It was a show that left us both entertained and slightly embarrassed.
In real life and time we were dancing. The soft ripples of hair moved in a wave, following her head whenever and wherever she turned it. It was all in slow motion, or seemed to be. It was all enhanced. Our hands were moulded together, feet moving swiftly with the running rhythm of the bass, my arm wrapped around her side like a vine finishing at her lower back, my fingers were sensors for the comfort of her dress-covered skin. I was smiling at every moment, even when showing no teeth, looking around casually and pretending like what was going on was not magical. Magic: there is a concept worthy of intense examination. Magic, like most anything, requires a performer and an observer. It presents a situation and alters it. The more extravagantly a situation can be altered, the more magical it is. As such, this was not a display of extravagant magic. It was simple as simple could be. It felt energizing, acting as spiritual nourishment. This feeling was a simple sugar. It sustained the body, but only for the short term. When burned, I would be burned out. But for now, I felt as if we were feeding off of our respective energies. Part of me wanted to believe the whole dance was a dual effort. A huge chunk of me wondered if it even mattered.
Such wonder allowed me to fade back and gaze at the simplicity of it all. Two ants congregating in the atrium of the nest, dehydrating, producing sweat that acted as a lubricant for whatever primal gears were attempting to turn. Social queues were missed, but what kind of unoriginal bastard would I have been to just go through the mechanistic motions of the forgettable routine and not provide my observer with a unique interactive experience? Questions like “what’s your name” and “where are you from” were mere frivolities standing in the stream of consciousness that connected souls; so frivolous that I neglected to ask them. It did come out that she was from Atwood and I was from Fergus. Those names, however, were just that. Labels slapped on a geographical location. As far as I was concerned, she was from Here and I was from Now. And we looked good. Outside of ourselves, one could see how good we looked even in the midst of a moving hive. It was as if a small spotlight was cast onto our bodies. And as we circled and stepped and looked off in the distance, I could see we had at least one observer.
The friend. Our eyes were locked for a moment, and whether she or I was conscious of it was inconsequential. Her look was rigid, but only as much as her soft skin would allow. There was a dispassionate tone coming from her language of body with a hint of desperate romanticism. A moment of eye contact with someone else so intensely seemed to startle her for a millisecond. They became unlocked as I turned with the girl to the music. She was in a semi-cocoon made of me, her head resting gently on my chest. Like all fleeting things, that moment was gone, and I was locked in a distant eye contact again with the friend. She seemed surprised at my frozen line of vision. If complete strangers cannot look each other in the eyes, then there is no hope for them to become anything but. Her level of involvement in this exchange mattered not, because I expected nothing. I started reminding myself of that: Life is not a fairy tale, do not expect anything. A premise that may sound incredibly depressing to someone who feels, and unbelievably freeing to someone who thinks. I, a hybrid, consequently found myself chained in this freedom. But it worked, because anything that happened after that moment was icing on this warm night’s cake.
My mind resided in the depths of an unassuming body of water. My heart bobbed on the surface, dormant until some form of joy hoisted it into the sky like an emotional geyser if only for a fleeting moment. But that is what made it special. If Old Faithful sprouted all day long, there would be little to no speciality to behold. And even if it was originally a sight to be seen, that feeling would fade, the sight would lose its lustre and one would become so jaded as to deny the fact that this was once a great phenomenon.
And she was gone. Something like a phenomenon. I was on my way off the floor and up the steps to the bathroom, the bar, or the patio. It did not matter. I just wanted to get off the dance floor, so as not to run around like a caged and confused guinea pig and get in the way of something over which I had no control. I had to let the wave wash over, or get out of the way of it. The patio door softly closed after I walked through the vacant doorway; I thought I heard the wave smack into that flimsy piece of balsam wood. The need for a cigarette was apparent.
“Got a light?” I asked as I gestured to my buddy, cigarette loosely dangling from the side of my mouth like a prospector from the thirties.
