Sadie, in all her lavishness, descended on the Insect Inn of Oh Valley without warning, leaving all the Fancifulls unprepared and temporarily gob smacked.
Unfortunately, Sadie could not travel light. She always accepted gifts, so she didn’t disappoint or insult anyone. Sadie couldn’t understand why her beauty garnered all these wonderful gifts. She wasn’t any more special than anyone else. Yet, as many times as she tried to return the kind gestures, she was always denied.
Sadie was unconcerned. She was quite used to being admired for her iridescent blueness. She politely ignored all the staring. The first moments were her only irritation when arriving in a new community and meeting everyone. Her “looks” had a presence all its own and Sadie was always at risk of putting people off. She had learned to offer her true self rather quickly to avoid people getting the wrong impression. Once you got past her rather extraordinary beauty you realized she was more like the girl next door.
“No. I couldn’t possibly accept”, she would kindly refuse.
“It would be my honour to know you have this. I’ve made it specifically for you. No really, Please .”
Sadie learned it was just easier to politely accept and collect the many gifts. Her gifts travelled with her since she lived on the road. Sadie jokingly called herself, “Sadie Stuff.”
Sadie was a dance instructor. She flew to communities as far as her wings would take her. Her dancing and her luggage ensured she received plenty of heart-healthy exercise and could travel to many communities in her region.
In Oh Valley, times were good and like other communities, the Fancifulls wanted to learn new dance steps to use at their many celebrations and the ever-popular Winter Cotillion. Belvedere, with Buttercup’s assistance, researched and found an instructor with good reviews and knowledge of the latest trends. They contacted her and set up a week’s long stay at the Insect Inn, in exchange for 3 group classes a day to teach the new steps. She was agreeable though stated she would not be teaching any Fancifull how to spin on their heads as her insurance didn’t cover such moves. They agreed that that would not be expected.
Belvedere had been preparing and expected their new instructor to arrive tomorrow. She was early! And so many cases? What room could they possibly offer to her?
” Oh My”, Belvedere thought. “There’s only one possible room that will hold all Miss Hawkins’s luggage. I hope Buttercup doesn’t mind rooming with Gryffin for a week.” They would require Butter’s turreted room. “Oh, DOUBLE My! How could he ever convince Butter to remove some of his many books to be replaced by the instructor’s items?” He would lean heavily on the ‘temporary’ angle when he confronted Butter.
Time for some serious buttering-up of Buttercup!
Meanwhile outside Buttercup, had returned from walking, Calvin, his nephew, home. Calvin was still a Caterpillar so Buttercup walked with him. It was good for him and he missed so many interesting sights when he quickly flew past. He would miss these walks when Calvin morphed into a Monarch, like himself.
Coming around the side of the Inn, He nearly stumbled, headlong into the huge stack of luggage. If he hadn’t taken immediate flight, he would have. Once over the mountain, he immediately spotted the iridescent stranger on the other side. Now it was Buttercup’s turn to be gob smacked.
“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.” Sadie offered in way of greeting.
Buttercup was nonplussed. “You read Jane Austen?”
Sadie recognized Buttercup as soon as he landed beside her.
“Yes, and I thought you might too. I believe we attend the same literary group though I’ve not had the pleasure of being introduced. Please allow me – My name is Sadie Hawkins.”
“Hello. I’m very pleased to meet you Miss Hawkins. My name is Buttercup. Please call me Butter. All my friends do”
“Pleased to meet you too, Butter. Do call me Sadie. It’s very refreshing to enter a community as a stranger and so quickly make a friend. The weight of the unknown has already been lifted and I can begin enjoying my stay immediately.”
Belvedere came outside to find Butter already in conversation with Sadie. It seems they had a few things in common and were well deep in conversation. Maybe that would help to soften Butter. He could only hope.
“Hello Miss Hawkins, I see you have already met Buttercup. I am Belvedere, Senior Fancifull, whom you have been in communication with about dance lessons. I see you are like myself and prefer to be early – even by 24 hours, rather than 5 minutes late. I’ve lived by that motto my whole life. Thank you for taking our request so seriously. We will have your room ready momentarily. Please come in and relax in our spacious lounge/dining room. We will take care of your belongings.”
“Butter”, Belvedere whispered, “Can I see you for a second?”
Once out of earshot, Belvedere explained the situation. “The only room large enough for that whole stack outside is your room. Unless you can give me an alternative, I’d like to suggest we move her in there, and you stay with Gryffin for the next week. Maybe you can make sure he gets his homework done while he and Gracie are here visiting Gramps.”
“But she… She… She… She’s a SHE!”
“My room is not set up for Sadie to live there. There’s barely enough space for me in it. Where could we possibly store that mountain of stuff?”
“Well that’s the other thing”, Belvedere continued. “Can we re-locate some of your books so she can get all her luggage in your room? Oh, and I’m guessing Sadie may also need closet space for all her dance costumes. It would be very inconvenient for her if she had to go searching all over the inn for her belongings” There! It was all said.
There was silence. Mississippi 1, Mississippi 2, Mississippi 3, Mississippi 4, Mississippi 5, Mississippi 6, Mississippi 7, Mississippi 8, Mississippi 9, Mississippi 10. Ten complete seconds of a very long silence.
Then Buttercup suggested the largest “Family Turret” for her stay…. or even Dinah’s Turret. Why his?
