Ella was sitting at her desk. She was lost in a dream world, following the gentle swing of the frozen trees from outside. The afternoon snow made everything white and sparkling. Almost like the White Kingdom they visited last year.
‘Watch’ you doing?’, Tina asked following her sister’s gaze.
‘Being happy for the snow.’
Tina smiled. She knew Ella was enjoying more than weather.
‘So, do we start? Next week we have the festivity. And we have so much to finish until then. Costumes. Prop. Going over the script one more time.’ said Ella.
‘And, of course, the almighty curtain.’, Tina continued with a deep sigh.
‘Yeah. The trouble of every year. Think mommy could help?’
‘She could, for sure. If we could find the material. What did we use last year?’
‘We had a big, blue one borrowed from the City Hall. I don’t think we can get it again, though. The City Hall had it borrowed from somewhere else too.’, Ella recalled.
The little girls started to analyze the walls and the ceiling of the room as if they wanted to repaint them again. In hopes of discovering in their perfection a piece of the so-needed material for the show curtains.
‘Well, I guess, there is nothing we can do for now. Let’s finish the costumes. And go over the script again.’, said Tina and opened a cabinet door from near the bed.
An avalanche of colorful and shiny little things, masks, hats and half-sewed costumes rushed out their imprisonment, covering Tina’s feet completely. Ella went to a big drawer and pulled out a large piece of cardboard and a bunch of colors and crayons. She fixed the huge sheet, on top, with two of her shoes and at the bottom with two of her sister’s. Then she started to pull out little circles, stars, rhombuses, colored rustling paper garlands and silver, red, blue, golden pieces of tinfoil. She piled everything on top of the huge cardboard. Then she moved to the table and started to gather scissors, glue and pins. She dropped them inside of a shoe, as to not lose any pins.
‘Can you hand me the script notebook?’, she asked without raising her glance.
Tina somehow managed to get untangled from her own pile and reach to a notebook the size of a brick. It contained all the program for the Christmas festivity. It was a tradition Tina and Ella kept every year. On the 24th of December they would hold a play, followed by carols and exchanging of small gifts. Around a beautifully lit Christmas tree, where all their small, little town would gather. For Ella and Tina, la piece de resistance, was the play. They usually worked on it for the better half of the year. Coming up with an original story every time. Then gather the cast, find costumes and fix all the other errands. They took care of everything needed for the show.
Tina took “the Book”, as they called it, from the bookshelf and dropped it at Ella’s feet.
‘Are you doing the placement cards? Or, should I?’, she asked.
‘No, you should. I have to finish the affiche. You’re better at it, anyway.’
And with that, Ella started to sort everything. 15 golden stars: right up corner. 25 blue dots: right up corner, near stars. 5 turquoise garlands: left up corner. All tinfoil: left up corner. Crayons and colored pencils: left available shoe. Scissors: up right shoe. And so on, until everything was easy to spot and use. When she finished, she took a dark pencil and started to sketch the outline of the affiche.
Tina gave it just a quick look. Her sister knew what she was doing. She had to take care of costumes. She took the Book back from Ella and opened it at the script’s first page. She left it opened on the floor and, bellow it, started to piece together all costumes, to see what’s missing. Wings and wig for the Angel. Missing: white robe. Black hat, mask, tucks for the Knight. Missing: cape. Blue dress, silver shoes for the Princes. Missing: tiara. Yellow cape for the Moon. Missing: light source. Turban, mustache, brown costume for the Special Guest. Missing: black glows.
Afterwards, she started to arrange the cards for the public seats. In 8 consecutive rows, with 8 columns. So she can write on each of them the placement numbers.
“Tina is so good at organizing”, Ella thought, while reaching for the shoe with the scissors. In her short interruption she assessed the damage. At this point, the whole floor was completely taken over. No little spot left uncovered by their assiduous work. Not even to drop a pin.
Ella grabbed the shoe. The shoe was empty. She looked around. No trace of scissors. Anywhere. She looked inside all shoes, again. Still nothing.
‘Did you take the scissors?’
‘Nope. Haven’t budged.’, Tina said. ‘See on the table. I think I saw them somewhere around.’
Ella stretched her neck to reach the surface of the table. A bit more. Just a little bit more. And…there they were. “That’s strange. I was sure, I brought them once.” With a sense of slight confusion she stood up and went to the table to retrieve them. This time she made sure she put them in a completely empty shoe, in plain sight. She needed them handy.
Tina watched her to see if she can help.
‘You’re too concerned with the drawing!’, she said, amused.
Ella smiled and retook her artistic preoccupation, grabbing a pencil and starting to measure distances and angles with it.
