It was Augustina’s first night. If the gig went well, she was sure to get a spot on the summer tour. The Jumping Fish was a Texas legend. Locals packed the house every Friday night after the high school football games. Tourists stood with their phones raised above their faces, Snapchat-ing performances.
Most of the girls in the show made their costumes and Augustina did the same. Tonight, she wore a sequined bikini top and skirt she’d sewn, high heels she was still learning to dance in and a long, feathered wig. In the dressing room before the show, a makeup artist named Sally hurriedly painted the girls’ faces and bodies with diamond designs that matched Chris’ album cover while the MC killed time on stage. When Sally got to Augustina, she switched to a different palette, a smaller, plastic one. She bent down to paint Augustina’s legs and worked her way up. The MC’s voice reached its pitch. “Please welcome to the stage
again, Chris Howley and his dancers!” Applause roared through the room. As she made her way up the stairs to the stage, Augustina felt a trickle of sweat slide between her breasts into her bellybutton. The light hit her face and it was showtime. Chris, a veteran performer, made way for the ladies as the girls took their places on stage in a choreographed entrance. “In the mooonliiiiiiight!” he crowed. The crowd went wild. That was Augustina’s cue. She stepped out of formation and began her solo, a simple combination of steps with big twirls. Droplets of sweat flung off her fingertips into the crowd.
Between the hot stage lights and the wig, Augustina was drenched. She blinked as paint and sweat dripped into her stinging eyes. High on the crowd’s energy, she moved to the front of the stage. Their cheers got louder. Her vision blurred. She was somewhere else, free. Then suddenly, she…>> Finish Fiction on The Stage at Jumping Fish in the Fall 2016 issue
Words Irene Plax
Illustration David Gilmore