The Steadfast Cadet, By Luisa Kay Reyes
Once upon a time in an old southern college town, there was a strapping young man who attended the local military institute. Tall, handsome, and broad of shoulders, the cadet was also known for his honesty and integrity. So much so, that his nickname at the institute was “Steadfast.” He was very studious and taking a full load of difficult courses, one of which was physics. One day, as the new semester began, his professor told him that there were now two sections of physics. The main one which all the military cadets took and then another section which included some of the young ladies from the women’s college nearby. The section with the students from the women’s college was actually more advanced and the professor was wanting to make sure some of the cadets signed up for it. Steadfast hesitated since he already had a full load of coursework, but the professor assured him that he wouldn’t regret it. Especially since one of the young ladies in the class was also a ballerina. Steadfast signed up for the class.
On the first day of the new class, Steadfast arrived early and took his seat. Shortly after his arrival, one of the young ladies from the women’s college arrived. Steadfast knew immediately she must be the ballerina. For she opened the door to the classroom with a flourish of her arms and walked so smoothly to her seat, that it looked like she sashaying across the floor. In a few minutes some of the other students in the class arrived, but Steadfast could only think of the ballerina now sitting in front of him.
With the arrival of all the students in the class, the professor began teaching the principles of gravity while they took notes as rapidly as they could. After covering the basics for the day, the professor decided to introduce everybody to one another. He introduced the ballerina as one of the young ladies from the women’s college, then he introduced another one of the military cadets taking the class, and then he introduced Steadfast. When the ballerina turned to look at him while he was being introduced, Steadfast felt pleased as he detected a look of approval in her eyes. After completing all of the introductions, the professor began talking about some of the student groups on campus and he mentioned the Sons of Washington. Much to the shock of Steadfast, the ballerina quickly stated that she had heard negative things about the Sons of Washington. The professor was momentarily caught off guard, but as soon as he recovered his bearings he gave the homework assignment and declared the class to be over for the day.
Steadfast immediately pulled out his notebook and approached the ballerina, asking her where she had received her information. The ballerina declined to answer, until finally asking him why he was so interested in knowing. At this point, the professor intervened on his behalf, explaining that Steadfast was the commander of the Sons of Washington. It was quite an honor for a cadet to be given such a position, but the ballerina merely hurried out of the classroom and made her way back to the women’s college without saying a word.
Before the next class, the military institute announced it was hosting a ball that weekend in conjunction with the neighboring women’s college. The student bodies at both institutions were eagerly looking forward to the event as they began pulling out their formal attires and making plans for the event. Right before the next class began, the students began talking about their plans for the formal evening. One of the cadets asked the ballerina whom she was going with and Steadfast held his breath. Thankfully, she very nonchalantly stated that she was on the student committee that was involved in the planning of the ball and she would be helping serve the punch as well as being busy with other details of the event. She added that she had rehearsal earlier in the day and would be barely making it to the ball in time to fulfill her responsibilities. Steadfast took note.
The evening of the ball was a lovely one with the stars shining brightly in the sky and lending a soft glow to the sparkling jewelry the young ladies had donned for the event. As the commander of the Sons of Washington, Steadfast greeted the attendees as they arrived and kept an eye out for when the ballerina would be making her arrival. When the line to enter the ballroom wound down, it appeared that the ballerina was going to be arriving late, if at all. Working hard to maintain his composure in spite of the disappointment that was filling his chest, Steadfast ordered his men to begin escorting the ladies onto the dance floor and he took his leave to inspect the premises. For sometimes, some of the cadets who weren’t able to attend the ball were so disgruntled they would make plans to sabotage the evening.
As he circled around the building and came back around to the front, noting that everything was in order, he saw a lovely young lady in a soft pink formal dress rushing towards the entrance. Steadfast knew immediately she was the ballerina, for her dress seemed to flow with the wind behind her as she ran gracefully like a gazelle. Suddenly, she began hobbling on one foot. One of her heels had broken, so hurriedly has she been running. Steadfast rushed to her side. Upon seeing him, the ballerina seemed startled. But then gave him a beaming smile. He found himself left speechless by the beatific light in her eyes and then felt his heart race as she told him that she apologized for what she had said earlier about the Sons of Washington. She explained to him that she had since heard very good things about him and Steadfast took the moment to assure her all was well. He then asked her if she wouldn’t mind dancing with him once before taking her post serving the punch. The ballerina deliberated for a moment, but then acquiesced and said she thought she could spare him one first dance. Steadfast swept her in his arms and led her into the ballroom. With kind fortune smiling upon him, the band was playing a waltz and the two of them took everyone’s breath away as he twirled her around on one leg as smoothly as the swan over the lake in the early evening.
Luisa Kay Reyes has had pieces featured in the "Fire In Machines," Hofstra University's "The Windmill," "Halcyon Days," "Fellowship of the King," and other literary magazines.