Category: The Red Dress Club


This story was written for The Red Dress Club prompt:

Speaking of change, this week we’d like you to write about a moment in your life when you knew something had to change drastically. Maybe it was a relationship, or career, parenting, school, diet – anything.

Really explore the moment. What it felt like to make the decision. Lots of opportunity to show and not tell.

Although, it looks as if The Red Dress Club is undergoing a major overhaul, and is now Write on Edge

It’s easier for me to write in 3rd person. It is true, it is me, so it is a memoir, hopefully the 3rd person POV doesn’t break any rules lol!

Taken in NC Narrator's dorm room at the Univ. of Wyoming, a few months before I went off to be a nanny.

She looked at the calendar, counting the days till her contract was up. Nannies always changed in the summertime, as children’s lives were intrinsically ordered by the beginning and end of the school year.

Watching them run around the yard, she was happy. She loved those kids. But they weren’t hers. And although her two years in southern Connecticut had been filled with friendship and fellowship and activity, mostly centered around the church, her love life was dead.

Dead was perhaps a misnomer. Stagnant, or nonexistent were better adjectives. Although most of her friends were nannies like herself, and female, the young adult group at Hope Church had plenty of young single guys. But in two years, there had not been a single look, a single flirtatious glance, much less an actual date.

Nothing had to change. She could stay. The home was comfortable, the employers reasonable, the children adorable. But she had planned for just two years “off” from college. She wasn’t a dropout. She was taking an opportunity to do something she’d always wanted to do, and the experience had, overall, been a very good one. She’d grown, and matured much more than she had while living in a dormitory with hundreds of other eighteen & nineteen year olds.

Or things could change drastically. Many of her nanny friends were from overseas, she had the opportunity to enlist with an agency who could place her with a family in any number of foreign locales. It was an enticing prospect, being able to not just visit another country, but to live there for a while.

At twenty-two she felt ancient. Or, at least, not on track. One may laugh now, at the wise old age of forty, but having no romantic relationships or even hints for two years, and having nothing but miserable train wrecks of relationships before that, she had every right to feel like she had to do something different.

College had been in Wyoming. It was the only place she had ever had any romantic prospects at all. All through high school in Colorado she’d wasted her time on hopeless crushes on boys who really couldn’t care less. Since her parents up and moved to Vermont while she was away at college, returning home didn’t mean much anyway. The months she’d spent at her parents’ house were lonely ones, in spite of being active in the church and seeking out activities like the community chess club.

She had goals. She had desires. She just had to figure out a way to make them happen.

At the end of summer of 1993, she packed everything she had into a used Brown Hornet Station Wagon, and drove solo halfway across the country, to a new live, and hopefully love, out west.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-7p

Steampunk Revised

This is a revision of a previous story, as The Red Dress Club prompt this week is about revision. There’s a little explanation at the end.

Model Ophelia Overdose, a great inspiration for my Steampunk Heroine "Honeysuckle"

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Honeysuckle ground her teeth. She had always refused to wear one of the clunky waist-to-wrist harnesses meant to make public transportation so much more convenient, but as her escape was about to be foiled, she wished she hadn’t been so independent-minded.

Her partners, Nigel and Lucy, teased her endlessly about her stubborn refusal to conform. Lucy had just bought the trendiest new harness to go with her designer jodhpurs and skin tight breeches. Nigel had chosen a harness that fit under his suit, making him appear to be one of those who, like Honeysuckle, eschewed the so-called-necessary technology. But when he approached one of the massive machines, all it took was a dapper flip of the wrist and he would be flying along with the rest of the crowd.

Honeysuckle watched hook after hook go by, and not a single one held a seat. Back in the day, every hook would have had a seat or even a bench. But as personal, customizable harnesses became more and more popular, seats had become less necessary.

She glanced behind her. Any moment now, they’d be after her.

She glanced down. Much too far to jump, and they’d confiscated her parachute.

She glanced up. Still no seats in sight.

Assessing her options, she grabbed her tools and ripped open the coin-operated horsie ride that looked so out of place on the Come-N-Go platform. Just as she suspected, it was actually a cleverly disguised… well, it certainly wasn’t just a horsie ride, but what it was, she had no time to discern.

She ripped a length of roller chain out of the machine’s guts and cobbled it together with the horsie’s harness. She muttered “It’ll have to do…” and tossed the chain above her head, catching the nearest hook.

