NT Franklin writes after his real job hoping one day to have it be his real job. He writes cozy mystery short stories, nostalgia short stories, and Flash Fiction. He has been published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Fiction on the Web, Madswirl, Postcard Shorts, 404 Words, Freedom Fiction, Burrst, Entropy, Alsina Publishing, Fifty-word stories, among others. When not reading or writing short stories, you might find him fishing or solving crossword puzzles.
Me and Bart Go Dancing
I was hardly back from school when I saw Bart jogging across the road with a football under his arm. “Come on, we’re gonna have a touch football game.”
“I’m in.” I didn’t need to be asked twice, it was football weather.
Bart was short of breath from jogging, so we walked slow so he could catch his breath and I could understand him.
“You know the new family that moved in four doors down? You know, the really huge front lawn with no trees?”
“Robbie and Tommy in our grade, right?”
Bart nodded. “Yup, they’re twins.”
“But they don’t look the same.”
Bart shrugged. “My mom said some twins are like that. But they’re both really fast and can both throw a football a mile.”
When me and Bart arrived, we chose up sides, splitting the twins. The long lawn was perfect for a football field.
It was a fun game and by the time everyone had to go home for supper, there were a dozen kids playing. Bart was right, the twins were good. One was a little faster and the other threw a football a little farther, but they were the two best players on the field.
On the walk home, I told Bart, “I hope we do this every day after school.”
“Speaking of school, I heard there’s a student teacher coming this week for gym class. I wonder what we’ll do,” Bart said.
“I’m getting kinda used to dodgeball every class.”
The first class of the day was gym. We stayed in street clothes and carried our shoes to the gym floor. Sure enough, we were introduced to the student teacher, Miss Hamilton. And she was a girl gym teacher!
We were all lined up on the black line ready to count off for attendance when Miss Hamilton strode to the middle of the floor and said, “We’re going to dance in gym class for the next few weeks.”
Some of the boys started snickering, but me and Bart kept a straight face.
“TWEET!” Miss Hamilton blew a whistle and stopped everyone in their tracks. “And there will be none of that. DO YOU HEAR ME?”
I almost peed in my pants. She was scary. She looked kinda like the guy gym teachers but yelled louder. Her arms were bigger than Mr. Nesbit, the English teacher. No one was going to mess with her. Then she opened the curtain dividing the gym into the boys’ and girls’ side. We’d never been allowed to peek into the girl’s side, and here, the curtain was wide open.
There the girls were, all standing on the black line on the other side of the big gym.
Miss Hamilton stood in the middle of the gym floor and looked at everyone. After a moment, she walked to the wall by the girls’ locker room where a phonograph was plugged in. She turned it on and set the needle on the record. talking while she demonstrated dance steps. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four, over and over. Then we were told to move an arm’s distance apart and do the steps. The curtain was still open so we could see the girls doing the steps and they could see us. After a half hour that seemed to last three hours, we went back to the locker room to put on our shoes and go to our next class.
The buzz through the school was crazy. The girls liked the dance stuff and the boys, or most of them anyway, said they missed dodgeball.
We practiced dance the next day in gym class until the end when we were given proper instruction on asking a girl to dance, “May I have this dance?” Miss Hamilton said was the correct way to ask a young lady to dance. And we needed to know that because we’d be dancing with partners the next class. We were to keep the same partners all during the dance section of gym class.
Some of the boys said they were going to be sick from school, but I doubted it.
“Bart, that means we’re going to dance with girls. Do you think we’ll have to touch them?”
“Do you think everyone will dance?” I asked.
“There are more girls than boys so all the boys will have a girl partner. I don’t think girls mind dancing with girls.”
“I’m afraid I might forget the steps,” I said.
“My mom dances a lot; she really likes it. She’ll help and I can practice. We’ve done it before. I’m pretty good.”
“Your mom dances?”
“Yeah. I guess my dad doesn’t like dancing because she goes out alone or with other people when he travels.”
