Seven o'clock in the morning. Maria was awake, and staring at her open wardrobe. It wasn't exactly filled with clothes. She'd remembered to take those she was wearing yesterday down to the laundry (she really didn't have enough with her to forget) but now she was left with just two t-shirts, tracksuit bottoms and a pair of jeans. Did one go down to breakfast in jeans and a shirt or in a leotard and tights under tracksuit bottoms? In the end she opted for the second option, with the compromise of a t-shirt on top.
Just as she finished dressing and arranging her hair into another neat bun, there came a knock at the door. "Maria? It's Eleanor. Can I come in?"
"Sure, go ahead!" she replied, only to find that her friend couldn't get in without either a key or somebody opening the door from the inside, so she had to hurry over and open it, laughing. "Sorry, I didn't realise. How are you this morning? My muslces are killing me."
"Mine too, but I'm more used to it, I expect. I've been coming here for a couple of days. This is only my first full day of classes, though. They were breaking me in gently ... I don't think we've time to do that for you. You're going straight in at the deep end, if I'm right." Eleanor grinned. She too was wearing a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms over her dance clothes, so it was obviously the right thing to do.
"Great," said Maria. She meant it, though it didn't sound like it. Dance was what she had come to do, and she didn't want to be let in gently. She wanted the full treatment. "So, breakfast?"
"Yep. Let's go." They made their way to the dining room, which was already surprisingly full for the early hour (it wasn't yet half past seven). Mr Conor was waiting for them, and when he came over he seemed unusually cheerful. Maria was getting the impression he was not only a very good teacher, but a very friendly person.
As he approached he rubbed his hands together, which wasn't made easy by the wodge of paper he was carrying. "Ah, girls, glad you're here. I've got your timetables for today. You're together most of the time, except for a little while this afternoon. Here you go." He handed a sheet of paper to Maria and Eleanor, who examined them eagerly.
Maria stared at hers. Her first class would be starting at a quarter to nine, which would just give her time to digest her breakfast. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to eat too much though, in case it gave her a stich. That class would last for two and a half hours - remembering yesterday's agony, she almost groaned aloud.
That wasn't the worst of it. After the brief break at a quarter past eleven (ending at quarter to twelve), she had a meeting with one of the teachers. They wanted to talk to her about her ambitions, Mr Conor said. It would only take fifteen minutes.
Following that, there was another class, this time for an hour and a half. Then, at half past one, she would have lunch, followed by a half-hour break so that she didn't have digestive trouble. Her next class would be at three. It seemed to be a long lunch-hour, but she wasn't complaining.
The three o'clock class was three hours long. The first two would be with Mr Conor, and the final one with his assistant, although not the one they'd met the previous day. This woman was called Bella Roots, and she was well known in the dancing world. Maria had never heard of her.
After a half-hour break to shower and change, there would be dinner at half past six. The rest of the evening was her own to do what she liked, but before bed every student had to practise and stretch at their barres for about half an hour, in order to make sure they were reaching their full potential.
"Let me see yours," said Maria, reaching to take Eleanors. They swapped, and she saw that her friend was with her for everything except the three hour class. Her first hour would be with another teacher, then they would be together for an hour with Mr Conor, and then part again as Maria went with Ms Roots and Eleanor with Mr Conor. It was going to be a long day.