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When We

Believed in Magic
Excerpt
"A Child's Space"
ELAYNE ZALIS

Copyright 2014 Elayne Zalis


All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
ISBN-10: 1505558611
ISBN-13: 978-1505558616
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
*
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies,
events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

CONTENTS
Preface

Meet the Dancers

vii

Act One: A Childs Space (featuring Dancer in Rose)

Act Two: Elusive Lifelines (featuring Dancer in Blue)

16

Act Three: Vagabond Scribe (featuring Dancer in Plum)

24

Epilogue: Collaged Reflections (featuring Dancer in Gold) 33


About the Author

45

PREFACE
A visit to South Florida in 1995 prompts Leah to reflect on her early
years in Miami, beginning with her childhood in the mid-1960s. To
help with her memory work, she conjures up a troupe of spectral
dancers who stand in for her at different phases of her life. Known
by the colors of their costumes, Dancer in Rose, Dancer in Blue,
Dancer in Plum, and Dancer in Gold recreate scenes from an
ongoing drama. Diaries and archival treasures inspire the
performances.
Blending the real and imagined and combining genres, the story
Leah tells unfolds chronologically, yet each act can stand on its
own. A travelogue, a memoir, and a screenplay all in one, When We
Believed in Magic can also be read as a preliminary script for interactive
digital platforms or as a sketch for an actual dance performance.
This retrospective highlights the performative strands of Arellas
Repertoire, a novel by Elayne Zalis.

MEET THE DANCERS


Dancer in Rose
Dancer in Rose, the youngest member of an imaginary dance troupe,
remembers the mid-1960s in South Florida while reciting diary
entries that she recorded with care, celebrating a fifth-graders world.
She embraces popular culture and shares personal reflections about
current events, school, and everyday life in Miami. Like the other
dancers, she represents Leah at a particular stage of her life.
Dancer in Blue
Dancer in Blue, a teenager, commemorates her high school years in
South Florida during the late 1960s and early 70s. She explores the
counterculture in Coconut Grove and reflects on the writers, artists,
thinkers, and other visionaries who inspired her to change her
worldview.
Dancer in Plum
Dancer in Plum returns to South Florida in the mid-1970s after
graduating from a small New England college. During her five-year
stopover in Greater Miami, she begins a novel, writes a screenplay,
and discovers the magic of live performance. Moving images start to
shape her graphic world.
Dancer in Gold
Dancer in Gold, the senior member of the troupe, guides Leah on
her real and imagined travels through the second half of the
twentieth century. Elegant and wise, Dancer in Gold appears in the
other dancers performances as well as in her own solo at the Third
Street Promenade in Santa Monica. She represents the future and
stands in for the woman Leah will become.

vii

ACT ONE: A CHILDS SPACE


(FEATURING DANCER IN ROSE)
Heartened by pleasant memories on this unusually sunny winter day,
Leah, the perennial time traveler, finds a peaceful spot on the beach.
She spreads her blanket on the sand, taking care to secure a clear
view of the ocean, the same ocean that delighted her in her youth.
Almost everything else about South Beach seems to have changed
since then.
A tourist in her hometown, she slips into reverie, superimposing
the mid-1960s onto the mid-1990s: the past as she remembers it
meets the present, and new channels of communication open up. She
has brought her laptop alonga perfect way to type into magic.
In this space between worlds, Leah heeds the calls of her ten-yearold self, who has been struggling to make contact ever since she, the
transplanted Angeleno, returned to South Florida for the holidays.
Eyes of a Child by the Moody Blues plays in the background, and
like so many times before, Leah surrenders to imaginary realms, the
way she surrenders to the ocean in real life.
*
Underwater, Leah keeps her eyes wide open. She looks for
seashells as she did way back when, and then a bright light shines
from below. She swims toward it, but it remains beyond her reach.
Could this really be happening again? The same bright light? The
same mystery?
You were still in elementary school, a woman says. Leah sees no
one, although she recognizes Dancer in Golds voice from her
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dreams. The apparition assumes many forms and speaks through