The rest of the day, Fred Wick was doing his usual bullying thing. Annie Howard, the most popular girl in school, was in the girl’s class. Fred said he was going to be the one to ask her to dance and no one else had better dare.
“I’m going to walk straight across the floor and ask who is across from me,” I said. “No way I’m going to ask Annie.”
Bart shook his head. “Ha! I just might ask Annie to dance.”
“Gee, Bart, that’s risky.”
“Nah, Fred Wick doesn’t worry me.”
After school, we played touch football in Robbie and Tommy’s yard. While we played, dance class was talked about, but mainly, tagged you, did not, did too, dominated the discussions.
The first class of the next day, we lined up on the black lines looking at each other – girls on the right, boys on the left. Miss Hamilton was in the middle with her whistle on the end of a strap. She hadn’t needed to blow it other than that one time.
“Gentlemen,” she announced, “please ask a lady to dance and I will start the music.”
Blonde straight hair, blue eyes, dimples, and a big smile, there was quite a rush to Annie and a few other girls. She was directly across from Bart and he confidently strode straight over and asked, “May I have this dance?”
At the same time, Fred Wick asked, “Wanna dance?”
Before Annie could answer, Miss Hamilton bellowed, “Hold it right there, young man.” She stormed across the gym floor and was inches from Fred’s face. “What did you say?”
“I said, wanna dance.” Fred answered.
“Let’s try that again,” Miss Hamilton ordered. “Politely.”
Everyone stopped and waited to see what would happen next.
Fred looked down at his socks and said “May I have this dance?”
“It seems you have a choice, Annie,” Miss Hamilton said.
You could have heard a pin drop before Annie spoke. “Thank you, Bart, I’d love to dance.” The word love floated out of her mouth and was musical the way she said it.
Annie turned to Fred, “I’m sorry, but I have a partner. Why don’t you ask Cecelia next to me here to dance?” Fred wilted to about three-feet tall.
With that, the gym started buzzing, boys asking girls and girls accepting. All except Fred, who stood there with his mouth open. I asked the girl directly across from me to dance and she said yes.
Leftover girls quickly asked other leftover girls to dance to avoid Fred as a partner. The only people left were Cecelia and Fred. No matter what dress Cecelia wore, it never fit right. Cecelia was last in everything in every class, but she seemed happy enough to have a boy to dance with, even if it was Fred Wick.
Annie was a good dancer, almost as good as Bart, so all eyes were on them. They moved to the music as one. It was kinda pretty. They moved to the center of the gym floor and everyone gave them lots of room. I made sure I stayed a long way away from Fred and Cecelia. As good as Bart and Annie were, Fred and Cecelia were that bad. Miss Hamilton stayed close to them because they never did the steps right. I was glad to see someone way worse than me. Cecelia smiled the whole time, even when Fred stepped on her toes. She even smiled when Fred tripped her and she went down in a heap.
I didn’t forget the steps, but pretty much had to count one, two, three, four, over and over. I only stepped on Roberta’s toes once.
The whole school knew about Miss Hamilton and Annie putting Fred Wick in his place. It was great. Bart made it through the whole day without getting pounded by Fred. He didn’t think Fred was going to be a problem. I wasn’t sure. Once again, Bart was right. Fred pretty much kept his head down in the hallways and didn’t stare at anyone the whole day.
After school on the way home, Bart asked, “How was dancing?”
“It was okay. I don’t even miss dodgeball that much.” I was sure we’d go back to playing it as soon as Miss Hamilton left.
“I didn’t see you, who did you dance with? You had to touch her, right?” He smiled. “You okay?”
“I danced with Roberta, uh… I mean Robbie, one of the twins. You know, we play touch football with her. She’s really fast and catches a football really well… for a girl. So, she’s almost not like a girl.
“Nice,” Bart said.
All in all, it was a good day, I learned how to dance, a bully was humiliated, and who knows, there is always tomorrow.