She was swept off the platform not a moment too soon. Several henchmen burst onto the platform, getting off several crossbow shots before the track took her swinging around a curve and out of range.

Honeysuckle held on for dear life, even though her arms felt like they would give way at any moment.

Lucy and Nigel were waiting at street level, as planned.

“Mrs. Jones, Mr. Jones…” Honeysuckle nodded to her partners.

The next day, she broke down and finally bought a harness for herself.

It was the only way to keep up with the Joneses.

This Red Dress Club prompt was to take an old story and revise it down to 400 words. This story was my experiment with Steampunk, which is like Victorian England’s version of Science Fiction. It was fun, inspired by both the old stories where the bad guy leaves the good guy in a hopeless death trap (But of course the hero escapes) and also by my frustration with modern technology assuming that everyone will buy it. Those of us who choose not the buy it sometimes end up left behind!

Another reason I wanted to redo this story was that I found this incredible photo of model Ophelia Overdose. I try to be very conscientious about only using photos with permission, and I didn’t get her permission till a week or two after the story was posted and The Red Dress Club had all visited. I hope they can all enjoy this story a little more this time, as the image really gives you the “Steampunk” feel, and I inserted that link to the Wikipedia definition as well.

As always, con-crit is eagerly accepted!

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-6d

Lesson Learned

This short memoir is in response to The Red Dress Club prompt Begin or end with the words “Lesson Learned.”

It was a good thing my hubby worked at the college too. It was fortunate we didn’t have kids yet. I went to work with Rob at 8:00 in the morning, and stayed at my desk in the adjunct office till he was ready to go around 5:00.  Every week, I only spent four hours actually standing up in front of a class, lecturing, and just one short hour was designated as an “office hour”, but I spent all day two or three times a week at the college.

Four sections of the same class. Four times a week to give the exact same lecture. Twenty young people in each class.

Eighty assignments to grade.

Grading the same assignment eighty times, my eyes would begin to glaze over and they all started to look alike.

Too alike… But it was only a computer spreadsheet, and a rather simple one. Of course they would be very similar!

But it continued. So the next assignment I sent out, instead of sending one mass e-mail, I sent out eighty. Eighty identical messages with attachments that were all the same except for the students’ name embedded in a way that would not be noticed.

I frowned as I graded that assignment. My mood darkened as I separated out a half dozen pairs of spreadsheets. My only consolation was that most of the others seemed to be legitimate.

It takes a long time to grade eighty assignments. It takes ten times longer to take eighty assignments, make sure the file is the student’s own, and if it isn’t, to figure out what to do next. It takes not only time, but careful effort to follow the college’s procedure in confronting the students. It takes a sympathetic yet determined ear to hear the reasons behind the identical assignments.

It takes a chunk out of a young teacher’s heart to think that, even though she has always been fair and generous with her students, some would cheat.

Lesson learned.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-64

Synchronicity

This short story was prompted by The Red Dress Club prompt of the photo. It is not related in any way to any others I’ve written. 

Synchronicity lay on the floor of her mother’s dark room. Since the switch to digital, it was only used when she was doing something artsy.

It was also Syn’s hideaway.

She could hear them giggling. This cover shoot was a bodice-ripper, and the models were dressed in corsets or less.

She knew she’d be grounded for a week if she was discovered, and the Homecoming Dance would not be an exception in her punishment. But what did they expect when they named her Syn?

Her mother claimed that she named her daughter after an album by “The Police”, but as the little girl approached her teenage years, “Syn” was an apt shortening of her name.

She held her phone above her face, being a voyeur to her friends’ texts and tweets, just as she was a audial voyeur to the mysterious activities in her mother’s studios. Synchronicity liked to observe. She learned a lot that way; she learned a lot more than her parents realized.

She learned that her mother’s income from photography had recently begun to surpass her father’s income from the office.

She learned that they almost lost their house to foreclosure, but didn’t.

She learned that, after three minutes of giggling, then three minutes of grunting, the sounds from her parent’s bedroom would change to her father’s evenly-timed snores underwritten by about ten minutes of unidentified buzzing.

The floorboard outside the dark room door squeaked, warning her that someone was only three steps away from her hiding spot. She quietly ducked under the table, insinuating herself with the bottles of chemicals and radioactive dustbunnies.