“Butter, you know the Family Turret must remain available for any travelling families. It is not our policy to offer it to individual guests. Dinah? I don’t want to think about it. Our resident Diva is much easier to please now than when she arrived last summer but I’d rather not chance the repercussions of Sadie and Dinah sharing a room. Please Butter? I’m begging you. It’s only for a week.”
“OK. I’ll agree. I will even help Sadie move her luggage into my room once I clear enough space. This could take a while. Did you see that stack out there on the lawn? Next Autumn’s renovations will need to include that fourth turret we keep talking about. This situation proves we really do need it. I’ll start on the drawings this week – in between dance lessons, of course.”
Gryffin, Grady and Grommet helped Buttercup move mountains of books to the shelving at the far end of the Ball Room. While re-shelving his beloved books, Buttercup wondered why he didn’t think of this sooner. All Fancifulls would now have access to books and be able to look up the answers to the questions they would have brought to him. This was good. They would learn.
Later that day, Buttercup’s room was tidy enough so as not to embarrass him too much. Sadie entered and very charmingly thanked Butter for his kindness. “Would you have dinner with me tonight? I can meet you in the dining room and will reserve a table.”
“Yes, Sadie, I would really like that. However, the Insect Inn boasts a rather unique dining experience. The room is furnished with one unbelievably long trestle table at which all guests sit and share food and conversation. Last Thanksgiving, we had over 100 guests at our table for a memorable celebration with all Fancifulls in attendance except Bizzy. It is this style of dining that unites travellers and villagers alike, fostering our sense of community. Oh Valley is proud of our community spirit.”
“If we sit beside each other we might still be able to chat over our meal. I can’t promise quiet, but I can promise wonderful food and company, though boisterous. Mostly you will be able to experience a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. I highly recommend it.”
“Oh, and what are your thoughts on Snarlguk and Thistledrip? I believe I saw them on the menu for this evening. They are usually reserved for special occasions. I’m not sure what could be special about tonight though I’m not complaining. I’ll eat and drink that combination at every opportunity. “
The following day, lessons began. Belvedere had planned a Spring Fling Dance in the Ball Room for the end of the week so that everyone could try out their new skills. Any reason for a Fancifull celebration was a good reason.
Buttercup found that he was really enjoying learning the new steps. It didn’t hurt that because of early introductions, he became Sadie’s go-to partner and he helped with as many classes as his free time would allow. The designs for the fourth turret were on hold, yet again. He was having far too much fun to be concerned about that now.
By the end of the week, Flutter was being seriously twirled by Twig, Darby and Daisy were floating three feet off the floor, and Sadie and Buttercup were shining, their moves were so brilliant. Miss Phyllis and Mayor Peabody made a delightful couple to watch, nimbly sailing across the crowded dance floor with the advantage of their height to see above other Fancifulls and plan their route. Even Delta and Dexter were tripping the light fantastic, a combination even I never saw coming!
For the grand evening, Twig brought out the same top hat that Darby gave him to boost his courage to ask Flutter to dance, unlike at the Winter Cotillion, Darby showed up at Daisy’s home on time to escort her to the Spring Fling.
Though best of all? Buttercup and Sadie were deep in discussion over the plot twists of King Lear. They had finally found some time to themselves and became so engrossed in their literary conversation, they totally missed the ball.
The following morning, Sadie tidied up Buttercup’s room and prepared to leave for her next community dance lessons in a town 2 days flight away, Barkston. Buttercup helped bring her luggage out to the glass-fronted portico. He still had difficulty believing she could and would carry it all herself. But he had learned that Sadie was powerful in mind, spirit and body. She was so much more than beautiful.
In the corner of the portico, sat a well-loved gramophone. While everyone waited, Sadie wound it and ever so lightly, placed its needle down, to play her very favourite piece of music, Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. With calm confidence, she glided to Buttercup’s side, and with a gentle flourish of her arm, asked, ” Buttercup? May I have this last dance?”
To teary eyes and polite applause, Buttercup guided his dance instructor across the floor in the most beautiful waltz anyone at the Inn had ever witnessed. Buttercup had never known a happier time. There was so much more to life than what could be studied in a book. He found he was awakening to wonders that had been in front of him his whole life but he hadn’t taken time to notice. He was finding himself Somewhere in Time, though lost to the present.
And with the end of their dance, Sadie said goodbye and within a blink was gone.
I think Sadie might visit Oh Valley again. What do you think?
Sue, Axie (who turned 11 today) and all the Fancifulls of Oh Valley
***Of course, my inspiration for this story was my memories of the yearly ‘Sadie Hawkins Dance’ held at my school when I was young. An occasion when the girl asked the boy to a dance, instead of waiting to be asked. I feel with the tables turned we developed a greater sense of how difficult it was for a boy to ask a girl and became more caring and kinder in our refusals if we didn’t want to attend with them.
As times change, more girls are learning to be strong and ask for what they want. This is a fantastic turn around and now boys don’t have to be the only ones nervous and girls can be nervous about the asking – instead of wondering if they will be asked.
***I was listening to my very favourite music while writing this tale. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. I do highly recommend it as well as the movie for which it became the soundtrack. “Somewhere In Time circa 1979 starring – Christoper Reeves (Pre-Superman) and the incomparable Jane Seymour. I found the strings gently intruded into my train of thought and wouldn’t let go. Many a young child might not care to hear my ending for this tale. But for romantics like myself, I’ve kept it as is. Enjoy. God Bless.