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The Night Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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You're not the kind of girl who would be at a place like this at this time of night. At any time, really. But you could be.

Skinny white girl at a night club for the first time, surrounded by men and women cursing and grinding, everyone doing something they shouldn't. Your “friends” are dancing in a neat circle, not making eye contact but longing for a partner. You look around, but the faces are unfriendly, hardened. They've been around. They've grown in ways you haven't.

A sweaty mist presses down on your shoulders. Lights flash, causing your pupils to dilate and shrink painfully, searing images and silhouettes into your brain. You're bounced back and forth, back and forth, from person to person. Your high heels press into flesh, restricting circulation but not enough to make you numb. You feel exposed, your mind rolling about drowsily from unsavory fumes and the bass beat banging thoughts around. You know that enough time has passed for this to no longer be “new” and to now be “fun.” It must be fun.

You try to find something to focus on, so you close your eyes. You're putting pencil to paper ­patiently, expanding your mind, finishing equations, organizing your schedule, remembering to ask innocent questions, meeting with study groups. You have a dentist appointment tomorrow, a test to prepare for, a friend's bat mitzvah to ­attend.

But you can't be there right now, so you focus on the rhythm. Your hips sway and your arms roll sensuously. That feels natural. You love to dance. You are ­dancing, therefore you are happy. Everyone else is dancing, so they're happy. They get to do this all the time, so they must be happy. And this must be fun. Even so, you picture yourself elsewhere. In a white dress, bending down to dance with your little cousin on a mahogany dance floor, the Horah softly streaming from the stereo.

But tonight you are wild. You're exciting. Bat mitzvahs and school dances are far, far away, and time is slipping into you, making you wilder. You need to soak up more fun, more life, before you don't get any more chances. This is fun.

Then someone taps your shoulder, and the beat becomes rough – you can't hang onto it – and suddenly you forget where to dance, how to dance, why to dance. Time hovers menacingly about you, turning seconds into hours and minutes into days. You're not doing something right.

No one told you how to do this, but you know you're not supposed to ask. This is fun. This is fun. Time grinds slowly to a halt, when suddenly, you're alone again, and the bass is banging against your head, and you can dance. You know why you're dancing. You love to dance.

You feel another tap on the shoulder, but this time it's in front of you.

“Wanna take a break?” your friend asks.

“Yeah,” you reply, taking her hand.

She leads you through the crowd, people dodging around her to crush against you, push against you. They're dancing, but they're not smiling. Not a lot of them, anyway.

You enter the bathroom with your friend, gasping, freshening up with ­affected air.

“You were dancing with a guy!” she says excitedly, fussing with her hair and winking behind wide eyes.

“Yeah, I was,” you reply, mindlessly untangling yourself as well.

“Back out?” she asks a moment later, already heading out the door with your hand clasped firmly in hers.

You follow but can't help grasping her hand too tightly and closing your eyes, writing a homework assignment in your head, putting pencil to paper, remembering that question, talking innocently with friends.

This is fun.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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otherpoet said...
Dec. 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm:
Wow. This is great! I can't really tell how old you are, but it doesn't really matter. When you describe the atmosphere of the club, you really transport your reader there. I could feel my pupil dialating and the lights flashing. Great work!
 
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