Parachute, Part 2

The children giggled spasmodically under the parachute, as Annie motioned for them to gather around her in a circle. Her eyes widened as she asked who had a story for them today. Three small hands sprouted into the air, punching the parachute up, and Annie called on Cherise, a bright-eyed girl with hair neatly arranged in beaded rows, to speak first.

“Can you come Tuesday?” In only her third week of leading the Tumbling Tots class, Annie had learned to expect almost anything to come out of the children’s mouths, but this was another first.

Oooooo, I wish I could!” Annie’s ability to speak hyperbolically without embarrassment had surprised her. “But I have practice that night!” The Tumbling Tots met twice a week, and the offer from Gandy, the owner of Riverview Gymnastics and Dance, to teach had come out of the blue in December, just before Christmas. Annie didn’t need the money — she was a Hutchinson, after all — but she had been thrilled by the opportunity to become more involved with the operation of Gandy’s gym, where she had been a student for almost a decade.

Benji, a tow-headed kid who spent most of the class running around the gym, raised his hand. Surprised to see him so still, Annie called on him.

“Why?”

Annie blinked, shook her head. “Why, what?”

Benji lowered his hand, his face focused on her. “Why do you have to practice?”

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