“Why is there a pencil measuring always involved in any drawing?” Tina thought while finishing up with the cards. The next item on her fixing list was the Knight’s mask. For now, it was only fashioned. It needed the straps attached. Tina tiptoed around the cards, to reach the costume section of the floor.
Safely there, she took all the pieces for a meticulous analysis. No mask. “Huh. I must have missed it. Let me see.” Still no mask. She took the Knight’s costume, item by item, and started to shake them. Then all of the other costumes.
‘You ok?’, Ella asked.
‘Can’t find the mask. I must have lost it.’
‘Oh, no!’, Ella made and quickly got up and join her sister. The mask was not there. She went to the cabinet and carefully opened it.
‘It’s here!’, she shouted with excitement. Tina came to convince for herself. She picked up the mask and studied it from all angles. With attention and determination.
‘Why did you run?’, she asked the mask with a funny, lisp voice. ‘Get back to your place!’
‘Hihi.’, Ella chuckled. ‘Good thing we found it. This is difficult to replace.’
‘I must have missed it the first time.’, Tina continued. ‘I see your part is coming along.’
‘Yeah. Come see!’, said Ella and dragged Tina, with the force of anticipation, to her part of the floor.
‘What do you think?’
Tina bended a little to have a better view. The poster was amazing. Her sister actually managed to make a Christmas tree over the cardboard. It had sparkling globes, stars and little bells. It even had snow on top of everything. The tree was made from green paper with tinfoil decorations. Tina could not identify the white dust Ella used for snow.
‘It’s beautiful. You haven’t spend so many hours for nothing, I see’, she said. ‘Still, I think the hour of the show should be bigger. Details about place and time have to be seen from afar.’
‘Do I have to make the date bigger as well?’
‘I don’t know. It’s not like the date changes each year. Yeah! Why not? Maybe you should.’
Ella started to erase the part with the date. Then she began to, lightly, draw the new, bigger letters.
Tina watched as she worked for a while longer, then returned to the cards to gather and store them. Only, the cards were now scattered all around. As if a strong wind blew them over. None was in its original place.
‘What ….happened…?’, she managed to ask with a fading voice.
Ella stood up and looked over the mess.
‘Heeey!’ she exclaimed. ‘When?…. “What?’
‘When I was looking over your work. Are there any windows opened?’
Both Tina and Ella looked at the door and the windows. Everything was closed and shut. No wind.
‘Maybe you disturbed them when you got to me’, Ella suggested, timidly. Although the possibility seemed distant, even for her.
‘No. I came from the cabinet. Remember? Just after we both found the mask’
‘Right! Then, what happened?’
Tina, with her characteristic pragmatism, went to each window and checked by hand if they were tightly closed. When it reached the door, she opened and closed it, a few times, with all the might she could master. The breeze caused by the door was barely able to lift, for a little, a few cards.
‘That’s strange!’, she amended.
‘So strange.’, Ella agreed.
‘Maybe there’s a cat in the room’, Tina joked.
Then she stared to gather all the cards. Good thing this happened after she finished them. She could easily order them now. Ella rushed to help. As they were collecting cards from under furniture, they also watched the door. Time to time, one of them stared at the windows to see if they were still closed.
However, the bedroom remained warm and cozy. The cold and the night from outside were staying where they were supposed to. Outside.
‘Can you help me. There are a few deep, under the bed. I think I need you to hold the bedding so I can see beneath.’, Tina said while she slowly disappeared under the bed.
Ella quickly rose all the bedding at the edge of the bed. Tina dropped on her knees and hands. She pulled the cards, one by one. Ella took them from her sister’s hand and, carefully, placed them on the bed. After the fifth one, Tina got out from under the bed.
‘Hiuh. I think we have all of them.’
‘We should put everything back, for now. We’ll work on the rest tomorrow.’, Tina said and looked around the room to see where to start the cleaning. Ella went to her affiche and rolled it tightly, ready to put it back in the drawer.
‘Hey, can you hand me the Book? I want to make sure I put it safely.’ she asked.
No answer came.
‘Tina?’, she insisted and turned over.
She saw Tina staring at the room door. There, the Book was floating in midair. Magically levitating and slowly moving. As if it made a discreet dance. Ella blinked a few times. The book was still afloat. She tightly closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them back, the book was still there.
‘Ugghh…Tin…? ….the Bo… the Book it’s moving!’
‘Aaaa….’, Tina made. ‘So you see it too. I wasn’t… sure.’
‘The book … is moving!’, Ella went on with a slightly hoarse voice.
‘I’m going to grab it!’, bravely decided Tina.
‘No!’ Ella shouted.
But, before she could do anything, Tina put the palm of her hand right above the book. The hand stopped before it reached the wood of the door. Tina was pushing against a solid object. Her hand was not passing through air.
There was something in front of the door.