Solomon stood statue like—still as stone—one arm resting on the broom handle. Folks often wondered what it was that Solomon thought about in those times he’d stop in his work and look off. It seemed as though he saw something far away on some hard to see and distant shore. But he’d only pause a moment before getting back to work, cleaning up after school kids the way he’d done for nearly forty years.
Every prom had its theme, but none truly seemed unique. They all had run together over time. Each year, Solomon looked on as the kids prepared, and planned, and put up decorations. He’d watch them come, dressed in splendor, bright. He delighted to see how such uncommon adornment sparked the light in eyes, and lit the smiles upon the evening’s would-be princes and princesses alike. And then he’d stand off alone and watch. He’d watch them talk, and laugh. He’d watch them dance to the music of the day—so many with various steps and styles, and some with neither. Then in the morning, in the quiet aftermath, he’d go to work; and he’d write upon his memory all he’d seen the night before.
Prom time meant more clean up than usual, but Solomon didn’t mind. He’d just smile and go right to work—sweeping up crumpled crepe paper, popped balloons, confetti and the like—whistling as he went, stopping occasionally for a bit of rest and deep reflection.
“Howdy, Mr. Solomon,” Timmy Nelson blurted from behind, bringing Solomon from his thoughts. “How are you today?”
“Oh, can’t complain, Timmy.” Solomon went back to pushing the broom.
Timmy came around in front, “Mind if I give ya a hand?”
“Now that would be real nice, Timmy. There’s another broom over yonder by the drinkin’ fountain.”
Timmy got the broom, and got up close as he could to Solomon, watched for a moment and then went to work—pushing the broom pretty much in sync with Solomon.
“Wow, sure is a big floor!” Timmy noted, “I don’t think I ever realized how big it is before now. Don’t you get tired of cleanin’ it?”
“Nah, Timmy, I don’t mind at all. I actually kind of look forward to it.”
Timmy stopped mid broom-stroke, “You’re kidding, right?“
Solomon grinned and continued sweeping. Timmy joined in. They worked without a word, offering up sounds of paper scraps scraping against the floor. Several minutes passed before Solomon stopped again, rested on his broom handle and stared off.
“What do you think about when you stop like that, Mr. Solomon?”
Solomon smiled and paused a moment. “Timmy, I’ve seen thirty-some of these proms, and I never get tired of them. Most of the time, its just me in here during clean up, but I never feel alone. I’ll just be here pushin’ the broom, and then there they are—all those young folks—out there dancin’—out there—.“ Timmy gazed into the empty gym, trying to get a glimpse of the marvel that lit Solomon’s eyes with wonder.
“Seems there’s two kinds I’ve seen come through this place,” Solomon continued, “those who take the music with them, and those who let if fade. I run into them every now and again. Seems easy to figure out who can still hear the music. It’s in their eyes—the way they walk—their words. The others seem to rush through life like a race, like they’re all fired up to get it over with.“
Solomon looked piercingly into Timmy’s eyes. “What about you Timmy—do you hear the music?” Timmy just stared back, not knowing how to respond. “It’s always the same it seems—life, the dance, the music. Nothing new under the sun, eh Timmy?”
“You suppose God likes music?” Timmy asked.
“You ever read the Psalms?” Solomon questioned. ”Now there’s a music that never fades for any so inclined to hear it.”
Timmy left shortly thereafter. Solomon continued in his work, pausing every so often to listen to the music. What a blessing it was to him, to watch so many young folks taste of some of life’s most precious times. For them, their dance had only started. Solomon knew his dance was almost done. Life in this place would long surpass his lifetime, and the stories of proms, dances, and beautiful music he had seen would soon be a story that only the walls could tell—if only they could speak.