“…boss won’t mind. She’s picking up Syn from…” her mother’s intern threw open the door, tossed something onto the table, and closed the door just as quickly.

Picking up Syn? Oh shit!

She tried to weigh which would be a longer jail term, the punishment for hiding out in the darkroom, or the sentence for skipping cheerleading practice.

But the giggling in the studio had turned to grunting, and had already been going on for three minutes and didn’t sound like it would end anytime soon.

It’s always dangerous for a writer to say “I was thinking of…” or “I was inspired by…” but I have to admit that, as soon as I saw this photo, I instantly thought of JK LeBlanc, who is a romance writer and a photographer. She has several young daughters, and this photo made me think of them. I have no idea what the young women are like, but the idea of a tween or teen hiding out in her mother’s dark room with the cameras sparked this stories.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-5X

Syncopation

That's me on the left in blue, Lisa in front wearing white, in the early 1980's

This mini-memoir is for the Red Dress Club prompt “rhythm.”

Hornpipe shuffles are exactly opposite of Seann Triubhas shuffles. They go out-in instead of in-out. All those years of Highland Dance, all those hours of practice, all the work of mastering the Fling, Sword, Triubhas, Strathspey, two different reels and several national dances, all in anticipation of finally being allowed to learn the Hornpipe and Jig… and I have to re-learn shuffles all over again.

It was hard enough getting them down in the first place. A Scottish Highland shuffle is not a sloppy, casual move. You have to start with your foot extended all the way out, and the position has some overly long name like mid-fourth-aerial-low. When you brush your working foot inwards, it has to come exactly into third position before it goes back out again. Yes, you have to hit the outer position, and the inner, and then the outer again, all in the space of one beat of music, and you only get one jump. Once you’ve got that, then you have to learn to do several in a row, and you have to be able to either do them all on the same foot, or switch back and forth. And jump high. And turn out. And don’t drop your heels. And… and…

A hornpipe shuffle is supposed to give the impression of being casual and free, but it is just as precise as a highland shuffle. Besides being out-in, you don’t actually start in a tight third position. You start above it. You don’t have to do a bunch in a row, but you do have to combine it with other movements. A shuffle-over-the-buckle goes “Hop down, shuffle, beat-beat, shuffle.”  Read that with the emphasis on the second syllable in each pair. “Hop down, shuffle, beat-beat, shuffle.” The break goes “Hop down, shuffle, hop down, shuffle, hop down, step, close.”

Worst of all, it’s syncopated. When the music is going by at what seems like breakneck speed, the count isn’t da, da, da, da, it’s ba-da, ba-da, ba-da, ba-da. Most dancers end up combining the down and the shuff in “Hop down shuffle.” You can tell a good dancer by their ability to fit in every movement, exactly on the correct beat.

Good dancers are in sync… syncopation.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-5M

I’ve never tried embedding a video in a post before. Let’s see how it works! For those of you unfamiliar with Scottish Highland Dancing, see if you can identify when they all do the break (at the end of every step) If you can do that, see if you can catch the syncopation in the second step, which is almost all shuffle-0ver-the-buckle. You can tell when they get to the third step, because all the dancers chose different steps to do.  This video was uploaded to Youtube by Heather Zox, Queen Mary Scottish Dance Championship 2011, Long Beach, California, Featuring U.S. champion dancer: AMY MARIE HURWITZ (#168, white on right)

The Prompt:

“What you know” doesn’t necessarily always mean “your comfort zone.” For this week, take what you know out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre, a new time period, a geography you’ve only dreamed of, fantasy or historical instead of contemporary fiction, try the male POV if you usually write women. Or vice versa.

 Ack! Don’t judge me! (Well, a little constructive criticism would be nice!)

The first thing I thought when I read “out of your comfort zone” was “I’ll just do memoir. Almost all my memoir prompts are out of my comfort zone.” My second thought was “Well, I’ve said that I wouldn’t write Steampunk, since I don’t think I could do it justice. Here’s my chance to give it a go.” Yes, I wrote about a character being out of her comfort zone, but, trust me, the idea of writing an alternate past instead of an alternate future is different than anything I’ve done before!

Artist & Model Ophelia Overdose

Honeysuckle was way out of her comfort zone.

She was used to fixing the damn machines, not riding them. And she absolutely refused to wear one of the clunky chunky waist-to-wrist harnesses meant to make the ride so much more convenient for the casual traveller.

