When I was young they paid to watch me dance. Men, mostly, but a few women as well. My mother would take their bills, their coats. My mother would lower the lights and whisper to them each in turn to remind them there would be no touching. And I danced the steps that I had been taught. Without rhythm but with a clumsy sort of grace—my small feet spinning me in small circles, my arms reaching out out out as I had been shown.
It was a short dance. My mother knew how to keep the mystery intact, how to keep them coming back again and again. The lights would come back and I would be gone. They would shuffle back into their coats and leave.
When can we touch? they would ask but my mother would just silently shake her head. She had not yet decided on the price for that.
has published his poetry and prose in such journals as The Meadow, New York Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Split Lip Magazine, and Whiskey Island, among others. His writing has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes and for Best of the Net, and appears in the Best Microfiction Anthology (2020 and 2021). He lives in Wyoming with a couple of humans and several rescued cats.
You can find more of his work at: https://ccrussell.net