This is my usual pre-fiction warning that while this story is based on experiences and UPG of my own, it’s important to note, it’s not based on lore, or general gnosis. It’s personal, unverified, etc, etc. So, please – don’t go saying this is canonical, it’s fiction….
She loved the skirt. She wasn’t usually one for skirts much, leggings were far more practical to her way of thinking, but this skirt was lovely. It was made of light fabric and swirled around her legs, making her feel special and unique. Surely no one else would have a skirt like this? She twirled as she went down the road to meet her friends, delighting in the feel of the fabric and the weighlessness of the whole thing. As she met her friends, there was giggling and laughing and admiration of outfits – all as was usual for a big night like this.
It wasn’t often the place had musicians like this come to play and anyone over the age of 14 (or able to convince parents and guardians that they were mentally if not chronologically old enough to attend) was there. The old grannies and grandads lining the walls where, hopefully, the music wouldn’t be too loud, the youngsters at the front waiting for the music to start and the lepping and dancing to begin.
It started quiet enough, with the usually group dances, and they were fun, but there was energy building in the room, and the hairs at the back of her neck were rising, rising with the energy. After the break, there was an announcement that they were going to try some new stuff, some new tunes. “tell us if you like them” was the call and everyone rushed the floor to begin.
There were drums, she thought, beating in time to her pulse, causing her legs and arms to move almost of their own volition with no conscious thought at all. These weren’t the carefully learned steps of the set dances, this was individual dances, no set steps, no control over body or mind. She found herself with the group of lads everyone agreed were the ones to watch. They were the sportsmen, the ones that were going places, the ones that would be the leaders of the community in years to come. Normally she wouldn’t have belonged there, but tonight, with her special skirt and the thumping music, she belonged anywhere. One in particular, he caught her and threw her, up and up in the air til she was flying and laughing and singing in time with the drums.
But indeed all things come to an end and most people there had crops to tend to and animals to feed come the morning, neither of which would wait a sleepy man or woman with patience. And so the music ended and although there were calls for more, most agreed there was time to be finished now. And as the people on the dancefloor drifted away, the boy she had been dancing with, the one who had been laughing and flying with her, rubbed the back of his neck and ducked his head so that he was looking up at her through hair long lost of any style.
“Well, um, are you dancing so?” he said and she laughed some more.
“I could walk you home”, he said, “for fear you might be weak after all the dancing. Hate to think of you not getting there safely.”
“Sure”, she agreed, for he lived out her way anyway, “but Da will be coming along the road to meet me anyway”.
“No worries, sure there’ll be a crowd of us anyway in that direction”. So he tousled his hair some more and she fixed her lovely new skirt, so light it was like wings of air around her on the floor, but a bit less new now than it had been at the start of the night. Still, it was special, and the moon was out and the stars were out.
She popped over to the water to get a drink, passing by the female equivalent of the lads she’d been dancing with, hearing snatches of conversation as she went by. “did you see her?” “slut… showing her legs” “shame on her to be bucklepping like that” “no decorum” “that skirt”
She slowed as she realised who they were talking about – to be fair they made it easy for her, stopping silent and staring at her as she paused by them. She looked them all in the face, seeing the judgement, the sneering, the superiority lingering there. She plucked at her skirt, her lovely new fancy skirt, almost seeing the lustre drain out of it with their comments. She was no slut, even if she didn’t understand what they meant by it, it was a word she knew meant something she was not. Her skirt was lovely.
Her eyes hot now and burning with the need to release these feelings of shame and fear, even if she didn’t fully understand why, she went back to the boy she’d, but with feet dragging in the dirt now, rather than lightly floating over it.
“What happened?” he said, then looked over to the other group. “Don’t mind them, whatever they said, jealous bitches the lot of them.”
Easy for him to say, she thought, stroking her skirt almost frantically.
“It’s a gorgeous skirt”, he offered, “I know my sis is dying to get one like it after seeing you tonight”.
“Oh, Mam made it for me, got the fabric from the trader last week”.
“Sis will be so jealous so, it’s unique for here!”
So saying, he linked arms with her and turned in the direction of home. And she focused on one foot in front of the other and smiling and hiding her true feelings and her hurt.
Her Da did indeed come out the road to meet her, smiling and waiting by the turn up to the house. The boy came right over to him as well, as if to make sure she’d not get lost crossing the road, or maybe to protect her from that group coming up behind.
“All ok lass?” her Da rumbled.
“Yeah, it was fun” she said, although she knew her Da would hear something wrong. She could feel him tensing up and starting to glare at the boy. “not him, Da, other people2.
Her Da looked at the young lad, waiting.
“There’s a crowd of jealous bitches in town that don’t have the courage to dance like your daughter, but then judge her for it and put her down. She was like an angel tonight, floating and dancing with the best of us. And that skirt is brilliant, I know my Ma will be down to ask about it in the week.” So saying he hugged her a goodnight and wandered further up the road home, falling in with his brother as he went.
“So, not a total success then?” She looked up at her Da and struggled to keep the tears in.
“No” came out in a whisper.
“Well you can tell me about it on the quiet road home, love, no one there to hear only ourselves and the foxes”.
And so it came out, the joy and the giggling and the laughter and the dancing and the drums and the beat and the whirl and the flying… and then the aftermath and the crushing feeling and the sadness and having to hold it all in so no one would see…
“I can see that was tough alright, love, but you don’t need to hold it in now. Let it all out”
And she did, weeping and wailing to the moon, standing with her Da’s arms around her, safe and secure. And then her Ma came out, ready to defend her young, until Da talked her out of it. Still, she had no doubt her tormenters would be having bad dreams tonight anyway. Her Ma wasn’t over-keen on unwarranted forgiveness and when one of her babies was threatened…
“So who’s this young lad then? He seemed decent.”
“Oh Da. He was one of the ones I was dancing with, remember I told you?”
“Oh yes, do I need to do my scary routine then?”
“You mean that oldy dancing you do?”
“Cheeky…. but yes… do you remember the steps?”
And so the three of them made their own music, under the stars, using the horrible, horrible movements her Da was convinced was dancing. And the family love surrounded her and helped to heal just a little the damage done earlier in the night.
And the next morning, the young lad came with his Ma, so she could find out more about the skirt…