Dancing for Life…Friday Fictioneers.


PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

“It’s now or never. All or nothing. You’re a dancer, Elle. No room for two loves.”

Dancing even extracted her marrow.

“Eloise, you must go! Sydney’s too small for your talent. Next stop…New York. A dancer is like a butterfly. Blink and it’s over.” Jack was too supportive. He should’ve stopped her.

“Focus, Elle. An audition with Twyla Tharp…you’ve almost made it.”

Yet, as the plane broke through the clouds, the dam burst. She couldn’t breathe. She had to go back.”

Eyes and nose running everywhere, she was hallucinating:

“Excuse me, Ma’am. You left something behind.”




This story was inspired by my grandmother, Eunice Gardiner. She was an Australian concert pianist.

In 1948, my grandmother left Australia to make her American debut, leaving behind her husband and three young boys. My Dad was only 3 years old at the time. The older boys went to boarding school and her mother looked after my dad. My grandmother was away for a year and during this time, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall.

Throughout my grandmother’s life, there was always a very strong tension between her career and her family. She went on to have seven children and after performing, she went on to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also worked as a music critic. She was one of those rare individuals who manage to squeeze multiple lives into one lifetime.



Friday Fictioneers is brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields . You can check out the link-up here.

xx Rowena

21 thoughts on “Dancing for Life…Friday Fictioneers.

  1. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Rochelle. I’ve just added a post-script to the story. My grandmother went to New York as a concert pianist in 1948 leaving her husband and children behind. She was gone for a year. Her talent was almost like an additional person. It was huge. Larger than life and it did exact a price. Other female contemporaries, didn’t get married but she made a point of telling me there was almost no one at their funeral. There was also a famous quote from her mother: “What are you doing hanging nappies on the line with your talent?” The talent almost seemed like some kind of juggernaut.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Al. I was trying not to make it too corny or predictable and yet had to get it out in 100 words. Yet, that’s also what I love about flash fiction. It really forces you to think.

  3. rochellewisoff

    Wow! That’s a story in and of itself. I’ve hit that idea that women are supposed to have children and keep house. I once asked a clergyman why God would give me (or other women) talent if that was all that’s all that’s ever expected?


  4. Rowena Post author

    I so agree with you, Rochelle. I have been working flat out on writing my Paris memoir and there are piles of books, papers etc stacked all around my writing chair in the loungeroom. It’s getting pretty hot and there’s air-conditioning in here. My desk is at the other end of the house and some days, I could get sunburned writing there. As my ideas expand, my piles spread across the couch, the floor. My husband does like to sit down!
    My grandmother was certainly before her time but she did make the most of both worlds. She has certainly been an inspiration to me and I know I get my obsessive writing focus from her. The house could burn down around me some days!

  5. rochellewisoff

    I so relate. My husband could tell a few stories about the last 12 years or so. 😉 I have an office on the top floor of our house. He says if it had a kitchen he’d never see me. He might be right.



  6. michael1148humphris

    Your grandmother did well. Sadly many people work hard yet never find their true talent. Loved the focus on the last word

  7. Lynn Love

    How on earth did she fit in having seven kids? That woman was very busy! Enjoyed your story, Rowena, like the snippets of conversation that lead us through her career – nice technique. I’m not surprised there was tension in your granmother’s life – hard to have all that and not upset someone along the way

  8. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much. I am usually quite verbose but I have been very pleased with the results I’ve had writing flash fiction. It’s really surprised me.

  9. Rowena Post author

    Lynn, I spent my lifetime trying to work out how she juggled seven kids with her career. The kids were somewhat spread out and her mother lived with them and pretty much brought up the older ones at least. I also found out that there was a migrant hostel down the street with a ready source of housekeepers.
    However, being a parent it ultimately does come back to you at some point so you couldn’t just say she outsourced the kids and kept playing.
    There wasn’t TV either…or electronics.
    I also have no doubt she had an obsessive focus. I have that with my writing. That’s upset a few people along the way too and as yet, no fame or fortune to compensate either!

  10. Lynn Love

    She must have been very focussed, you’re right. And it’s still not easy for women to be so work focussed at the expense of their kids, even now – very much frowned on. And I know what you mean about the writing – it causes friction for me too at times, though I do have a very understanding family generally. Maybe fame and fortune will repay us one day 🙂

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  12. New Journey

    How your grandmother must of been torn to leave her children, and young children at that to go off and fulfill that burning fame in her soul…..good for her…I know so many woman, like myself, that felt they had to choose, wife, kids, home over career choices, not that I am complaining but I will always have that, What if” in my mind……..love the post….I can see where you get your drive for life…its in your blood…..xxkat

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