A dark-haired beauty in a Spanish flamenco dress as red as the rose clutched between her teeth stands mid-stage, arms looped one over her head, the other at her hip. “Bailen, mis niños,” she says.
“Who is this?” Hope says in a voice just low enough to be missed by our Substitute Teacher.
“I don’t care,” Irreverent Student says as he stands. “She’s not my teacher.”
“Oh, how good,” Substitute Teacher says in her broken English. “Come, dear boy. I need a lead.” She floats her arm toward him, expecting him to take her hand.
He blushes. “Um, no ma’am. I’m not a dancer.” I’m impressed that he just didn’t walk out without a word of explanation.
“Vamos, mi amor.” Her tap shoes clatter rhythmically in a tap-tap-click with each step down the marble steps. “Oh, maybe you don’t understand, my love.”
“This is not a dance class,” Irreverent puts his hands behind his back, avoiding her reach.
“But it is, my love,” she drops her head back and lets out a belly-jiggling laugh. “It is most definitely a dance class. Is this not a class on spiritual enlighten—”
She stops mid-word before turning to scan the room.
I don’t avert my gaze in time.
“You, my dear. Niña linda.” She floats her arm toward me. “Please, do tell me. What is this class?”
“Um,” I stutter for a few moments, trying to remember the class description from the school bulletin, but I can’t remember anything about it. Instead, I run through the lessons we’ve learned so far. “This is a class where we learn how to live life in order to reach our final goal.”
“And what is this final goal?”
“Well, many of us call it Heaven. Teacher calls it Home.”
“Exactamente!” she screeches. “That is what I say, and to get Home, you have to learn to dance.”
“Maestra,” Clever Clyde surprises us. “Una pregunta, por favor – One question, please,” he translates for us. “Where is our Teacher?”
She back-slashes the air as if this question is unimportant. “That is nothing. He has let me take over this lesson. That is all you need to know.”
I have visions of our teacher bound-and-gagged in some supply closet somewhere when, in a flash of light, he appears on stage dressed in black pants and a purple flamenco shirt with layers of purple and blue on the sleeves. He reaches an arm toward the Substitute Teacher and, with a chuckle, takes her hand and helps her back on stage.
“I suppose I should have introduced you as more than Substitute Teacher, but what need have they to learn our names?” He swings his arms around himself in classic Flamenco style. “I mean, if they can’t dance …”
The rest of his statement is lost in the music blaring rhythmic plucks of an acoustic Flamenco guitar. Then, Substitute Teacher’s feet start pounding out a new beat, her fingers clicking her bright red castanets.
Teacher raises his arms over his head and meets her tapping feet with his own.
When the dance is over and both teachers are winded and sweaty, they sit on the steps to address us.
“What was the lesson, dear students?” Teacher asks.
After much silence and occasional
shuffling of feet, “That we should dance?” I say.
Substitute Teacher claps delicately as she approaches me, tempting me with a blood red rose. “And what does that mean?”
“I don’t know, ma’am. Maybe that we shouldn’t sit it out in life?” And suddenly, I understand. “That we came here to do something, not to just stand around the dance floor and watch.”
“Exactamente,” she cheers, handing me the rose then turning to Teacher. “Good job, Sebastian. These students are learning.”
Our Teacher’s brilliant blue eyes find me, “Good, my dear. You get an A-plus.”
“In summary,” Substitute Teacher dances back on-stage. “When you step out and play this game we call life, you win. You can’t win if you don’t dance!”
She makes one swift twirl and disappears, replaced by a brilliant red dragonfly. She meets up with Teacher’s blue-and-green dragonfly and both fly out of sight through the garden.
Class dismissed, dear friends. Now just go out and dance.
The Dragonfly’s Student