Can you hear me father?

by Emily Beck

“Dad, I’m so excited for you to see my performance next month.” She held her new costume up in front of her face. It was coral in color, longer in the back and short in the front. Her father let her get it custom made and they were driving back from the seamstress. “It’s my first time having a lead solo for competition.” She sighed. “Thanks Dad for buying this for me.” Before he could reply a car crossed over the double lines going the wrong way and got in front of a semi- truck. The truck swerved to miss him and caused their car to run off the road, into a ravine. They slammed into a tree.

Jenny heard a knock at her door but she grabbed the blanket and rolled over, covering her face and her tears. She heard the familiar knock again and mumbled a sleepy, “Come in.”

“Jenny, are you not up yet?” her mother asked. “Today is the day we meet with Doctor Miller.” “Okay, whatever,” she replied not getting up. Her mother pulled the covers off, “Mom!” She sat up and grabbed the nylon cover for her right leg and sighed as she looked at the scar below her knee.

“Jenny, you should be excited for today.” Her mother told her helping her out of bed.

“Excited isn’t exactly the word I would use.” She replied taking a brush to her hair.

“Jenny, it’s been three months since the accident. It’s time you got on with your life.” Her mother opened her closet and a tear rolled off Jenny’s cheek as she saw the coral costume still in the clear bag hanging on the back of the door.

“A nice man who wishes to remain anonymous is paying for everything. Your father and I will have no,” Jenny interrupted her as her mother handed her a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

“I know Mother. I know. You’ll have no bills and ‘Mr. Anonymous’ heard the story on the local news, blah- blah- blah.”

“Why are you so against his generous offer?”

“Why does a complete stranger want to help me? He doesn’t know what I’m going through or what I’ve been through. “

“Maybe he doesn’t know but it’s nice of him to want to see you fulfill your dream of becoming a ballroom dancer.”

“He wants to see me? A complete stranger wants to see me dance again?” She let out a long sigh. “Mom, please don’t think that what I am going to say means that I am ungrateful, I’m not.” She leaned on her crutches. “But, what good is getting a new leg to dance again if my own father can’t see me do it?”


Jenny entered the large building as her mother nudged her inside. The familiar smell of medicine and illness hit her nose-- she shook her head in disgust. A nurse met her at the door with a wheelchair, but she shook her head and gave a polite, “No, Thank you.” She hobbled down the hallway on her crutches, her mother behind her. She entered the room and was greeted by Doctor Miller.

“Jenny, how are you doing today? I see you’ve refused the wheelchair again.” He laughed, his brown hair shaking as he said it. He pulled out a pair of latex gloves from his white jacket and looked at Jenny’s stump.

“Doctor Miller, I’m fine and I don’t need the wheelchair; my left leg works and so do my arms.”
“Jenny,” he frowned. “The wheelchair lets you sit, to give your arms a break. And the new leg will do the same thing.”

“Doctor, we’ve been through this. I don’t need the new leg. Just like I don’t need the wheelchair! If my father has to live life blind, I’m going to live life legless.”

“Don’t you miss dancing?” he asked putting her nylon cover back on.

“Yes, about as much as I bet my father misses watching me doing it. He never missed a single performance.” She grabbed her crutches and got down off the table before another argument started.

Jenny hobbled out of the doctor’s office as her mother stayed behind and tried to convince Doctor Miller that her daughter would come around. Doctor Miller suggested a different approach for her next appointment. When Jenny and her mother got home Jenny’s father was waiting for her.
“How did it go?” he asked his wife as she entered the house.

“She refused again. I’ve left it up to Doctor Miller. I don’t know what else to do!” He gave her a kiss on the forehead and sent her through the door. He waited for his daughter. She rolled her eyes at him.

“Don’t roll your eyes at me,” he whispered.

“Daddy, how did you know I did that,” she asked, giving him a hug.

“You always rolled your eyes when I waited in the doorway for you. Come in here. I want to talk to you.”

“Dad!” she whined.

“Don’t dad me. Help me to my chair,” he told her as he closed the door.

“Dad, we've been through this. I don’t want to walk again if you can’t ever see again.” She slumped herself into the sofa and wiped her eyes.

