Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,
As promised I am here, doing what we always dot o break in the weekend, just a day late. This week has been a rough one. Emotionally heavy, complicated, full of comings and goings that always go with having a large family.
And I. Am. Tired.
Despite having a Saturday sleep in and a scrumptious breakfast I feel like I could go back to bed for at least a few hours. And the pace promises to stay abreast of a race horse. I look forward to a day of relative calm, but I have no idea when that might manifest. So let’s write a little flash fiction, no editing, no worrying over whether or not it’s good. Let’s go where the muse takes us.
Your extra special Saturday prompts are: partygoer, first night alone.
The lights of the disco ball bounced off of Janice’s dress and fled to the edges of the room, glinting in the corners. She was 21 tonight.
But that didn’t hold anything new for her. Janice had been the high flying’ life of every party since she’d been thirteen. Getting lost in the sea of strangers, having her pick of conversation and sexual partners, always knowing there would be a soft place to land for a pretty face and breezy character like hers had been her M. O. for so long it felt passe.
But tonight was different.
Tonight she danced alone in the apartment she was “house sitting.” She wanted to find out who her real friend were. She wanted to know who she could count on.
So text after text went out for a quiet dinner, something small to mark to an occasion that held neither the promise of new horizons nor the end of an era. She didn’t she’d be any different on the other side of tonight than she’d been the day before. Turning twenty-one with any sort of excitement was for the un initiated. So she’d made hor’derves. She’d grabbed a few bottles of wine, since that felt more like what grownups did.
And she waited.
Each hour ticked by, all the more painful for the smooth jazz playing in the background. And the surety of her situation slowly dawned. She didn’t have friends. She had fellow partygoers. They would go where the fun was. She didn’t know any of them. Not really. They weren’t going to show up to snack on stuffed puff pastry. They didn’t listen to smooth jazz. She certainly never had.
So she went to the bathroom and ditched the cowl-neck sweater she’d been suffering through all night. Janice got out “the dress.” The one that was covered in sequins, showed just a little too much, the one that never failed to reel in her next new friend for the week or the weekend or the evening. She touched up her makeup and added layers of glitter to her eyes, swapped out the soft mauve for the fierce red she usually favored.
She got out why she called her back-up system. A miniature disco ball that could be set up on a coffee table to reasonably good effect. A couple of mini LEDs to provide the light. And her portable blue tooth speaker that could take her play list and make it the soundtrack for the night. How many times had she walked into some rank apartment full of half wasted layabouts and turned it into a party? She’d lost count.
But tonight the party was only for her. So she danced and drank the wine on her own. She thrilled when her favorite songs came on, even though there was no one to turn to and say, “I love this song!”
She lived it up for about an hour. Then it all went cold somehow. The wine stopped tasting good. The music didn’t move the needle on her adrenaline.
Janice flopped onto the couch. The sequins cut into uncomfortable places. It turns out the life of the party needs more life than her own. She fell asleep there, eyes dry and too tired to care about the makeup she’d leave on the couch. Since her thirteenth birthday, it was her first night alone. And as it turns out, she didn’t know the person she was with.
I confess, this piece stirs something tangental, but related in me. I wonder if I am a good friend to myself. Those of us with the kind of depression that tends to psychologically wound us, (calling us names, deriding us, reinforcing beliefs about ourselves that aren’t true) I think must struggle with the same feeling of not really knowing ourselves. What do you all think? Can we ever really do as Socrates advocated, “Know thyself?”
Read well, write well, be well.