The Dancer

By Diane Fitzsimmons

Winnie didn’t lift her head from the pillow or turn her gaze from the specks on the ceiling. If I hadn’t known better, I would think she was counting them.

“Happy birthday, Winnie!”

Winnie turned her head; the shock of her short, white bangs plastered to her forehead highlighted her fading gray eyes.

“I brought you something.”

Winnie tried to sit up.

I used the bed remote to raise her up a bit and placed the Strawberry Lemonade cupcake I bought at Jilly’s Cupcake a Go-Go on the over-the-bed table and rolled it in front of Winnie. A frozen figure, posed atop the layers of pink butter cream icing, twirled with her skirt in mid-swish, arms raised above her head and hands flung out Egyptian-style.

Winnie stared a hole through it.

“What is that thing?”

“A cupcake.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

There was still some Winnie left in Winnie.

“What is that thing on the cupcake?”

“I found her at a yard sale. She reminded me of you, so I bought it.”


“Yeah. See, she’s dancing. You like to dance. And she’s wearing pink. Pink is your favorite color. Her hair even looks like yours. See, she has those Audrey Hepburn bangs, just like yours. And see here, she has your eyes, too.”

“I don’t have beady eyes.”

“I meant she has long lashes, just like you.”

I slid into the recliner by Winnie’s bed and stared out of the window.

“Winnie, remember the dances at the high school? Remember your pink poodle skirts? Me in my red polka-dot pencil skirt and Mary Janes. Your saddle shoes scuffing up the floor to Rock Around the Clock. The bobby socks. Remember Bobby Savino in his high tops and rolled up jeans. I thought he would split his pants twisting and turning on the gym floor. All the girls wished he would have split those pants. Remember?”

Winnie kept staring at the cupcake.

“Remember how we would sneak out for a smoke when the band played a slow one and Karen Whitmore would bring a flask spiked with Smirnoff she stole from her dad and we would mix it in our Coca-Colas?”

Winnie stared at the cupcake.

A fly, caught between two panes of glass, buzzed in the window.

Winnie knocked the dancer off and smashed the cupcake with her fist.

The clock on the night stand ticked.

Winnie looked at her fist, and then began licking the icing off of her hand.


Diane Fitzsimmons enjoys connecting with fellow writers. For two summers, she participated in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival at The University of Iowa and currently attends workshops and creative writing classes through Washington University in St. Louis. Diane lives in St. Louis County, Missouri, can be reached at

0 thoughts on “The Dancer”

  1. Thank you, Cindy. It started with my writing instructor’s box of stuff. He made us take some random thing from this box without looking. I pulled out a one inch plastic figure of a dancer that looked like Audrey Hepburn and had to write a story about it. I like to write a little edginess into my stories. It’s more fun that way!

  2. OMGoodness, Diane! That was so deep! Where in the world did that story come from? I had no idea you were such a “deep” person! *BIG SMILE*
    I really enjoyed it, even though it made me a little sad. I can’t wait to read more of your work!

    Love ya!

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