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Insanity of the Ear Drums
I always took for granted the fact that being in a crowded room meant you had company. In most cases, this was true. However, there are times, times such as this one, when being surrounded by people, meant one was utterly alone.
I was utterly alone in Hazel’s apartment. I was in Hazel’s apartment because there was a party. I attended the party because there was one. It was something to do on one of the many lazy Saturday nights that crop up midsummer. Hazel was a neighbor, a friend of a friend of a friend. I guess this made us intimate enough to invite each other to house parties. Not that I was invited, but that’s a small detail. No one was invited to this party. We all just sort of congregated together, all drawn to a single location by the all-powerful entity that was booze.
It turned out though, that I was possibly the only person in this jumble of people that knew no one aside from the hostess. While I played anti-social-slug-in-the-corner-of-solitude, those around me laughed, danced, and freely explored each other’s romantic abilities, intimate as only close friends could possibly be. But what do I know? Maybe they were all strangers to each other as they were to me. I hadn’t actually tested the strength of the drinks.
It had occurred to me several times in the last few hours that I ought to exit my little corner, and “chat it up” with those free spirited strangers. The thought never lasted long in my stream of consciousness though. One look around the room was enough to dispel any notions of friendly relations with these strangers. It was a highly unappetizing group. Half walked around shirtless, the other half pant-less, and all of them witless. I guess the people who get drawn to open-door apartment rendezvous are the most tasteless of human kind.
Nevertheless, I entertained the thought of actually enjoying myself once more, the reason being that my favorite song, some head-banger, guitar-smasher of a long forgotten era, had begun to play. It wasn’t the stuff most sane people danced to, which is precisely why I was taken with the sudden urge to move with it. The other revelers expressed their insanity with beverages. I expressed it through my taste in music.
It was excruciatingly frustrating, to watch the idiotic partygoers climb all over each other, not even taking a second to enjoy the perfect noise playing through the speakers. It could have been anything. Mozart could have pushed through his own classic chords, and no one would care. They were too busy figuring out all the ways in which they could tie their tongues into knots. In fact, not a single solitary soul was dancing. Again, I was alone. For no one expressed insanity the way I did. At least, that’s what I assumed, as I let my eyes wander over the crowd of wasted individuals. Yep, there were drunk, motionless people in the opposite corner, drunk people in the throws of love on the couch, and more drunk people on top the kitchen table, doing all sorts of strange and blissful things to each other’s feet.
I let my eyes rest on the big bay window opposite my corner. The crowd wasn’t as thick there, though this did not mean it was empty. On the contrary, there was a couple leaning haphazardly against the glass, as well as a lone girl. My eyes drifted away from the uninteresting scene…and then drifted back.
I shook my head. I blinked excessively. I even turned away, and turned back once more. The vision before me, though, remained the same.
There was someone dancing. A girl…there was a girl dancing to my music.
The following actions didn’t seem to be mine. It was as though impulse, or perhaps reflexes, had kicked in, and forced me to walk numbly across the floor. The journey was effortless, despite the thick throng of drunken partygoers, and the fact that the only light in the room came from the white Christmas lights strung along the ceiling. I didn’t even feel like I myself was actually walking. Rather, it was as though I were watching my body’s progress from high up above.
When I did reach her, I suddenly regained control of my limbs. I wished I hadn’t though, for the sudden jolt of control made me feel awkward. It didn’t help that my brain was in the mix of things-that-were-suddenly-mine-again, and the first thought that came to me was why I had bothered to leave my corner in the first place. Luckily, the girl in question was turned toward the window, and didn’t seem to notice my presence. I could have easily turned away, and continued to play slug, no questions asked.
I didn’t though. Little to my knowledge, that strange reflex still lingered in my fingertips. For them, it meant that they could still act on their own accord. And act on their own they did, as they slowly lifted themselves up, and rested on the little dancer’s shoulder.
As soon as I realized what my hand had done, I let out a deep exhale, and several choice swear words. I would have shouted them loudly into the music, if the girl hadn’t felt my tap. She did though, and turned around to face me.
