Chapter Four: A Tight Spot

  

Robby was so excited about being able to play baseball that sitting through ballet was even more boring than usual. All the ballet girls wore dumb pink dresses and pink tights. A bunch of them even had pink ribbons tied around their stomachs. What were those for? Robby watched them jump and spin around for a while. There was a whole herd of girls, but only two boys. The boys were doing push ups, up and down, up and down. How was that fun? And they were wearing wacky stuff too. They had black tights, like Batman wore and hats with big plastic mouse ears stapled to them. They even had pieces of black rope tied around their stomachs and hanging off their butts to look like tails. What a dopey thing. Robby would eat dog guts and cat brains before he wore that dumb stuff.

Claire’s ballet room had a big mirror on one wall with a wooden bar running across it from one end to the other. The bar was about four feet off the ground and all the girls spent a lot of time with their legs up on that bar. Then they skipped for a while, and then did some hopping and some little jumps straight up in the air and twirling around. Robby watched the boys. They did some jumping jacks and then some sit ups. Then they put their feet up on the bar, too. Robby couldn’t stand it anymore. He walked outside, sat down on the bench next to Mom and played video games. He spent the next 45 minutes blowing away aliens and saving the earth.

Finally, Claire and the whole herd of girls bopped out of the ballet studio.

“Mom,” said Claire. “Miss Robin said we have to rehearse every day for the next six weeks to get ready for the show.”
            “Every day? Mom frowned. Are you sure?”

“Miss Robin says so,” said Claire.

Mom marched right inside to talk to Miss Robin. Claire and another girl walked over to Robby. Claire grabbed his video game player out of his hand.

“Hey! Gimme that!” Robby said.

“I need you to be in the ballet,” said Claire.

“Me?” Robby laughed. “No way. Why?”

“Because I’ll pound you if you don’t,” said Claire, making a fist.

The other girl nudged Claire with her shoulder. “You should tell him,” she said.

“No,” Claire shook her head.

“Tell me what?” asked Robby.

“We need another boy in the Mouse King’s Army,” the other girl said. “And Miss Robin says if she doesn’t get another boy, she’s going to put Kendall Miller in the Mouse King’s army because Kendall has short hair and looks kind of like a boy anyway. And Kendall Miller likes the Mouse Army boy with the long blonde hair, which is the same one Claire likes…So, Claire does not wantKendallto be in the Mouse King’s Army. Get it?”

Robby looked at Claire. She was biting her lip like she was going to chew it off.

“Tough beans. I’m not doing ballet,” Robby said.

“But you have to!” said Claire. “I asked you nice so you have to do it.”

“You said you’d pound me,” Robby said. “Forget it.”

“Why nooooooooot?” Claire whined.

“Cause it’s dumb. And if the kids at school found out, they’d make fun of me even more than they already do. I’m not doing it.”

Robby grabbed his game out of Claire’s hand and walked inside to find Mom. Claire ran after him.

Inside, Mom was having a talk with Miss Robin. Miss Robin was tall and had long brown hair tied up in a ribbon way up on top of her head. Robby thought her hair kind of looked like a big spout of water shooting out of a whale’s blow hole.

“Claire is doing very well,” Miss Robin said. “She is quite good at ballet.”

“Well, it does run in the family,” said Mom. “We all love to dance.”

“Really?” said Miss Robin. “Maybe we should get your brother in the show, Claire.” She smiled at Robby. “We could use another mouse in the Mouse King’s Army.”

“I’m playing baseball,” said Robby, feeling his face burn red.

Miss Robin looked at Robby and smiled again. She had super big, shiny rabbit teeth. “Okay. But if you change your mind, we really need another boy and I would love to have you in the show.”

Robby didn’t say what he was thinking which was, “There’s a better chance that I’m going have a sleep over at Jeff Hicks’ house than there is I’m going to do ballet.”

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