Wordplay Writing: Carmelita Ballerina
For Wordplay Wednesday this week I described how to use word tickets to inspire writing. I collected my words by looking through my Lexicon, some notecards from recent reading, I added some color words, plus I looked around my studio and added a few more. I ended up with 30 words, which I wrote on sticky notes and then dealt out into 3 columns of 10 words each.
My first row across revealed “ aquamarine” “ decadence” “chicken”, which immediately got my storytelling juices flowing. I kept reading the words across and by the time I finished I had a character to write about: Carmelita the Dancing Chicken. She was inspired by a picture I have hanging in my studio that I created in an art class last year, plus a page in my mixed media art journal. Both pictures are of outrageously flamboyant chickens who are prancing across the pages. I had never thought about writing about them before, but the act of dealing out the word tickets triggered the idea. Besides, I love chickens!
I could have chosen a to write a personal essay about the art classes in which the chickens were created, but I was in the mood for some imaginative whimsy, so Carmelita came to life. This is definitely an example of words having fun!
Here is her story:
Carmelita had been different from the moment she hatched from her egg. Instead of being a fluffy yellow chick , she was covered in aquamarine down. She was the talk of the barnyard when she emerged from the chicken coop on her first venture outside. “She looks like an Easter egg!” exclaimed the farmer’s wife. At first Carmelita was embarrassed and shy about being different. She lingered in the coop or spent her time outside close by her mother, Mabel, or attempting to hide in the middle of a crowd of her siblings and cousins. She stayed away from the fence around the chicken yard because all of the children who came to gawk at her tried to grab her if she got too close.
Mabel assured Carmelita that her bright blue coloring was only temporary since all chicks lose the colorful down before attaining adult feathers. Since they were Brahma chickens, they would have bright, white feathers with beautiful black edges.
But, her mama was wrong about that. Carmelita’s feathers came in hot pink with sparkling silver at the tips that twinkled and glittered in the sunlight. With her dazzling plumage came a new-found confidence. Carmelita decided she liked being unusual. She no longer attempted to hide behind the other chickens. She was also not content to merely amble around the barnyard and pick for seed like everyone else. Instead, she chose to leap in joyful zigzags shaking her shimmering tail feathers in a flagrant dance.
Her siblings were embarrassed by her silliness and the other farm animals became irritated with her antics. “ She’s such a show-off!” they grumbled. The other young hens ignored her and soon began talking of motherhood and nesting. Carmelita was not interested in laying eggs and tending chicks. She wanted adventure and fun.
Still it was lonely in the barnyard with no one to talk to so Carmelita began to wander far from her coop and explore. One evening she headed toward the farmhouse where music was coming from an open window.
She hopped up on the windowsill and saw a box filled with small humans dancing to the sound of the music. Carmelita was thrilled and began her own impromptu dance, bobbing her head and shuffling her feathery feet.
She closed her eyes and let the rhythm and notes carry away in her own private dance. She imagined she was in the magic box and the cheers and applause were for her.
Then a shadow fell across her face and she jerked her eyes open and gave a squawk. She was beak to nose with Annie, the farmer’s young daughter. Carmelita flapped her wings and attempted to leap off the windowsill, but Annie reached out and scooped her up and hauled her into the living room.
The girl set Carmelita down on the floor and whispered, “ I saw you dancing to the music. Now you can get a closer look. Don’t worry I won’t hurt you. You’re safe here.”
Carmelita was fascinated with television. Annie explained that the dancers they were watching were in a dance contest. People who loved to dance could go on the show and compete for prize money. “ I like to dance, too.” Annie confided. She twirled around the room on her toes with her arms held gracefully out from her body.
Carmelita copied the moves, her clawed toes pointed and her pink and silver wings forming a fluttering oval as she spun across the floor. She stopped and looked at Annie with her head turned to the side. Carmelita gave a shrug and then pointed with her beak toward the TV.
Annie gave a shriek of delight, “ Oh, wow, you are really good! Yes, you should try out for the show.”
Carmelita pointed at Annie and then made a sweeping gesture with her wings.
Annie pointed at herself . “You want both of us to go on the show?”
Carmelita nodded and did a little hop step.
“ Brilliant!” said Annie. “ Let’s do it!”
Several weeks later Carmelita and Annie found themselves headed to New York City for their turn in the spotlight. The producers of “ Are You a Dancer?” had loved their audition tape and the idea of a chicken dancing a ballet.
For their big dance number, Annie dressed in a pink and silver feathered costume to match Carmelita who simply wore a tiny jeweled tiara on her head. They performed a lovely dance and were instantly the newest celebrity sensation. They appeared on all of the talk shows and enjoyed an extended stay in the big city. Both of them became fascinated with high fashion and were seen all over sporting the latest styles.
While they came in second in the finale of the dance show, Annie and Carmelita went on to become famous in the world of clothing design, calling themselves the Fowlshanistas. In fact when you see some of the really outrageous clothing designs in the New York magazines, you can be sure they were designed by Annie and Carmelita.