channels only Leah can hear.
You went off by yourself that day, the all-knowing elder says.
You felt safe. You discovered wonderful things.
Leah keeps swimming toward the bright light. When shes almost
there, she has to come up for air. And then she discovers shes
somewhere shes never been before. Its deserted and beautiful. She
swims toward shore.
Let the music guide you, the voice resounds from beyond.
In the distance a band plays Cant You Hear My Heartbeat by
Hermans Hermits. Leah sings along, surprised she remembers the
lyrics from her youth. She wonders where she is and why that song is
playing now. She walks toward the music, eager to make contact with
other people. What a strange place this island is.
After a pleasant stroll along the coast, Leah finds signs of life
and lots more. A childrens theatre company is hosting a festival.
Participants have transformed the island into a mini-circus. Fans of
all ages dash from act to act, eager to see as much as they can.
According to flyers scattered about, the theme is Flashbacks: South
Florida in the 1960s. With the help of diaries, oral histories, and
memorabilia, the company has created portraits of Floridians who
came of age during that decade. The cast includes puppeteers, mimes,
dancers, musicians, actors, clowns, and magicians.
Leah puts on a festival T-shirt that someone gives her. She tours
the site. Before getting far, she comes across ten kiosks screening
popular TV shows from the era. One kiosk features selections from
the 196061 season, another features 196162, and so on. The entire
decade is depicted. Nostalgia sets in.
An avid TV viewer in her youth, Leah is convinced that her early
fondness for TV was preordained. After all, her birth did coincide
with the birth of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy, the popular 1950s sitcom
starring Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo. A few days after watching Lucy
give birth on TV, Leahs mother gave birth to her first child. The two
women raised their newborns together. In this way, Leah, a neophyte
fan, entered the world.
As she walks by the TV kiosks, she pauses before the 196364
season: Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Petticoat Junction, The
Ed Sullivan Show, My Favorite Martian, The Donna Reed Show, The Patty
Duke Showher favorites. Shell watch them another time. Many are
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WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

available on video; some show up on Nick at Nite.


Leah continues her explorations. Near the kiosk she discovers a
jukebox that features hit songs from the time. Shes surprised by how
many titles she recognizes. From 1963 theres Surfin USA by the
Beach Boys, Blue Velvet by Bobby Rydell, Wipe Out by the
Safaris, Its My Party by Lesley Gore, If I Had a Hammer by
Trini Lopez, Louie Louie by the Kingsmen, and Blowin in the
Wind by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
In 1964 the Beatles arrive, dominating the charts: I Want to Hold
Your Hand, She Loves You, A Hard Days Night, Love Me
Do, Please Please Me, Twist and Shout, Cant Buy Me Love,
Do You Want to Know a Secret?, and I Saw Her Standing
There.
Other hits from 1964 that she remembers include Do Wah
Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann, Under the Boardwalk by the
Drifters, Glad All Over by the Dave Clark Five, Baby Love by
the Supremes, Walk on By by Dionne Warwick, The House of the
Rising Sun by the Animals, My Boy Lollipop by Millie Small,
Baby I Need Your Loving by the Four Tops, and Just Like
Romeo and Juliet by the Reflections.
After some deliberation, Leah chooses I Want to Hold Your
Hand, one of the songs the Fab Four sing the first time they appear
on The Ed Sullivan Show. Teenybopper that she is, Leah falls under
their spell. From that night on, she cant get enough of John, Paul,
George, and Ringo. This afternoon they serenade her once more. As
she walks away, she hears their voices in the distance.
Wherever Leah turns on the island, she encounters sights and
sounds from the sixties. The theatre company has accomplished
wonders, and she wants to take in as much as she can. A number of
childrens performances are in full swing; others are just warming up.
She feels drawn to a solo performer on her own little stage.
Captivated, Leah watches A Childs Space.
*
Dancer in Rose, a ten-year-old girl, is the star of this show. She
wears a rose unitard and a short gossamer skirt adorned with silver,
blue, and plum sequins. She is slender, with long blonde hair and blue
eyes. While she dances, a pianist accompanies her offstage. In voiceovers, the girl reads passages from a diary that she began in 1964, and
other children, girls and boys, periodically read entries from an
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autograph book, the type children sign at the end of the school year.
The live performance is projected onto an oversized video screen set
up in the background. Characters appear larger than life.
DANCER IN ROSE: Dear Diary, Im going to write to you every
day so Ill remember what my life was like in 1964. In case you dont
know, I live in Miami, Florida, and Im in fifth grade. When Im not
at school, I like to read, listen to my transistor radio, watch TV, go to
the movies, dance, shop, ride my bicycle, and play outside with my
friends.
GIRL 1 (VO): You asked me to write. What shall it be? Two little
words, Remember me. Your friend, Maria
DANCER IN ROSE: This morning we gathered Christmas trees
for the fort in our backyard. Our neighbors threw them away. When
we finished we had sixteen trees. I had the idea of putting the trees in
front of the swings. The secret is to swing high and then jump so you
land in the fort, or else you dont get in. Linda Swanson, one of my
pen pals, sent me a postcard from New York. My cousin Ruth and I
went to the movies and saw Whos Minding the Store? She brought the
purse I gave her for Hanukkah.
BOY 1 (VO): When you get married and sip tea, burn your tongue
and think of me. Jorge
GIRL 2 (VO): Dont make love by the garden gate, love is blind
but the neighbors aint. Luv ya, Isabel
Several girls and boys, members of a childrens ensemble, appear on the video
screen. Theyre carrying books that are popular with young readers during the
1960sA Wrinkle in Time and selections from the Pippi
Longstocking series. The children take turns commenting on the stories. As
they speak, they hold up signs that identify the passages theyre referring to. When
the children finish, the live performance is projected once again. The same girls and
boys return for additional rounds later, also on video. A fan of the books that the
children discuss, Dancer in Rose continues dancing, happy and carefree.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): I enjoy A Wrinkle in Time
because it introduces likeable characters who have an amazing
supernatural adventure. Theres Meg, a frustrated teenager with a lot
of potential, although she doesnt know it yet; Charles Wallace, her
brilliant five-year-old brother who talks only to people he trusts; and
Calvin, their new friend, a smart, well-liked, but lonely guy on the
high school basketball team who bonds with Meg and her strange
family. Theres also Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which,
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extraordinary beings who teach their young traveling companions


