Countdown To Christmas – Episode 19

THE utility room was one of those odd spaces that in a home would be the broom cupboard under the stairs. At one end was the door they had come through from the hall. In the corner was the washing machine, and a tumble dryer, though its use was discouraged because of the expense. Like a cupboard under the stairs, the room was also used to store all those things that didn’t have a natural home . . . and at the moment that included many of the props the groups had been assembling for the show. Worse, the room had a second door that led into the storage area under the stage in the hall, and that was where all the costumes for the show were being stored in big crates because, ironically, it had been felt it was the safest place.And the flood water had left a trail disappearing under that door . . .Eyes wide with dread, Kate and Sally tugged the door open and peered into the gloom.“Where’s the light switch?” Sally asked.“I’m not sure. I’ve never been in here. Wait . . .” Kate patted the wall on either side of the door and when she felt the switch, she flicked it on.They were in a wide, low room with the facing wall about ten paces forward. On the other side of that wall was the main hall. The room was just high enough for them to stand up straight, and above them, of course, was the stage. A closed door connected to the main hall. A clothes rail had been pushed up against the left-hand wall just in front of them, and it was packed with various costumes hanging on an assortment of wire and plastic hangers. Thankfully, only a few trailing ends had caught any of the water.There were a number of cardboard boxes on the far side, too, but the water hadn’t reached there.“Thank goodness for that,” Kate said with feeling. “But we’ll mop this up first, just in case.”As she spoke her voice echoed strangely in the space, and next thing the door in front of her opened.“It’s like Alice In Wonderland,” she mused to Sally as Dolores Granby’s face appeared through this little door.“What on earth are you two doing?” she demanded, and beyond her Kate and Sally could see the rest of the tap-dance class staring in bemusement.Seized by a fit of the giggles at the ridiculous picture they must make, Sally couldn’t put two sensible words together and left it to Kate to explain about the flood.“Goodness, I had no idea!” Dolores was suitably shocked. “We must get all hands on deck and clear it up, then,” she said at once, and turned to address the class.“Class, our help is needed. I suggest we find Ted and offer our services as a cleaning crew. We can resume our rehearsal later.” She clapped her hands commandingly. “Chop chop!”By the time Kate and Sally had cleaned up under the stage and scrambled out to report in to Ted, there was quite a crowd of other hall users milling about, mopping busily, while Evelyn was on the phone to one of her shop customers about borrowing a dehumidifier to help dry things up.“Where did everyone come from?” Sally asked Ted, and he jerked a thumb at Evelyn.“Evelyn’s been on that phone non-stop, ringing around everyone and asking them to come in. She even got them to bring their own mops. What a woman!” he finished admiringly. Cue more eyebrow wiggling from Sally. But Kate had another fledgling romance in sight, unless her eyes were deceiving her.Among the rescuers who had answered the call was, of course, Nick Evans. And look who was heading his way! “Megan Stubbs,” she pointed out to Sally. “Didn’t we say we should keep an eye on them?”As they watched discreetly, of course they observed Megan sidle rather shyly up to Nick, wondered about his wary smile as he greeted her, and could only guess as Megan reached up on tiptoe to whisper something in his ear.Whatever it was, it evidently made his day, because he gave her a big beaming smile and nodded eagerly, and the two of them blushed like crazy.“Aw, isn’t that sweet?” Sally murmured, and the two of them stood there with their heads cocked towards each other, as pleased as if they were two benevolent fairy godmothers who had waved their magic wands to make it happen.


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