Elizabeth Twinkle Toes

Elizabeth stood at the top of the large stone staircase. Her heart pounded in her ears. It was quite a long way down and the tunnel through which the stairs wandered was intimidating. It wasn’t extremely dark because the beach was visible on the other side and it was still mid-day. She could smell the sea and hear the surf. But she could also hear the music over the tops of the waves and the rhythmic clapping of the crowd while they watched Susan go through her routine.
Elizabeth always admired Susan, but now it was difficult to avoid squinting, wrinkling her nose and clenching her jaw at the mere thought of her. Susan was probably having a great go at her routine. Clearly the crowd held her in high esteem and that made it even more difficult to concentrate and remain calm.
What if I fall? What if I slip on the stone staircase? No. Stop that Lizzy. You’ll be great.
“Are you coming down yet, Lizzy?” her brother Danny called up to her on the top bunk from their tan colored carpeting.
“Not yet, Danny!” Elizabeth scolded, more than just a little annoyed, “It’s not time yet. Susan is almost done and then I come down and I’m timid but I do it perfectly and then everyone claps.”
Danny leaned back and waited for the song on the CD to finish and the next one to come on. He had been twirling Susan in front of Lizzy’s other toys for a thousand hours already. Normally, that would have been embarrassing for him, but all of his mates were safely still in the far away land of Bridges Elementary School. The chances of them finding out that he had been playing with dolls was slim, and he already made Lizzy promise not to say a word or he would stop playing with her.
It was an empty threat and they both knew it. And, what alternative did he have, anyway? They had to pass the time somehow and they needed to be together so that Lizzy would catch the chickenpox from him, which was always a silly idea to Danny. That thought was completely contrary to everything he learned about taking a bath and washing his hands and brushing his teeth and all other kinds of bothersome tasks that little boys are forced to go through to help keep them healthy. Now, suddenly, everything is done to ensure that one of them gets sick.
Danny had lucked out and gotten a mild case of the disease, but Lizzy was even luckier by catching no disease. Nothing made sense anymore.
The CD finished playing its track and it scanned forward to track 3.
“No, Danny! You’re not doing it right!” Elizabeth whined from the top bunk with the green comforter, “Pause it.”
The CD player was paused.
“Now everyone claps and they don’t think anyone can do better and I find strength deep inside me and I come down and win.”

Danny clapped. He was a little excited to see what’s about to happen. On the other hand he was sick and his older sister was bossing him around, so he limited himself to a half-hearted round of applause.
“Can I play the song now?” he asked a little irritated.
“…Wait.” Elizabeth closes her eyes for some reason. She saw a gymnast do that once on TV during the Olympics before her routine and so Elizabeth had done it ever since. She was convinced that it helped her, but she was really doing nothing more than looking at the backs of her eyelids and wondering if she had done it long enough. Then Lizzy descended the ladder/staircase from the top bunk. Her stood still in the center of their tan carpeting with her head hung down and her eyes closed again.
“Now,” she said.
The speakers began pumping out their tune; a bouncy dum-che dum-che dum-che dumdum-che, and Lizzy pumped her hips sharply from side to side with the music. Then there was a “Hey!” from the speakers and a half a beat behind the joyous shout Lizzy leapt straight up into the air with her arms raised above her head. Then Elizabeth Twinkle Toes began her romp around the room. She wasn’t graceful, but at this pace she would either gain grace sooner than most of her friends, or be blissfully unaware that such a thing exists. Either way her dancing would make folks smile.
Her dance consisted of bouncing all over the place, spinning, waving her arms about and giggling. The song was “Walking on Sunshine”. Even the scrutinizing Danny couldn’t help bobbling his head and bouncing his knees outstretched on the floor. His toes swayed back and forth and clicked into one another. His sickness was miles away.
Lizzy was twirling with a stuffed cartoon bumblebee in her outstretched hands. The bee was dizzy, Lizzy was not. She could have gone on forever, lost in the moment. She noticed Danny and let go of the bee, which soared through the air and found its way into a shadow where it was able to disappear from the scene. Before Danny knew it she had yanked him to his feet and they both were jumping and laughing and yelling. The CD skipped backwards with all of the pounding, but it made the song longer so it was okay.

Elizabeth Twinkle Toes


Woodland Hills, United States

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