how to take time wrinkles, and space wrinkles too. I wish I could do
that. [A Wrinkle in Time, 7879.]
DANCER IN ROSE: This morning I fixed the Christmas tree
fort a little differently. I made a little hole to crawl through for the
door. As soon as youre through the doorway youll be in the
dungeonfour Christmas trees covered with two blankets and a
towel. Mom and Dad are having a fight. They say its because of me.
Kate got a Beatles haircut. I was watching The Story of Van Gogh on
TV.
To Myself: Ha, ha, ha, it makes me laugh to sign my own
autograph. Luff ya
While Dancer in Rose performs, another dancer appears on the video screen.
A mature woman with an otherworldly air, she wears an exquisite gold costume
with a sheer flowing cape: Dancer in Gold speaks in the same gentle voice that
guided Leah to the island where the performance takes place. After each
appearance of Dancer in Gold, the video screen returns to the live performance
onstage.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She embraces public stories
privately told.
DANCER IN ROSE: Claire and I finished our display window at
school. It looks better than the other windows. Mom bought me a
very pretty slip. She said the clothes shes buying are some of my
birthday presents. Ill be eleven next week. Today was about the
coldest day weve had. Usually I take my sweater off, but I didnt take
it off today at all. Im watching Jack Benny, with Peter, Paul, and Mary.
GIRL 3 (VO): Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, what good is a bra,
without a bust? Lourdes
Home movie clips of Dancer in Rose appear on the video screen. The film
sequence features a party where she is blowing out candles on a birthday cake. It
has twelve candles, including the one for good luck. She is surrounded by friends.
After these clips, as with other home movies inserted later, the video screen returns
to the live performance onstage.
DANCER IN ROSE: Today is the last day Im writing you when
Im ten. In the morning Im going to get up early and open my
birthday presents. Grandma Ada and Grandpa Ben already gave me
theirs. Its a silver bracelet that belonged to Grandmas mother, my
great-grandmother. She lived in Russia a long time ago. She spoke a
language called Yiddish. So did Grandma, but she speaks English
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now. Shes very modern. Grandma and Grandpa are taking me out to
dinner tomorrow night. My sisters going too. I think Moms making
me a surprise party. My friends may hide in the den.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She opens up a space made for
writing, a childs space. She retreats there, to sketch out a world, to
validate a life.
DANCER IN ROSE: We had a little art lesson. For extra credit I
turned in the Greek gods that I sculpted with soap. At the park Rita
and I chanted witch verses. They go Ish ka bibaly, olton dolton, bo
bo ba de tan dot an, wa bash ba do. Everyone thought we were
casting a spell.
GIRL 4 (VO): Roses are red, violets are blue, God made me
pretty, what happened to you? (No offense) Your friend, Carmen
DANCER IN ROSE: I bought a savings bond at school. It came
with a certificate that says Im a Space Minute Man of the United
States of America. Im helping to preserve the peace of the free
world. Im also making an investment in the future PEACEFUL
EXPLORATION OF SPACE. Soon there will be a Moon Station, a
Manned Earth Satellite, and a Saturn Probe.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): A Wrinkle in Time is exciting,
scary, and full of surprises. I keep thinking about the part when Meg
travels through the fifth dimensionshe feels flattened out and can
hardly breathe. But after she passes through it and rejoins Calvin, her
friend, and Charles Wallace, her little brother, everything seems okay.
It helps to know that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, the
shape-shifting guides, are nearby, even when nobody can see them.
[A Wrinkle in Time, 77]
Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace are lucky because they discover
the tesseract and learn to think in new ways. [A Wrinkle in Time, 75]
DANCER IN ROSE: I went to the Eden Roc Hotel with eleven
other students. We did a social studies demonstration for elementary
school principals. The topic was aviation and flight. I talked about
Amelia Earhart, a famous American aviatrix. She was the first woman
to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She got lost on her flight
around the world.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): In fifth grade, school serves as one
refuge, fantasy another. Books, movies, television, and music fill
gaps. And then theres her diary, in which she plays a starring role.

WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

DANCER IN ROSE: In the race today at school, I was tied with


the girl who was winning, but I fell and didnt get to finish. Anita was
looking at me and lost her balance too. I would have come in first or
second if Id finished. Mr. Trent picked me to be a safety patrol.
Im sorry that Im writing so sloppily, but Im in a big hurry. Its
past 11:00 and I have to go to bed. Mom and Dad just got home. (I
was babysitting for my sister and brother.) Mom screamed at me and
said shes going to throw you away.
GIRL 5 (VO): When you get married and live in a tree, send me a
coconut COD. Your friend, Leila
DANCER IN ROSE: We saw A Hard Days Night. It was a
Beatles movie. We also saw Viva Las Vegas, with Elvis Presley and
Ann-Margret. We ate dinner at Burger King. Ive been studying for
the spelling bee.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): I feel as though Im watching
a movie when I read A Wrinkle in Time. The scenes are so vivid. I
really like Mrs. Whos disappearing actits funny and easy to
imagine. I see why Meg thought of the Cheshire Cat. [A Wrinkle in
Time, 75]
Meg is brave to infiltrate the CENTRAL Central Intelligence
Building to rescue her little brother from IT. Love turns out to be her
most powerful weapon. Shes truly a hero. [A Wrinkle in Time, 197201]
DANCER IN ROSE: Teresa Perez, the new girl at school,
brought her mothers scrapbook today. Her mother used to be a
movie star. Her father works in Ricky Ricardos band. We had a fifthgrade school sing this morning. Penny and I practiced some new
dances we saw on TV.
BOY 2 (VO): To the girl next door, from your true friend,
Ricardo S. (PS Please dont tell Wendy O.)
DANCER IN ROSE: I finished my fourth library card at school
this year. These are the books Ive read: Pippi in the South Seas, The Star
Spangled Banner, Sea Shells of the World, A Good Man and His Good Wife,
Stop That Ball, Miss Osborne the Mop, The Mystery of the Musical Umbrella,
Half Magic, A Wrinkle in Time, The Magic Fishbone, Drusilla, The Space
Ship Returns to the Apple Tree, and Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts. Now Im
reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She communes faithfully with her
diary for more than a year, a page daily. She dreams of writing a real
book.
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DANCER IN ROSE: This afternoon Penny came over and so did


