Microfiction: Midsummer dancing

I found this painting by Thomas Wilmer Dewing on Wikimedia Commons, and beyond the pretty effect of the hazy grass and the fairy-like girls fading into it, I was intrigued to know the story behind it. I don’t know what it is, so I wrote one.


The woman pushed Flora roughly to the ground in a rustle of silk. Her arrogant gaze didn’t falter. Flora bowed her head in confusion. The master’s daughter was not used to this kind of treatment.

“I want to go,” she said finally, aware of the tremble in her voice, fearing it sounded petulant. “I want to see the dancing.”

“You want to see young Derby, more like.” The woman sneered slightly.

“Mr Derby to you!”

The automatic reaction only made the woman laugh aloud.

“Want to see the dancing?”

“It’s midsummer. Why shouldn’t I?

“Because it’s not for you. No more’n the kind of dancing young Derby does with the farm girls is for you.”

Flora felt the blood drain from her face. “Mr Derby­—”

“He’s had every one of them. Three o’ them’s carrying his bairn.” The woman’s tone changed, softened. She jerked her chin in the direction of the girls, disappearing into the evening mists. “Leave ’em be. Leave ’em to their dancing. While they can.”

In the distance, beyond the hazel copse, Flora could see the bright flames of the midsummer fire. The dancing girls had gone, but she thought she heard the bright sound of laughter in the breeze. The mist thickened. Dusk crept across the meadow. The woman dropped a bouquet of hedge parsley into Flora’s lap and followed in the tracks of the farm girls. Flora watched until night fell, and the sky filled with up-flying sparks, then she turned for home.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

23 thoughts on “Microfiction: Midsummer dancing”

    1. Thanks Jeren 🙂 I did see the challenge on your blog but I’m not sure that I’m up to it. Poetry is so personal, the idea of stepping into someone else’s shoes is a difficult one for me to work with.

      1. Of course! We all have different emotions connected with poetry, so I understand that, Jane. Have a great morning, finally summer is wearing off here!

      2. Summer’s wearing off already! I thought you were in the northern hemisphere!
        Thanks for the intro to the tanaga form. I’ve given it a try, even if I haven’t joined in your challenge 🙂

      3. Always a pleasure to spread some knowledge. Like you said once, if we share our little knowledge with each other, we all can be great. Yes I’m in the northern hemisphere, but the peak of summer is almost done with June. With July, it’s like farewell for the summer heat!

      4. It’s the shortness of spring that gets to me here. The winter is very mild, spring starts without anyone really noticing the difference, then the heat slams in before we’ve got used to seeing flowers.

      5. Aww! That sounds bad. We kinda don’t have a spring at all. As far as we can feel, it’s either hot or cold or wet and sometimes stormy and wet.

      6. Personally, I think snow is over rated, but the cool, slow spring, the rain that makes everything green, the first shoots, the blossoms and the flowers that come out one after another, I miss that.

      7. Now I miss both of them. I have always wanted to settle on a country with just spring and winter. Summer can come for a few days, other days I can substitute it with fire. Your words make me miss it more!

  1. Great job with the two very different voices on these women, and so much story packed in there; nicely done. Totally plausible explanation for what’s happening in the painting!

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