The Grand Neopian Travelling Circus: Part Three
Sinead stared gloomily out the classroom window. Her pencil sat next to the maths exam paper, which was dejectedly blank in most of the boxes.
She sighed, peering out at Shelly the Turtum in the yard, who was inspecting a forgotten lettuce sandwich left on a bench. The sun was peeping grumpily out from the fluffy grey clouds. She saw Shelly slowly chew on a piece of lettuce, letting the bread slide off onto the ground.
Several puddle ducks on their way from the pond spotted it, and waddled over to inspect it. Sinead sighed, and focused on her exam. Using reverse indices, complete the equations, it said. She felt as if her brain had suddenly turned to cotton wool. Raising her hand, she then realized the teacher had left the room.
It'll be okay. I'll just try my best, and that's all that will matter. It's what she always seemed to come to in these situations, and she hoped it would suffice. It had been six weeks since she began her ballet lessons, and she was enjoying them more and more.
But she felt stressed out. Tori had not been able to pay her bills on time for the third instance that month, and though Madam Amelie had insisted she'd rather Sinead come to ballet without paying than not and Tori insisted they would manage soon, it seemed like she might have to give up her lessons.
She scrawled down some hopeful answers in the test boxes and handed it to the teacher as the bell rang. Heading outside for lunch, she was silent as her classmates babbled about the test results, some nervous, some confident. Sitting on the bench alongside the basketball court where Shelly was still munching lettuce, she unwrapped her lunch; a parcel of sandwiches filled with peanut butter and some pear jam she, Tori and Chloe had made the other day. Feeling depressed, she gave a smidgen of pear jelly to Shelly, who licked it cautiously.
'What's up?' Nina asked as she arrived, sitting down next to Sinead.
She sighed again, looking down at her sandwich. 'Oh, well, it's just that we can't really afford to keep me learning ballet at the moment - and Chloe's starting school soon, and everything.'
'Oh,' Nina said thoughtfully. 'We'll think of something. Are you going to eat that?' she inquired, looking at Sinead's increasingly soggy sandwich clutched in her hand.
She shook her head.
'Good - come on, let's go to the gym.' she said, accepting Sinead's sandwich.
Nina fiddled about with the music player she had brought, until she came to a track they liked.
'Come on,' she said, and they stepped into the center.
The lights were focused on them, the basketball hoops tucked into the roof. The gym floor was nice and smooth, and the ample space made their voices echo and bounce around the room.
The beat started playing, and a nice piano melody. Sinead recognized it quickly - it was Yes Boy Ice Cream.
She chuckled, bending her knees, then stretching up and around in an elegant turn, eyes focused on her spot. Stepping onto one leg and letting the other rise upwards to the back, she held one arm out behind her and the other stretched out the front. She held this position for a moment, then melted back down, skipping backwards, jumping whilst crossing and uncrossing her feet, and swirling around the room in a dozen chainé turns.
Nina sashayed and twirled, kicking out her toes and raising her arms in the air. Grabbing hands, they swirled in and out, circling the room, joined with linked hands. The song ended with a staying note, the Aishas poised in their finishing positions. Curtsying deeply, they both laughed and congratulated each other.
'I can't wait 'till our concert in May,' Sinead said breathlessly.
Nina fell silent, a wide grin growing on her face. Then she said quietly, 'I've got an idea!'
'This was a great idea, Nina,' Sinead said excitedly, for the millionth time since the past few days. 'Everyone will get to see us dancing. Maybe the leader of the Royal Neopian Ballet will see us. We'll be stars!'
'Yeah,' Nina said nervously, then smiled, laying out her cap in front of their dancing space. They were situated in the busy Neopian marketplace, which was always buzzing with activity on a Saturday, where they were going to busk for everyone, and hopefully earn some Neopoints. Over the last few days they had been putting together a dance routine, half classical and half modern. After a lot of consideration, they had finally decided upon their most favorable song; Dancing in the Evening Rain by Yes Boy Ice Cream.
A small crowd was gathering around their area, watching in anticipation as Nina assembled their music speakers.
'Maybe we should get Anna and Sophire and everyone to dance with us and play music - Anthony plays the guitar, he told me,' Sinead said, trying to calm herself.
Nina agreed. 'That'd be brilliant - like a travelling circus!' she said.
'The Grand Neopian Travelling Circus,' Sinead whispered.
