Tall Smiles and Kitten Heels by Karen Jones

Prospective partners, Brylcreemed hair as set in place as their plans, prowl the dancefloor perimeter. A hammock of cigarette smoke hovers over their heads. Our mothers have warned us about these boys. We can dance – of course we can dance – but you and I must come home together, always. Remember we’re good girls.

Under the table, the tips of our kitten-heeled shoes nervous paw-pat to the beat and you slide your chair closer to mine. Our hair is as heavily lacquered as theirs is greased, so we can’t quite rest our heads together, but close enough for whispers, secrets. We compare notes on boys who approach, perform swift-swoop turns to the wall that warn them: not here, not us, not interested. We’re good girls.

We haven’t danced at all. You say we have to dance. We have to pretend to be like everyone else. Two tall guys stop at our table. Nice smiles. Neat clothes. They’ll do for a twist or two, but we won’t close-dance. We’re good girls.

Just before we stand, you grab my arm, squeeze an it’s-all-right squeeze, then you let your hand fall and trace the length of my thigh. I shiver, reach for you, but you’re gone, into the arms of a tall smile.

I take my partner’s hand, let him guide me to the floor, where I twist and turn and twist and turn, then tumble towards him. He catches me. He laughs, holds me longer than he needs to, like I’m his now, and asks to walk me home. I shake my head, go back to our table, thinking you’ll be there. But you’re still dancing with that tall smile, head thrown back, laughing, hands touching his. I’ll wait to walk home with you. Wait for you to remember I’m your girl.

Karen Jones is a flash and short story writer. Her flashes have been nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and included in Best Small Fictions 2019. She’s Features Editor for New Flash Fiction Review. Her novella-in-flash, When It’s Not Called Making Love is published by Ad Hoc Fiction.

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