Yvonne. We picked kumquats off our tree so we could eat them.
Then we played Steal the Bacon. Later we did handstands. Why
dont you go sit on Albertos lap? some kids said to me at school.
Now I changed the channel.
GIRL 6 (VO): I am a poet at heart, because I like to fart. / My
name is it, I like to sh____. Luv, K. W.
DANCER IN ROSE: If you have six RC Cola bottle caps, you
can get in the movies free. I got a book on the Middle East, one on
the earth, and two on atomic energy. For enjoyment I checked out a
novel. Yvonne looked in my address book for boys to call.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Pippi Longstocking, a nineyear-old girl who lives by herself, along with a monkey and a horse,
has her own way of seeing the world. At school she doesnt worry
about fitting in or being like other children, who probably seem
boring to her. For example, when the teacher tells the class to draw
whatever they want, the other students draw on sheets of paper, but
Pippi has a better idea. She surprises everyone by drawing a horse
right on the floor, where theres plenty of room. With her
imagination, she could be a great artist. [Pippi Longstocking, 56]
BOY 3 (VO): You are now a member of the Romper Room
Nudist Colony. Congratulations. Louie Louie Perez
Home movie clips of Dancer in Rose are displayed on the video screen. This
time shes diving off a high diving board into a large swimming pool.
DANCER IN ROSE: We spent the day at our cabana. Its at the
Solaris Hotel on Miami Beach. As soon as we arrived, we went in the
pool. The swimming teacher is giving lessons to my brother, my
sister, and me. I can swim but Im learning to swim better. Im in
advanced swimming and diving. Later in the day, Mom and I went
shopping on Lincoln Road. I bought a rose sundress and a matching
beach hat. When I got home, Penny taught me how to do a new
dance called the monkey. I just washed my hair.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Pippi Longstocking has a
unique sense of fashion, which she reveals when she attends her
neighbors coffee party. She wants to make a good impression;
instead, she shocks the guests, who are unable to appreciate the look
shes created for them: her lips painted bright red with a crayon, her
eyebrows strangely darkened, her red hair loose and wild, her

WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

fingernails also painted with a crayon, and her shoes adorned with
green rosettes. [Pippi Longstocking, 11718]
DANCER IN ROSE: Today was Miguels birthday. He was
eleven. Yesterday was Sergios birthday. He was eleven too. At our
language arts workshop, Mrs. Pratt told us how wonderful books are.
She said that while she was sick she read twelve books. The books
were very long. I was watching The Twilight Zone. Then I watched The
Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
BOY 4 (VO): Roses are red, violets are black, you would look so
much better with a knife in your back. Remember: 2 young 2 go 4
playboys (Your pal, Ramon)
DANCER IN ROSE: Nick made a part for me in his movie. Ill
play the writer when she was a little girl. Nick said Id have to spray
my hair brown. (When you wash it, the color comes out.) I might
wear a wig. I forgot to tell you, but I watched the Beatles on The Ed
Sullivan Show last night. This afternoon I got a letter from Hazel, one
of my pen pals in London.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She shines in her insular world and
gives her imagination free reign.
The home movie screened here shows Dancer in Rose riding her bicycle through
a working-class, residential neighborhood. Shes alone.
DANCER IN ROSE: I was riding my bike almost all morning. I
watched Shirley Temple and then we went shopping. The Wizard of Oz
was on tonight. Jenny and Tim watched it with us.
I bought a poster of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of
the United States. He was assassinated last year. His famous
quotation appears on the poster: ASK NOT WHAT YOUR
COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOUASK WHAT YOU CAN DO
FOR YOUR COUNTRY.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Even riding a merry-goround is an adventure for Pippi Longstocking, who prefers to stand
on her head while riding her horse. When shes upside down, the
long evening dress shes wearing falls down around her neck,
exposing the red flannel shirt and the green pants shes wearing
underneath, along with one black and one brown stocking. Her long,
thin legs stand straight up in the air as she waves her large black
shoes back and forth. [Pippi Goes on Board, 67]
DANCER IN ROSE: I saw the Ladybugs on The Ed Sullivan Show.
They copied the Beatles. There are four members of the band. Three
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are the daughters on Petticoat Junction. The other one used to be Zelda
on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Im using my new cartridge pen.
GIRL 7 (VO): On this page of whitey white, it looked so good, I
took a bite. (yummy) Good luck next year. Luff ya, Karen
DANCER IN ROSE: I worked at Dads store again today. As
usual, I was in charge of the juice bar. Lots of tourists stopped by. I
walked to the beach after work.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): The ocean is her great escape, a
portal to imaginary worlds. In swimming pools, she likes to race.
DANCER IN ROSE: Rita and I went to Miracle Mile. I bought a
new bathing suit. For my sisters birthday, I was going to buy her a
Give-A-Show Projector, but I bought her a Water Wiggle instead.
Im watching Candid Camera.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Pippi Longstocking is a
lovable nonconformist who gains respect for doing good deeds.
When two small boys are trapped in a tall burning house, only she
has the courage to rescue them, while everyone else, including the
local firefighters, stands by and watches. Once the boys are safe, she
stays to enjoy the fire as long as she can. Horrifying the people on the
ground, who worry that shell fall or get consumed by flames, she
starts to sing and dance, celebrating the victory. She turns the event
into an adventure and has a good time sliding down the rope that
leads her to safetyand to a cheering crowd. What a performance!
[Pippi Longstocking, 13843]
Meg, from A Wrinkle in Time, has adventures that change her
destiny and give her self-confidence. Thanks to the powers of Mrs.
Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, she faces challenges she would
have run from before and learns to think for herself. Shes thrilled
when she finally understands the tesseract. [A Wrinkle in Time, 75]
DANCER IN ROSE: We began practicing for the physical fitness
test at school. Im trying to get in shape for the 600-yard dash by
running around the block. I started this afternoon. The Munsters was
on tonight. The Addams Family was on too.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): A Wrinkle in Time shows how
close Meg is to her father, a famous physicist who has been captured
by an evil force in outer space. She risks so much to rescue him, and
he helps her when shes in danger. To fight off the destructive power
of IT when theyre trapped together, she follows his advice. First, she
recites the periodic table of elements, which he taught her at home
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WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