Even more people had stopped to see what was going on. They spotted a few of their friends including Jimmy, Ben and Anna in the crowd, who waved and whistled.
'I think it's our cue, Sinead,' Nina said. They both nodded, and took deep breaths, then stood to face their audience.
'Greetings, Neopians!' Sinead announced dramatically, seeing in the corner of her eye Nina taking her face in her hands. 'We have a very special lineup for today - and on the behalf of me and my friend, we present to you, the -' she racked her brain for an idea. Had they chosen a name? Aha! '-the Grand Neopian Travelling Circus!'
The pets cheered. Nina quickly set the music, and they settled in their starting positions. They counted every beat in the music, flushing in anticipation as the piano started playing, quickly and softly, until they recognized their cue.
Spinning forward, they stood straight and took hands, each twirling outwards and bowing to each other. Reaching towards the sky, they skipped to a center they could position their moves in. A graceful arabesque, foot stretched out behind, arms curved in an unbroken line. An attitude, leg curved out to the back and around, then straightened out behind, arms stretched forward, looking up, smiling. Turning, tightly and smoothly, feet pointed, then out to the side, hopping onto bent knee and up again. Weaving in and out in between each other, They leapt energetically as Anthony, Sophire, Jimmy, Ben and Anna joined their ranks, skipping, jumping, swirling. Pleasantly surprised, Sinead and Nina linked hands with everyone for the last moments of the song, before sinking into flourishing curtsies, the audience applauding appreciatively.
People clapped and cheered. Sinead and Nina couldn't stop grinning. Neopoints plopped into the hat, and they thanked them. Anthony was showing a young Zafara how to do a chainé turn, and Sophire whispered something in Jimmy's ear. Then a familiar voice rang out through the throng. 'Encore! Encore!' it called joyously.
Sinead saw Tori's face emerge, bright and beaming, with an ecstatic Chloe leaping at her side.
'I knew it was going to be a good surprise!' Chloe yelled, before knocking the air out of Sinead in a huge hug.
Tori herded all the dancers up again. Breathless with excitement, Sinead prepared her starting position, the next song coming on in a flurry of anticipation. Listening for the count, she stepped forward, one foot behind the other. This time, she was ready for anything.
'And bend ...' Tori instructed, as the slow, flowing music played. 'And ... stretch.'
A row of young Neopets stood holding the tops of chairs for support, as they lowered themselves as gracefully as they could down into neat pliés, and straightened up again, except for the Jubjubs, who sort of sprung up and down bouncily in time with the music. Chloe was positioned at the front of the class, her long tail swishing with excitement. She always finished her movements with a flourish, to the delight of the other pets.
Sinead had entered the warm, sun soaked hall, smiling, as all the pets' owners sat watching at the back of the room. Months had passed since she'd started her ballet lessons and after speaking with Anthony's owner James, Tori had decided to become a dance teacher for all the youngsters.
'You see, it turns out I was doing a little too much for our garden,' she said rather downcast, to Chloe and Sinead. Brightening, she said, 'but I've decided to start some small, weekly classes for young dancers like you, Chloe. Do you have any friends who are aspiring ballerinas?' she asked, lifting Chloe and swirling her around the room, while the young Shoyru instantly rattled off a long list of people she was sure would love to attend class.
She waited 'till the end of class to meet Tori, as she was giving out stickers to the enthusiastic young pets. 'Look at you, all made and dressed up!' she said, as she waved goodbye to one of the pets.
Sinead was wearing her costume Tori had made for her - a silky, sky blue dress with floaty, powder blue gauze over the top. She had been made up a little while ago with Nina, her face powdered with tiny blue wings from each eyelid, cherry red lip gloss daubed on her lips. When she smiled, her whole face shone.
'Shall we go then, your highness?' Tori asked, with a bow.
Chloe took her hand. 'We can't wait for your concert,' she said happily. 'Will there be faeries there?'
'Maybe,' Sinead said shyly, noticing all the people looking at her. 'Shall we walk?'
'Why not?' Tori laughed, packing her music away and taking their hands.
Sinead stood behind the curtain, eyes shining. She could hear the sweet song. She went over the dancing in her head, feeling the exhilaration building. She peered through the gap in the material, to all the audience, to Tori and Chloe's excited faces. Outside the windows, a gigantic storm was brewing.
'We're going to do this brilliantly,' Nina whispered. 'We're going to make contact tonight!'