Sunday Skateaway

by Frances Badgett


You could paint the floor with Steve’s strokes and call it art, his long legs in arcs, his body’s sway and arm’s wave. The DJ spins safe tracks, disco oldies, Hot 100, top 40, Sunday fresh. But nothing about Steve is safe, his arms reaching for the neon lights, his body from stretch to sudden genuflect, a drop to the polished oak, bright orange rubberized wheels smooth. His turns unfold, the center of a rose, opening lotus, a million small swoops. You can see him a child seeking the dark sparkling cavern, a place to be a star, a place to let his long legs roll over the diamond throws of the disco ball, now a grown man in love with his perfect stop and pivot.

The world’s invasions, the violent murmurs of those who should know better words, melted here in the mirrors and disco, monotony of laps. He breaks the songs in two with his arms, kicks the skates in time with Abba. The child he was skates with him, a tether in his moves, a sadness in his tight fists, his raised arms. He folds deep at the waist, ducking invisible forces, rises again like tides. A hundred people failed him, and here he is, taking it all back for Brick House for I feel love I feel love I feel love I feel love. Look closely and you can almost see a hard, thin beginning of a smile.


Frances Badgett is a writer and editor living in Bellingham, Washington. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, X-R-A-Y, Salamander, JMWW, 100 Word Story, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. She has been published in the JMWW Anthology, been on the Wigleaf 50 twice, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She can be found on Threads, Instagram, and Bluesky as FrancesBad and Frances Badgett on Facebook.


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What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Sunday Skateaway”?

It was one of those restless Sundays I wanted to do take my daughter and her friends somewhere, but everything was closed or seemed like a lot of fuss (the pool with its towels and locker room and changing and showers), so we chose roller skating. I don’t roller skate, so I sat at one of the snack bar tables and watched the skaters. I thought to bring my laptop, and as I watched a skater, this story formed. It didn’t come out whole at first, there was a lot of backstory and weight and boring minutiae in it, so, it took a great deal of compressing, but that skater really caught my attention. The skater wasn’t quite as expressive as my story skater, but I turned him in to the expressive one, but I think they are both deep inside their skating, that something in there is fighting for air and light. This story took a long time to edit into its final form, but I never regret that time editing and contemplating.


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