when they were safe and warm. Then she calculates square roots,
which he also taught her. The strategy works and she escapes, helped
along by her father. [A Wrinkle in Time, 155]
DANCER IN ROSE: A rocket launched from Cape Kennedy
took pictures of the moon. I saw them on TV. Penny, Jenny, Sarah,
and I were playing The Wizard of Oz. We might perform it for our
neighbors. I didnt get a part in the school play because I dont use
enough expression. Rosa brought a piata to school.
GIRL 8 (VO): Some people write up, some people write down,
but silly me, I write around. Be good. Ill see you at Crescent Park
this summer. Kimberly
DANCER IN ROSE: My father said I couldnt do any science
project with dry cells or wire. Almost every project needs that. He
thinks Im a baby. I went to the hardware store anyway and bought
insulated wire, bell wire, a socket, and a bulb. I did the wiring on my
electric quiz game by myself. Pedro didnt help me. It came out pretty
well.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She keeps her locked diary hidden:
for her eyes only.
DANCER IN ROSE: I won a season pass to the summer funtime
movies at the Gables Theatre, in Coral Gables. Next week some boys
who hang out at Crescent Park will be there. I promised Alberto Id
sit with him. Rita and Karen are going too.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Meg has a special relationship
with her youngest brother, Charles Wallace, a genius who gives most
people the impression hes stupid. She protects him from bullies and
he teaches her things. With his help, she discovers how Mrs. Whatsit,
Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which use the fifth dimension to travel through
space, like a shortcut. [A Wrinkle in Time, 7275]
DANCER IN ROSE: Claire and I thought of new ideas for the
display window at school. She had one idea in mind and so did I.
Mrs. Hanley said they were both good ideas. We finally decided on
mine. The fifth Little Miss Universe Contest was on TV tonight from
7:00 to 8:00. A girl from Jamaica won. Contestants were from
Panama, Canada, Korea, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, and America.
Little Miss America and Little Miss Korea were runner-ups.
GIRL 9 (VO): When you get married and have 28, remember
girdles at $2.98! Best wishes, Julie

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DANCER IN ROSE: Khrushchev resigned today. He was the


