3 minute read

"Twirling" by Alison Gadsby

Jonesy saw the first row of shiny silver leotards behind the float with the old people tap dancing. While most kids were excited for the mayor in his long white car and his bag of candy, Jonesy wanted to see the twirling girls from the Garden City Cheer club. She could do fourteen somersaults in a row and a one-handed cartwheel and the splits all three ways and one day she was going to wear a shiny leotard and flippadeedoodaday all the way down Main Street.

She clapped her cold hands when she saw the float with the giant wine bottle because that was the one her mother rode on when she was Miss Grape & Wine Festival in high school. Jonesy turned around, but she couldn't see her mother's red coat. She was there a few minutes ago when the girl from grade six walked by singing the sun will come out tomorrow because Jonesy heard her mother say, "Will it? Will the fucking sun come out tomorrow?"


She knew her mother would leave one day because she told Jonesy if she didn't shut up about the cheerleading, she was going to knock on the doors of St. Alfred's and see if the sisters would pay six hundred dollars for Jonesy to do somersaults at the YMCA.

The cooler bag with juice boxes and pepperoni sticks was still behind her on the kerb. It was expensive and they didn’t have enough money to pay the goddamned rent never mind fucking cartwheel classes. Her mother wouldn’t leave the cooler behind.

One girl flew into the air, but Jonesy couldn't see her through the tears. They felt hot on her cheeks, but when they reached her mouth, they were cold. She should have worn her gloves, but her mother wouldn't cut the string. Only kindergarten kids have their gloves tied together. Jonesy begged her mother because nobody in grade one still had the dummy string.

Jonesy rocked back and forth and slipped her hands inside her boots. She didn't watch the girls twirl past her. She plugged her ears so she didn't hear the big girl shout one two three before the smallest girl reached for the sky. When the mayor threw out the lollipops, she didn't take one of them. Jonesy lifted the bag and crossed the street in front of all the clowns with the dogs from the humane society. She went all the way to St. Alfred's. Six blocks and up a big hill, and she didn't stop once.

After Sister Louise made her finish every last sip of cuppasoup, the police came into the rectory with her mother. She was screaming and crying and swearing all at once and when the police officer told her to calm down she said don't fucking tell me to calm down. When her mother pressed her mouth against hers, Jonesy tasted her salty tears and it made her cry more. She promised she was never going to twirl or cartwheel again, not once, not ever.