Her partners, Nigel and Lucy, teased her endlessly about her stubborn refusal to conform. Lucy had just bought the trendiest new harness to go with her designer jodhpurs and skin tight breeches. She looked positively dashing when she shrugged on the matching jacket and goggles.

Nigel had chosen a harness that fit under his suit, making him appear to be one of those who, like Honeysuckle, eschewed the so-called-necessary technology. But when he approached one of the massive machines, all it took was a dapper flip of the wrist and he would be flying along with the rest of the crowd.

Honeysuckle watched hook after hook go by, and not a single one had a seat suspended. Back in the day, every hook would have had a seat or even a bench. But as personal, customizable harnesses became more and more popular, seats had become less necessary.

She glanced behind her. Any moment now, the evil Dr. Maad would return to his lair and discover she had escaped from his trap after all.

She glanced down. Why all mad scientists had to have lairs fifty stories above the street, she could not fathom.

She glanced up. Hooks were going by at a regular rate, yet still, not a single one had a seat.

Assessing her options, she grabbed her tools and ripped open the coin-operated horsie ride that looked so out of place on the Come-N-Go platform. Just as she suspected, it was actually a cleverly disguised… well, it certainly wasn’t just a horsie ride, but what it was, she had no time to discern.

She ripped a length of roller chain out of the machine’s guts and cobbled it together with the horsie’s harness. Giving a quick yank to test for strength, she muttered “It’ll have to do…” and tossed the chain above her head, catching the nearest hook.

She was swept off the platform not a moment too soon. Dr. Maad’s henchmen burst onto the platform, getting off several crossbow shots before the track took her swinging around a curve and out of range.

Honeysuckle held on for dear life, even though her arms felt like they would give way at any moment. Fortunately, the next station wasn’t far away.

Lucy and Nigel were waiting at street level, as planned.

“Mrs. Jones, Mr. Jones…” Honeysuckle nodded to her partners.

On the way home, she broke down and finally bought a harness for herself.

It was the only way to keep up with the Joneses.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-5s

The OTHER “Keeping Up With the Joneses” post on the non-fiction side of the blog has nothing to do with Steampunk http://wp.me/p1qnT4-el

Touring the set on a clean up day before the shoot.

This week’s prompt from The Red Dress Club:

TV is something that people either watch a lot of or have definite feelings about. This week, we want you to think about tv show from your past. Maybe you watched it, maybe you didn’t and it was just something that everyone else talked about.
What feelings does the show evoke? What memories does it trigger?
Keep it to 600 words and come back to link up on Tuesday, July 5th.

“I’ll use my hour of television for Johnny Quest and Batman if you promise to use your hour for Star Trek.”

Such were the deals made after my parents decided their children needed limits on boob tube time. Star Trek was one of the only things in life my sister and I agreed on. I was not even alive when the original series aired. How strange that it should be such a constant in my life.

I love the idea of a positive future. As a child, I had no idea that the late great bird of the galaxy, Gene Roddenberry, was thinly veiling a commentary on the social, political, and cultural situations of his time. I had no idea how big a deal it was that Nichelle Nichols, a black woman, was portraying a character of strength and authority. I just knew I loved it.

“Jean Luc Lives!” was the refrain years later. Showing a bit too much cleavage in my Betazoid persona, I ran through the Holiday Inn convention center, having my picture taken with Daleks and letting at least one Romulan kiss me. I was the character of strength and authority then. I was the leader of the fan club and the organizer of convention trips. We slept en masse either on the floor of various parents’ houses, or as a slightly illegal mass of bodies in one hotel room. It was such a sense of camaraderie to sit in a room packed with hundreds of other fans, watching the premier of The Best of Both Worlds: Part Two, cheering raucously as the away team rescued their captain from the clutches of the evil Borg.

Hubby likes to say he married me because I’m a Trekkie. Most of our first dates were spent playing Dungeons and Dragons. We went to a Star Trek convention on our honeymoon. Knowing that someone else loves Star Trek as much as you do means that person gets something about you. It means you connect in ways SciFi Gentiles can not understand.

The advent of old TV available on DVD was a revelation. I used to worry about missing an episode, and for a while I taped my favorite SciFi and stored them on bulky VHS tapes. The internet made all things Trek even more available.

