Summer Reading Excerpt #2

The second in my “summer reading” series is an excerpt from “Between Mars and Venus”, one of the short stories for young adults in 101 Ways to Dance.

101 Ways to Dance
One evening shortly before summer holidays, Susan takes Melina, the new girl from school, to the beach near where they live.

… The water is like glass. There are no clouds in the sky. In the lake are reflected subtle shades of rose and mauve.

“It’s like the water and sky are one, isn’t it?”

This time Susan agrees. She dips her feet in the silky water.

Melina wades in to her knees. “B-r-r-r, it’s like ice! Do people actually swim in this lake?”

Susan laughs. “By the thousands in the summer, and I skinny-dipped here once.”

“By yourself or with the thousands watching?”

“Just me and my friend Patty. It was pitch dark. She made a dare because with all the campsites full, it wasn’t impossible that we’d get caught.”

“You both did it?”


“Did you get caught?”


Trees at the far end of the beach are black now against the pale sky. It occurs to Melina that she would like to catch Susan swimming naked, to swim naked with her herself.

“I guess living so far from a beach,” Susan says, “you never had a chance to skinny-dip.”

“We had a pond but I never swam in it without a suit.”

“It’s pretty nice,” Susan recalls as they walk. “You seem like a free-spirit kind of person, you’d probably like it.”

Melina cannot let this girl know what their talk of naked swimming makes her feel.

When Melina doesn’t answer, Susan turns. Has Melina fallen behind or has she just stopped to commune with some pebble or twig or something?

Melina is moving very slow, in a sequence of smooth movements. her arms curve and stretch. She steps, turns, reaches out, and back. She does an occasional kick and the continuous flowing movements of her whole body go on and on. When she stops, she is facing the water, arms crossed but not touching in front of her, as if she is holding something precious and fragile.

“That’s lovely,” Susan says.

“Thanks,” Melina says. What she doesn’t say is, It was lovely having you watch.

Purchase a copy of 101 Ways to Dance from your favourite independent bookseller.

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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.

Kathy Stinson

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