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by M.I.

I'm standing in the open, it's somewhere away from people, away from noises. I'm looking for him, across a plain, across the country, across time. I can see him and he's standing far in the distance with his eyes fixed on me. As he stares I can see the trees and the cars and the people around him as they start to melt. The colors blend together, sliding past the aura around him like droplets of water down a windshield in a violent rainstorm, blurring into a muddy, multi- colored mess around his feet til the only things left are him and I. And we're staring, slowly comprehending that we're alone in this, and we're still not together.

I open my eyes and blink a couple of times, trying to shake this vision, the one that won't leave me, and I find myself back in that same drug pit of a club. He's off somewhere staring at the stars, and I am here watching all the scenesters in their flares, trainers and body glitter trying to make themselves over into the motley characters in a Suede song, modeling their lives after some anthem for the indie generation.

But tonight, I don't really feel like part of that. My alienation, without him here to stifle it, has become the dominant part of my personality and all I feel is loneliness and disgust for the decadence around me. They've all either found something I am still searching for or they are just too brainless to know that it's missing to begin with. I generally opt for choice B. It makes me feel a bit better, a little superior. If I am miserable, at least I am miserable because I have something they don't. Some self-awareness that has escaped the rest of the world.

It's darker in here than I remember and the strobe lights are making me nauseous so I sit down on the floor, trying to find a corner unsoaked by beer and vomit. My head is throbbing from the poorly mixed beats of a Chemical Brothers song and there's a knot in my stomach. I seem to have lost my friends to the moment. The second I escape back into my self-contained world they always find it a good time for an exit anyway. I suspect they're somewhere on the dance floor. I saw one of them earlier snogging some guy. She gets a thrill from seeing how many of them will do that in one night. She's lucky they let her walk away. All I can think of is how disgusting the taste of all that foreign saliva must be. Especially with the number of cigarettes everybody here seems to be inhaling.

I'm wondering then if I shouldn't have another beer, except it's my car and I know my friends are way far gone by this point. We've been down here for ages, and they were drunk days ago. The mix shifts to some unrecognizable house band. I feel my stomach tighten in response to the crap music. My innards reacting to the turmoil in my head. I make a move for the bathroom but this scantily-clad chick with her hands down her boyfriend's pants blocks my route. As I try and slip around them she growls at me "Got a problem?" I nod and push my way into the ladies room. It's a completely foul wreck. The sink is piled with wet paper towels, stained with lipstick, and mounds of slime that used to be soap. The floor is covered in a mix of beer and water, emitting a stench far more foul than that coming from the jammed toilet to my right. I slip into the handicapped stall and shut the door.

I'm not sure if I am going to heave or not but I don't think so. Instead I lean my head against the wall and close my eyes again. I wonder what he's doing and if I've run through his mind even once tonight. I wonder if he's lonely so far gone. I know it gets hard for him holding us both up sometimes but I still am not certain I understand what he's doing out there. I can hear 2 girls talking in front of the mirror, one is bitching about the DJ, the other is trying to decide if she should go home with the guy who's been buying her drinks all night. I cannot help but wonder if they don't have more important things in their lives. They seem so emotionally distraught over such silly problems. Not like me of course, pining over some guy who's 2000 miles away. Someone jolts me back to reality pounding on the door of the stall "Hey you coming out of there! I'm about to burst out here!" I hear some guy murmuring. Figures. She just wants to get off. "Just a second," I mumble back, taking a deep breath before quietly opening the door and slipping out. It's the couple from the hall, evidently displaced by a bouncer, looking for somewhere more private. I go out the bathroom door and back into the melee in the club.

