Article

This perceptive, charming story by Christine Columbus was selected to be a miniStories winning short by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl.
January 5, 2009

miniStories winner, Christine Columbus

'Tween Seasons

The seasons are in the process of changing, the colored leaves lay limp, lifeless and fading, in the gutters, congregating on top of catch basins. The air is too cold for just a jacket but not frigid enough for gloves and hats. The 'tween seasons are difficult: if you begin to bundle up too early in the season, when winter really strikes you’ll be out of layers. Yet, if you don’t dress warmly enough, your fingers and lips tinge to the prettiest shade of blue.

After the leaves have been raked into the flower beds, the screens put away and the house readied for winter, I grow restless. The only thing left to do is decorate for Christmas, but that can wait.

I am also at the 'tween of my seasons, too young to spend every evening watching Wheel of Fortune and too old to party all night long. The kids are off to college, and when friends call and invite me out to Medina Ballroom for a singles' dance, I agree. Not because I like to dance or even know how but because I am tired of meeting for dinner, drinks, and shopping.

At a table with my friends, I am content to lean against the back of my chair and watch others dance.

A middle-aged man comes over to the table, and I am surprised when he turns to me instead of my friend to ask, “Would you like to dance the East Coast Swing?”

I shrug, “I don’t know how to dance.”

He reaches out his hand to me. “I’ll teach you.”

We dance (and I use that term loosely) in front of the band. The music is loud. I can’t hear a word he’s saying. I smile and nod. Toward the end of the song he moves closer to me and I hear, “Have you ever been bit?”

My heart pounds, my arm pits sweat. What a weirdo. Should I scream? Is there a full moon? Does he think he’s a vampire?

I take a deep breath and smile as my rational mind takes hold. He must have meant "bitten" by the dancing bug. I smile sincerely.

He holds me tighter, tips me back, my foot comes off the floor and my clog catches on my curled toes. I struggle to stay upright and my body stiffens. My only thought, when I get me feet under me, is of sprinting to the door and going home to watch Wheel of Fortune.

His eyebrows drop to the bridge of his nose and the corner of his lips twitches. “I guess you don’t dip on the first date.”

Oh, dipped. I nod.

About the author: Christine Columbus (yes, her real name), has lived forever in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s a mom, poet and a romance novelist for The Wild Rose Press with a number of short stories and a soon to be released novel, The Perfect Country and Western Story. Her latest poem appeared in the Bloomington Art Center’s literary production Reflection. Her teacher, Patrick, at the University of Iowa once said he looked forward to reading her work because it was like a glitter of gold in a box of sand. For some reason she’s always visualized a kitty litter box when she thinks of it.

 

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