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Backwards and in High Heels – Meg Pokrass and Rosie Garland

Mom and me, we moved here from Boston. Left Dad with his Cuervo Gold and broken dance academy.

In that rich-fucks’ town, I tried not to breathe, hardly left the house. Every Tuesday evening, Dad hired me out to the men without partners, who swore they were learning to waltz to surprise their wives on wedding anniversaries. Old guys with beer-and-tobacco breath, slab-of-pork hands slopped around my waist.

‘Leave me alone,’ I thought on a Tuesday night like any other, but wondered about myself, because at the same time, I smiled. It didn’t reach all the way to my feet.

‘I’m growin’ old, have some pity,’ my partner wheezed, lips so fat he could swallow a rabbit. ‘Slow down.’

He was sweating, nervous. My smile made losers like him leak water from their pores. He fumbled with the zipper of my skirt, Dad watching the whole time.

Here in Vermont, Mom smokes menthol cigarettes and laughs out loud in the pharmacy and at church socials. I don’t eat and I jog in the morning before the sun comes up so nobody knows anything. In this town, no-one dances. Everybody runs.