Written by James
[from: 'Millionaires', Mercury, 1999]
Music He sweated everywhere. Jeans, T-shirt, Jacket all wet with the salty liquid, soggy with no clear way of drying himself out in this atmosphere, humid and steamy. The bench at the edge of the makeshift dance floor was low and uncomfortable. His knees were in front him, higher than his waist, his hands resting on them, his feet tapping in time with the drum-ridden rubbish that was being played, rubbish which had been in the music chart at sometime. Although not a drink had passed his lips all night, he couldn't think straight. He was tired, excited and jealous all at the same time.
Next to him, a bespeckled man glasses was comparing tongue length with a half- burned blonde. His eyes were close, as though he didn't want to realise that she was only kissing him between sips of lager and puffs of a half burnt cigarette, both of which she held with the hand that wasn't making the lonely dance under the T-Shirt of her 'stand' for the evening. It was a compelling sight. The other side, a woman a few years older than him, in a large, floppy maroon hat, seemed as bored as he was as she glanced at her watch. It was close to midnight. This was her celebration after graduation, but the friend she had come with had disappeared into the crowd with an ex- boyfriend. He thought better of striking up a conversation - the idea of screaming some half-hearted questions about courses over the loudspeaker which hovered above them, wasn't very appealing. He continued to sit and sweat.
Cigarette smoke wafted through the air, mixing with the fibres of his clothing. He thought of the launderette visit which would follow on the Monday, and the owner, who sat strangely, in the shadows, making dribbling noises occasionally. Unknown to him, the graduate had also been there once and a faulty machine had eaten her favourite leggings. Which why she was wearing odd ones tonight - pink and black, green and yellow, they clashed desperately, but worked - somehow.
She got up and disappeared into the dancing mass, as did the tonsil twins, still joined at the mouth. He waited hopefully for some Rock. He could Mosh very well, but anything would be better than this hell on vinyl which was making his heart beat irregularly. He crossed his legs, closed his eyes and placed his head on the wall of the stage. He was going to ride this out.
When he opened them, time seemed to have stopped, all movement being held stationary, apart from one thing. Just in front, glazed in blue light, danced an apparition. Her body seemed to become the source of the music, not just ebbing and flowing with it. Nothing about her was that different from her fellow dancers. She was quite short - shoulder length brown hair. A stripy-blue tank top extenuated a ... generous figure. Though he was all too aware of her, she was only aware of the music - her feet sliding her across the dance floor, until the world she lived in eclipsed a party light.
It felt uncomfortable and excited. He knew he was staring, but his eyes would not leave her. What was she thinking? What memories were hidden under the hair which was hovering her hair and rapidly covering her whole face. He ran his fingers through his hair and she repeated the action, the strands disappearing behind her shoulders.
The drums ended, the synthesizers died. Time began again. The small pocket of reality she occupied that he had invaded disappeared. She smiled at some at some friends at the other side of the hall and disappeared into the crowd. He smiled broadly and stood up to rejoin his friends, who were crashing into each other drunkenly on the other side of the hall. He tried to join in, but it was only half-heartedly. The reality he had just experienced, which he had not asked for was infinitely better than the reality had chosen [Originally written over a decade ago].
[Commentary: The "gift" which keeps on "giving". For some unaccountable reason this is now the fourth occasion this has been posted on the internet, once on the website which came before this one, then in 2003 when I was desperate for something to publish one night then again during Review 2006 as part of an answer about my sexuality. I'm not sure there's much else to say about it other than that the memory is still vivid, or at least the perfect version of it which is reflected above. The piece was originally written in the late 90s too. Some of the punctuation is horrendous.]