The night drew slowly into focus, swimming about infinite pools of summer heat, pounding bass, sweat-soaked bodies packed together tightly enough to love, knew they the nature of this strange emotional beast. But as it stood, in this sea of people, “love” was a one-night stand, anything more was obsession, condemned in their world. Raves, with their dim rainbows of smoky lights, the pulse of the strobe, the divine heartbeat of the music so deep and loud it could shake the very bones of a human, were breeding grounds for three things in her mind—intoxication, accidents, and regrets. But to him, there lay so much more in this few thousand square feet packed tight with ghosts. There lay seeds of stories that were yet to bloom, hundreds of secrets unspoken, recipes for love and disaster that may or may not ever come to light. As a writer, he saw a certain sense of magic in these events that drew people from so many different walks of life from their corners to the center-stage, a stage of insanity, of beauty, of bitterness.
It was slight, in the beginning—a passing glance as she broke from a gaggle of friends to pour herself another drink, a brush of his hand as they crossed paths, a smile, a sigh. Three songs passed, not a word spoken, and then, as if the magnetic attraction of fate had worked its way into their movements, they approached each other, slowly, hypnotically, his dance as choppy and rough as a seizure, with hers, graceful, drunk, the curve of a serpent against an invisible charmer, they met at the edge of the dance floor. Their bodies entwined with surprising ease, their eyes flickering wildly in Ecstasy-powered frenzy, leaking rivulets of arterial heat and electrified dreams all over their bodies, their stimulant-dusted lips and rattling ribcages, his broad, rough, calloused hands exploring her mossy skin—the dip at her waistline, the exposed plain of her supple abdomen, sliding up her narrow neck and into the thicket of her coppery curls, the fields of freckles that littered her body—as if it were some strange, alien substance he had never before touched. He had felt many a woman’s skin before, felt the pulse of emotional desire sending vibrations through their bodies—but he sensed something different in this girl. Something harder than stone, colder than arctic moonlight, and deeper than his eyes or heart could see.
She was a strange being, poetic almost, her lean, muscular figure and long, fiery-red curls made her look like some sort of ancient goddess of the hunt to his mind—a virginal goddess of the moon, a frightened Persephone, or Minerva with her armor and her spear primed as she set out to war against this Hell called life. But for her, it was different. The sunrise brought about a great panic in her mind, for she could not let the euphoria end—this otherlife, this nocturnal world, defined her—like a whirlwind of people drifting about who left no footprints in time, and were they to disappear, were fate to suddenly erase each and every one of them from the face of the planet, she knew they would never be missed. No one would ever stop to wonder what had happened to the underground souls who had wandered the empty streets for so long.
She was afraid, not because she wanted to make a difference in the world, but because she watched the moments, the faces, rush past her every day, and lived in a state far too aware of her own mortality, her own frailty, and her own anonymity. She was not a name, or a face—she was one in millions more who roamed a city that had forgotten its soul. She saw no beauty in the world—it had left her long ago.
It may have been minutes or hours that they danced, somewhere in the limbo between intimacy and mystery, when he finally spoke, almost shouting over the pounding electronica: “Hey, I’m Taylor. What’s your name?”
“Does it matter?” She laughed, rolling her eyes. “Not like you’ll ever use it.”
“Fine, then,” the boy, Taylor, smirked. “I’ll make up one of my own. How about Persephone?”
“Persephone? That Greek myth chick who got kidnapped and taken to Hell?”
“Sure, go with that.”
“Should I call you ‘Hades’ then? Should I be worried you are going to kidnap me, take me to Hell, and force me to marry you?”
Taylor laughed. “Maybe.” Pause. “But if you think about it, we already live in Hell…I can’t take you anywhere worse. Could take you somewhere a whole lot better though.”
At this, she paused to survey him. The way the harsh light etched shadows into the angles of his cheekbones, the lines on his forehead. The faint splattering of freckles buried under the scruffy coating of dark stubble on his cheeks. The ebony hair that fell in soft, messy waves across his forehead, occasionally tossed about as he shook it out of his startlingly blue eyes. She sneered. “If you had anywhere better to be, why are you here? Why aren’t you in this ‘somewhere a whole lot better’?”
“Even paradise can be sad when you are there alone.”
She rolled her eyes. “What are you, fucking Shakespeare?”
“No, I told you…my name’s Taylor. Taylor Ashton. I’m a writer, count on hearing my name a lot more in the years to come.”
A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “If you’re gutsy enough to tell me your real name, I’ll tell you one of mine. Sherry.”
“Okay then, Sherry…is that your first name or your last name?”
“Neither. I didn’t promise you a real legal name. I just offered one of my names. I have many.”
“Really. How many?”
“A different one every night.” She laughed, and grabbed his hand, dragging him through the crowds. A burst of cool night air greeted them as they exited the club.
“Does your story change every night, too?”
“No. That’s always the same. But no one asks, so it doesn’t matter.” And, with that: “You have somewhere in mind that you wanted to take me?” She wrapped her arms around his neck. Her pelvis and his connected and their lips a moment apart, it was obvious what she had in mind.
“I guess coffee would be a bit tacky…” Taylor scoffed, “My place work?”
“Sure.” Sherry replied, her lips brushing against his in such a way that it was too quick to be completely accidental, but too light to be fully deliberate.
“Stop teasing me. You gotta deliver what you advertise, you know.” He closed his eyes after saying this and leaned in to kiss her.