Spring Cleaning

by Joanne Grier


The tunnel residents scurried back and forth, ferrying a steady stream of boxes into the Great Hall.  Spring was in full bloom Above, and the traditional spring cleaning was underway with all their Helpers, which, in turn, meant the tunnels were inundated with items.  Over the years, Mary and all the ladies learned to unpack and sort using the Great Hall as a distribution center, as there was no other available space large enough to hold all the boxes and the plethora of treasures.

Cullen and Vincent finished carrying down the latest haul from the Mallon warehouse gathering point. The Great Hall looked like a mobile army had moved in, so high was the stack of boxes, furniture, bags, and whatnots.

Conversations echoed, and laughter was heard in addition to shouts of glee when particular exciting treasures were discovered.  Samantha and her team members were in charge of opening the boxes and marking them for content, and then the older boys carried them to the appropriate station for sorting and distribution.  Along with being the group team leader, Samantha was also in charge of maintaining a list of the box contents and who had sent the box.  Mary and Father were firm believers in the discipline of thank you notes.

Various members of the group gave exclamations of delight as they looked through the boxes. “Oh, wow, look at these!” “They will be great for our store of costumes for plays and recitals.  We hardly ever get costumes, but these are super cool.”  Digging through the box, the children discovered costumes for knights and their ladies, prairie clothing suitable for settler or western themes, and several lengths of silk suitable for sari’s for East Indian epics.

Near the very bottom of the box was one tutu wrapped around a pair of shoes.  “If we had more of these, we could give a ballet.”

“Yes,” Samantha replied, “it would be dreamy to give a ballet.  Maybe we could figure out a way to do The Nutcracker or Swan Lake.  Let’s talk to Father and Mary after we finish.  Maybe they’ll be able to think of some way.”

A lunch break was called, and the happy, laughing groups headed above to the communal dining hall.  Samantha stayed behind, carefully completing her notes.  As she wrote, she longingly looked at the tutu, visualizing herself dancing to the haunting music of Swan Lake.  She remembered when Lisa had returned Below after leaving years ago, and all her false praise, how crushed she had been when she discovered Lisa’s falsehood. Lisa had praised her dancing, telling her how much promise Samantha had. Later, Samantha had overheard Lisa repeating the same identical words to another young girl.  She had wept bitter tears knowing how petty and untrustworthy Lisa was.

Curiosity got the best of her and carefully she unrolled the tutu.  Inside was a pair of ballet shoes.  She stared for several long minutes and then quickly tugged off her shoes, slipping her feet into the slippers.  Tying the ribbons, she flexed her foot and admired how they looked on her feet.  Standing, she stepped into the tutu and fastened it around her slim waist.

She moved away from the clutter of boxes and slowly turned and spun to the music only she heard within her mind.  She dipped and swayed, her arms out stretched as her feet mimicked the quick running steps of a ballerina.  Her smile was radiant as she moved across the stone floor, and within she saw not the Great Hall but the glittering lights of the grand stage at Carnegie Hall.

From near the gigantic doors Vincent stepped quietly into the Great Hall, wishing to check that everyone had left before he closed the doors to keep the hall warm until they returned.  Silently, he stood watching as Samantha danced.  Seeing her so happy, he rejoiced as he watched.  She tottered on the brink of young womanhood, no longer a child yet not a woman either.  Softly he sighed as he envisioned the beauty she would become and briefly longed for the tiny girl who was positive he could fix all of life’s painful moments.

Quietly he walked toward her, aware that she had not seen nor heard his approach.  “You look most becoming fairy princess, and I am honored that you allowed me to witness your performance.  Your other subjects will surely be envious.  May I escort you to the feast?”  He bowed and then captured her hand and brought it to his lips.  “Your subjects await, and I’m sure they are eager for your company.”

Samantha giggled and smiled, knowing that Vincent would keep her dance a secret.  “Dear fair and perfect knight, if you would wait in yon chair, I must change my slippers and then we shall dine.”

After tugging on her shoes, Samantha stood and walked over to Vincent.  Once again he stood, bowed and took her small hand within his larger one.  “Let us be away to join yon feasting.”


The End



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