People were already spilling from the house onto the porch, and you regretted not drinking that beer before you left home, and you regretted not calling up a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, tag-along. But you smiled at the host, shared some of your alcohol. Inside, sweaty bodies danced and drank and danced and drank and you looked in all the faces of all the people for one face you felt might understand you. What about him? Across the room in denim cut-off shorts? At least he’s dressed for the weather unlike the people you usually go for, but some people you knew ended up walking across your field of vision, so you drank rather quickly instead and said hello and made some jokes and laughed. Then you all danced together and shared your sweat, and your energy built like noise in the room or maybe because of the noise in the room, it was a good noise. The way it was made of voices and music, voices talking, voices screaming out lyrics or making voices sound like a rattling drum or a rapper’s beat, a distant horn. And you smiled at this and talked over the music yourself, and then sang along with the music after finishing two drinks and going on to a third. All the bodies pressed together, and then the man in the cut-off shorts started dancing beside you (he must have seen your eyes, searching him out before). He smiled at you from behind his glasses, and you smiled back. And you danced and sweated all over each other and drank and told each other your names.
You disappeared out onto the patio where a crush of people smoking were waiting for you and you bummed two cigarettes and Denim Shorts came to find you, and you smoked and swore together and talked about how much you hate smoking and that it’s something you only do when drunk.
You easily got distracted, especially when more than one person had their arms around you and were saying things into your ear. You slipped off to the washroom. “Where are you going?” people called out. “You better not be leaving!”
“Relax! I’m just going pee,” you replied. “I’ll come back.”
But after the washroom, you went out the side door of the house and sat on cold concrete steps and breathed in night air. This is eternity, you thought, even though you knew you’d only been out there a minute.
You thought you heard an owl, and maybe even saw a bat fly across a sky dark and clouded with city smog. You remembered a party a few years ago, and it was one of those parties where everyone got super drunk, kind of like you were at that exact moment of remembering, and in the drunkenness, people started kissing and pressing against each other, and then a couple that no one could remember disappeared into a basement or a garage or maybe it was a room, and then you left the party. Or did you? Did you leave? Do you remember? Who was it that was at that party? You had to give police officers a long list of names of your closest friends and people you didn’t even know, but it was only your friends’ names that you remembered, and that itself was a shame. Because a girl was left splayed drunk and crying, half naked with a broken wrist, but no real harm, I swear, no real harm done. And for all the talking to officers, all the phone calls and reports and snooping around and speculations, there was never any conclusion except for a group of friends growing distant.
The door behind you opened, and Denim Shorts sat down beside you. “I wondered where you’d gone off to,” he said.
“Sometimes a person just needs to go off in the middle of a party,” you told him. And then you looked at him a different way, alcohol and cigarettes twisting all his charm into your paranoia. You shifted away, but then thought, All right, maybe this is it for me.
“I get that,” he said. “I do that too. Just take pauses sometimes. A lot of the time, I’ll just leave early, or maybe limit the time I’m at a party, you know, just to give myself some me time. I guess I’m introverted.”
“I have two halves to me, and one wants to talk and dance all the time, and the other one wants to find somewhere very private to live until I die.”
And then Denim Shorts asked for your number, and the two of you went back into the party, and you danced together. He kissed you on the dance floor. The floor thudded and vibrated with all the feet jumping up and down in unison. You closed your eyes and stuck your hands in the air and felt the thud thud coming through your bare feet, doing magic to your skin, warmth of Denim Shorts and new close friends beside you, and your mouth smiled really big, the kind of smile that shows all your teeth.
“Yeah,” you said to the night. “Yeah.”
Denim Shorts offered to walk you home, but you told him to call you in two days instead, knowing the way things went these days you might not hear from him ever again. You hugged your friends, the party host (who made you chug a little of his wine), and then you were outside on the sidewalk, the knapsack you’d brought beer in thrown on. The night air cool and calm and hinting at early morning, you walked the whole way by yourself.
About the Author: Jess Taylor is a fiction and non-fiction writer, a poet, an artist, and a musician. She is also the founder of The Emerging Writers Reading Series (http://ewreading.wordpress.com). After growing up in the remote and often forgotten town of Palgrave, Ontario, she moved to Toronto, Ontario. She is currently attending the University of Toronto for their English in the Field of Creative Writing Masters Program. To read, watch, and see more of Jess Taylor, check out www.jesstaywriter.com.