It was a few days before the end of term, and they were all rehearsing for the Speech Day entertainment. Everyone was involved, but Mark and Julie had been picked out especially as they had done so well in the school show last term.
They had quite a few lines each even if they were only first years and had also been picked to do ballet duet together.
They were both very excited because this was their first chance proper chance to shine in front of the whole school.
They were in the middle of practising though when Julie’s pointe shoes broke.
Julie had been pirouetting en pointe when she suddenly fell, and Mark, fortunately, caught her.
“Are you ok Julie? What happened?” he panicked; Julie never messed up.
“I’m fine,” she said glaring down at her shoes.
“My shoes have worn out!”
Julie’s pointe shoes had been running fairly thin for a while, and you never got all that much wear out of pointe shoes in the first place because they were so fragile.
“You’ll have to try and get some new one’s then,” sighed Mr Wells who ran the music and drama department.
He only had two days left until Speech Day, and he had a lot of rehearsals to get through.
Julie seemed like she was close to tears and as she and Mark got down from the stage so that the next section could practise.
“What’s up Jules?” asked Harry.
“My pointe shoes have ruddy broken is whats up,” she grumbled.
“Well haven’t you got another pair?” asked Harry.
“If I had another pair, do you think I’d be this upset?” she snapped.
“You’ve got at least five pairs of dance shoes Julie!” said Charlie.
“I don’t have five I have three,” she corrected, “tap, ballet and pointe shoes, which have just broken.”
“Won’t any of those do?” asked Athene.
“I wouldn’t be proper,” sighed Mark, “she couldn’t do the pointe work.”
“We could do it barefoot!” suggested Mark.
Julie gave him a look as if to say that she would rather die than dance in front of the whole school and their parents barefoot.
Anthony bit his lip slightly.
“Couldn’t you ring home?” he asked, “it’s not for two days.”
“They could bring them with them,” added Athene, “when they come for Speech Day.”
“It would be tight on timing,” muttered Mark, “but it might work.”
The six of them rushed off to the Common Room the moment they were dismissed and crowded around the phone as Julie called her parents.
“Hello Mummy, Daddy,” said Julie cheerfully down the phone.
“Yes, we’re all fine.”
Julie bit her lip slightly.
“I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of a favour to ask.”
“Yes I know you’re picking me up in two days, it is very important though.”
“I need a new pair of pointe shoes,” she muttered.
“A new pair of pointe shoes,” she repeated.
“Yes of course I’ve heard of rationing Mummy, I know there are more important things I need.”
“Yes I know things are in short supply Daddy!” she exclaimed.
“But this is really important!” she pleaded, “It’s our first proper chance to show everyone what we can really do!”
“If I don’t have any we’ll have to dance barefoot!”
“Can you please at least try?” she begged.
“Thank you, Mummy! Thank you, Daddy!”
“See you soon!”
“They’re going to try, but things don’t look hopeful,” she muttered.
“Why don’t we go swimming?” asked Harry.
“It’s boiling and it could get your mind off things for a bit,” said Mark.
“You lot go without me,” muttered Julie.
The others all shrugged and got changed into their swimming costumes and grabbed towels.
They clearly weren’t the only ones with the idea of cooling off, there were about a dozen people in the pool.
They swam around for about an hour, and the cold water had never felt so good!
“Can I hear thunder?” asked Athene as she came up from under water.
She looked up at the sky and saw that it was getting steadily darker.
“Run for it!” yelled Harry.
The dozen students who had been swimming jumped out of the pool and rushed inside as fast as their legs could carry them before the storm started.
“That was a close one!” sighed Harry breathlessly as the storm started as they got inside.
“It wouldn’t have made much difference,” laughed Charlie.
“We’re already wet,” laughed Mark.
They stopped laughing suddenly though when they reached the dormitory. Julie was sat on the floor by Athene’s bed, trying on a pair of ancient pointe shoes, and her shoebox was on the windowsill. The window had been open because of the heat.
“What’s going on Julie?” asked Mark coldly.
Julie whipped her head around with a look of surprise on her face, she had thought they’d be another half an hour at least. The thought of their being a pair of pointe shoes under the bed next to hers when she needed them so desperately had been haunting her, and she had been right they were a perfect fit.
At that moment there was a sudden gust of wind, and the shoebox that had been balancing on the windowsill flew straight out the window to the driveway three floors before.
“No no no!” screamed Athene rushing over to look out the window.
It was now chucking it down with rain, and her parent’s things had landed in a rapidly forming muddy puddle.
Athene dropped her towel and rushed back downstairs to try and salvage what she could.
Charlie who had been standing at the edge of the room with a look of disbelief on her face, suddenly flew across the room dropping her towel.
“You selfish, spoilt, cow!” she screamed as she slapped Julie across the face.
“You never learn do you!” screamed Charlie, “you only ever care about yourself.”
Julie didn’t respond for a moment.
“It’s not my fault the stupid box fell out the window!” said Julie shaking her head, “it was just old bits of paper.”
