“Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit…” I would have kept up with my chant had Jacko not thrown a pillow right into my face.
“Oh shut up will you! It’s just a dress!” He cried as he pulled the laces on his shoes.
“It’s not just any dress, Jacko Jackson, it’s my- ballet- show-dress.” I said in a very low whisper, because I was so scared and feared that if I said it even an iota louder, Mistress would hear me back in the dressing rooms and come charging into Jacko’s room and smack me so hard that I wouldn’t have a face to perform with after all. Then I wouldn’t have to perform but it wasn’t much consolation. Already I had missed evening practice yesterday.
“It’s just a tear for crying out loud! Stitch it up or something!” He went on, stamping his foot and admiring the shoes.
“I can’t! Would-” I pushed the sunflower dress towards him.
“No. Don’t even think about it. I am going out with the boys.”
“But won’t you even come to the ballet?”
“Can’t say anything. And mom’s gonna be there anyway.”
“But she doesn’t want to go!” I cried.
“She IS going, right? Want to or not. Have fun.” And Jacko went out, leaving me with my torn dress.
I wore the dress. I hid the tear with the only scarf I own- blue. I know sunflowers aren’t supposed to be blue but it was either that or a smack.
Mommy only said, “Geez, I didn’t know it was so cold!” and laughed at her joke and we drove off, as the horrid sun outside made me itchy in the scarf.
I thought about my position on the way. Just how deep in shit was I. I had a tear in my dress and I was in the front row. I had missed the most important practice last evening thanks to Amelia who made me want to know/play cricket and I was not prepared for any changes that had been made. I had not called up anyone to ask because mommy had been on the phone and I couldn’t explain to her why I needed to talk to a friend so urgently because I couldn’t have her realise I had missed practice, even though it was her job to drop me off.
I could only hope that Mistress had not noticed, though how she would overlook the fact that a front row dancer was missing a DAY before the ballet with no news, no message and no explanation- I didn’t understand. I guess she HAS noticed. Then I’d better hide that tear at least.
Mommy stopped at the school gate, told me to ‘run along’ and she’d be in the hall. But she wasn’t turning off the engine so I asked where she was going and she said, “Oh some urgent matter. But I’ll be there.” and roared off towards the market.
So in I went, without my family to see me, without any clue of procedures, but I was saved for just as I entered backstage, I ran into Alan Boyd.
“OUCH! Look where you are going Jenny Jackson!”
“Alan, I need your help.”
“No, no, no, I am not helping you. You’re just bad news. And anyway, Mistress has put a mark on your name- she says anyone who sees you is to report you to her room IMMEDIATELY. I guess I should just-”
“Oh nooo. She knows. Oh no, Alan please. You have got to help me! Because if you take me to Mistress she will smack me and it will all be because of you!”
“Me? I didn’t not attend practice yesterday!”
“Yes, but I’ll get a smack only if you tell Mistress I am here!”
“Okay, so I might not have seen you after all. But aren’t you going to dance then?”
“Umm… can you cover me, huh?” Since Alan was placed right next to me, it was a pretty good idea. Only Alan didn’t think so.
“No. NO! Bad idea, Jackson. I am NOT in this shit.” He shook his head and tried to get away but I used yesterday’s cricket practice and covered the entire corridor like it was a wicket.
“Alan Boyd, will you really leave me in this all-”
But I couldn’t complete because Alan jumped through between my arm and leg, crashed on the ground, and skippered off fast backstage. I guess he would leave me in the rut.
I followed him backstage. Okay, so I’m on my own. At least I can find out if there are any changes to the setting. On the stage, behind the curtain, cardboard trees and clouds were set, a cardboard train was being moved in and everything was where I expected it. The costumes seemed alright. The lines were familiar-
And that was all I noticed. Because I was whirled around and pulled by the scarf and I had to hold on else it would fall and show the dreadful tear. I looked up and it was Mistress. I looked further up and saw the frown. And so I prayed.
“Jenny Jackson, Where. were. you. yesterday.” Mistress fumed as she shut the door of a classroom behind her. I hadn’t even realised we had entered one.
“I had a cold.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I am not.”
“I didn’t get a message.”
“Mommy probably forgot.”
“I’ll ask her.”
It wasn’t okay but I couldn’t say anything else. Then Mistress looked at the scarf around my neck and I wrapped it tighter. See, I have a cold.
“Sunflowers aren’t blue.”
“I didn’t have it in yellow.”
“Sunflowers aren’t blue.”
She looked at me, I tried not to look at her.
“Oh alright.” and before I could even see what she was doing, she pulled the scarf off and shrieked and jumped back.
“JENNY JACKSON WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR DRESSSSSS!!!!!!!!”
I should probably tell you about the tear now. It’s not just a tear. It’s a canyon. It starts at the neck band, wedges off half the band, then comes down and rips the dress halfway down the back and the stitching comes out in a line in the front. It might not be just a tear. I honestly don’t know how I managed so much destruction.
“What- is this- Jenny?” Mistress breathed heavily.
“I sort of tore my dress a little…”
“A little?! How, did this happen!”
“I was running out and it must have caught in my leg and I must have pulled without looking because I was running out and it was near the edge of the bed so I think that’s when it got tore but I didn’t do it inten-”
Mistress held up a hand.
“You were running out?”
“Why weren’t you in bed?”
“I was trying to make it to the practice when I felt a little better.
“Why would you run to the practice without your dress?”
“Jenny Jackson, don’t lie to me.”
And so I told her everything.
“WHAT?! YOU SKIPPED PRACTICE FOR A RUDDY GAME OF -CRICKET?! AND YOU-YOU HAD THE CHEEK TO LIE TO ME AND YOU TOREEE YOUR DRESS AND YOU DID IT BECAUSE OF CRICKET?!!!”
And that was the end of my dancing days. Because Mistress kicked me out of the ballet, and I had to sit next to Mr. Matthew and watch the entire performance and I didn’t speak because Mr. Matthew wasn’t happy when Mistress told him why I was going to sit next to him and not perform. Mommy didn’t come to see my dance but I guess it was alright because it wasn’t my dance anymore. But the dance was great because Mistress went in, in place of me, and I heard someone say ‘she was a swan’. Weird compliment because she was being a sunflower really.
Why didn’t she just give me another dress, I wondered, because she did manage something for herself after all. Mr. Matthew said it was to teach me a lesson. But I didn’t care about ballet that much so the lesson must be-
If you tear one dress you don’t get another.
Well, that makes sense.