I wonder if it's still possible to find anyone I came with, or have they all found a partner for the night. I start to walk around past the bar, to spot anyone I know, but it's so crowded I can barely get 10 feet ahead without getting poked, jabbed or bumped. I feel someone's breath on my neck and I turn around to see some guy gaping at me. He's a bit short and looks like a generic britpopper, like he saw a Blur video on eMpTyV and decided he wanted to be Damon Albarn. The music has lapsed into some monotonous drum and bass beat driven thing and everyone on the dance floor is panting. I shrug my shoulders at the boy in front of me to ask "What?" He takes that as a yes and grabs my arm, tugging me towards the overcrowded floor. I start to pull away but I figure since I'm already stuck for the night, I may as well attempt to dance. It's the first time in the last 3 hours that he hasn't plagued my thoughts, I hope I can make that a trend.

At least, I note, this boy isn't a bad dancer. He leans in and mumbles something which I guess is his name. I can't understand him but I dutifully lean in and give him mine. He smiles at me and tries to move closer to me, pretending that he's being crowded. I let him, realizing if I move back at all I'll get an elbow in my neck. He slips one arm under mine and puts his hand on my back, pulling me in and grinding his hips, doing some sort of techno lambada like the other couples around us. I don't mind I suppose, it's the closest I've come to human contact since he left me and it actually feels kind of nice. I close my head and try and keep up with the unfamiliar beat of the song. The boy leans in again and mumbles something about my dancing. I open my eyes to ask him to repeat himself and he takes my head movement as a positive reaction to his words. He pushes his lips up against my mouth and gives me a quick kiss. I'm so startled I don't think to pull away so he goes in again, this time deeper. Pushing my lips apart with his tongue, slipping both arms around my back, moving us closer. I start to bring my knee up, a defensive gesture, to tell him I cant be with somebody else but I realize, he's not here. And I'm so lonely, and this intimacy feels nice for a change. He's got a semi and it's pushed up against my thigh. He's also a bit drunk and I can taste it and it's making his kisses sloppy. But I'm finally starting to feel the music, feel the vibe. I'm feeling some kind of connection to the mass of gyrating bodies around me and I don't want to stop the contact, to pull away and retreat back into my void just yet. I keep wishing I were just a little bit drunk, gone enough to let myself escape totally into this physical realm for a change. The music in my ears suddenly changes, they've put on a Prodigy song, and I can feel the excitement heighten around me. I've got my eyes closed still and the boy is pressed against me and we're moving in a frenzied desperate motion, half kissing, half dancing, throbbing to the music.

I feel someone grabbing on my arm. One of my friends is there and she's not looking so good. In fact she looks about ready to vomit. "He wanted me give him head." She whispers to me. "I wouldn't and now he's with someone else and I'm so drunk I may puke." I look over to the boy, he looks annoyed. "I have to help my friend, " I tell him. He shrugs and disappears.

I slip one arm around my friend and pull her off to one side. "Can't we go? She left with some guy ages ago and I need some air." I wonder where she was an hour ago when all I wanted to do was go jump in my car and drive off a bridge. Still, I dutifully get our coats and stand with her for a couple minutes in the parking lot as she pukes onto somebody's brand new tires. She nods to me to say she's ok and we walk over to my car and get in. I know I should probably help her up to her apartment and make sure she gets to bed okay but I've just realized that I haven't thought about him for almost an hour and that's great but the moment that I do that tight feeling comes right back into the pit of my stomach and I feel as if I want to cry. So I dump her at the door and make her promise to call me in the morning. I know she won't though.

I park the car and slip into my dark apartment, flipping on all the lights as I go. It always makes me nervous coming home alone late at night. It always has. He used to walk me in and check all the rooms for me, to make sure nothing was hiding in the shadows. I slip out of my dress and into my pajamas before I notice the light on the machine blinking. I press play. It's him. "I miss you, I love you. I know you don't understand all this and I know you're lonely so I was calling to let you know I'm still out here, to make sure you're hanging in. But you've gone out so you must be ok. I'm glad then. Bye love." I can feel the tears starting. All that, suffering through five hours of ache for thirty minutes of contact and if I'd stayed home I could have talked to him. I sink into my bed and finally let loose the full barrage of tears into the pillow.

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