As adults, we’ve found a whole new level to take our love of Trek. The technology we have on our desktops is far better than what Gene Roddenberry had at his disposal in the 1960′s. Fans have started to make their own Trek, and the best is undeniably Star Trek Phase II, filmed in Port Henry, NY. A group of fans led by James Cawley continues the original series as if the 5 year mission was continuing on as planned. They take great care to make sure the look and feel of 1960′s Trek is replicated in every way. Hubby works on electrical stuff during the shoots, and I help out in various ways. We’re hanging out with other adults, from the young ones who are barely 18 to the older set who were already grown up when the original series aired. It’s an amazing feeling being in this great group of people. Everyone is there because they absolutely love Trek. No one is making money off this. In fact, people spend their vacation time and money just to travel to New York for the filming. Other professionals donate their time and skill in post production all over the country.

When I was bargaining with my sister for Trek TV time back in the seventies, I had no idea that a mere television show would grow to play such a large part in my life. The role has evolved, and now as a writer of science fiction, that role is as important and enriching as ever.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-5l

One of favorite inspirations... I've always seen Forrest as looking like Christian Slater.

I wrote this for The Red Dress Club:

This week’s prompt asked you to have you or your character find a forgotten letter or card from someone important in your life – whether good or bad. What does it say? How does it affect you or your character? What is done with it?

I have posted several short stories featuring Charity Kochsato, the Violet Duchess of Drakeshead before. Please don’t feel obligated to go looking for the previous thread… there is none! I have most of Charity’s life floating around in my brain, and I often use her experiences to fill the various prompts or story ideas I have. My hope is that each piece will stand on its own enough that the reader can understand and enjoy the story without feeling like they are missing some important backstory. Sometimes the story is from the beginning of her marriage, sometimes it is in later years. It’s not always apparent exactly when in her life the story takes place.

The Duchess sifted through the family’s messages, deciding which should be filed away and which could be discarded. Sometimes, several messages became stuck together, which was odd for a virtual box with no physicality, but sticky was still the best word for finding one message added onto the end of another for no apparent reason.

With eight spouses comprising the noble Duchy of Drakeshead, communication could be complicated. As the Violet Duchess, Charity’s load was currently the lightest, allowing her the flexibility to assist her husbands and wives when they were overloaded. She took it on herself to take care of some of the more mundane tasks, like cleaning out old messages.

I must attend the Serog-Hope Benefit Auction and Forwarding Ceremony on the eighteenth. Please oh please do not make me go alone! Is there anyone who can accompany me that night? Wrote Lawson, the Black Duke. She had answered that message weeks ago and attended the event on her husband’s arm. But as she was about to send the message into virtual nothingness, she noticed that there was another stuck to it.

Sweet Charity, it began. She saw that it was from Forrest, the Green Duke, dated shortly after their wedding. After our first day together as husband and wife, I thought I had married a truly evil woman. She giggled at that. After discovering that Redford and Braunwyn did not care for women sexually, she had been feeling insecure about her new marriage’s romantic side. Poor Forrest had endured her testing as they were closed together in a sky glider for the day, seeing their new duchy from the air. She sat between his legs, and kept finding excuses to lean forward or squirm with her derrière pressed against his groin. She wanted to arouse him. She wanted the reassurance that she would not be disappointed that night.

Charity smiled at the memory. Her new husband had confronted her privately when they stopped for lunch. Although initially angry, he listened patiently to her rather absurd explanation. He assured her that he appreciated women’s bodies enthusiastically, and then she proved to him that she was not a tease.

Funny how their attendants all seemed to know when to make themselves scarce.

But after our honeymoon night together, I began to appreciate just how sweet and loving you are. You are giving and gracious and beautiful and I am more grateful than I can ever express that you are now my wife.

Charity read the rest of her husband’s sweet words, and felt a flutter deep inside her. Examining the message tags, she figured that he had never actually sent it, and she wondered why.

The corners of her mouth crept upwards, as they had ever since she had come from her doctor’s visit a few hours before. She would have to ask Forrest about it later that night. She had some good news to share, and he would be the perfect husband to celebrate with.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-5e

This story stands alone, but it is the third part of a trilogy I began on May 7, 2011, just over a month ago.

You can read part one Number Eleven and part two Prime here on the blog.

Oh, and I realized too late that “Shade” is also the name of one of the Choose-Your-Own-Romance stories. Oh well!

