A Return to Dancing by Shauna Smullen

In the middle of nowhere, a room bursts into existence. Four walls, a ceiling, and a floor. A perfect square in a void. The room is bursting with noise. The sound of feet on wood. Of jazz singing from a speaker. The room moves to the noise. Around and around.

Inside the four walls, there are people and they are dancing. Arm in arm with a partner, they swing each other around. Almost colliding with the people around them but never quite touching. Their feet doing quick exchanges of balance. One hand balled in a fist, the other waving as they sweep. The partners stare at each other as they dance. Their faces vacant, like they are somewhere else.

The jazz starts to become distorted. Louder. Bigger. The trumpets screech. The drums beat harder. The double bass deepens. The dancers stare more presently at each other now. The room arrived into this space, then the bodies. Now their minds have arrived.

The music speeds up. The voice of the singer gets higher and higher. Ears begin to bleed. The instruments deepen even more. The dancers fling each other with a greater strength. They begin to hit each other. In the collision, they swap partners. Their waving hands and tapping feet turn into punches and stomps. They release themselves from each other. No longer dancing in partners. Individual dancers spinning around a room. Spinning and spinning. Faster and faster in response to the sound of what was once jazz.

The music has morphed into something else now. It is noise. It is more felt than heard. The dancers hurl themselves into the walls. Into each other. Their voices roar. Their arms and legs flail, as if independent of thought. Soon they become independent of body too. Arms fling out from shoulders and fly around the room. Legs detach from torsos and hop away, leaving their dancers bopping out of rhythm.

Every movement lacks grace. They hurl. They screech. They thrash. The dancers and their limbs move with each other like separate partners who have never met but share a mutual choreography. They are committed to the frenzy of the noise. The noise that is screaming from the speakers.

The room spins quicker and quicker. Picking up speed from the dismembered participants. Each piece of them. Quicker now. Spinning even more. The noise is high and it is booming. Ears are masked in blood. Eyes water and roll back into heads. Arms flail around from wall to wall, chasing each other. Detached legs crash into still attached ones.

The room disappears and the void is empty again. Gone as quick as it arrived, the dancers have left.

Shauna is a Dublin based writer of very short stories with a penchant for all things dark and surreal. At present, she’s the oldest she’s ever been. Her work has also been published in Making Sense of Finglas, This is Not Where I Belong and The Very Friendly Cinema Club. She is currently working on a collection of short stories exploring body trauma called A Body Like Mine, which can be read on her website.

Instagram: @shaunasmullen_

Twitter: @Shaunarwhal

Website: www.abodylikemine.com