Cigarette smoke fogs the family in the thin yellow stage light. The colorful couple squares off, castanets held up, until applause dies down.
Each spouse has a child behind them, their spouse’s miniature. In the opening dance, their castanets fly high clickety click clickety click. They drop them, tension builds. As one, husband and wife slap each other across the face. The audience sucks in the room’s air. The couple recovers and bows.
The crowd claps in time as each spouse swings the other’s replica by the hands. Faster, faster, flame orange red pink silk, school shoe soles, brown hair sailing. Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap. Clapclapclapclapclap. The crowd yells, Yeah! The giant twin pinwheels slow to a stop. The couple bows. The kids jump in place, two exclamation marks.
Kicking up heels, the parent-child pairs be-bop to the far ends of the stage. Turn. Step-slide to the middle, Mom and Dad lead. Parents step back one two three, twirl on axis, two spinning tops.
Kids at the center. Ready, set, go. Boy-slaps-girl-slaps-boy. Oh! The audience exhales, the room brightens with air. The family re-forms and bows.
Duo faces duo, a foursome in the ring. Their red gold violet sleeves sway, arms above heads like climbing out, let me out. The bell dings.
Dad slaps boy as Mom slaps girl, send them reeling, do-si-do. The audience stands hoots stamps through the sickly haze. Family lines up, parrot soldiers, parents center, bow, Bow, Bow, bow.
Carly Berg lives with a sweet baboo, an Easter peep, and a visiting lightning bolt who wants you to know he’s an adult and a guest. Her stories appear or are forthcoming in PANK, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, and elsewhere.