The daughter stood in the grass, wet from the sprinklers, her shoes slowly soaking. Inside the older folks were dancing, hands on shoulders, hands clasped. She could hear some early rock and roll, keyboard driven, maybe Little Richard or Fats Domino. To the east sliding glass doors were trimmed in Chinese lanterns—mostly red and yellow.
Her dad was the tallest and most handsome with his wide smile and deep dimples. Over six feet and slim, he moved across the floor like someone half his age. Then he paused. With both hands he held his partner who leaned back.
The music stopped, and many moved to the side and sat. When a new song started, only those on the dance floor were left. Her father was with a woman in a tight dress, and they traveled smoothly, rising and falling into each other like an ocean’s high tide. As they passed between the other couples, the daughter found fault in his partner. She was too short. Not graceful. They didn’t fit each other. When the song ended, he kissed the woman in the tight dress.
The daughter remembered her dad saved her life. She was five with pneumonia and spiked a fever of 104. Wrapping his baby girl in an olive-green army blanket, he carried her to the emergency room and lay her on a steel table. The doctor packed her in ice.
The room was nearly empty. In the midnight sky clouds tumbled back and forth. With his wide smile, her dad walked to the glass and raised his hand. A slow song started, one the daughter knew from the radio, one they had danced to. She remembered her dad showing her how to follow like a lady. Not to pull the man toward her. To read the pressure of the hand on her back and the direction of the hand holding hers. Just lean in and follow wherever he took her. She began to raise her hand as the woman in the tight dress led him away.
Chella Courington is a writer and teacher whose poetry and fiction appear in numerous anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly, Ghost Parachute, and X-R-A-Y Magazine. Her novella-in-flash, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing), was featured recently at Vancouver Flash Fiction. A 2020 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington lives in California.
Other published work:-