The Dance Off: Flash Fiction

‘Bloody heck.’ Tammy shakes her head. ‘Barry’s at it again.’

Cheryl follows her friend’s gaze to the gangly male specimen “dancing” in front of them. Barry is indeed at it again.

He waves two spindly arms in the air, his legs sway erratically underneath him as if they have a mind of their own. His bulging eyes never leave Cheryl.

‘What’s he doing? Waving his hands in the air like he just don’t care.’ Tammy emits a high-pitched squeal of delight. 

‘He could be doing the YMCA,’ Cheryl offers, acknowledging Barry’s attentions with a micro smile.

‘Go Barry! Go Barry!’ Tammy chants and Barry gyrates his hips in response.

Cheryl slaps her friend on the arm. ‘Don’t be mean.’

Tammy rolls her eyes. ‘I don’t know why you two don’t just do it…get it over with.’

‘You know why,’ Cheryl hisses.

‘But I thought you liked him.’

‘Exactly. You seem to forget – the good ones never stick around.’

‘Or the bad ones for that matter,’ Tammy shrieks, her whole body wobbles in glee. ‘Oh…hang on…’ Tammy’s head swivels at the arrival of another contender – a leaner, younger and fitter-looking version of Barry. 

Tammy shimmies. ‘Now, that’s what I’m talking about.’ She waves at the newcomer. ‘Hey, Toby!’


‘He’s new to these parts.’ Toby waves back at Tammy then thrusts in Cheryl’s direction.

Cheryl has never liked showy types and they don’t come any showier than Toby. He takes up position next to Barry and gives a much more coordinated dance display than his older counterpart. Barry shoots his competition a death stare and ramps up his gyrating to head-spinning heights. Before long the pair are engaged in a full-blown dance off. Barry stomps his feet rapidly on the ground in some form of flamenco. Toby counters with something that looks like Riverdancing.  

‘Look at you, Chezza, getting all the attention.’ Tammy squeals. ‘You’re a real maneater. Which one are you going to choose? Please say, Toby. He’s perfect “fling” material.’

They’re all just flings. Cheryl sighs. ‘If you like him so much. Why don’t you go after him?’

‘I couldn’t.’ She pats her sizable belly and grins. ‘I’ve just eaten…Ha! Check Toby out now! He’s actually begging you to pick him.’ 

Tammy is right. Toby holds both arms aloft, his hands pressed together in a praying position.

Cheryl’s mouth twitches indecisively. 

Tammy pats her arm. ‘They know what they’re getting themselves into.’

‘Do they?’

Tammy tilts her head. ‘It’s got to be Toby,’ she says in a quiet voice. ‘It’s the only way to protect Barry.’

Protect him from me. The thought rings angrily in Cheryl’s head. 

‘Don’t punish yourself, it’s in our nature. And look…’ she indicates Toby who’s performing a one-legged balancing trick, ‘…he’s already halfway to being legless…’ She shrugs. ‘…Or headless.’ 

Cheryl lifts her chin and points at Toby. The praying mantis courtship ritual is over and Barry will live to dance another day.

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Kylie Fennell
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