A single, wild, solitary though occurred to me, as she turned all the way around. The first look I got of her was enough to tell me that she was, without a doubt, a fairy of some sort. Yep, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind. She was a fairy, with her wings invisible, hidden, or too obvious for me to see. I knew this because of her hair, which at its longest grazed the bottoms of her ears. Not only that, but her eyes seemed to sparkle in a way only fairy eyes could sparkle. Plus, there was just something rather magical about her, though I wasn’t able to put my finger on it.
The fairy hadn’t stopped dancing, even though she had turned. Instead, she continued bouncing her knees, looking up at me with a mixture of surprise and curiosity.
Neither of us said anything for a bit. I was silent, for I was trying to figure out where her wings were. I don’t know why she was silent. I reckoned though, judging by the way her eyes got wide, that she was trying to figure out why I was so quiet, and why my eyes kept darting to the spaces just above her shoulders. I could be wrong though.
Whatever she was thinking about, she seemed to settle it in her head quicker than I did, for she was the first to speak, and break the silence.
“What brings you here?” she asked, somehow managing to make her words loud enough without shouting.
“Err…” It was a pathetic response, but I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. Was she wondering why I was at the party, or why I had approached her? It didn’t make much of a difference, for either way, I had no answer.
I think the fairy saw my confusion, for she asked a few more clarifying questions. “Your reason, your why…what is it that you found so attractive about this particular apartment? Was it the music? The beer? The…” she gestured to a pair of people on the couch, who looked as though they were trying to eat each other’s faces, by the way they were positioned. “It has to be one of those three. Why else would anyone come here?”
“Um…I just sort of…came…”
“Ah…I see,” she said sagely, nodding her head in understanding, “you’re a sailor of sorts, going wherever the tide takes you.”
“Yes, that sounds about right.” The words came out of my mouth, yet at the same time, I had no idea what I was saying. Maybe it was something with her eyes, or her smile. Maybe she had enchanted me without my knowing. Fairies could do that, right?
There was a long pause.
“You got a name, sailor?” she asked, rocking back and forth on her tiptoes.
“Err…” I searched my brain frantically, for as it was, this little bit of information had escaped me. “It’s Jack.”
“I’m Andy.” Upon saying this, she stuck out her hand. I took it in mine, and we engaged in a horridly awkward handshake.
After this, neither of us said very much. We sort of just stared at each other, she bouncing to the music, looking rather amused. I, on the other hand, was locked into place, plastered to the spot where I had been standing.
Frantically, I tried to think of something to say. It was too weird of me to just stand there, motionless, watching her. I must have seemed like a nutcase, to walk all the way to her, just so I could stand awkwardly beside her like some marble statue.
“Do you like this song?” It was the first bit of small talk I was able to formulate.
“Oh, I love it! It’s music…it’s noise. I love noise!” She exclaimed in response, twirling once. I half expected her to flutter away from the floor, in a flurry of magic dust. “I love noise! I love noise! Do you love noise?”
“Um…yeah. Well…I like this song.”
“Then why aren’t you dancing to it? You’re standing as stiff as a board.”
I hadn’t thought about that. I had criticized the rest of those in attendance at the rendezvous for having no taste, when I myself had been completely indifferent to the beautiful, senseless chords that rang in my ears. I owed the song greater respect than what I was giving it. Had I not been still trying to wrap my brain around what I had done as of late, I would have attempted dancing.
“Here,” she said suddenly, skipping over to the punch table that stood near where we had been conversing. In one motion, she grabbed a cup, and filled it with the orange liquid that swirled inside a massive crystal bowl. “Drink this, you’re such a stiff of a plank, sailor.”
Had it been any other living being in the room, I would have politely, or impolitely, for that matter, declined a cup. I had a strong reason to believe that there was far more than Tang and seltzer in that bowl. One look at the perfect strangers in the throws of love-on-the-couch was enough to convince me of it. But maybe because it was a fairy, a magical entity, that offered me a liquid, I trusted it, and subsequently drained the contents of the cup.
