from The Show Ends When The Stoop Breaks by Cris Eli Blak

Genre: Drama

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Nico, an optimistic teen of color in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, prepares to put on a break-dancing performance as they reflect on old dreams and old memories.

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You know, I could make this cardboard into a picket sign, or a billboard, or a bed, or a blanket. I've danced on this street for a few years. I've been the eyes and ears of this here sidewalk, and people watch and they clap along and they say, "Wow, that kid is something else. Real talented," and things like that, and sometimes they even drop money down, and it's always appreciated. Then they leave and I leave and the record continues the next day and the day after that, and I'm starting to realize that all they're doing is watching me speak, they're watching me move, but they're not hearing any of it. See, with every step I take, there's a meaning, a message, a verse. Listen.

(Nico does a move.)

Do you hear it?

(They do another.)

What about now? Sometimes I'm talking about joy. Sometimes I'm talking about pain. Do you feel it? I do. When my feet hit the ground like this, it takes me back to easier times when me, Keenan and Ramy used to make beats on the fire escapes. We'd quite literally escape in our own minds, close our eyes and imagine that we were playing to a sold-out, packed crowd in a giant arena. They all came to hear us beat. Then while they were making sounds, I would walk to the front of the stage, and the crowd would go wild. I mean big cheers, crazy noise, chanting my name. Wild stuff. I'd lift one foot, and they'd get even louder. Then my mom would call me to come in for lunch or homework, and I'd be right back on the fire escape. No biggie though, 'cause I knew that every night I had permission to dream. And I did. But now—I haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of nights, and I don't know what to do without any dreams to lean on. I don't know who to be. I don't know what to say.