Things were rolling at a fever pitch until a fiddler fell off the stage. No one was really surprised when the music failed and dancers stopped short in the middle of a Virginia Reel to assess the damage.
It was a small venue, the Miller’s second barn used primarily for smoking meats, and only a matter of time before someone in the packed room become intoxicated with musical vibrations and lost their sense of space. Tonight, Robbie Jon had reared so far back on his heels in anticipation of the next chorus that he toppled backward onto the peanut shell covered floorboards below.
“Hey-yo, hold up!’ hollered Ruddy Don, the caller.
“Rob’s gone off the back again.”
“I’ve fouled up the bow,” shouted Robbie from behind the stage. “I’ve got to re-hair it.”
“What a disgrace,” chuckled Don, a good-natured grin on his face. “Well, let’s take a breather, then. Break time, ladies and lads. Open the doors, Paul, it’s blazing in here.”
The double barn doors swung open and cool night air rushed into the sweltering barn. It was late April, still too cold to go out with bare shoulders but the promise of warmer summer nights drifted on the spring breeze. Jessie pulled her thick, auburn hair up off her neck and twisted it into a bun on the top of her head. She grabbed a pencil from the mug by the door to hold it in place. After dancing for nearly two hours, sweat dripped from every part of her body. She, like most of the other dancers, was relieved for an unscheduled break in the action. Once this group got going, it was like a freight train. Steaming down the track and nearly impossible to stop. Usually, it took an accident like Robbie’s fall to bring them down from the ecstatic heights of dancing.
Jessie walked out into the clean-swept yard and sat on a bench under one of the Miller’s almond trees. Gazing up at the delicate pink blooms, she inhaled their earthy scent. The evening breeze was gentle on her shoulders. She was present in her own skin, enjoying the moment and the world around her. Jessie closed her eyes, thinking of a time when she would never have noticed the flowers, the breeze, the beautiful night sky.
She had been performing with The Jig Is Up for five years, and she danced with the Gold Rush Gals for five years before that. Since The Gold Rush Gals were in high demand to perform at historical reenactments all over the country, and Jessie hated to travel, she dropped out and joined the ballroom studio across town. She quickly fell in love with the variety of dancing TJIU performed and had been swinging a partner ever since.
It was a different Jessie who first stepped through the doors of the Gold Rush Gal’s downtown studio: small, skinny, shy and severely depressed. She had just lost her only friend and companion, Tinny, a small grey mouse who lived a record three years in his custom cage and outdoor porch. She still missed the creak of his wheel at night and the click of his water bottle when he took tiny sips. But she couldn’t have a mouse now. Her big Persian Tabitha would never allow it.
After Tinny passed she found herself taking long walks at night, past the historic 1920’s bungalows and down to the Mission district. She would listen to podcasts while she walked, about making intuitive life choices and raising her energetic vibrations.
One evening she noticed a bright green flyer pinned to the Town Hall community bulletin board. An all-female dance group was forming and needed interested ladies to join and perform in exchange for free dance lessons. Jessie had never danced a step in her life. She stared at the flier. It was time for a change, and this was as good a chance to take as any. She tore off a green strip with Bunny Briggs’ number and soon found herself lifted on a wave of musical and rhythmic wonder. She was a natural dancer. She loved it, and from her first step, nothing in her life would ever be the same. Dancing made her feel like a bird, a soaring eagle, flying free above her insecurities and anxieties. On these wings, she could escape high above the black dog of depression.
Jessie could hear fiddle and bass starting up in the barn, and rose to her feet. The music drifted out to her, and she flowed inside, ready to dance until the band could play no more.
I’m writing 750+ words a day of fiction and publishing them here for the next 100 days. These are written quickly with minimal editing and based off a daily prompt.
Day 9 // Prompt: 8 Random Words
mouse, disgrace, skinny, eagle, baffle, repulsive, dance, strip
Originally published at stasiland.blogspot.com.