As I held the small, half-white, half-burnt twig in front of my face, I could feel a slight paralysis that at first felt intoxicating, then gave me a rush of vague shock. It led me to put it out quickly and walk away from the island table. While sauntering my way inside, I joked that I possessed some “giggly cigarettes”, and we would smoke them later. We passed by a cowboy-hat-clad bouncer on the right, face painted with a smug look of naïve disapproval. I slapped a spiteful grin on my visage.
We funnelled back into the civilian jungle.
The girl. I had questions, most of which were basic. “Where did you go?” was the only one I could grasp. Overlooking the dance floor, full of gyrating bodies, I was unable to pinpoint her. Be cool. It was more of a mantra than a conscious order. For now, we walked with a shallow hover over spaces scattered with bustling humans until we fit into a line to the bar, which was too busy. So the ants went marching to the other bar, which was more reasonable. Thank the gods. I was handed a brown bottle of generic ale and led back down the steps by the crew. Head down, I slowly raised it up after my foot hit the last step. And there she was.
“There you are!” I trumpeted then looked around inconspicuously. The music was too loud, thus my stoic cover remained intact. She was leaning on a railing beside the front of the stage; ‘too far away from me’ I though, and I drew closer. She somewhat instinctually rose up to face me. We attempted to chat about school and a career. And just like a couple of thoroughbreds on a track, we were running everywhere and nowhere. Fast. Yet, through the syntactic rigmarole, neither of us seemed phased whatsoever. We just looked and marvelled and flashed smiles and fed off of each other’s momentary joy; perhaps mine was being fed more than hers. I thought this, but it mattered not. And I was assured of this indifference when the band started up once again. I looked up at the bassist’s fingers pushing the melody into existence, and focused back down on the petite figure in front of me. She held her hands out: one readying to rest at my side, the other offered up for me to hold. And we fit. This was the encore. One which I was not consciously looking for, yet one that was ceremoniously welcomed like a Purple Heart soldier coming home. We made our own amusement, created a human merry-go-round and were the only two midway-goers with license to use it. The motion was dizzying, exhilarating, many degrees more thrilling than the steady buzz of alcohol, although I give credit to drink as the catalyst for this carnal ballet.
The song and dance was over, and it wasn’t the same. The witching hour was closing in fast; every little person had to scatter into groups and make decisions regarding social fractals and modes of transport. I was standing indirectly to (out of sight of) the girl, unaffected and seemingly unaware of this drunken rush hour. One more look at this unmistakeably beautiful creature, and her look turned distant, swiftly followed by her body.
“I’m going now!” She mouthed while looking back at me, a friend pulling her away.
I calmly smiled and waved, in a semi-trance as I looked down to my phone for a signal from one of my friends. Seeing no sign, I mockingly stomped up the steps of the half-empty bar to the exit. They were making their way out, and I carved myself into their movement to the warm air of the outdoors. I let it sink in through a deep breath and looked around once. Then again. And I saw her out of the corner of my eye, at the corner of the building. My voice was ready to sing something out, but what was I to say?
I squeaked out something in need of a microphone. Hey, at least I could get by on my falsetto. She scurried across the road to a parking lot and hopped into a burgundy pick up truck; she and her mates driven home by country boys. No chance of running to catch her; was there even a possibility of closure? What type of person would I be to attempt to stick a makeshift bow on this story which took place solely in my mind? This was my journey. A hero’s journey. In the context of an entire life, it was a cog in the wheel of understanding my role in other people’s lives. It seemed like we both served as stockers of our emotional inventories. Maybe we needed a tune up on affection, empathy and understanding, and used social interaction as a training ground for improvement. It mattered. Maybe we could have went on to be plastic characters in some traditionalist matrimony. Maybe she was already spoken for. Maybe she was my temporary hero. Maybe I was hers. It mattered not.
I jogged to the corner and flashed a fleeting wave, saying good-bye to the girl from Atwood.