We entered the building and talked to the people with the list, who scratched away our names with a blue pen. All the while a man flaunted his wing span and depth of tone beneath a white light. Scottishness made itself apparent in every other drawn out word of his. His face was lit and facing this way. I ducked and swerved past hat rims and fistfuls of plastic cups until I received my own cup, filled with alcohol non-descript. I saw her talking to a friend who was skinny and bony and blonde, and we followed across the room, settling in the corner with duct tape patches and thin carpets and wood chairs. We stood and they talked while I scanned the bobble head horizon around me. Dark forward facing silhouettes, a community of nobodies of which I was one. The patter of soft hands and half-baked comparisons. He’s like this or he’s like that, the man beneath the lights. He’s good or he’s weird or he’s gay. He’s exotic, ugly, bald, unkempt, handsome, skinny. He was all of those things. I wanted her to pay more attention but I kept my hands in my pockets.
Ruptures of anticipation emerged, then faded to quiet coughs and leaning messages. Four new faces appeared beneath the lights.
Hello. We are…
Her friend searched behind the lights, resting on the man sitting in a dark spot toward the back, surrounded by circles and brass and noise. Lust formed in my periphery, not just from her friend. It began.
I wish I was I wish I was a shark
The noise was clear and loud and soupy soft, and everyone in the room understood. It was dark back here, and light up there, like a midnight gallery or a cinema. It went on for some time. Rhythm rippled the crowd like a wave and collectively the bobble heads bobbed, nodded and swayed. My hairline wept amid the must of bodies and secretly my grey shirt was dampening beneath my jacket but I kept my hands tucked and let my lower back drip. The alcohol had made the short journey through me, reaching my pores and bladder. Then there was the blue room.
We really appreciate you all
The ping of streaming yellow against metal trough. The noise was muffled in here, different, but recognisable. The smell was sour and unpleasant. Consistent, but worse. I left the blue stillness and entered the thunder once more. The face behind the lights was hitting, and the face to the left was beating. My ears and chest throbbed with each step back to my spot.
Now you’re something big in the city
I found them a few inches further forward now, edging toward the light. She hadn’t noticed my absence or acknowledged my return. The face she eyed was round and propped up by thick folded fabric, thin glasses and shaggy hair. It looked dry beneath an orange beam for a moment. Then the orange turned violet, and the face shifted and shined. His hand swept through shaggy hair, revealing damp locks and dark patches of cloth underarm. They continued.
Jessica, in your dad’s Cortina
The figures strained and thrashed and made themselves distorted and ugly, endearing and cool. Beautiful, she thought. Her eyes had not shifted or flinched since the first note.
From the ashes we are born
The blue room again and this time a green rapper encasing silver foil appeared on the tile beneath my widened legs. I wondered if it would be fresh or pissed on, and if perhaps I would impress her friend, or her, when I eventually spoke. Would my breath match my pissy mood or would I seem fresh and pleasant. Another rupture of applause muffled by door.
We’ll be at the bar so please do come and say hello
We left intoxicated by brown beer and song. The faces which were once in lights now led the way as we tailed. Her friend was walking next to the face which had been hitting in the dark. His t-shirt was spine patterned and wet. Next to me, she was holding a small thin square container with silver ink in each corner, the scribbles of the people ahead. She was smiling and staring. I thought that was weird. I wanted to go home.
This café is meant to be cool
Chris said it was like Jeff Buckley, and I thought it was like a mix between Foals, the new Foals, and Alt-J, she said. The face beneath the light laughed and fake blushed. He didn’t glance my way because I was in the dark, and because he wasn’t interested and I wasn’t interesting tonight. Or ever.
So do you live close by?
That’s so cool
You must come to our next gig, I’ll get you on the guest list
I’d lost her to conversation, cheap flattery, flirts and soft touches. Everything around us was, the insecurity, the pomp, the plastic laughter and unusual sentences was catalysed by quirky micro brews and wine.
I’ll get this one don’t worry.
I soon forgot about the expensive drinks and pandering fairy lights because I wanted to go home. I wanted to sleep next to her, in the same bed, but away from her so that her feet would be cold as punishment. But I also wanted to get over it and be funny. Remind her of me.
See you again soon, hopefully.
Her friend walked in the opposite direction with the rest of the faces flashing beneath street lights. We walked down alleys and side-streets. I held my breath as we stepped so as not to make noise, and she sighed disappointedly when I gave short answers. Yeah he was cool. No. Yeah. Just tired. OK. She filled a hot water bottle and after some charmless conversation I ended up on the couch. I felt her dreams up there. I had none down here. My feet were cold.