Charlie who had been trying her best to keep her temper suddenly tackled her to the floor and started pulling at her hair again.
The three boys didn’t know what to do, they were still shocked about what was going on, the only one who had his wits about him was Mark, and he was having far too much fun watching Julie and Charlie thrash about on the ground to stop them.
“Charlotte Mackenzie! Juliet Fforbes Hamilton, you stop that this instant!”
Charlie leapt off Julie and they both stood up, shocked at their first names being used. Julie was still wearing the old pointe shoes.
Mr Mitchell was standing in the doorway next to a very wet and bedraggled Athene who was sobbing.
They thought they had seen Mr Mitchell angry before, but they were clearly wrong, he was fuming!
“Get changed and meet in my office in ten minutes,” he seethed in a voice barley above a whisper. Five of the six of them were still in wet swimming costumes.
The five students just stared at him.
“Now!” he yelled.
They scattered to go and get changed as quickly as possible. Athene was still sobbing as she got changed, all her parents’ things were ruined, the rain had made the ink run on the letters and ruined the already old newspaper clippings.
Julie placed the ballet shoes back on Athene’s bed.
“I’m sorry Athene,” she muttered.
Athene just shook her head before she kept crying.
“Sorry!” screamed Charlie.
“You’ve just ruined her parents’ stuff! And all you have to say is sorry!”
“Charlie this is bad enough,” said Harry in the doorway, “don’t start attacking her again now.”
Charlie took a deep breath and left the room still glaring at Julie.
“Come on Athene,” muttered Anthony putting an arm around her as they headed downstairs.
The six students waited outside Mr Mitchell’s office, five of them still had soaking wet hair from swimming.
Mr Mitchell came to the door, he was still fuming.
“In!” he said firmly.
The six of them went into the office.
Charlie was still glaring at Julie which was difficult because Athene and Anthony were sitting between them.
Julie tried to open her mouth to talk.
“Did I tell you could speak?” asked Mr Mitchell raising his eyebrows so far, they nearly reached his hairline.
“No sir,” muttered Julie.
“Then don’t,” he said abruptly.
“It may interest you to know that I had your parents on the phone not half an hour ago Julie, they’d found you a pair of pointe shoes in a shop in London and were going to go and collect them tomorrow.”
Julie looked shocked.
“It’s a shame isn’t it that I’m going to have to tell them not to bother, as you won’t be needing them.”
Mark’s mouth dropped open.
Julie bit her lip slightly and stared at her shoes. It wasn’t that that was unfair, she was going to ask to be withdrawn from the show anyway.
“It’s alright sir, I don’t deserve to be in the show anymore,” she muttered.
“Hmm,” muttered Mr Mitchell.
“If it wasn’t so close to the end of term you might have got suspended Julie you know that?”
“I know that sir,” she muttered.
“As it is, you will both be coming here tomorrow night for detention.”
“And you have to apologise to Athene Julie.”
“She’s already done that sir,” said Athene quietly.
“I should ruddy well hope so,” said Mr Mitchell.
“Julie, you have two parents who cater to your every whim, not everyone is quite so lucky. Athene had very few memories of her parents, and now she has even less!”
“I know I really am sorry Athene!”
“It’s ok,” shrugged Athene.
“Just to let you know,” muttered Athene, “if you’d actually asked, I would have let you borrow them.”
Charlie and Harry had to do their best to fight back a quick laugh, and Julie blushed deeply.
At this moment Mr Wells came rushing into the room having just heard the whole thing.
“Michael!” he said breathlessly, “you cant seriously think about pulling Julie out of the show!”
“I don’t have to,” said Mr Mitchell.
Mr Wells sighed in relief.
“She already pulled out herself.”
“She what!” yelled Mr Wells.
“But they’re the pinnacle of the whole show! Without them, the whole second half falls to pieces! We need them as a transition, so the others have time to change!”
“It’s up to her not me,” sighed Mr Mitchell, “she already knows what’s she’s done is wrong!”
“Look Julie I know what you did was wrong! But you can’t just let me down like this!”
“I don’t deserve to be in show sir!” cried Julie looking up at him tears in her eyes.
“Julie, if you pull out now, I don’t have time to replace you! Even if there was someone else who could fill in which there isn’t, they couldn’t learn the routine on time!”
“I know that!”
“You’re not just letting me down, you’re letting the whole school down!”
Julie took a deep breath and looked between Mr Mitchell and Mr Wells, almost as if unsure which one to listen to.
“Tell you what,” sighed Mr Mitchell, “two hours of lines tomorrow night and we’ll forget the whole thing.”
“And um, I won’t ring your parents to cancel the shoes.”
“I just hope you’ve learnt your bloody lesson this time.”
“Yes sir of course sir!” she stammered.
“I really am sorry Athens!”
“I know,” said Athene smiling slightly, “I know how important this thing is to you.”
“And you young lady,” he said looking at Charlie, “learn to keep your temper!”
“Yes sir,” nodded Charlie.
“And remember,” he said smirking, “no tackling off the rugby pitch!”
“Yes sir!” she chuckled.