Inside Moves
Kyle Hemmings

You’re in a cold city doing a revue of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’. The girls backstage don’t believe your real name is Zin & they criticize your jazz drag as too slow, your posture too low. They joke that in this town they probably don’t even have karoke or Wi-Fi. One girl named Penny, the one the others call “Buttonhead,” tries to be your friend. The most experienced dancer, a woman with a Slavic accent & shuttered eyes, warns you that “Button’s head” is full of “too much air” since a badly executed stag leap landed her in a hospital. Offstage, Buttonhead complains that sometimes her hands feel numb or that she keeps losing her gloves. She offers you carrots & reads out loud on the theater’s back stairs, dimly lit, old love letters with words she stumbles over. Like Winetka or Graciela. The letters were addressed to an abusive choreographer. You tell her that carrots give you cramps & love gives you nosebleeds, that you are strictly free-form & detached. You’re resolved not to be anyone’s dying fawn. One afternoon, while leaning your torso into your best layout, she strikes you down. The next day, you corner her on an empty dance floor. She turns. Who is more scared? Who is more confused? Who never wished to get caught & play victim? You both stare each other down, then do a chasse. Hers is clumsy & slow. Yours is graceful & fast. You both perform a drop & hold each other for dear life, a life not choreographed, bleed your best inner moves into hers.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He loves cats, dogs, and garage bands of the 60s.