'Cody, stop trying to chuck that fouetté around with your inside arm. You're throwing yourself off balance,' I say, crossing the gleaming wooden floor to a girl in a black leotard.
'I ain't gonna get them in time,' she sighs, dropping her arms and rolling her shoulders back.
'You will, I promise. I felt the same when I was learning them. You just have to keep practising.'
I turn her to the mirror and place her arms in the correct position. Standing next to her, I mirror her, before setting and completing six fouetté turns.
'Can you see how my supporting side arm is pulling in? I show one more in slow motion. 'That's what drives the momentum, not throwing the other arm out. Have a go.'
Biting her lip, she nods. This time she manages three before her momentum runs out. She squeals with pride and shoots me a wide grin.
'Thanks, Miss Martha.'
'Martha's just fine, Cody,' I laugh.
A newfound look of determination crosses her face and she prepares herself again.
'Hey, that's not bad at all, Cordelia,' Miss Constance calls from the other side of the studio as Cody manages four tentative spins.
'And what a great place to finish for today, girls. Line up in the centre.'
I let Miss Constance give her inspirational goodbye and cross to my bag. Pulling off my ballet shoes, I stow them away and push my feet into my boots that are lined up neatly by the door.
'I think Cody will be ready to go on pointe soon,' Miss Constance says, watching as the eldest student - a pretty Asian girl of fourteen - pulls on her sweatpants and trainers. 'It'll be a shame to see her go up to the Senior class, but Irina will work wonders with her.'
I wave as Erik Son opens the door to collect a bouncing Cody, who eagerly starts relaying this afternoon's achievement to her nonplussed brother. Throwing my bag over my shoulder, I call goodbye to Miss Constance, thanking her again for letting me be a part of the session.
'Bring your pointes next week,' she calls after me. 'It's time to take them out of retirement.'
I laugh and skip down the stairs into the frosty square. The sun is beginning to set, the light waning behind the white spire of the church. I inhale a deep breath and make my way past the bandstand and through the piazza. It's quiet enough to hear birdsong, and, although it's cold, the sun shines bright, casting its final few rays across the sparkling rooftops.
I take the turning by Miss Delilah's and walk the familiar path home down the tree-lined street. The sky stretches on for miles, turning candy-pink along the horizon-line just like it had the morning we arrived. A host of sparrows dance across the sky, and I take the moment to count my blessings for the day. In the two weeks since Finch and I met on my veranda, the memory has stayed as raw as a fresh wound. But it'll get easier.
YOU ARE READING
Under Tennessee SkiesTeen Fiction
When she moves from England to the small town of Hopton Hills, Tennessee, Martha Heysham finds both her dream of Oxford University and her heart at risk from her new neighbours, the Whittingham boys. **** Martha Heysham hates Tennessee. The sticky h...