“A new leg will let you drive, you’ll be able to go to prom without crutches, and you could dance with your date. I haven’t heard a single note of music come from your room in months.” Jenny stood up with her crutches and hopped over to her father.

“You can’t see me dance, and so I will not dance again! I don’t want a new leg!”

The truth was she did want a new leg. The thought of not having to use those awful crutches anymore was reason enough to do it, but every time she saw her father trip or stumble because he couldn't see, she immediately changed her mind. She had her mind made up.

On the next visit the nurse met Jenny with only a smile. Jenny smiled back and said, “Thank you.” She hobbled slower than usual. Another discussion about the leg was not what she wanted right now. What she wanted was to be left alone. Summer was coming and she didn’t want to spend it in more doctor’s offices. She wanted to travel with her friends, not go through weeks of therapy.

As she entered the room a strong smell of cologne met her nose. She had to admit that it was a welcomed sent to the normal hospital smells she had grown accustom to. She turned the corner and found Doctor Miller talking to a tall, slender man with grey hair. She cleared her throat to let them know she was there.

“Jenny!” Doctor Miller almost shouted. “Take your place here on the table.” She looked at her mom who shrugged her shoulders.

“Jenny, this is Mr. Watkins.” Doctor Miller motioned for him to come over and he shook Jenny’s hand.

“Who are you?” before Mr. Watkins could reply Doctor Miller spoke up.

“He is the man who is has given us the funds to make your new leg a reality.”

“Mr. Anonymous,” she mouthed to her mother. Her mother sat there with that smile on her face; the smile that spoke of hope. Jenny sat up straighter. She was prepared to give this, “Mr. Anonymous,” the same speech she had given Doctor Miller. A small smile came across her lips, if he didn’t know what she was going through he would. She quickly removed the smile not wanting to lead anyone one on thinking that she had changed her mind.

“I asked Mr. Watkins here today because I felt that maybe he can help with your resistance to this new leg.”

“Mr. Watkins,” she started. “I appreciate what you’re doing for me but it’s not that easy. There is so much more to this than you know or could even begin to imagine. My father,” She began to cry and looked away. Mr. Watkins stepped closer and placed one hand on her shoulders. He raised both pant legs and reviled two metal bars. Jenny gasped.

“I lost my legs in Vietnam after I joined the Army at eighteen. I was fresh out of high school and was ready to serve my country.” He paused. “I had only been there a couple of months when a bomb went off on me and my platoon. I passed out and when I woke up, I couldn’t walk.” Jenny put her hands on her stump as tears came down her face. He picked up one of her crutches, “I sat in a wheel chair for years.” He put it back next to her table. “I honestly believed I would never see passed four feet tall.”

Jenny reached for her mother who came over to her. “Mr. Watkins. I want to walk again, I do. I hate those stupid crutches! My arms hurt and my left leg is always sore. But,”

“But,” he questioned. “Jenny, why are you so against this?” she wiped her eyes.

“My- father- is- blind! He hit his head so hard that no surgery will allow him to see ever! It’s not fair that I can get to walk or even dance.” Her mother handed her some tissues. “My father will NEVER be able to see me dance ever again.”

“Did you ever think that even though he can’t see you dance, he could hear you?”


“Let’s give a hand to all of our previous performers; they have all done a fabulous job.” The applause died down and the announcer started again. “Our final performance for tonight is called, can you hear me father.” Without any applause he walked off the stage. The lights went out and when the red curtains had parted white Christmas lights were hung from the stage ceiling, looking like the night sky. The spotlight came on and shined on a very handsome teenager wearing a black suit with a white shirt and red tie. In his top pocket was a white handkerchief. His feet were barefoot. The light moved to his dancing partner. Jenny wore her coral dress and the metal from her new leg glowed in the spotlight. Her partner tapped his left foot and their dance began.

There was no music; the only sound came from Jenny’s black tap shoes. The two of them seemed to glide across the stage. When they had finished the auditorium was silent. Jenny’s father stood up and shouted to her, “I heard every step!”

Tears from her dance partner’s eyes glistened under the lights as he watched Jenny’s father clap until the whole room was applauding and standing up in a standing ovation. Her mother held her husband and cried into his sleeve, not taking her eyes off of their daughter. Jenny’s partner removed his handkerchief, passed it to Jenny and she dried her eyes.