Shifting her books to the backpack from her bed was a Wednesday chore. The classes on Wednesdays each required a textbook, and because there were no lockers, all had to be carried at once. The heaviness caused her to bend forward more than she naturally would, but she preferred to think of it as a really long stretch.

Maria had been dancing since she was able to walk. The daily sight of her twirling in the yard, flying over rocks and landing delicately in the grass was normal–all to meet the basic ballet standards required to move into more challenging classes. She never seemed to run out of gas and never complained of being sore from her efforts to improve. It was no surprise to see her accepted into a famous troupe, basking in the flash of concert lights and cameras.