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Dancing With Mother

By Teeta Langlands

Except for Geri’s day off on Tuesdays, my father and stepmother had the same work schedule, so the day Geri and I danced together had to have been a Tuesday because my father wasn’t home. The music twirled on the record player and Geri must have been feeling energetic and probably a little drunk too. A rim of pink curlers that smelled of Aqua Net hairspray bobbed against her cheeks as she looped around the living room. She surprised me by grabbing my hands as I sat reading on the couch, the book clattering as it hit the threadbare rug.

“C’mon,” she said, “Dance.”

She tugged me to a stand. Her fingers were slippery with Jergens lotion so I slid my hands out of her grip, and bent to tug up my knee socks.

“Oh, c’mon,” she said, swirling in front of me. The full skirt of her housedress wrapped in and out between her legs.

I had never danced except one time for a part in the annual Christmas pageant at school. I stood there with my arms dangling like two chickens that just had their necks wrung, amazed at the attention she was giving me.

Geri grasped my hands again, and my feet moved as she pulled me across the floor. She shook her hips and shimmied her shoulders. She seemed to enjoy the curlers swinging around her face because every few seconds she’d wag her head to the beat of the music. My movements felt rigid, like the plastic ballerina on the music box that Barbara Potter had brought in for show and tell.

“You’ve got it,” she said, dropping my hands and making a spin in front of me that sent her curlers into motion.

Got it was the last thing I felt. But, for once it seemed like Geri wanted to have fun with me. Only me. I smiled at her, my body loosened, and a sway that started at my shoulders rippled down through to my legs.

“That’s it, feel the music,” she said as she once again held my hand and then spun under my raised arm.

Afternoon light filtered in through the dust-coated windowpanes. A Mitch Miller song played round and round—“Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck may be somebody’s mother…”

Yes, I thought. This must be what it’s like to have a mother, not Geri, but a real mother

 

Teeta Langlands and her husband own four Darkside Snowboards stores in Vermont. Her short stories have been published in Hiss Quarterly and All Things Girl . She recently completed a novel.

Photo "Friendship" courtesy of Paulo Oliveira Santos, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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