Yeah, that was no Tang and seltzer I had ever tasted. Its effects were immediate. Slowly, carefully, I could feel my feet and legs tingle with an unexplained numbness. It was as though they were not connected to my body anymore, but rather, floating in some bubble around the ceiling. This creeping sensation of fuzzy disconnect gradually spread up my chest, and out to my arms, until they to were buoyant pieces of matter, bouncing among the white Christmas lights that hung on the ceiling. If they were stars, my limbs were oblong planets, free from orbit as they awkwardly bumped and banged together on their own accord.
And then, my head came loose, the bolts that held it to my neck suddenly vanishing. The pulling apart was complete/
“Feeling any better, plank?” the fairy-voice asked. Her voice sounded so distant and far away, probably because I was floating up among the rafters.
“I…guess.” I filled the pause between the two words with a lot of unintelligible muttering, “I…feel…all…airy…like…I’m…floating.”
“Hmm…that’s interesting,” the far off voice said, and I took note of the fact, as I stood suspended, that she scrunched her eyebrows in thought. “Sailors don’t float. They drown…drown in some far off sea in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps you aren’t one after all. You must be an astronaut, then!”
“Yeah,” I agreed numbly. It was at this point, my brain attempted to ponder what she said, and if anything she was saying really made sense at all. It didn’t. She called me things that didn’t make sense. Her logic was not real logic. Strangest of all, I had agreed to it, I had played along to whatever the hell she was saying.
My thoughts were moving too slowly for me to act on any of my revelations. So, instead, I acted on the bizarre, wacky impulse that thrived on things like this “seltzer and Tang,” and asked the one question I was able to force from my lips.
“Are you a…a fairy?” I asked, speaking more loudly than I had done during the entire night. After all, it had to have been hard for her to hear me, from where she sat on the ground.
I think she said yes. In fact, I’m reasonably sure she said yes, or else her actions after that would not have made sense. Or maybe what I saw wasn’t making sense because none of it had happened. Whatever the case, the fairy that had released me into the starry sky fluttered up by my side, pushing away the ground with her big, pink, sparkly wings. She took me in those big wings, until I was held so close to her that I could smell the floral perfume of her hair.
“Y-you are th-th-the most b-b-beautiful fairy I’ve ever seen…” I said to her, taking in her cute nose, and the way her lips curled upward in an I-don’t-know-what. I doubted whether she understood a single word I said, though. As I had begun to speak, a sudden and violent chill had erupted somewhere in the core of my body. Like an electrical current, it had traveled up my spine in waves. In an instant, I was drowning in cold, my teeth gnashing together violently in shivers, so hard I could barely force a word out between them.
The fairy let out a high pitched, tinkling laugh, which clashed horribly with the sounds of speaker-exploding guitars that surrounded us, and had become suddenly so loud that it made it hard to breath. I think she laughed for a while, or maybe she laughed very slowly. But whatever the case, she seemed oblivious to the fact the tremors had become worse, and that I was no longer in control of any part of me. Not my brain, nor my mouth, nor any of my floating limbs. I was just there, in her arms, shaking uncontrollably in the cold. Even my sight gave into the icy chill, blinding me from my surroundings. I could not see the fairy, or anything else, in the deep, cold interminable darkness.
Then, so suddenly that I had no chance to anticipate it, something pressed up against my lips. They were soft, delicate, and curved around my mouth only the way another mouth could, only in the way a fairy could.
And as the fairy lips touched my ice-cold ones, a peculiar sensation overcame me. I was warmed, the way only a magical being could warm. The heat started where her mouth made contact with mine, and burned all the way down my throat. The sudden inferno engulfed me completely, so that I went from random planets, to one, giant fireball in the sky. Everything down to the smallest cell of my being was ablaze.
The burn was better than the cold though. So much better, that I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed until I felt no more.