Communist leader and premier of the USSR. He picked two men to
take his place. I watched the Olympics on television. The contests are
in Tokyo this year. I started writing another story.
We had two arithmetic tests in subtracting. One was timed. I
made 100 percent on both tests. We also had a test on the Pledge of
Allegiance. I made 100 percent on that too. I have to make a report
on Elizabeth Kenny. Now Im watching Patty Duke.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Meg realizes she can be smart
like her super intelligent parents if she works hard. She really wants to
understand time, something she cares deeply about after a painful
ride through the fifth dimension with her father. While regaining
consciousness, she overhears him explaining to her friend Calvin how
time works on the planet Camazotz, where her father had been
trapped. There time is mixed up, he says, not straightforward as it is
on Earth. Meg must be intrigued, because her pulse returns. [A
Wrinkle in Time, 15960]
Pippi Longstocking focuses her attention on this planet, which she
experiences like no one else. One day she even rides her horse to
school. After tying him to a tree, she runs to class and asks whether
shes in time for pluttification. I wish I had a friend like Pippi. [Pippi
Longstocking, 51]
In the next home movie, Dancer in Rose floats on a surfboard at the beach
with several teenage boys.
GIRL 10 (VO): If all the boys lived across the sea, what a good
swimmer you would be. Have fun surfing at South Beach. Carmela
DANCER IN ROSE: Our World Book Encyclopedia arrived today.
So did the dictionary. I bought two Beatles records this afternoon,
She Loves You and Twist and Shout. Mom got mad at me for
almost no reason at all. She sent me to bed. Im writing to you in the
dark.
GIRL 11 (VO): Roses are reddish, violets are bluish, if it werent
for Christmas, we would all be Jewish. Luv, Andrea
DANCER IN ROSE: I didnt write last night because I went to
Tammys slumber party. She used to live in our neighborhood, but
then she moved to a bigger house far away. We danced almost all
night and had a lot of fun. I was the last one to fall asleep. I fell
asleep about 3:00 in the morning and woke up about 6:00. I spent the
day with Tammy and her new friends. We went to the mall. Then we
12

WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

saw a movie called Muscle Beach Party, starring Frankie Avalon and
Annette Funicello. My sister and I took the bus home by ourselves.
Penny got my chain letter.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): She dreams of telling her stories to
other people, of sharing her fantasies and imaginary worlds.
DANCER IN ROSE: My favorite class this year was the language
arts workshop. I received my final evaluation today. Mrs. Pratt said I
complete all my assignments in an excellent, enthusiastic manner.
She also said my original poetry shows careful thought and good
imagery. She even said I have a flair for creative writing. She
hopes Ill continue to be aware of the world around me and express
myself in poetry.
DANCER IN GOLD (video): The waters calming presence
remains in the background, a vital force.
DANCER IN ROSE: Im going to meet one of my pen pals this
weekend. Shes staying at a hotel on Miami Beach. Mom returned our
library books and got us new ones from the main library downtown.
I let Rita have the domestic part of the presidential debate. Im
debating foreign issues. Were supporting LBJ, the Democratic
candidate. Jenny and Tim are going to be on Popeye Playhouse
tomorrow morning.
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): Pippi surprises her friends
Tommy and Annika, and their father, when she admits that shes
going to be a pirate when she grows up. Im not surprised. Are you?
[Pippi Longstocking, 160]
BOY 5 (VO): Hello, my name is Henry Cemetery. Some people
go to heaven, but you will go to Hell(o). . . .
DANCER IN ROSE: I wrote another poem. It goes like this:
Tomorrow will come, tomorrow will go,
With memories left but nothing to show.
Tomorrows are something we do not lack,
But how many yesterdays have ever come back?
CHILDRENS ENSEMBLE (video): We want to remind you that
a tesseract is a wrinkle in time. [A Wrinkle in Time, inside cover]
Members of the childrens ensemble bow, signaling the end of the performance.
Dancer in Rose, standing in front of the video screen, bows too. Along with
everyone else in the audience, Leah applauds. The young performers beam.
More, more, the crowd roars. Finally, Dancer in Rose steps forward.

