Author Bio: I have been writing and reading since primary school, which my teachers refused to believe – repeatedly sending me home with their staged book, all containing four words to a page and big pictures – until I read aloud from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, my chosen ‘free-reading’ book, to my reception class. Perhaps their disbelief is what sparked my determination to continue defying their expectations; I went on to read English at the University of Nottingham.
Like many of you, in my spare time, I create or explore whole universes, squeezed into twenty-six letters and some random dots and dashes. Sometimes, it’s worth reminding ourselves of that and thinking – isn’t it just incredible?
Drinking starts early; the alcohol is flowing, the conversation is flowing, and there is music filling the gaps in the background of the plain studio flat. Exposed red bricks are stacked one atop the other on one wall; a neutral and modernist abstract piece of art hangs from them, unnecessary and unexplained. Windows in two of the three magnolia walls have lead diamonds in them, and you’re counting how many there are crossways and top to bottom, corner to corner and altogether. You’ve done it a thousand times, but you do it again. The fourth wine bottle is getting quite empty and you’re all ready to go, you’re just emptying your glasses, draining every last drop before you get in the taxi, all in one taxi, it’s a big one and from its window you can see you left a light on. The light comes through the diamonds in the window pane and makes scaly patterns on the ground, yellow snakeskin, beautiful, like diamonds in the sky, and then they’re gone, or rather you’re gone, heading towards the city in a car that isn’t your own driven by a man with a heavy accent and terribly stained teeth, but the scales are still there on the street for anyone passing by to see and talk about in whatever accent they want…
It is cold outside so you all rush in together, out of the cold into a busy warmth that matches your giggles and a stifling cloud of perfumes and odours rising in the warm air from the multitude of bodies inside, swirling upwards in a circular motion much like your heads, and there is music, such loud music, like a heartbeat; the heartbeat is deafening – so loud that it is not just in the air, but within every person, echoing around the cavity of their chests, copying the original – every person has two heartbeats tonight, and two views of the room wavering before them, swaying, beating, all saying we’re young and we’re reckless, we’ll take this way too far, to dawn perhaps, sharing the cover of the dark
you examine your two duplicate views of the room, the mass of individuals moving as one, clinging to each other and the noise like a true lifeline, remind yourself that if vision is the only validation then most of my life isn’t real, the room looks large, and full, and loud, with black walls and mirrors and metal bars swamped with people, and the other bar – why is there another bar in front of the other bar with tenders serving tenders serving people? – is lit like an emergency walkway on an aeroplane, this way to the emergency exit, come this way, follow the lights and each other and it’s working, people flock to it like vultures to a carcass, drinking it dry, the smell of burning bitter alcohol and sweat and smoke machines is osmosing osmosising diffusing everywhere and becoming normal, you barely smell it any more, forgotten the taste and smell of a world that she’s left behind
the door to the outside – two doors? – swing to the beat and you wonder how everything has been taken over by it even as you step in time to the same beat on your way to the bar to ask someone thinking more clearly than you how it has taken over so fully, but she lives in a fairy tale somewhere too far for us to find and your question changes half way out of your mouth and instead of an answer a drink is pushed into your hand, and something small and hot and flickering, and someone else’s money crosses the counter; thank you, you say, but it’s too loud – too loud – so instead you smile, you smile, nice to meet you where you been, and both of him smile back, wait for one flame to vanish, one drink to be drunk – swallowing in time with the beat, too fast, too fast, spinning – and place both hands on the small of your back, you’re way too beautiful girl, do you find me attractive, I’m looking for a reason why you really set my world into motion, do you feel the beat in here, the chemistry, I need you like a heart needs a beat, time to dance, dance with me, move to the heartbeat of tonight, maybe we can get to know each other, I just met you and this is crazy, that dress looks great on you; you are flattered, you know I know how to make em stop and stare – unstick your foot from the shining wet sticky sweet floor to twirl, heart beats fast, colours and promises; you smile, he’s tall, dark, handsome, you have so much in common, maybe he’s the one, and he smiles – both of him smile? – do you smoke, let’s get a breath of fresh air, check yes Juliet are you with me there’s no turning back for us tonight, two cigarettes, two lighters, two plumes of smoke from four lips, none of it yours; the taste of menthol and whisky, stars spinning above, you look up into the night sky and see a thousand eyes staring back, the cobblestones spinning below, the heartbeat of the collective dancer stretching the fabric of the building, an elastic band threatening to snap like the half stripes on his shirt broken cut off cut short, red and yellow and black and yellow and red and yellow and black and yellow and red and
back inside you stretch it more, music surrounding you, hands laid on you, heart is beating double time, whirling with music that pounds through the cavity in your chest, filling it and expanding it, feet on the ground, head’s in the clouds, the room is spinning, or you are, or both, and liquid spills over and runs down your hand as another plastic cup is pushed into it, sloshing in time with the heartbeat of the room and you smile, please don’t stop the music, I wanna take you away, let’s escape into the music, DJ let it play, you smile and twirl and smile, everything that kills me makes me feel alive and this is living, yes, this is living, this is what we live for, this is what life is all about
the cup is empty so you cast it aside, try to put it on a table, miss, I feel the love and I feel it burn and a warm body presses close to you; I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream, so tell me when it kicks in, living is all about the places we go and the people we meet – a whisky and menthol whisper close to your ear that makes you shiver and goosebumps rise on your arms as the bar sways and its emergency lights move moving blurring and swaying and shifting, disappearing from your view and you smile and twirl and stumble and smile you’re dreaming about the things that we could be and spinning and smiling and you trip slip whirl follow we don’t know how how we got into this mad situation you’re so hypnotising could you be the devil could you be an angel you breathe in menthol and jack daniels and the alcohol is sweet but bitter or maybe bittersweet and strong and overwhelming and red touch black venom lack no venom if red’s on black but what’s that about yellow red touch yellow and what now about a fellow with red and yellow it’s slipping away gone gone you smile and the beat beats and the lights spin and the beat beats and yellow slips into green and red and blue and I have hope that inside is not a heart but a kaleidoscope and then purple and orange and gold and white and magnolia and black.