to sit on the couch, right next to her.  Something we haven’t done in a while.  “I have something to tell you,” she says.  “Yes, mother,” I respond.  “Being with the surgery, your father and I, despite our divorce, are unable to afford more ballet for you,” she says.  After the words came out of her mouth, yet again I hated everything that had happened in the last 3 years.  I hated my leg, I hated my parents, I hated LIFE.  That night, yet again I was going to run away.  This time on foot.  I brought my sweatshirt, a few pairs of clothes, a flashlight, and finally 3 dollars.  I walked down the upstairs stairs as quietly as I could.  Trying not to wake the others.  I opened the front door wide enough so that I could fit through.  Then, I started to sprint, (yet, still using the crutches).  I ended up stopping in front of a Macy’s downtown.  I was now a 17 year old, on the street.  I needed to drown my worries away,  I had found a “doctor approved” article stating that drinking is a good way to try and avoid the world.  Obviously this was fake, well myself did not think  once about it.  I headed to the first bar I saw.  I was 17 yet I looked like I was 22.  6 ft in height and “old” enough looking to get a drink for my $3 that I had brought with me.  After that one drink, I started begging for money on the street.  Instead of saving the money for good things, I kept buying drink after drink, ending up in a lot of debt.  This repeated for weeks.  Constantly moving spots around downtown to avoid getting arrested for squatting.  Things finally started to go my way one afternoon.  A girl, a little younger than I was was screaming as she was being dragged away from a ballet school, near from where I was sitting.  She was screaming at the top of her lungs.  It felt like a mega phone was right next to my ear screaming at me for leaving home and running away again.  Her dad seemed to dragging her away. “You won’t be needing these anymore!” he shouts.  Throwing what seemed to be some sort of shoes into the trash nearby.  She passed by me as if I didn’t exist.  Then the trash can seemed to be “calling me” toward it.  I walked toward the can and looked inside.  What I found astounded me.  They were ballet slippers.  They looked like they would fit me.  After this discovery I started to run, well, more like hobble back toward my ballet school across town.  Grabbing the ballet slippers in the process of course.  An idea just had popped into my head, and I didn’t know whether it was a good one or not, but, it was worth a shot.


It took me 2 days to get to my ballet school.  I open the door to the school and instantly see my teacher Ms. Schultz.  “Samantha?, Is that you?” she asked curiously.  Mesmerized by my reappearance.  “Yes, it is me,” I responded.  Instantly Ms. Schultz ran up to me and gave me a hug.  I hugged back.  Thrilled to be back.  “What happened to your leg?” she asks.  “I got in a car crash, the leg got badly damaged and it had to amputated,” I said.  “So what are you here for?” she asks curiously.  In that moment I told Ms. Schultz my plan.  All week I practiced how to dance with just one leg, I stayed in the ballet school and practiced constantly, just like I always had.  I asked Ms. Schultz to tell my parents nothing except that the ballet school was having a recital and she would like them to come.  I practiced for 2 weeks until the recital came, on a friday night.  I peeked out behind the curtain to see thousands of people as well as my parents.  I took the ballet slippers and put one on, leaving the other one in the box.  “You ready?” Ms. Schultz asks. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” I respond.  I hopped over onto the stage just as the curtain was being lifted.  This was it, this was the moment of my life.  The lights went dark, until a spotlight appeared on me.  As I expected the crowd gasped.  1) because of the missing leg and 2) because Samantha Benet had return.  The music began to play and I began to dance.  I remembered this may be my one, last, dance.  The music stops and I look into the audience.  A standing ovation for what I did.  I motioned for Ms. Schultz to come on stage.   I went backstage grabbing my other ballet shoe.  “I would like to thank Ms Schultz for helping me, and in honor of this, I give her my ballet shoe,” I say.  I look at Ms. Schultz, she’s crying.  The next week I got a letter from Joffrey Dance College.  The letter stated that I still had a scholarship and a bonus was a full ride.  I was so excited.  I turned and looked at my mother.  She was so happy, and so was I.  My final statement is: when life gets you down and you hate the thing that makes you happy.  Stand Up, and get back in the fight.  


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