Fiction: The Flying Ballet

February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 13 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It is a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern.

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

The Flying Ballet

R & J

Stuck at home with her mother, the summer holidays seemed to last for ever. But now she was 17, she knew this would be the last summer that her mother would have the final say. Her mother knew it too and followed her around the house, constantly talking away at her. Ariel felt like she was the pepper in a pot, with her mother constantly grinding away.

Still she was quietly rebellious and yet, she said nothing to her mother. Ariel knew how it would be. She just had to wait it out and then she would have her adult freedom.

3 weeks into the holiday, her relentless boredom gave way to jangling excitement. She felt that Mariel was soon to manifest. As usual Ariel skulked in her bedroom, slowly waiting.

When Mariel arrived, finally and inexorably, it was a bright, smart day. As usual she was brisk and bristling. And this time she had a very special treat up her gossamer sleeve. “Today my darling, I’m taking you to Covent Garden. Dress elegantly now. We are going to the ballet. I’ve pulled some celestial strings and got us into the latest production at the Royal Opera House.”

Ariel was both excited and bothered. “But I’ve nothing to wear to an Opera House, have I?!” She demurred.

“Oh don’t fuss, we’re off to a sneaky Saturday matinee, not summoned there by personal Royal appointment. Honestly, it’s about prima ballerinas today – not prima donnas! Tiaras aren’t necessary, silly sylph – just throw on your favourite pretty dress and let’s go – come on, do!”

“Well how would I know?” countered Ariel “It’s not the Garsington Hippodrome, is it?!”

“Well then Ariel, this is all part of your continuing education. Don’t worry about the dress code, no one will be judging you. Just dress to be happy – but do it quickly – we have to leave now!”

Mariel took off and indicated for Ariel to follow. “The simplest way to find London” she whispered, “is to follow the rail network. All the local tracks from this place lead to the capital.”

Ariel was delighted by this premise. She could so easily find the station and then fly on to any number of destinations.

“Now don’t think you can just follow the tracks to anywhere” her mentor continued in a conscious contradiction, “as a navigational device this is not always the wisest way. As with all journeys, you must chose the most appropriate means for your purpose. It just so happens that this line to London is a nice direct route that cuts quickly across the country from here to there.”

It was a sunny, clear day and so they cruised high above the London line. The air was thin and clean and there was hardly any wind to either cut across or glide upon. It was gorgeous flying weather.

Suddenly Mariel signalled to for them to drop lower and then sped downwards, making as if to dive bomb the 12.17 to London Euston. Ariel followed with a joyously reckless lack of caution.

Mariel raced to the front of the train, then looped back and round, showing off a particularly stunning reverse spin manoeuvre. Ariel was not even going to attempt that, but she swooped after her and looped over the train up and over from side to side.

When a tunnel came into sight, Mariel hovered over the driver’s cab and held out her hand to Ariel. Together they flew just a couple of feet from the engine, rushing from the outside light into the inside dark.

It was as if they were gripped in a vacuum of time, held firmly in the rush of air between the train and the roof of the tunnel. They were swept along, impelled by the roaring rush. It was loud and dirty and wonderful. Ariel kept her breathing focussed and as light as possible. She knew not to inhale the fowl diesel stink, in that dank, compressed space. The danger was thrilling. They had to balance perfectly between the roof of the train and the roof of the tunnel, with barely a foot to spare. Mariel gripped Ariel’s hand lightly and tightly, showing her best how to balance and to feel the air pressure – using it to guide the slightest of movements that adjusted them and kept them safe and straight.

Then through the dirty darkness Ariel could then see the light at the end rushing towards them and suddenly they were out in the light bright open. Mariel shot upwards, pulling Ariel breathlessly higher and higher, shooting up into the highest reaches of the blue, almost cloudless sky.

Now Ariel breathed deeply and coughed out the tiny vestiges of diesel stench from her lungs. She knew though, that her clothes absolutely stank of it. But she couldn’t care less – her heart was beating with the beautiful adrenaline buzz of it all.

They touched down in a London park and Mariel took her the rest of the way via the more mundane method of The Underground. “You’re getting the full London experience today, sweetie” she said “and that includes shopping.” To Ariel’s ecstatic delight, Mariel took her to a very tiny and trendy boutique somewhere down a side street near Leicester Square; where they both changed into new designer dresses that somehow were waiting to be collected and, needless to say, fitted just perfectly…

With little time to spare, they arrived at the grand edifice of the Royal Opera House. Mariel made for one of the smartly clad male attendants and motioned for Ariel to stand back whilst she talked to him. She wondered what wonderful seats Mariel had organised. May be they were even in a box… Looking over though, the conversation didn’t seem to be going well.

