Sunday 28 January 2024

Diane Simmons, "A Tricky Dance"


Diane Simmons is Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day UK, and a former director of Flash Fiction Festivals UK. She has been widely published in magazines such as New Flash Fiction Review, Mslexia, Splonk and FlashBack Fiction and placed in numerous writing competitions. Finding a Way (Ad Hoc Fiction), her flash collection on the theme of grief, was published in 2019 and shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards in the Best Short Story Collection category. Her historical novella-in-flash An Inheritance (V. Press) was published in 2020 and shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards Best Novella category. Her new novella-in-flash, A Tricky Dance, was published by Alien Buddha Press in January 2024. You can read more about Diane on her website here and connect with her on X @scooterwriter and Bluesky

About A Tricky Dance, by Diane Simmons
A Tricky Dance is a novella-in-flash. It is set in 1970s Scotland and follows spirited teenager Elspeth as she navigates the challenges of friendships, family life and ambition, discovering that even in the face of adversity, life can hold endless possibilities.

You can read more about A Tricky Dance on the author's website here. Below, you can read an excerpt from the novella-in-flash. 

From A Tricky Dance


Rory McMaster corners me after double geography.

‘You ken how we had a go at the Gay Gordons the other day?’

‘Aye, you were great.’

He does one of his wee bows. ‘I’ve been learning Scottish Country Dancing at the church hall every Thursday. We do Highland Dancing too. Do you want to come along?’

I hesitate and he goes bright red. 

‘No’ like that,’ he says. ‘I mean I’m no’ asking you out or anything …’

I smile, tell him I know what he meant, but I don’t answer his question. I’m fed up of having to make excuses for not doing things. And this is dancing. I bloody love dancing. I sigh. ‘How much is it?’  

‘It’s only 75p a week,’ he says.

I can’t imagine thinking 75p was nothing. I get £3 for doing my paper round and I’ve to pay for everything out of that. Maybe if I took on a Sunday paper round too? ‘What do the girls wear?’ I ask. 

‘Your gutties and a skirt would do.’

I picture myself turning up in my gym shoes and school skirt, imagine the looks. ‘I don’t think I can.’

When I get to school the next day, there’s a plastic bag on top of my locker. Expecting something gross, I peer inside – it’s a pair of dancing pumps. 

I hound Rory down at break. ‘I can’t take these,’ I say. ‘They must’ve cost a bomb.’

‘They were my sister’s,’ he says. ‘They don’t fit her anymore.’ 

I examine the pumps again. There’s no sign of any wear – there’s not a single mark on them. He must think I’m daft.

‘That’s nice of your sister,’ I say. I stare at the pumps, then at Rory’s worried face and grin at him. ‘See you there on Thursday,’ I say. 

‘Seven o’clock,’ he says, and grins back. 

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