It sits upon a shelf. I grasp it delicately to lift down lodging dust free that tickles my nose and teases a sneeze. It is old, once a gift to my mother from my father. The cracks are still visible from many breaks caused by little chubby fingers unable to resist its enchantment. A fine porcelain music box, “The Ballerina” as we always called her. Arms arching gracefully her head tilted, delicate, refined. She is on Pointe and wants to draw me to my toes. Her white tutu is speckled with gold and seems to shimmer as she dances across the pond. A swan sits by her feet as she skirts the floating lily, the flower now all but gone. Etched in white waves circle the base. I twist it ever so gently, one, two, three times, and then a few more. As I release the girl, captive in my fingers, she begins her dance in a stationary circle as the haunting melody of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” fills the room. It washes over me carrying me back to days of pigtails and my own red tutu. My feet wish to take flight, but not knowing the steps I step back to enjoy the ballet before me of a little girl’s dreams.
I never took ballet, though I believe my sisters did at one point. They, mainly Heidi, took it upon themselves to teach me, and even their unwilling brothers some of the steps. I liked the leaps. I would leap across the room as my sister in exasperated tone, would chide me, “Not, now Julia, why must you forever be leaping. This is the part where the princess must swoon.”
“I am not the princess, but the prince, leaping to save her from the knights!” and I leap across the room once more falling into battle with my brothers as the clashing of invisible swords fills the air with chaos and laughter.
“You must be the princess, you are the smallest and easiest to lift. Now, Kimball pick her up and spin her this way.” She demonstrated a delicate turn as Kimball grasps my hand and begins to spin me wildly around the room, our laughter infectious. My arm flung wide, faster and faster, until my hand connects with a million sharp needlepoints of pain. My eyes grow round and wide, my mouth forming an “O”. Lisa gasps an “oh dear!” and Heidi an all knowing, “Well, you’ve done it now.” Paul begins to laugh as worry creases Kimball’s brow.
“I’ll pull them all out, J. You won’t tell mom and dad on me will you?”
It had been an accident. I wouldn’t tell, though I cringed for the better part of an hour while Kimball pulled cactus spine after cactus spine out of my hand with a teeny pair of tweezers.