Mariel motioned her over to them. “Ah, Miss, I was just explaining to your aunt that unfortunately the seats I had reserved for her, have now been taken by another party… I can’t find you any seats today I’m afraid”. Ariel was completely crestfallen. “However”, the man in uniform continued, “you can stand at the back of the auditorium and watch from there if you would like.”

Mariel looked quietly cross “it’s your decision Ariel.”

“Well then, let’s stay” Ariel replied.

Their companion walked with them, grabbing a Programme along the way; then took them pass the ticket collectors for the stalls and showed them the sweep of the balustrade at the back of the theatre. “So then, I’ll see you after the show” he said with mock confidence. Mariel sniffed and turned her head from him. He walked stiffly and swiftly away.

“Well, really” bristled Mariel “the absolute cheek of it. He promised me seats. I must be losing my touch. Should have used deeper, more convincing magic, but thought he was a sure thing…”

Suddenly she was aware of Ariel looking at her with wide and interested eyes. “Well, I suppose it is a Saturday matinee on a summer afternoon – what did I expect? Are you alright here darling? We will have to stand for an awfully long time.”

“Er, we can always leave if our legs get tired of standing” Ariel said in lame placation.

“You’re right, my sweet, let’s wait it out and sneak off if we get bored” Mariel responded.

Ariel felt a little stupid, hanging round awkwardly at the back of the theatre, so she concentrated on reading the Programme to hide her disappointment. They had come to see a production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and she read that the prima ballerina dancing the role of the 14 year Juliet was 44 years old. It seemed somehow ancient for a dancer.

Standing up for hours on end was not going to be fun either, but out of quiet politeness, she was determined to see it through.

The lights went down and the hubbub of the audience quieted to a reverent hush.

Suddenly Ariel was held in a familiar world of supreme orchestral sound. She recognised the music immediately. It was one of the many classical records her Cornish aunts played to her on the hissing old gramophone in their music room.

Then the dancing started and she was entranced. To the 17 year old Ariel, 44 may have seemed old for a ballerina to be dancing the part of a teenage girl, yet this woman danced and acted like a graceful 14 year old. She was light and flighty and beautiful. Her movements flowed sinuously and gracefully along, partnering the music perfectly. The scenes of the ballet swept by. The stage was filled with sumptuously clad dancers, then faded and honed in to delightful duets and spotlighted solos.

Suddenly it was the interval. “Oh, Mariel, it’s marvellous” burbled Ariel. But before she could say any more, she noticed that Mariel’s male friend had returned with 2 glasses of champagne.

“Thank you Charles” Mariel said to him tersely and dismissed him with a turn of her back.

Ariel giggled, only to be silenced by a reproachful look from her companion. Charles turned on his heel and marched off towards the artificial semi light of the nearest exit.

“What does he expect for standing room only” said Mariel. “Men!”

After the show, Ariel wafted out of the theatre in a semi delirious high.

“Now, I know just the thing – come!” Mariel said, striding ahead. Ariel could barely keep up, weaving in and out of the theatre goers and tourists all around them.

Many walking twists and turns later and they fetched up at a tiny Mediterranean delicatessen. Mariel settled at one of their tiny plastic tables and motioned to Ariel to do the same. The balding middle aged proprietor bustled out and greeted Mariel enthusiastically, looking her up and down and lavishing his greetings with many compliments. They continued to converse in… Ariel couldn’t be sure… Possibly it was Greek…

Next came the business of carefully choosing a number of delicious treats to take home. Selections were made with much discussion, hand waving, sniffing and tasting of the foodie goods, until the chosen items were boxed up and slipped carefully in to paper bags. Proffered coffee the consistency of tar was also consumed by Mariel, but a clean gleaming liquor was roundly and smilingly refused. Ariel watched in wonder.

They flew back home languorously in the dark, back along the railway line. Mariel stopped short of Ariel’s home and handed her a box from the deli. “That is for your dinner, my dancing girl” she said and suddenly was gone from sight.

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, what ever it holds for you… It is of course the perfect Valentine gift. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites any where in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)


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