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A Talent for Ainsley
by Debora Dyess
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A Talent for Ainsley

The talent show was only two days away. Riley knew what he would do at the show. He could sing better than any other boy in the class. Elisabeth knew what she would do, too. She had been taking tap dance classes for a long time. She was great. Lee knew what he would do at the show. Everyone had watched him juggle at his birthday party. He never missed.

The show would be super. Everyone was ready.

Everyone except Ainsley.

Ainsley worried about the show almost all the time, now. She had lots of friends, made good grades, and normally felt pretty good about her life. But, as the time for the show grew closer, Ainsley realized something she had never known before: she had no talent.

"I could teach you to sing," Riley offered as the group ate lunch in the school cafeteria.

"No you can't," Elisabeth said. "I've heard her sing at church."

Lee laughed and little drops of milk dripped out his nose and onto the table.

"Gross!" Ainsley said as Lee wiped his nose with his napkin.

"How about dancing with me?" Elisabeth said, trying not to look at Lee. "I can show you a few steps and we can work you into the routine."

Ainsley shook her head. "I think I'm a little too clumsy to try to dance—especially in front of people. And I don't have tap shoes, anyway."

"How about juggling?" Lee offered.

Ainsley sighed. "No. Juggling and dancing and singing are your things. I need to find my own thing—my very own talent."

She was still worrying about it at dinner that night.

"You just need to dig one up," Ainsley's little brother Harry said.

"Dig one up?" Dad asked. He looked as confused by what Harry said as Ainsley felt.

Harry nodded. "Just like in the Bible. Preacher said some guys had extra talents so they buried them. So if Ainsley digs around in enough spots then maybe she'll find talents that somebody buried. I can help. I like digging." He smiled, thinking about getting down in the dirt.

Mom smiled. "That's not the same kind of talent," she told Harry. "Those people called their money talents, just like our money is called dollars."

"Are you sure?" Harry didn't look like he believed her. "That's a pretty goofy name for money."

Mom nodded. "I'm sure."

Harry took a bite of hamburger, chewed for a minute and said, "Well, okay. But I still think she should start digging."

"You do lots of things well, Ainsley," Dad said. "Just pick one of them."

Ainsley sighed. "I read well and I can do math well and I can make good grades on tests. I don't think anyone will be too impressed with that, Dad."

"I'm impressed," Dad said.

"But not on a stage! That's different. I can't sing or dance or draw or do tricks!! I don't have any talents at all!" She felt like crying.

"Just think of the things that you can do that make you the most proud," Mom said. "And, if you want to be in the show that badly, find a way to do it there."

"Like what?" Ainsley asked.

"You make faces in the mirror real good," Harry said. "Try that."

Ainsley made a face at him.

"I'm not going to tell you, Ainsley," Mom said, acting like she hadn't heard Harry. "You can figure this out for yourself."

The next day Ainsley showed up for school smiling for the first time in a week.

"You thought of something to do for the show!" Elisabeth guessed.

Ainsley nodded, still smiling.

"Well," Lee said, "you've already said you're not doing anything we're doing."

"That's right," Ainsley said.

"Are you in a play?" Riley guessed.

"Are you going to say a poem?" Elisabeth guessed.

"I bet you're going to do a baton thing," Lee guessed.

"None of the above," Ainsley laughed. "And you'll have to wait and see tomorrow night."

The night of the show arrived. It was a super show, just like everyone knew it would be. Riley sang 'Belly of the Whale'. Elisabeth tap-danced and never missed a beat. Lee juggled six balls at one time. Everyone clapped and cheered as students finished their acts.

Ainsley stood at the stage entrance. She hugged each student before they went on stage and reminded them of how good their act looked. And when they were finished she clapped and cheered louder than anyone else.

After the show the four friends met backstage.

"I missed your act, Ainsley," Riley said. "I guess you were on while I went to the bathroom."

"I didn't see it, either," Elisabeht said. "And I didn't go to the bathroom."

Ainsley smiled. "You saw me," she said. "Just not on the stage."

Lee frowned. "You mean you did your act off stage?"

"It wasn't an act!" Ainsley laughed. "I figured out what my talent is. It's the thing I do better than anything else. It's the thing God gave me to make me special."

Lee looked confused. "What is it?" he asked.

"Well," Ainsley smiled, "I'm not able to sing or dance or juggle like you guys. But the one thing I do know how to do really well is to be a good friend. That's what I did tonight. That's my talent."

Ainsley's three friends all nodded their heads. And then, all at once, they began to clap and cheer. Ainsley took a bow, proud that she had discovered her very special talent.

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