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Today's Story by Caitlin Myer

My plan had worked. I knew the minute I saw him, it worked.

Serialization Sunday – Hoodoo: Chapter 10

Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel.  Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here

Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl  who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor. 

Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.

Chapter 10

There is no place on earth like being onstage in a ballet. You might think you know – maybe you did a school play when you were a kid, or you were in a beauty pageant or something, but whatever you did, unless you were a ballerina with all the world in front of you, performing for the first time, unless you could hear individual gasps from the dark of the audience while you danced, unless you could feel yourself climbing closer to heaven on the solid tower of applause, growing higher and deeper until the body of the crowd clapped in rhythm, one mass cry of love and want – unless you’ve been through that and come out the other side, you can’t know what it’s like. Everybody was taken by surprise, even the other dancers, even Madame Lake – even me. I didn’t know that once I stepped onstage and heard and felt three hundred souls, all watching me – there to see their daughter or sister, thinking about laundry or math or baseball – I didn’t know that I would take each one of them – every member of the audience – inside me, feel them take me over and move me across the floor, dancing out their most desperate desires on the cheap community theater stage.

After three performances, word had spread. People were busting out of the back of the hall by the third night, lining up down the block for tickets. Reporters came and wrote reviews for the Lemuel Holler and I even scored a few lines in the Salt Lake Herald. One reviewer wrote that I “exuded sensuality.”

“What does that mean?” I asked Tana, the Big Girl who was reading my review out loud to the dressing room.

“It means you’re sexy,” yelled Laurel across the dressing room.

We laughed ourselves silly over that one. But even while I laughed at the thought of big brown Alice Lott being sexy, looking at my wild stage makeup in the mirror, bright blue eye shadow and black eyeliner out to my hairline, even so, I hoped with all my heart it was true.

After the fourth performance, all of us chatty in the dressing room, reaching over each other for glops of cold cream to take the gook off our faces, Carollee eating a burger her parents brought, bending over so she wouldn’t drip on her tutu, Madame Lake would kill her if she saw that, families and boyfriends crowding in with cards and flowers, girls pulling on Levis over tights, wiping the sweat from their armpits with towels, a group getting together to go out to Stan’s Drive Inn for shakes, I was half out of my costume, my harem pants still on over my tights and leotard, the vest hanging on the rack, one eye clean, the other still bright with running color, like half my face was melting, I leaned into the mirror, and pulled back, quick. Dr. Bob’s face, big as life, in the doorway behind me, his mirrored eyes looking into mine, all the way in, like he could see into my soul, right into all the lust and pink-trimmed fantasies – and I’m looking right back, and all of a sudden I could see all that want shining right back at me, sharp. My hand wandered toward my mouth – I don’t know what I was going to do – but the cold cream on my fingers came bright and clammy against my lips, making me jump. Bob looked down, his scalp red beneath his hair, and finally I turned around.

A small hand was holding onto his, connected to a little blond kid, I swear she looked just like Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch, her hair almost white, and white eyelashes standing out all surprised as she looked around the dressing room, one finger in her mouth.

I gotta tell you, my plan had worked. I knew the minute I saw him, it worked. He was bowled over, hardly able to talk, just looking at me while I bent over to talk to his daughter. She was an okay kid, really excited about the ballet, pointing at dancers and costumes, and talking a mile a minute in the cutest Minnie Mouse voice. She was most impressed with Mother Buffoon’s skirt, big enough to hide ten little girls, and Mother Buffoon’s stilts, and she squealed out loud when I introduced her to Mother Buffoon in the flesh, and it was a guy in all those curls and skirts. She talked him into showing her how he walked in the stilts, and it hit me that I was going to be her stepmother, so I guessed we better get along.

She ran out of steam pretty soon, though, it was late, and a lot of excitement for a kid, and she was leaning up against her Dad, and finally he picked her up, all soft and sleepy in his arms, her long white legs hanging down. Most folks had packed up and left, just a few stragglers hanging around talking.

I threw a coat on over my leotard and walked with him through the halls and up the stairs to the parking lot. It was snowing, and quiet as the day God created the earth, before he’d put any creatures on it. Dr. Bob’s car was standing all by its lonesome at one end of the lot, already an inch deep in snow. He gently unloaded the sleeping girl into the passenger seat, pushing the door closed, and then he stood up straight and faced me.

I felt almost like I did onstage, like something besides me was moving my body, and I stepped closer to him. He looked down at his shoes, coughing out a laugh, shaking his head.

“You are…really something.”

He looked up at me, mouth open in a smile, like a boy just standing in wonder in front of a brand-new bike. He blinked, and reached out a hand to touch my hair.

“Your hair’s all wet.”

We were almost the same height. His fingertips skimmed over my ear, and, very lightly, along my cheek. I started to lean in toward him when I felt…I don’t know…a dent in the air beside us, something almost seen in the corner of my eye, and we both jerked like we’d been caught sleeping in class. The kid was standing next to us, rubbing her eyes.

“Daddy? I’m cold.”

A breath, then girl and father into the car, slow crank in the cold, engine catching, and they crawled away, leaving soft paths in the new snow, flakes falling in the headlights, the sound of the motor muffled up in four heartbeats, and the temperature dropped a good ten degrees. But I kept standing there I don’t know how long, his touch burning and glowing on my cheek.


Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California.  Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle. 

Read more stories by Caitlin Myer


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