Monday, March 9, 2009

The Midnight Dancers, Part Three

Ever since Dad had gotten back from his tour of duty, he had decreed that the time after dinner was “family hour.” He wanted everyone hanging out in the living room for an hour or more so that they could have “quality time.” But by the end of the day, Rachel was sick and tired of her family, and being around Dad wasn’t helping much. He just didn’t have the energy to deal with them all now, and Rachel knew it. She wished Dad would admit it to himself that his idea of a nice, happy time with his daughters just wasn’t working out.

Only a few family members were in the living room. Rachel noticed that Linette had suddenly reappeared: the youngest Fendelman had vanished after dinner, leaving someone else to clear the table, and Cheryl hadn’t done anything about it. Now Linette, adorable with blond curling hair and large brown eyes, was snuggling up against Sallie and listening to her read a library book. As usual she was pretending to be younger than her eleven years and skipping chores with no consequences. The Fendelmans were lousy at the chain of command.

With satisfaction, Rachel noticed that the youngest Durham sister, eleven-year-old Debbie, was industriously vacuuming crumbs under the dining room table. Noticing Rachel, Debbie made a face and rolled her eyes at Linette. Rachel grinned back knowingly. With dark hair and blue eyes, Debbie was arguably prettier than Linette. But Debbie was no slouch, even if she was a scamp.

“Devotions!” her dad called again, but no one was coming. Rachel sat down, and realized how long it had been since she had. A sigh escaped her, and she leaned back in the armchair and picked up one of Sallie’s women’s magazines. Recipes were not her thing, but she was bored. She turned the pages to an article on bedroom makeovers.

“Why can’t we go on vacation there?” Debbie asked over her shoulder, pointing to an advertisement of a girl sunbathing on a Caribbean isle.

“Ask Dad,” Rachel said absently.

“Dad!” Debbie started, but Rachel, realizing she had misspoken, pinched her.

“I didn’t mean you should really ask him,” Rachel said hastily. “Look at those dresses: aren’t they gorgeous?”

Sallie looked up. “I don’t think you should be looking at that magazine during devotions,” she said, putting out a hand.

But we aren’t even having devotions yet, Rachel silently fumed as she handed over the magazine. She stared at her denim skirt, which seemed to her to be unforgivably plain. The other girls were drifting into the living room now, and Jabez, in pajamas, toddled into the living room, tripped, and fell face-down on the carpet.

Amidst the wails, Rachel heard the phone on the end table beeping and picked it up. “Hello?”

“Uh, is Rachel there?”

Warmth spread through her. “This is Rachel,” she said quietly.

“Hey, what’s up? It’s Alan.”

“Hi!” She glanced circumspectly around. Only a few of the girls noticed she was on the phone: Sallie was busy with Jabez.

“Hey, remember that CD we bought at the mall? I was wondering when I could get it back from you.”

“Um, let me see,” Rachel ran through her head. “Maybe on Monday when I go to the library…”

“Who are you talking to?”

Out of nowhere, her dad had appeared in front of her and was fixing her with a steely glance. Great. Perfect timing. Not only had Alan called, but he had managed to time his call to the moment when all fourteen children were finally in the living room.

Can't wait to read more? Buy The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman today!

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