The Dancer

The night I met Jessie she was beautiful. She swayed to the almost intolerably loud music as if her bones were made of it. She was something unknown. I remember the sharp cut of her hair had run across her cheek, parallel to her carved-out cheekbone. It looked like a wig, I wanted to touch it. I wanted to touch her, and see if she felt like plastic. Who could ever believe that someone so perfect could be so real. I regret that. I regret doubting her reality.

Eventually she bought me a drink; she called it an Appleté but trapped in the pulsating fuchsia lights of the club it looked purple. It tasted like jealousy; sour and eye watering. When I told her this she laughed a little, apparently she’d heard that one before. I drank it anyway. I wanted to slot into my assigned role in her fantastical world.

We talked a little. She served other men drinks. The ones in the shadows could have been my reflection. It was confusing. There were mirrors and doorways, shadows and lights.. after a few Appleté’s I wasn’t sure where I began and the club ended any more. The lights occasionally threw an aqua seizure and when this happened I had to close my eyes, offended by the assault on my senses.

Although I did not notice the smell of the club there must have been one, perhaps that strong scent of pheromonic goodnights. When I think of her now I imagine her in a world that smelt like husbands sadly going home to their wives. At the time, however, I was lost in other senses, to the point that when I closed my eyes at a wave of teal I didn’t know she was in front of me until she put her hand on my cheek. I jumped.

I remember that night so vividly. The colours are brighter in my memory than they were in reality. When I returned there a few months later, when they reopened the club, the lights seemed duller. I am not sure if my memory made them seem brighter that first time or if she did. I will never know.

We never had sex. In fact, apart from the side of her thumb touching my cheek we never touched. We talked- no, shouted- over the music and she smiled. She smiled, and that was all, yet somehow my heart felt frenzied with possibilities. I think that that is what these women really sold us. The possibility of change. The hope of a different course for our lives than the one we had stumbled down so far. Jessie definitely taught me that you could change your life in a night, that you could never predict what would happen, and that you should chase happiness when it calls you.

It wasn’t Jessie, however, who made my life so different after that night. In the end it was Simon, a man I never met. The man responsible for bludgeoning Jessie to death in an alleyway behind the club that night. The man responsible for my rude awakening from my life. I had walked round a corner with a scrawled note promising pleasure, and found myself immersed in red. Thick congealing chunks of an illusion splattered against black brickwork. Reality. The night I met Jessie she was beautiful.

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