13

ELAYNE ZALIS

DANCER IN ROSE (to audience): Thank you. Were thrilled you


liked A Childs Space. Weve prepared an encore, so please stay.
On the oversized screen in the background, a video fades in, heralded by
blaring rock music that a childrens rock band pretends to play. Four adolescent
boys who are eleven or twelve years old make up the group, which includes a
guitarist, a drummer, a keyboard player, and a lead vocalist. The boys adopt a
sixties Mod look and have long, shaggy hair. They lip-synch the words to Love
Potion Number Nine, a hit from 1965 that the Searchers made popular. Four
girls close in age to the boys dance alongside the band and intermittently pretend to
sing. Two girls have long, straight hair, and two have Vidal Sassoon bobs. The
girls wear bright miniskirts and knee-high go-go boots. They do the frug, the
swim, and the jerk. Live, in front of the video screen, Dancer in Rose starts
frugging too, like the performers shes seen on Shindig! and Hullabaloo.
DANCER IN ROSE (to audience): The party has begun. Please join
us.
Members of the childrens ensemble, who previously appeared on video, now
regroup live onstage. They start dancing with Dancer in Rose. The videotaped
concert continues to play in the background. Several young people from the
audience go onstage and dance with the others. The excitement spreads to the rest
of the audience. Young and old alike let loose on the sand, Leah among them.
Together they do versions of the frug, the swim, and the jerk, dances that Leah
mastered when she was a young girl. Decades later, her body remembers the moves.
DANCER IN ROSE (to audience): Welcome to 1965. The British
Invasion is in full swing, and pop music of all kinds fills the airwaves,
from the US and abroad. Im in the sixth grade now. This is my
world. Have fun and feel free to sing along.
The band pretends to play Wonderful World by Hermans Hermits. The
original song plays on the soundtrack, and documentary clips of the original
performers are intermixed with the young musicians rendition of the song. This
pattern recurs with each song that follows. The audience sings along throughout the
concert, reviving the tradition of school sings that Leah and her peers enjoyed eons
ago.
Various boys and girls from the childrens ensemble lead the group sing-alongs,
beginning with Wonderful World and continuing through renditions of Help
by the Beatles, (I Cant Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, and
Stop! In the Name of Love by the Supremes.
The concert concludes with Do You Believe in Magic by the Lovin Spoonful.
Dancer in Rose leads this sing-along. All children onstage come together. With gusto
they sing as loudly as they can. So do the participants in the audience.
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WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MAGIC

As the group sing-along winds down, the video fades out and the music ends.
Dancer in Rose speaks one last time.
DANCER IN ROSE (to audience): Thanks. Youve been great.
Enjoy the rest of the festival.
*
The audience disperses and Leah resumes her stroll. What good
fortune, she thinks, to have seen the world again through the eyes of
a child. She soon reaches the portal through which she swam earlier,
a passageway between worlds. On her swim back, for she does feel
compelled to return to South Beach, she retraces the secret route she
mapped out years ago when she was a young girl with magic in her
heart. Before long she reaches her destination, refreshed as always by
an invigorating swim.
As Leah reorients herself to the South Beach of 1995, Do You
Believe in Magic plays in the background. She sings along. Uplifted
by her virtual excursion, she types on her laptop with renewed vigor:
Real and imagined pleasures Ive experienced become part of the citys fabric,
into which is woven my personal history, along with stories of family, friends, and
lovers. I embrace the strands of this history that give my life meaning, guided as
much by a childs longing for fantasy as by a womans desire for truth.
In search of images fixed in time, I discover, instead, an amorphous city that
each inhabitant perceives differently. My tales come together and then disperse, an
endless loop.
Im here because unconscious forces urged me to return, letting me know I was
ready to face the past, a past shaped by memories cultivated from afar. I wander
through spaces that exist only in my mind. I remember what was here once. I
discover whats here now. I imagine what will be. Many eras and settings coexist.
I play a role in an ongoing drama that I watch unfold. Creative juices flow. I
receive more messages than I can process at once.

Notes (A Childs Space)


Madeleine LEngle, A Wrinkle in Time (New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 1962).
Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, trans. Florence Lamborn
(New York: Viking, 1950), and Pippi Goes on Board, trans. Florence
Lamborn (New York: Viking, 1957).

15

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Elayne Zalis, PhD, has an interdisciplinary background in writing,
communications, and the media arts. She explores media in
transition, a range that encompasses film, video, print, digital arts,
and the web. She is interested in what artists and writers are doing
and in what critics and scholars are saying. Her recent work focuses
on personal and cultural memory. She lives in Southern California.
Arellas Repertoire, the novel on which When We Believed in Magic is
based, is available as a paperback and an e-book for major digital
platforms.

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