Thursday, 6 December 2007

Hearts and Nails and Secret Dance Halls

Once upon a time a girl snuck out to a secret dance hall in the woods. The woods weren’t very dense, they weren’t like the ones that those brothers hid in to escape the Nazi’s and ended up creating an entire secret village in, with bath houses and workshops and everything that nobody knew about. No, you could walk from one end of these woods to the other in about twenty minutes. And the trees were all pines, so it smelt amazing, like Christmas all year round.

When the girl got close to the secret dance hall, she heard a double bass going bom bom and it made her heart vibrate in her ribcage. She went inside. It was all dark at first, until her eyes adjusted to the light. But even then, it was still pretty dark. She’d brought a bottle of wine with her. She felt like she was turning up late to a party to which she hadn’t been invited. She took a swig from the bottle and stood against the wall, trying to seem like she was relaxed.

People were dancing in rows. It was all in perfect time. She wished she knew the moves. There was a sway here, a hand clap there. She drank more wine.

From the corner of her eye she caught a boy in a brown suit staring at her, or at her wine, she wasn’t sure which. She met his gaze and he smiled at her, and at the wine. She smiled back and he took this as an invitation to approach her. When he got within smelling distance she, satisfied that he wasn’t a tramp, offered him the bottle. He declined, pulling a flask from his pocket instead. He took a swig and offered it to her. She wasn’t a whisky type of girl. She stuck to her wine. On the dance floor the bodies pulsed and spun. The bass buckled her legs. It moved through her insides like a pinball. She let the boy in the brown suit lead her outside, where the air smelled of Christmas and where the bass was dulled by the wood of the walls. Taking her hand, he started to sway slowly, pulling her other hand to rest on his hip. She followed his lead, until they were under the pines and the secret dance hall was completely out of sight. They danced and circled and twirled, away from the other bodies, away from the rows and the hand claps.

They decided they would stay in the woods until the sun came up.

The boy made his arm a pillow while they both lay down, looking up through the trees at the stars and the clouds. The girl liked the sound of his breathing. She liked the way her own breaths slowed to time themselves against his. When she turned to kiss him, he was asleep. She kissed him anyway. She started slow. She tongued his lips until they parted, and in sleep he kissed her back.

The boy woke alone. In his pocket was a piece of paper with digits he would commit to memory. In his heart was a girl-sized nail, hammered in deep enough to stem any bleeding, but shallow enough to rupture everything the instant he forgot it was there.

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