Sand, Part Three:  Shade

Grandpa was a miner.

My granddaughter is going to be a scientist, just like her parents.

The sand likes her.

I still drive, though she bugs me to let her. Technically, she’s still too young, though I know her dad lets her sometimes.

We find a spot with some rare shade. Another rock formation, the kind the Nau Xibao like.

She takes out her tambourine, and scoops some sand, finding the darker particles differentiated from the tawny ones.

“Hmph. Too stupid.” She says, and scoops up some more. “That’s better.”

I lean over her shoulder and watch as she selects one of the phrases the Nau Xibao understand. “Is water near?”

The sand dances a bit. “Over there! But way down. Way way down.”

The translator has been learning more and more from the Nau Xibao’s feedback over the last few years. It can interpret all kinds of things now, even though getting them to understand a new concept is still a struggle.

“Too far?” my granddaughter asks.

“Not too too too far… you make shade?”

That is what gave us our happy ending. Something as simple as shade. What we thought was simply an oddly darker shade of sand turned out to be a sentient life form.

A life form on the verge of extinction.

I’ll leave it to my kids to explain just what they are or how they evolved or why they’re endangered. What I do understand is that they need both sun and shade to survive. When Grandpa and the other original settlers landed here, the Nau Xibao had no idea what was happening to them. But they did appreciate the shade they found in the shadows of our cities, even though when the cities began to grow too large they…

Well, you know the story.

“We go down down now.” The sand tells my granddaughter.

She spills the particles back to the ground, and soon I recognize the subtle shifts that mean the Nau Xibao are on the move. How can something without legs move? Ask someone else.

The smart girl won’t leave her tambourine on the sand. They like it, and they tend to pile on till the device is completely buried, which doesn’t help with the inter-species translation. I get to work erecting the simple shelter they like so much, the kind with translucent edges transitioning to complete light-blocking opacity in the middle. It’s like a luxury condominium complex for the Nau Xibao. Soon, all the sand in the lee of the shelter is dark, and the tawny silica they discarded is piled up at the base, helping to anchor it and make it permanent.

My granddaughter has been scooping and dumping sand, sometimes laughing, sometimes snorting in disgust. The Nau Xibao are like brain cells; just a few can’t do much. But the more you get together, the more they can do.

I love her laughter. Our alien friends have brought the water directly to her feet. Her boots are wet now. She has a dream to build a giant tambourine, one that will allow a larger than ever number of the sand creatures to congregate and communicate.

She will build it someday.

In the meantime, we will build our cities.

And we will build their cities too.

I kid you not. Tuesday afternoon I was thinking “Hmm… I keep meaning to write that third and final part of “Sand”. I should do that.” Then I decided that I would dare myself, and take whatever the Red Dress Club prompt happened to be that day, and I’d make it fit the ending to my story.

Imagine my laugh when I saw that Karma was with me and the prompt was “A Happy Ending!”

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-49

OK, they're not doing a jig, but my daughter looks adorable peeking in the window!

If while reading the title to this post you automatically read “shuffle” as “shuf–ful” and “toe-tap” as if it was only one syllable, then you must be a Highland Dancer.

These are the words a Scottish Highland Dancer sings in their head while doing the basic break in the Jig. It is in six-eight time, and it goes fast. Think of it like this; you’re walking at a normal pace, but with every step you take, the dancer does three. Hop heel heel step shuf-ful hop toe-tap hop down. I could do it in my sleep. Ask my husband… I probably have!

I started dancing when I was seven years old. It took many years of hard work to progress to where my teacher would let me learn the Jig, which is one of the more advanced dances. It immediately became my favorite dance; one I did well till age and weight made me step aside.

My mother took classes with me. She learned when she was a child, and so when she saw the advertisement for a local teacher, she signed us up. When I was twelve, she took her exams and began to teach Highland. I helped her, either working one on one with a student who might need a little extra help, or in a large class, I’d take the younger students while she took the older. In those days, we had quite a few adult students who danced for the sheer joy of it. When I turned sixteen, I took my own exams and continued to teach with my mother.

I became known in the Scottish community as “Mary Lillie’s daughter”. The name of the school is The Lillie School of Highland Dance because we intend to hand down the name through the generations. The little girl in the picture? Her middle name is Lillie for that very reason.

This post was written in response to The Red Dress Club prompt “We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?”

The shortlink for the post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-3V