A Little Kiss – by Sandell Morse

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      The year was 1956. I was seventeen, a recent high school graduate, a dancer, a Rockette, my body my instrument, fiddle and bow, fingers on piano keys. Wolf whistles followed me as I walked from Radio City to the bus terminal. I lived at home in suburban New Jersey, and one night, when I returned, my father called up the cellar stairs. “Come on down. Everyone wants to see you.”

      A party. “Going up,” I called back.

      “Don’t be like that, Sandy. Say hello.”

      Downstairs, men’s eyes like invisible fingers traveled my body.

      One of my father’s friends approached. “You remember Charlie,” my father said.

      Charlie grabbed my waist. I jolted and hit a table. Glass rattled. Punch swilled. I ducked under an outstretched arm.

      The next morning at breakfast my father said, “What did you do that for? All he wanted was a little kiss.”

      I lowered my gaze. My father was wrong. A kiss was mine to give, not for an old man to take. When I left dance and went to college, I hid my identity as a former Rockette. There was something in that word that blinded people to me, but not to my body.

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